Daily Archives: February 10, 2016

C.S. Lewis for Ash Wednesday 2016

The idea of national repentance seems at first sight to provide such an edifying contrast to that national self-righteousness of which England is so often accused and with which she entered (or is said to have entered) the last war, that a Christian naturally turns to it with hope. Young Christians especially-last-year undergraduates and first-year curates- are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England. What that share is, I do not find it easy to determine. Most of these young men were children, and none of them had a vote or the experience which would enable them to use a vote wisely, when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?

If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. When we speak of England’s actions we mean the actions of the British government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing-but, first, of denouncing-the conduct of others.

–C.S. Lewis, “Dangers of national repentance”

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Theology

Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Ash Wednesday 2016

“Confess your faults one to another” (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Statement of the Archbishop of Nigeria on the Canterbury primates gathering

18 January 2016

Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

My Beloved in the Lord,


Grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We thank God for His inestimable grace that strengthens us in His service. To Him be the glory.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev’d and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, invited all the Primates of the Anglican Communion to a meeting in Canterbury to discuss issues affecting our Communion. After some regional and sub-regional consultations with the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) and the Global South Groups, it was decided that we should accept the invitation for whatever it was worth, irrespective of the fact that some of our provinces are in impaired relationship with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) in particular, and other churches that are following their footsteps.

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.
As stated in the statement of the meeting attached herewith, ”˜for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or policy’.Furthermore, The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev’d and Rt Hon. Justin Welby was asked ”˜to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ’.

In the meantime, the state of broken communion with TEC and Canada and those churches that are following their bad examples remains in place. Our decision to severe relations was based on their practice of ordaining and consecrating clergy in active homosexual relationship. This is what led to GAFCON, Jerusalem 2008. Reported reactions of some church leaders and members of TEC to the statement of the Primates’ meeting clearly suggest that they are not yet willing to repent of their unbiblical doctrine and practices.

We shall remain fervent in prayers and steadfast in upholding the word of God in the teachings and life of the Church. God’s grace is sufficient unto us.

Yours in His service.

The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD

Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Read it all with thanks to Anglican Ink

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

[Bp Bill Atwood] Boo-boos about the Transcendent One

..As I have been traveling to a whole list of Provinces over these last weeks, what I am hearing from them is pretty much the same. They are saying that they were shocked to find out what was going on in the Episcopal Church. Clearly, they have said, what TEC does needs to be judged according to Scripture. For those of us who have been under the artillery barrages of TEC for years, it is hard for us to believe that people could find TEC’s behavior surprising. TEC, Canada, Brazil, and others are pursuing the same course. The difference now is that a plumb line has been brought to bear. It has not yet been used to judge everything that is out of order, but the process has started. Some of the Bishops in other countries have said to me, “Now that the Episcopal Church has been disciplined, surely they will repent now.”

That is the kind of thing that is said by the youngest and least experienced. In fact, as I have said, TEC won’t repent. They are too far turned over to their reprobate thinking. Other leaders, usually the battle hardened older leaders who have seen how far things have gone are saying, “Of course they won’t repent, but now, in three years’ time, we will have a much larger and firmer coalition to hold the line as TEC has to walk apart.”

Many things are still unfolding from the Canterbury meeting. People will offer lots of spin, but I am convinced that something profound was offered to the future of the Anglican way, the chance for the institution to speak the truth.

The other positive thing is that the Archbishops of several Provinces that have not been in GAFCON have indicated that they want to join now. There will be a process for the Province to make that move, but there is no question in my mind that they will follow through. Even better, there will be others as well…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

[Jeff Walton] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop: Anglicans Didn’t “Vote us off island”

..“Thanks for not throwing us under the bus ”“ the LGBT community as well as the Episcopal Church, we’re proud of you,” stated [Bishop Gene Robinson], who now serves as a fellow at the D.C.-based liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

During his planned comments, Curry elaborated on two mission priorities established at the church’s General Convention this past summer: evangelism and racial reconciliation.

“The Presiding Bishop needs to be the Chief Evangelism Officer,” Curry trumpeted, declaring a commitment “to what I call the Jesus Movement ”“ the way of God’s love in this world.”

The bishop lamented that “extremism is happening in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and that a religious center “is very quiet and intimidated.”
Curry pointed to Pope Francis as an exemplar of the “Jesus Movement.”

“He wouldn’t use the world inclusion, but that’s what he’s doing,” Curry determined.

Stating of religion, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God ”“ period,” Curry elaborated that the “love of God is about self-sacrifice of self-interest for the good of others.” The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop defined the way of evangelism as about “drawing towards the center ”“ not about increasing Episcopal market share.”

“I’m in this business because we’re going to learn to live together ”“ and the Episcopal Church will lead the way as part of the Jesus movement.”…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

Episcopal Church Won't Stop Supporting Same-Sex Marriage former NH Diocesan Leader Says

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Posted in Uncategorized

Food for Thought from Saint Augustine for Ash Wednesday

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction….The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself….By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.

–Augustine, The City of God 14.13

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Former homeless & ex drug addicts become faces of latest campaign for CofE's justpray.uk

Men and women who found faith at a homeless centre are to star in a series of short dramatic films for Lent and Easter launched by the Church of England today. The five film stars have all recently come to faith through the Saturday Gathering, a fresh expression of church in Halifax – and most have experienced crime, alcohol, drug addiction, homelessness or violence in their lives.

The “Psalm 22 project” follows on from the Church of England’s “Lord’s Prayer” campaign which was banned by cinemas before Christmas and promotes the justpray.uk website.

The new justpray.uk campaign will feature short teaser films over the next five weeks concluding with the launch of a two minute film on Easter Sunday which casts the five main characters in their own interpretation of a scene from the Passion of Christ. The film is based on Psalm 22 which includes the words “my God, my G

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(The State) Presidential race turns to South Carolina

Furman University political scientist Danielle Vinson sees two different races: “Those fighting for Trump and Cruz who say, ”˜We want an outsider,’ versus everyone else who wants a practical candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton and won’t embarrass you along the way.”

…the story in New Hampshire was how Rubio’s opponents, especially those in the establishment, hit the one-term U.S. senator repeatedly over his lack of experience.

“I don’t think South Carolina will decide anything for Republicans,” Vinson said. “It’s more of a race whether it salvages Rubio or makes those concerns linger longer.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology

(FT) Edward Luce–New Hampshire primary: voters repudiate America’s elites

The US establishment’s worst nightmare is coming true. Forget whether they happen to be Democratic or Republican. With record turnouts and by margins few could have imagined possible a few weeks ago, New Hampshire’s voters repudiated America’s elites.

The victors were an ageing socialist who had almost zero name recognition a year ago and America’s most famous reality television host. The scale of Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s victories were breathtaking.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frederick Macnutt

O Lord and heavenly Father, who hast given unto us thy people the true bread that cometh down from heaven, even thy Son Jesus Christ: Grant that throughout this Lent our souls may so be fed by him that we may continually live in him and he in us; and that day by day we may be renewed in spirit by the power of his endless life, who gave himself for us, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ”˜God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ”˜God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

–Luke 18:9-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FS) Three Ways America's Religious Institutions Can Strengthen Marriage

1.) Religious congregations can think creatively about how to welcome unmarried young adults and those from different socio-economic backgrounds into their communities.

When Stephanie visited a nearby Catholic church, hoping to get connected, she couldn’t help but notice that most of the parishioners seemed affluent. They dressed nicely, and she felt that her t-shirt from Goodwill, jeans, and tattoos made her conspicuous. She felt like if she wanted to go back, she needed to buy new clothes, but she didn’t want to spend the money to do that. No one seemed to smoke, either, so she was the only one who needed to step out during the two-hour Bible study to take a smoke break, which also made her feel awkward.

When she tried bringing her children to Mass, there was no childcare available, and she felt self-conscious about and distracted by their poor behavior in church. As a single parent, it was doubly difficult to get them to behave because there was just one of her and two of them. There was a class her son could attend, but it wasn’t the kind of thing you were just supposed to walk into. There were fees and paperwork, so it didn’t feel like the kind of place she could just drop her son off, even though the teacher was kind and accommodating when Stephanie inquired.

Even social events meant to foster parish community often seemed to have a cost attached. While that’s understandable, it meant attending Lenten fish fries and similar events entailed somewhat of a financial sacrifice for her.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

Presbyterian Church (USA) on Track to Lose Over 400K Members by 2020

Presbyterian Church (USA) is expecting to see a loss of over 400,000 members between 2015 and 2020, according to a reported internal document.

“The slide [from the meeting] also showed that COGA is predicting membership losses of 100,000 for both 2015 and 2016,” reported The Layman.

PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Executive Committee held a meeting last Wednesday when projected losses were discussed, according to a recent account by the conservative Presbyterian publication The Layman.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology