Daily Archives: February 5, 2016

(WSJ) Belgium Unveils Plan to Combat Islamist Radicalization

The Belgian government, reacting to the major role terrorists from Brussels played in the Paris terror attacks, unveiled a program Friday to combat Islamist radicalization in and around the city.

The plans include the hiring of 1,000 new police officers across the country by 2019, with 300 of them added this year and deployed in eight municipalities in the Brussels region.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the additional police force in Brussels would focus on cutting off revenue sources for extremist groups by countering illicit trade in arms, drugs and false travel documents. Brussels police will also increase the monitoring of places of worship known for extremist preaching, he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Wycliffe Hall) Michael Lloyd shares a few thoughts on maturity and wisdom (Colossians 1: 24-29)

…what I want you to notice is that when Paul tells the Colossians in verse 24 that ”˜my suffering is for you’, he does not use the same word. He does not use the word eis. Because suffering is not directed towards anything. It has no constructive purpose. It has no positive teleology. It has no direct place in the economy and providence of God. Left to its own devices, suffering does nothing but inhibit, destroy, disintegrate and embitter ”“ that is its only natural teleology.

We know that because, when Jesus comes across suffering, He does not urge people to accept it as God’s will for them. He does not refuse to heal them on the grounds that God is behind their suffering. He does not refuse to work healing miracles on the grounds that their suffering is doing them good. He assaults their suffering. He declares war on human suffering. He heals their illnesses. His compassion drives Him to undo whatever is holding them back from being the whole, healthy and thriving people He made them to be. (He’s at it again in the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17, which we had as our gospel reading this evening). And Jesus is our window on the person and purpose and providence of God. So we have no mandate to say that God approves what Jesus attacks. Jesus attacks suffering in His ministry, sin on the cross, and death in His resurrection ”“ and God is against all three.

And yet. And yet, somehow, despite that, (v. 24) Paul rejoices in his suffering. Paul rejoices in the inhibiting, destructive, disintegrative and embittering suffering that happens to him in his own flesh. Paul rejoices in that which God hates. We need to feel the dissonance of that. We need to hear it grating. We need to be shocked into the acknowledgement that something unnatural, or, rather, supernatural is going on here. What we have here is the miracle of fruitful suffering.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley–Mere Anglicanism 2016: a Report (II)

In summary, said Dr. Anis, Christians who witness to Muslims must depend entirely on the Holy Spirit, and should be authentic, humble and generous in all their dealings. Muslims who convert frequently must pay a heavy price in loss of family relationships and everything they had held dear; the Christian community must be prepared to do all that it can to mitigate those losses. He closed his talk with a short film that showed the various kinds of Christian outreach his own diocese is sponsoring, with an emphasis on providing the best possible loving care to Egyptians from all walks of life in Christian-run hospitals, and offering testimonies from those whose lives had changed in consequence. God’s love, shown to Muslims and others through freely given medical and other care, brings results on God’s timetable. “Our job is to witness to Christ’s love, to pay the price when asked, and to involve the local community of believers.”

Another perspective on witnessing to Muslims was offered by Fouad Masri, a Lebanese-born, third-generation pastor who trained in the United States, and then in 1993 founded the Crescent Project, based in Indianapolis, through which he has taught more than 21,000 Christians how to share their faith sensitively and caringly with Muslims. He stressed that Muslims generally do not know what Christians believe, that they never read the Bible for themselves, and have repeatedly been told that it is unreliable (its text is, e.g., hopelessly corrupt in comparison with the Qu’ran that was dictated directly from Allah).

“Because you have been at this conference,” he predicted, “God will put a Muslim in your path. Be an ambassador for your faith: represent it truly, humbly, and without apology or evasion. Be friendly — don’t criticize Muslim beliefs; build bridges, biblical bridges, from your faith to theirs, with which you can reach them. Invite them to your home, and share what you have. Remember that God, not us, makes people Christians; we are God’s humble servants, and our involvement is His involvement with the world.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Apologetics, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Friday Morning Music–The Pie Jesu from John Rutter's Requiem

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, History, Music

(NY Times Op-ed) Rusty Reno– How Both Parties Lost the White Middle Class

What’s striking ”” and crucial for understanding our populist moment ”” is the fact that the leadership cadres of both parties aren’t just unresponsive to this anxiety. They add to it.

The intelligentsia on the left rarely lets a moment pass without reminding us of the demographic eclipse of white middle-class voters. Sometimes, those voters are described as racists, or derided as dull suburbanites who lack the élan of the new urban “creative class.” The message: White middle-class Americans aren’t just irrelevant to America’s future, they’re in the way.

Conservatives are no less harsh. Pundits ominously predict that the “innovators” are about to be overwhelmed by a locust blight of “takers.” The message: If it weren’t for successful people like us, middle-class people like you would be doomed. And if you’re not an entrepreneurial “producer,” you’re in the way.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(Premier) Archbp Justin Welby defends frank discussions on faith

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the House of Lords that there is no right not to be offended by frank assertions of faith.

He was speaking as the house discussed extremist interpretations of Islam.

Justin Welby insisted that some comments were unacceptable, however he added that others were part of general debate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pope, Russian Orthodox patriarch meet in historic step

The Vatican says Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a major step to heal the 1000-year-old schism that divided Christianity between East and West.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(Church Times) Mission targets C of E to lobby for same-sex marriage for lay+ordained

Same-sex marriage in churches, and full access to all three Holy Orders for those in such marriages, are among the goals of a new mission calling for “the full acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people” in the Church of England.

The LGBTI Mission, launched on Thursday, has put together a programme of goals that it would like to achieve “over the next five years and beyond”. It includes demands for action from the hierarchy, alongside plans to press ahead independently, including the publication of liturgy to celebrate same-sex marriage.

A booklet outlining the programme, published yesterday, lists examples of “discrimination” and “injustice” faced by LGBTI people, and warns of a culture of “collusion and silence” in the Church. Some young LGBTI people do not feel “safe and welcomed”, it says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from George Hickes

Teach us, O gracious Lord, to begin our works with fear, to go on with obedience, and to finish them in love, and then to wait patiently in hope, and with cheerful confidence to look up to thee, whose promises are faithful and rewards infinite; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

–Hebrews 12:3-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria reports on the 2016 Primates Gathering

It has been the collective resolution of the GAFCON Group for several years that we shall not participate in any gathering in the Anglican Communion to which TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) were invited, until they repented of their erroneous doctrinal and theological postures and practices. However, following the almost unanimous resolution of the GAFCON and the Global South Groups, we decided the invitation.

Attached is the statement of the meeting regarding TEC.

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) was not focused on because it claimed that it has not altered its Marriage Canon. However, we know that the Anglican Church of Canada, Scotland, Wales, Brazil and New Zealand are on the way to toeing the footsteps of TEC. We are yet to be convinced that the restrictions imposed on TEC will be implemented. The bottom line, therefore, is that nothing has changed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Do not Take Yourself Too Seriously Dept–Jeff Daniels has a Make up problem at SNL

Watch and enjoy it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television

A S Haley–Mere Anglicanism 2016: a Report (I)

The theme of this year’s Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina was “The Cross and the Crescent: the Gospel and the Challenge of Islam.” Over the course of four sessions, seven speakers gave the sold-out audience a comprehensive view of Islamic ideology and history, along with the understanding and tools which Christians need in their personal dealings with Muslims.

The Conference was carefully balanced. Two of the speakers analyzed the tenets of Islam and their contrasts with those of Christianity; two of the speakers spoke to the historical and present-day conflicts between Islamic countries and Western ones; two offered insights and approaches to discussing religion with followers of Mohammed, garnered from their years of experience in dealing with Muslims from all walks of life; and the seventh speaker offered a moving personal testimony to his own conversion from Islam to Christianity — a decision which cost him his closest ties to his own family. In order to keep my report easier to follow, I shall divide it into two parts. I will first discuss those speakers who gave analytical and historical critiques of Islam, and then cover those who offered pragmatic advice in the second part.

Dr. William Lane Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology (La Mirada, California), and also a Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptists University, opened the Conference on Thursday evening with a talk on “The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity.” He explained that he had been interacting with Islam, both academically and in debates with leading Muslim advocates, for over thirty years. In that time, he learned how to address the issue of the God that each religion worships. We should not ask: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”, because that approach gets tied up in differences over terminology and semantics. A more useful inquiry is: “What is the concept of ‘God’ in Islam, and in Christianity? Are they the same? And if not, which one is true?”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Anglican and Uniting churches in Melbourne offer sanctuary to asylum seekers after High Court ruling

Melbourne’s Anglican churches say they cannot offer sanctuary to asylum seekers facing immediate deportation to Nauru because they are not equipped to provide accommodation.

It puts the Melbourne Anglican diocese at great odds with its counterparts around the rest of the country, who are willing to face police raids and possible charges to shield asylum seekers.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology