Daily Archives: April 17, 2015

(NYT Op-Ed) Thomas Edsall–Does Emphasizing Inequality cause voters to Trust the Government Less?

Even worse for Democrats, the Saez paper found that “information about inequality also makes respondents trust government less,” decreasing “by nearly twenty percent the share of respondents who ”˜trust government’ most of the time:”

Hence, emphasizing the severity of a social or economic problem appears to undercut respondents’ willingness to trust the government to fix it ”” the existence of the problem could act as evidence of the government’s limited capacity to improve outcomes.

The findings of the Saez group are consistent with Luttig’s. Taken together, they suggest that even if Democrats win the presidency and the Senate in 2016, largely on the basis of favorable demographic trends, the party will confront serious hurdles if it attempts to deliver material support to working men and women and the very poor. Redistribution is in trouble, and that is likely to tie American politics in knots for many years to come.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

GAFCON Primates Communique

A Communique from the GAFCON Primates Council

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. ~ Isaiah 61:11

This week, from 13th to 17th April 2015, we have met in London for prayer and fellowship in order to help chart the future of global Anglicanism. We are uniting faithful Anglicans, growing in momentum, structured for the future, and committed to the Anglican Communion.

Uniting Faithful Anglicans: GAFCON 2018

We are excited to announce that the next GAFCON conference will be in 2018. This global gathering now serves a critical function in the life of the Anglican Communion as it is an effective instrument of unity which is capable of gathering the majority of the world’s Anglicans.

Delegations representing every continent and all orders of the church (lay and ordained) will again be invited to share in this powerful time of fellowship, worship, and teaching. An organising committee comprising global delegates and local representatives of the likely location has been formed. A further announcement will be made when the details of the venue have been confirmed.
Growing Momentum: Newest Province and Fellowships

We were encouraged to hear reports from some of the newest GAFCON provinces and fellowships.


At the beginning of our meeting, Archbishop Foley Beach of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America was unanimously elected to the GAFCON Primates Council. Archbishop Beach shared about the remarkable growth being experienced in North America, evidenced by the planting of 483 new congregations since 2009.


We celebrated the recent launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Australia (FCA AU), the newest GAFCON fellowship, led by the Venerable Richard Condie, Archdeacon of Melbourne. Over 450 participants attended the inaugural conference in March 2015 and this fellowship is now well positioned to contend for the faith in the years to come.

FCA UK & Ireland, formed at our initiative, continues to welcome and provide support for faithful Anglicans in the British Isles. We are particularly concerned about the Church of England and the drift of many from the Biblical faith. We do not regard the recent use of a Church of England building for a Muslim service as a minor aberration. These actions betray the gospel and discourage Christians who live among Muslims, especially those experiencing persecution.

We support Bishop John Ellison in resisting the unjust and uncharitable charges brought against him by the Bishop of Salisbury, and in view of the Great Commission, we note the sad irony that this former missionary bishop to South America now finds it necessary to defend himself for supporting missionary activity in his own country. We continue to encourage and support the efforts of those working to restore the Church of England’s commitment to Biblical truth. Equally, we authenticate and support the work of those Anglicans who are boldly spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and whose circumstances require operating outside the old, institutional structures.

We remain confident in the great good of gospel ministry, and we see what happens when actions impacting the Communion are taken without the priorities of the faith once delivered.

Wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, GAFCON continues to unite faithful Anglicans under a common confession of Christ’s Lordship and a desire to make disciples.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

(WSJ) Nicholas Hahn–Politicking From the Pulpit on the Iran Deal

Some religious leaders have been quick to bless the “framework agreement” with Iran that emerged from deliberations earlier this month in Switzerland over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. That was a mistake.

Christian pastors and lobbyists representing various factions of Mennonites, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and other denominations took out a full-page ad in Roll Call this week to “welcome and support” a deal they say “offers the best path to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state.” The letter cited Matthew 5:9””“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”””as one Biblical motive for endorsing the framework. It also ticked off reasons why it was “better than alternatives” like “yet another U.S. war with a Muslim country.”

Pope Francis lent his imprimatur to the framework during his Easter blessing, and in an April 13 letter to Congress the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went so far as to oppose congressional review. The bishops wrote: “Our Committee continues to oppose Congressional efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multiparty agreement more difficult to achieve and implement.” Bishops also reminded Congress not to “take any actions, such as passing legislation to impose new or conditional sanctions on Iran.”

The mullahs don’t seem moved by the display of Christian charity.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Christian Post story on the Multi-Million Dollar South Carolina Episcopal Church Suit

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

CBS' 60 minutes–How the Duke Lacrosse Story looks now: Rush to Judgment

Armen Keteyian: Describe your emotional state at that point in time.

Mike Pressler: Really pissed. Really shocked that they would have this party first and foremost. But anyway, I asked each one of ’em to their face, one at a time. The astonishment on their face. And when you know your people, I knew exactly from their reaction to the allegations this was absolutely untrue.

The problem was, few others did. This is how the late Ed Bradley described the media storm surrounding the Duke rape case here on “60 Minutes”:

The district attorney, Mike Nifong, took to the airwaves giving dozens of interviews, expressing – with absolute certainty – that Duke lacrosse players had committed a horrific crime.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Men, Politics in General, Sexuality, Sports, State Government, Theology, Violence, Women, Young Adults

NPR Interviews David Brooks on his new Book "The Road to Character"

On bringing back certain moral vocabulary

There are certain words that have been passed down through the generations that we’ve sort of left behind. And some of them have quasi-religious connotations, but I don’t think they need to. Those are words like grace ”” the idea that we’re loved more than we deserve ”” redemption and sin. We now use the word sin in the context of fattening desserts, but it used to be central in the vocabulary, whether you’re religious or not; an awareness that we all sin and we all have the same sins ”” selfishness, self-centeredness. And I think rediscovering that word is an important task because without that you’re just too egotistical. You don’t realize how broken we all are at some level.

On how writing and researching the book changed his religious life

I’m a believer. I don’t talk about my religious life in public in part because it’s so shifting and green and vulnerable. And so I’ve spent a lot of time in this book ”” and if you care about morality and inner life and character, you spend your time reading a lot of theology because over the last hundreds of years it was theologians who were writing about this. Whether you’re a believer or not, I think these books are very helpful. It’s amazing to read [The Confessions of St. Augustine, about] a guy who got successful as a rhetorician but felt hollow inside; a guy who had a mom, Monica, who was the helicopter mom to beat all helicopter moms, and how he dealt with the conflict with such a demanding mother. And so I read a lot of theology ”” whether it’s C.S. Lewis or Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi ”” and it’s produced a lot of religious upsurge in my heart. But it’s also fragile and green [and] I don’t really talk about it because I don’t want to trample the fresh grass.

Read it all (or better) listen to it all (Hat tip: CM).
link is fixed

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Margaret Thatcher+Methodism–High office, low church

It was never hard to see the influence of Methodism, born as a reaction to the complacency and privilege of 18th-century Anglicanism, on Mrs Thatcher. She believed in thrift and hard work, and liked the advice of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to earn, save and only then give as much as possible. The acts of generosity listed in the New Testament, from the Good Samaritan’s to that of the woman who anointed Christ’s feet, were possible only because the donors had money, she noted.

But in other ways, Mrs Thatcher moved away from Methodism, and it moved away from her. As she ascended firmly to the upper middle class, she began attending Anglican church. Conspicuous consumption and debt-fuelled growth, often seen as legacies of the Thatcher era, could hardly be further from Methodist values. And in her native east Midlands, Methodist communities and ministers were active in defending coalminers during the strike which she defeated. Methodism has influenced Britain’s centre-left far more than its political right.

In explaining her denominational switch, Mrs Thatcher said that Methodism was “a marvellous evangelical faith” with great music””but “you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service” as well as for more formal theology. In her religious origins, she was informed by a passion that was foreign to the English establishment. But as that puritan passion propelled her into high office, its sharp edges were blunted. The Ritz hotel is an unlikely place for a Methodist woman from the Midlands to end her days.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Methodist, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(St Albans Review) Jeffrey John–How should Christians regard other faiths?

So when Jesus says ”˜No-one comes to the Father except through me’ he doesn’t mean ”˜No-one can be saved except by being a card-carrying Christian’, but rather ”˜No-one comes to God except by the Logos that is in them’ ”“ that is, by following the reason and conscience that belong to everyone.

We should recognise that God can work through other faiths and philosophies too. St Paul recognised that we are all the children of God, ”˜in whom we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17.28).

That is not to say that all religions are the same. The unique claim of Christianity is that in Jesus God was actually born and died as one of us.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Inter-Faith Relations, Ministry of the Ordained, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Justo González –Reading Luke Through Latin American Eyes

When a Latin American theologian reads Luke, what themes get noticed that others might underplay?

When you read Luke with poor people who have no hope, or with people hiding from dictators and death patrols, you see things you might not see otherwise. The most important underappreciated theme is what’s often called “the great reversal.” This is the idea, from Luke 13, that when the kingdom of God arrives, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Or take Mary’s song (the Magnificat) from Luke’s first chapter (vv. 46”“55). It talks about God filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. Traditional readings of this passage aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can neglect the themes of wealth and poverty. We need a variety of perspectives, including the poor’s, to get at the full meaning.

What are American evangelicals most apt to overlook?

Compared to the other gospel writers, Luke takes care to emphasize the word salvation. We tend to overlook the economic, political, and social implications of this salvation. Luke helps us to see what it looks like for the poor.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean, Poverty, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Cleric says report on church growth belies the research

A rector in Chester diocese, the Revd Dr Mark Hart, has challenged the measures of church growth which are at the heart of the Church of England’s “Reform and Renewal” programme.

Dr Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton, trained as a mathematician and engineer. He completed a paper last Saturday, From Delusion to Reality, which looks critically at From Anecdote to Evidence, the 2014 report that examines evidence for which factors cause churches to grow.

The findings in From Anecdote to Evidence are being used as the basis for a re-orientation of central church funding, under plans put forward by the task groups…. The report Resourcing the Future proposes that half the funds should go to projects that show “significant growth po-tential”. Another report, Intergenerational Equity, proposes spending Church Commissioners’ capital – £100 million has been mentioned – to support diocesan growth plans.

In other words, Dr Hart says, “an awful lot is hanging on this single piece of research.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(1936) The First Sunday after Easter

Saint Mary Magdalene had a reason for undying gratitude. So had Saint Peter. So had the other disciples. The life with Him before the Crucifixion had given them new selves and a new world. Then came the dismay and the darkness. Then came the joy and the light. He was the joy and the light. He had come back. They were glad when they saw Him. This is the whole story of the first Easter.

After Easter they literally walked in newness of life. They were manifestly new persons. They left their former lives on one side of the Cross. They took up new lives on the other side of the Cross. The former things had passed away. All things had become new. The former sins dropped away. Our Lord never mentioned them. Their former weaknesses were not remembered. They were transformed by the power of the Resurrection. Our Lord trusted them with responsibilities and duties in His Kingdom. They never doubted nor hesitated. They believed in their forgiveness. They accepted their transformation. They were frankly happy. They were wonderfully peaceful. They belonged to Our Lord and they knew it. The power of His resurrection made spiritual giants of them all. So they went from strength to strength through the Great Forty Days of Eastertide. So they were prepared for Ascensiontide. When the day of Pentecost came, they were ready for it.

Our Lord expects us to do what they did. We can do it. We are His disciples. We have our share in the power of His resurrection. We need have no fear of being presumptious in this matter, because we are trusting Him, not ourselves. We trust in the power of His resurrection to make us new creatures. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Read it all and before you do see if you can guess the author.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor's Prayerbook

O gracious Lord, Who as at this time, didst raise Thy Son Jesus Christ with power from the grave, raise us up, we beseech Thee, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; Revive our faith, and make us followers of Him Who hath taken away the “sin of the world; Who by His death hath destroyed death, and by His rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life.” Hear us, O merciful Father, we pray Thee, for the sake of our risen Saviour, to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture 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….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: 7-8;11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ben Witherington reviews Rachel Held Evans’ ”˜Searching for Sunday’

It’s tax day and Rachel Held Evans’ latest book has just emerged, Searching for Sunday (Nelson Books, 269 pages, $16.99 pb). In some ways this book has appeared at just the appropriate moment, because in some ways it is like a refund check from the IRS, much anticipated, and a big help. In some ways however, the book is simply taxing, burdened down with a false sense of righteous outrage about an issue Rachel should have given more thought and prayer to before choosing to start firing away against the Evangelical womb from which she has emerged. This is not to say that she isn’t right that a large portion of the church has wrongly stigmatized and singled out gay and lesbian people, and wrongly treated them as if they were somehow worse sinners than the rest of us. We have often done that. Hypocrisy stinks, and Rachel is right to stress this point. I will speak about what she says on the issue of same sex relationships and marriage later in the review, but I want first to say a few things about this book which I really like.

First of all Rachel is indeed a genuine Christian person, genuinely wrestling with deep issues….
There are many poignant moments and powerful passages in this book about the sacraments, about silence, about other spiritual disciplines, and especially about the feeling of being bereft, cut off from the church, feeling abandoned or even spurned by the Evangelical Churches in which she was raised. A trial separation from such churches gradually became something of a divorce, and she landed in a ”˜less-judgmental’ Episcopal Church in Cleveland Tn. What her book fails to really grapple with however is the major difference between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance of us as we are.

Frankly put, God doesn’t ”˜accept’ us as we are, because what we are is fallen and flawed sinful people. God loves us as we are, but God is insistent that we all change, repent of our sinful inclinations and ways, and become more like Christ. A loving welcome by Jesus does not exclude incredible demands in regard to our conduct, and indeed even in regard to the lusts of our hearts. As it turns out, God is an equal opportunity lover of all humanity, and also an equal opportunity critiquer of all our sin, and with good reason”” it is sin that keeps separating us from God and ruining our relationship with God. This is why the only proper Biblical approach to everyone who would wish to be ”˜in Christ’ and ”˜in the body of Christ’ is that they are most welcome to come as they are, and they will be loved as they are, but no one but no one is welcome to stay as they are”” all God’s chillins need to change. Welcoming does not entail affirming our sins, much less baptizing our sins and suddenly calling them good, healthy, life giving.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

Canon Jim Lewis–A South Carolina Legal Update as Supreme Court to hear the case

Finally, TEC press releases have included, with some frequency, statements by legal counsel for TECSC claiming its willingness to discuss “settlement options”. This is disingenuous nonsense. We should remember the following at a minimum:

”¢ We were in the middle of what we hoped could be “settlement” discussions when TEC attempted to remove Bp. Lawrence in 2012.

”¢ In the 90+ instances of litigation that TEC has instigated around the country, none has concluded with a settlement — just the opposite. When parishes in the Diocese of Virginia wishing to leave TEC actually reached an agreement with their bishop, that deal was scuttled by the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, who announced there was “a new sheriff in town”. Offers of settlement in other places have been likewise rejected. And even when the case has been definitively settled by the local courts, as in Illinois, TEC has refused to cease litigation, to the point of sanctions being imposed by the courts there.

”¢ The fact is that TEC’s legal counsel was told as far back as 2013 that the Diocese would consider any proposals submitted to our counsel in writing. There have been none.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology