The Behemoth is a small magazine about a big God and his big world. From the editors of Christianity Today, this ad-free, digital biweekly aims to help people behold the glory of God all around them, in the worlds of science, history, theology, medicine, sociology, Bible, and personal narrative.
Daily Archives: October 10, 2015
Some say the Internet has democratized knowledge. Clearly, it has also democratized theologizing. Anyone with a computer and Wifi access can publish their thoughts and declarations onto a level pixelated playing field. Some blogs and Twitter accounts exist solely to cry foul whenever a well-known preacher makes a controversial statement.
Yet the frequency and volume of the proclamations from these sources””and from those who share and retweet them””suggest that some Christians don’t understand the significance of right doctrine, or the gravity of heresy charges. Worse, these disputes lead some to believe that doctrine isn’t worth the effort, since it seems only to breed division rather than promote Christlikeness.
Given our volatile online atmosphere, Christians in general and evangelicals in particular need a clearer definition of heresy. We need to know how to spot the difference between essential truths of the Christian faith and doctrines over which we can disagree and still remain faithful to Christian teaching. Even with a good definition, doctrinal assessment requires wisdom and discernment. It often involves two different ends: first, avoiding overuse of the heresy charge, which strips the word of its usefulness; and second, correcting Christians with beliefs that are false and that can undermine the integrity of the church.
Theologians of the cross are those from whom all support other than the cross has simply been torn away. The situation is not that we might sit back and upon reflection calmly chose to be this or that sort of theologian. If we look at instead of through it or behind, the cross tears away all other possibilities. So as theologians of the cross we operate on the premise that faith in the crucified and risen one is all we have going for us. All the supports of the theology of glory are destroyed by the cross. The cross is then end result of the theology of glory. So it is finished. There are no escape hatches. By faith we become a human being, a person of this world, a truly historical being, because there is nothing to do now but wait, hope, pray, and trust in the promise of him who nevertheless conquers, the crucified and risen Jesus. By faith we are simply in Christ, waiting to see what will happen to and in us. As Luther could put it in his most famous saying in the commentary on the first twenty-two Psalms from about this time, “The cross alone is out theology” (CRUX sola est nostra Theologia). [WA 5.176.32]
[The] Reverend Dr Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Anglican Bishop of Accra, has called on the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, to take pragmatic steps to deal with filth and unauthorised structures.
He also called for enforcement of the legal and regulatory frameworks of the assemblies to ensure compliance of acceptable behaviours from all sections of the community members.
Rev Torto, who was addressing the 108 newly elected assembly members of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), urged them to revise the assemblies’ bye-laws to enforce penalties to conform to modern day realities.
Hypochondria among Americans may be jeopardising the development of new medicines, as a study reveals that the placebo effect is becoming worryingly powerful in the US.
Huge American drugs trials are increasingly foundering on the unexplained scientific phenomenon, which does not appear to be happening anywhere else in the world.
The findings leave US drugs companies with a serious dilemma. As the difference between receiving a new painkiller and simply thinking that you are receiving a new painkiller evaporates, it is becoming ever harder to tell whether the drug works or not.
This may explain why more than nine out of ten new pain-relief drugs fail at the testing stage.
Read it all (requires subscription).
[Mark] Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was scheduled to speak at the conference Wednesday (October 7) but withdrew for reasons of conscience.
On Saturday, he received an email from the Free BYU organization, which has for some time now been attempting to change the university’s policy toward students who enter the school as Mormons but then either lose or change their religion during their time there.
Free BYU contacted all of the speakers for the conference to make them aware of what the organization has called “BYU’s policy of terminating, evicting, and expelling LDS students who change their faith.”
Under the policy, students who enter the university as Mormons but then undergo a faith transition can be expelled, evicted from student housing, and fired from on-campus jobs.
For those of us who spend, or spent, most of our twenties single while friends and relations jumped into domestic duties — leaving us adrift at family and church functions to face the perennial question “Are you dating anyone seriously?” — this culture has its definite disadvantages.
But the big fat marriage culture has its perks, too. Prime among them: continual, albeit irritating, reminders to grow up and get responsible.
Conversely, today’s zeitgeist asks “What’s the hurry?” offering reassurance that “Thirty is the new twenty,” and “Though you’d never marry this guy, it’s fine to move in with him.” But today’s cultural heirs, bewildered Millennials in their late twenties and early thirties, end up in Meg Jay’s counseling office feeling behind and trying to make up for lost time. They form the cautionary tales interspersing research in Jay’s recent book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now.
Statistics released this week by the denomination’s Office of Diocesan and Congregational Ministries indicate that Jefferts Schori is leaving her successor, Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry, with decline that is steepening rather than tapering off.
The church’s domestic U.S. membership dropped 2.7 percent from a reported 1,866,758 members in 2013 to 1,817,004 in 2014, a loss of 49,794 persons. Attendance took an even steeper hit, with the average number of Sunday worshipers dropping from 623,691 in 2013 to 600,411 in 2014, a decline of 23,280 persons in the pews, down 3.7 percent.
The numbers are significantly worse than 2013, when the church reported a 1.4 percent decline in membership and 2.6 percent decline in average Sunday attendance. One contributing factor is figures from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), the local Episcopal Church jurisdiction formed after the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina departed the denomination in the autumn of 2012.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,” says Isaiah, 43:2, “and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
Well, for the most part, at least.
The biblical words resonated with area church leaders and parishioners affected by this week’s storm as they assessed the damage to their places of worship and helped each other find alternative spaces for upcoming services.
Blessed Lord, who wast tempted in all things like as we are, have mercy upon our frailty. Out of weakness give us strength; grant to us thy fear, that we may fear thee only; support us in time of temptation; embolden us in time of danger; help us to do thy work with good courage, and to continue thy faithful soldiers and servants unto our life’s end.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? says the LORD. The command which Jon’adab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. The sons of Jon’adab the son of Rechab have kept the command which their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing on Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.” But to the house of the Re’chabites Jeremiah said, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jon’adab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Jon’adab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
As the western-backed bombing of ISIL targets continues in Iraq and Syria, a leading British Jew has established a fund to resettle Christian refugees from the region.
The 96-year-old peer, Lord George Weidenfeld, was rescued from Nazi Germany by Quakers. Now he’s set up the Barnabas Fund, which has already freed 158 Christians enslaved in Syria.
His campaign comes amid further reports of crucifixions and beheadings of Christians and other minorities.
Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the best arguments against assisted suicide ”” especially advanced by such liberal icons as E.J. Dionne and Victoria Kennedy ”” are progressive. Liberals are generally happy for government to restrict individual freedoms to prevent violence and killing. They are also generally skeptical of the idea that choice leads to genuine freedom, especially for those without power on the margins of our culture.
Indeed, liberal states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and, until this week, California had all recently rejected such legislation. Britain’s attempt to pass an assisted-suicide bill also went down to overwhelming defeat.
To get a victory in California, its supporters were forced to bypass the regular legislative process (which defeated the bill) and instead consider the bill in a healthcare special session, and under unusual rules. This context is as telling as it is disturbing.
Read it all from the LA Times.
A new publication containing the Agreed Statement on Christology of the Anglican”“Oriental Orthodox International Commission 2014 was launched during Vespers in St Asaph Cathedral by the Co”“Chairs of the commission, the Rt Revd Gregory K Cameron Bishop of St Asaph, and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, in the presence of the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, former Co”“Chair of the Commission and co”“signatory to the Statement.
The Commission completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, agreeing on the omission of the Filioque clause that had been appended to the Niceno”“Constantinopolitan Creed in the Latin Western tradition. The Co”“Chairs signed an Agreed Statement on the procession of the Holy Spirit, which is Part A of our ongoing work on our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit. A detailed discussion of the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church followed, including a discussion of the four marks of the Church, namely: oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity. The Commission has designated a drafting group which prepared a preliminary draft and will continue to work on Part B of our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit.
The Commission discussed the present situation of Christians in the Middle East and heard reports on the difficulties facing Churches, particularly in Syria and Iraq. There was a consideration of the most practical ways in which the Anglican Communion in its various countries could respond effectively to the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.
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— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) October 8, 2015