Daily Archives: December 5, 2014

(WSJ) Thomas Kidd on George Whitefield–The Billy Graham of Colonial America

This month marks the tricentennial of the birth of the most famous man in America before the Revolution. George Whitefield, born on Dec. 16, 1714, was a Church of England minister who led the Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals that swept through Britain and America in the mid-1700s. Whitefield drew enormous audiences wherever he went on both sides of the Atlantic, and his publications alone doubled the output of the American colonial presses between 1739 and 1742. If there is a modern figure comparable to Whitefield, it is Billy Graham. Buteven Mr. Graham has followed a path first cut by Whitefield.

What made Whitefield and his gospel message so famous? First, he mastered the period’s new media. Cultivating a vast network of newspaper publicity, printers and letter-writing correspondents, Whitefield used all means available to get the word out.

Most important, he joined with Benjamin Franklin, who became Whitefield’s main printer in America, even though Franklin was no evangelical. Their business relationship transformed into a close friendship, although Whitefield routinely pressed Franklin, unsuccessfully, about his need for Jesus.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christology, Church History, England / UK, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Andrew Symes: Trajectory of the C of E

A group of evangelical clergy are protesting about an article written in their Diocesan newspaper by a member of the senior staff team that promotes the acceptance of same sex relationships. Dr Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, writes what appears to be a brief review of two books on the subject. In one paragraph he praises More Perfect Union by Alan Wilson, then he contemptuously dismisses “Is God anti-gay?” by Sam Allberry, in four sentences. (Sam’s book is a clear and concise survey of the biblical texts and the real live issues for Christians with same sex attraction.) Percy concludes with his own sermon arguing for complete change in the biblical doctrine of Christian marriage…

..once again we have to flag up this tendency, no doubt occurring in many other Dioceses as well, of church leaders using their position and official institutions to promote heresy, causing confusion, anger and disunity.

In another Diocese, which I can’t name at the moment, a number of clergy in civil partnerships have been appointed to senior posts, to the extent that even some moderates feel that this kind of ”˜affirmative action’ is getting out of hand. Of course all these clergy have given assurances that their relationships are non-sexual, but they make no secret of their opposition to the C of E’s current teaching and their support for the ”˜inclusion’ ethic. For some evangelicals, the appointment of one of these revisionists to be in charge of the training of all curates in the Diocese has proved the last straw. Or has it? This situation is not unique. As revisionists continue their takeover of Diocesan administrations, the few conservatives left in senior positions tend to keep their heads down and work for ”˜peace’, seeing protesting biblically faithful clergy as equally a problem to be managed as the campaigning inclusionists.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(NPR) As Ebola Surges In Sierra Leone, Communities Take Control

If you think the fight against Ebola is going well, here’s a grim new number: 537.

That’s how many new infections were reported in Sierra Leone in the past week. It’s the highest weekly tally in any country since the West African outbreak began.

International governments and aid groups have scrambled to open Ebola treatment centers in the country. But, because of safety concerns, many of these centers are accepting only a fraction of the number of patients they were built to serve.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Sierra Leone, Theology

Friday Morning Heartlift–John Rutter-A gaelic blessing by The Cambridge Singers

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Wired) Growth Hormone Usage Rises Among Teens

Friday nights in the fall mean high school football. But that wholesome slice of Americana also contains a dark undercurrent”“a marked rise in the use of human growth hormone by high school aged students.

In a recent survey of 3,705 kids, 11 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 reported having used synthetic human growth hormone without a prescription. That means that at any high school football game, it’s likely that at least two players on the field will have tried human growth hormone.

And it’s not just athletes who reported having used HGH. The survey, carried out by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and funded by a grant from the MetLife Foundation, found no statistically significant difference in the athletic involvement between synthetic HGH users and non-users.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Sports, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

Vatican Radio interviews Archbishop Justin Welby who joined Pope Francis for anti-slavery initiative

Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it’s also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that…..

In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made…..

In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains….the Anglican leader also says he’s been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains….

Read it all and listen to the whole interview (just over 4 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(NYT) Unsteady Incomes Keep Millions Behind on Bills

The bills arrive as regularly as a heartbeat at the Vories’s cozy bi-level brick house just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It’s the paychecks that are irregular.

These days, Alex Vories, 37, is delivering pizzas for LaRosa’s, though he has to use his parents’ car since he wrecked his own 1997 Nissan van on a rainy day last month. In the spring and autumn, he had managed to snag several weeks of seasonal work with the Internal Revenue Service, sorting tax returns for $14 an hour. But otherwise the family had to make do with the $350 a week his wife, Erica, brought home from her job as a mail clerk for the I.R.S.

“We just kind of wing it every month,” said Mr. Vories, whose unemployment benefits ran out at the end of 2013, 10 months after he lost his job answering phones at Fidelity Investments. Ever since, the family’s income has bounced up and down from one week to the next, like the basketball he and his two sons play with in their driveway, next to the Kentucky Wildcats pennant planted in their front yard.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Church Times) Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop

The suffragan see of Maidstone in Kent, vacant since 2009, is to be revived to accommodate a conservative Evangelical bishop, it was announced on Thursday.

The appointee will take a conservative view on male headship. Such a bishop was promised by the House of Bishops during the debates over women bishops, to reassure conservative Evangelicals who opposed the change that they were still welcome in the Church of England.

The Dioceses Commission agreed unanimously on Thursday with a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury that this conservative Evangelical bishop be appointed to the see of Maidstone.

In the build-up the meeting of the General Synod in July, a note from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Synod acknowledged that the “normal processes” for appointing bishops had not yet selected an Evangelical with the conservative Evangelical position on headship.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Other Churches

(B+C) P C Kemeny reviews Bradley Gundlach's new book on Debating evolution at Princeton, 1845-1929

Gundlach’s study also offers several startling insights. Besides demonstrating the Princetonians’ eagerness to embrace selectively some modified forms of evolution, Gundlach explains the critical impact that the fundamentalist antievolution crusade had upon the Princeton Battle Plan. Likewise, Gundlach describes the Princetonians’ remarkably robust commitment to the Reformed doctrine of divine providence. The Reformed tradition’s vision of God’s sovereignty over creation and the reality and efficiency of creaturely activity, from universal laws like gravity to the minutest choices of individual people, Gundlach explains, was “a distinctive teaching of Calvinist orthodoxy that enabled the Princetonians to embrace evolutionary thinking (carefully construed) not only as compatible with their theology, but even as an expression of it.”

Gundlach’s work also contains some implications that might give participants in today’s debates about theology and evolution reasons to rethink their approaches. By pitting purely naturalistic evolution over against an allegedly literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2, both militant secular atheists and “creation scientists” usually employ reductionistic binary reasoning when it comes to issues of science and theology. Gundlach’s study, however, suggests other historic alternatives are available to Christian scholars. He shows that theologians and philosophers at Princeton had a thorough knowledge of contemporary science and that many scientists were well-informed about theology. The same cannot always be said of those who engage in the debate over origins today. Moreover, Gundlach demonstrates that “creation science” is actually a modern movement with shallow roots in Christian orthodoxy. Many conservative Protestants today continue the Princeton tradition’s critique of modern evolutionary theories because of the metaphysical assumptions and antisupernatural bias in purely naturalistic explanations of the origins of the universe. Ironically, however, other conservative Protestants, especially some with an affinity for Princeton’s Calvinist theological tradition, categorically reject Warfield’s efforts to reconcile Christian theism with non-Darwinian evolutionary views. They favor an interpretation of Genesis 1-2 that actually stands closer to Price and his intellectual heirs. The distinguished Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, for example, resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2010 because of his advocacy of theistic evolution and, more important, his criticisms of “scientific creationists” for denigrating modern science. Gundlach also demonstrates why, since the Scopes trial, such views have not often been welcomed in conservative circles. Even though they affirmed inerrancy and the historicity of Adam, A. A. Hodge, Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen could not teach at some conservative seminaries today because they held that Genesis could be harmonized with a non-Darwinian view of evolution. Perhaps Gundlach’s study will help conservative Christians rethink some of the missteps made in the early 20th century.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Books, Church History, Other Churches, Reformed, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clement of Alexandria

O Lord, who didst call thy servant Clement of Alexandria from the errors of ancient philosophy that he might learn and teach the saving Gospel of Christ: Turn thy Church from the conceits of worldly wisdom and, by the Spirit of truth, guide it into all truth; through 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 great and glorious God, holy and immortal, who searches out the policies of nations and tries the hearts of men: Come, we pray thee, in judgment, upon the nations of the world; come and bring to destruction all that is contrary to thy holy will for mankind, and cause the counsels of the wicked to perish. Come, O Lord, into our hearts, and root out from them that thou seest, and we cannot see, to be unlike the Spirit of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Harold Anson

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, 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

(F Things) Russell Saltzman–Death By Police

On the night of his death, he had gone to a religious meeting. While there, he had fumbled a ritual and was told he was forbidden from wearing a sacred headdress until he learned things better. He returned home testy, angry, belligerent, and he didn’t want any medication. His wife left the house and called police. She thought they’d come, help calm him down, and he’d take the medication, simmer off, and everyone would go home. Eight hours later as the police had convinced him to do, he put his daughter in the carrier and placed her on the front porch. Turning to return inside the house, he was shot in the back. He had a knife, but no one said he was brandishing it about.

Yet he had been doing his big talk to the police, about his barrels of black powder and how if people just didn’t leave him the hell alone he’d blow up the house, the neighborhood, and everyone else just for good measure.

His wife was sequestered, confined to a police cruiser. No police officer interviewed her. No one asked what kind of guns he had in the house or how many barrels of powder. She had no chance to explain his medications. Maybe for the first time in Jake’s life, somebody truly believed all his big talk. So the police shot him while he was in tight proximity to a baby in a baby carrier. Police say their sharp shooter was aiming for Jake’s leg, over a distance of perhaps twenty yards.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Psychology, Theology, Violence

Senators propose gun ban, stiffer penalties to reform South Carolina's domestic violence laws

The head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing new legislation that would bring sweeping reform to South Carolina’s domestic violence laws, creating a tiered system of offenses, increasing penalties and barring batterers from possessing guns.

Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens Republican who chairs the committee, is the lead sponsor among six senators who introduced the pre-filed legislation on Wednesday to address a festering problem that has made South Carolina one of nation’s deadliest states for women.

“It’s time to turn the tide on our terrible statistics,” Martin said. He believes his bill would go a long way toward doing that, especially the gun-ban provision.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Politics in General, State Government, Theology, Violence, Women

[NYT Upshot] The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On

…here is the thing: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.

Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media, Men, Psychology, Sociology, Theology, Women

(Times) Church of Scotland Moderator says Social media the key to new worshippers

Writing for Life and Work magazine, he said that churchgoers should embrace digital technology as they set about engaging a new kind of recruit.

He went on: “It might pain me to say it, but it’s time for a radical change and I don’t mean a change of hymns, or a visually aided sermon or a new time of day for traditional forms of worship ”””“ I mean something much more far reaching than that.

“I’m looking for a way of including the many hundreds of people who are fully engaged in the practical and project work that our churches are doing throughout Scotland, but whose belonging to the faith community is not necessarily complemented by regular attendance at Sunday worship.”

Read it all (requires subscription)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Scotland, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults