Daily Archives: February 17, 2016

[Ian Paul] Order, freedom and human flourishing

…Jesus teaches his disciples in Mark 10 that they will be blessed when they forsake the comforts and securities normally associated with human flourishing. The Beatitudes look like a very indirect way to be ”˜blessed’. And Paul, and James, and John in Revelation””all the writers in the NT””assume as evident that suffering and hardship are the way to wholeness. Our faith, according to 1 Peter, is so precious that it is like gold refined by fire””which cannot feel very flourishing to the gold itself as it goes through the process.

The paradox is this: humans only flourish as God intends when human flourishing is the penultimate, but not the ultimate goal of human living, both in the ordering of obedience to God’s commands and the radical freedom in Christ which is strangely realised in and through this””that ultimate goal being the realisation of the kingdom of God. One of the challenges for the Church of England is whether it will stay faithful to this transcendent, rather than merely human and humanist, vision.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

A Williams: 'No unity at the expense of truth': a response to Justin Welby's Presidential Address

The Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised the need for a balance between order, freedom and human flourishing.

But what freedom is the Archbishop speaking of here?

He is right in reminding us that Jesus came to set us free. Yet true freedom is freedom from sin, which is found in repentance and the surrendering of human desires to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not freedom to continue holding to disobedience of the Word.

Obedience to the Word of God is vital if the Church is to flourish.

If the Church compromises the Truth we are are not fit to evangelise. How can we evangelise with a watered down gospel that reflects the spirit of the age that is less appealing to many than the running club?

Obedience to the true Gospel is worth living and dying for: as Jesus predicted his death he said:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels”.

We are not preaching a true Gospel message, if the teaching of the Bible on such a vital matter as marriage and sexuality is compromised. There can be no relevance if the truth is truncated.

The Archbishop spoke of the picture of humility that Jesus painted through the washing of His disciples’ feet. But in that humility and servant-heartedness, we must point people to truth. Archbishop Justin failed to speak of truth or of objective revelation from God. It is as if truth has been relegated to a ‘process of discernment’ not a matter of scripture, canons and creed.

This is a capitulation to the ‘spirit of the age’, not the Spirit of God who has spoken in Scripture.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

John Bingham: CofE's teaching on marriage 'up for discussion' to accommodate same-sex couples

The Church of England is poised to rethink its centuries-old doctrine of marriage to accommodate same-sex couples, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have signalled.

In a letter to a leading Anglican gay rights campaigner, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said that Church’s teaching on sexuality was a “matter for discussion” during a series of special meetings being held behind closed doors.

The letter, sent on behalf of himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, he said the “outcome” of the discussions was still open.

His comments make clear that the Church has not ruled out reconsidering its traditional teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that sex outside of marriage is a “sin”.

But senior clerics have repeatedly acknowledged that any change to the Church of England’s position on the issue could trigger a split.

Last month its US sister church, The Episcopal Church, was partially excluded from the global Anglican Communion for changing its official definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.

Dr Sentamu’s comments came in a reply to Jayne Ozanne, a gay member of the decision-making General Synod who co-ordinated a letter signed by more than 100 senior Anglicans calling on the Church of England to “repent” of its attitude towards homosexuality.

Archbishop Welby launched a process of “facilitated conversations” last year aimed at achieving “good disagreement” between liberals and traditionalists over the issue of sexuality.

The meetings, taking place in small groups, are being overseen by a team of “facilitators” led by the Archbishop’s reconciliation director, Canon David Porter, a Belfast-born peacemaker.

Much of the General Synod’s main annual meeting in York in July is to be given over to the special meetings from which ordinary churchgoers, the public and the media will be excluded.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishops of York and Canterbury: Reply to letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories

The Church of England has today published a response of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to the letter received from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories from January of this year.
You will remember that from the concluding News Conference when the Primates Communique was first publicised, the Archbishop of Canterbur emphasised that LGBTI people had been very badly treated by churches; for that he offered a personal, heartfelt and unequivocal apology, This is echoed in the communique, in which the Primates express their sorrow.

However there needs to be clarity as to what an expression of repentance does and does not mean. It should not be misconstrued as to include an implicit rejection of the Church’s doctrine of marriage as we have received it. As you know the Church of England’s understandings of these matters is a matter for discussion at the present time in our ‘Shared Conversations’. The outcome of these conversations is not yet known.….

Read it all [pdf] from here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury


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TEC will go to the ACC meeting in Lusaka and they will vote, ACC chairman says

The Episcopal Church “cannot be kicked out of the Anglican Communion and will never be kicked out of the Anglican Communion,” the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council told a seminary audience last week.

In a public conversation with the dean of the School of Theology of the University of the South held on 11 Feb 2016, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga said the legal and ecclesial structures of the Anglican Communion did not permit the primates, or any other “instrument of communion”, to discipline a member church.

Dr. Tengatenga said that in his view, the impression that the primates could take decisive action arose from a confusion of roles. In most provinces, bishops were tasked with preserving the doctrine and teaching of the church. When bishops gathered in mass in gatherings such as the Lambeth Conference, or when the leaders of provinces met at the primates meeting, the participants were often under the impression that their deliberations had the same standing as they would have in their home churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

CDC investigates why so many high school students in wealthy Palo Alto have committed suicide

In Palo Alto, Calif., the shrill horn of incoming trains bring a constant reminder of young lives lost too soon. For the last seven years, Caltrains have been the suicide technique of choice among teenagers in the Silicon Valley town, where the adolescent suicide rate has soared to five times the national average.

It was in this way that a bright, popular, goofy kid named Cameron Lee ended his life in November 2014. By then, his classmates at Henry M. Gunn High School were all too accustomed to this sort of inexplicable tragedy. They hailed, after all, from a part of the country that had become known for its affluence, technical ingenuity and the number of kids that had been pushed to the brink.

“I am 15 years old and I just organized a memorial,” Isabelle Blanchard, the sister of one suicide victim, told The Atlantic.

It is an eerie refrain that has played out again and again.

Over the course of nine months in 2009 and 2010, six Palo Alto teenagers committed suicide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology

Evangelism is 'our duty, privilege and joy', Archbishop Welby tells General Synod

“The high points of the calling to serve God in His Church are the times when he works to draw people to himself. The times when hearts begin to thaw with his love, eyes open to his light, and shoulders lift as He comes alongside to bear burdens, as those who have carried around guilt, like in the Pilgrim’s Progress, that has weighed down memory with regret and shame know a freedom and release they never dreamt possible, as those who assumed that they had no worth realise their inestimable and infinite worth to God.

“God works through his Spirit to draw people to open their hands to receive his love and transforming power – and we have the huge privilege of seeing this happen. For me some of the most memorable and grace-filled moments of the last three years have been seeing God at work in the lives of those who would not call themselves Christians, but who I have had the privilege of seeing gently and profoundly drawn to Jesus Christ.

“This is our duty, our privilege and our joy. There is nothing like it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

***Bishop Festo Kivengere's account of the Martyrdom of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970’s when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, “We live today and are gone tomorrow” was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, “How do you prepare yourself for death?” Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)….
It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

…we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop’s arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum’s Memorial Service. She said, “This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn’t it?” And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin’s guards to pack St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the “Martyr’s Song,” which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, “Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord.” They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

–Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

[See here for further information, and, through the wonders of the modern world, you may also find a copy online there].

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Soteriology, Theology, Uganda

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Thomas Wilson

O Heavenly Father, subdue in us whatever is contrary to thy holy will, that we may know how to please thee. Grant, O God, that we may never run into those temptations which in our prayers we desire to avoid. Lord, never permit our trials to be above our strength; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

–Mark 1:29-45

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Diocese of Manchester: Row about play which portrays Jesus as a transgender woman

David Walker, Bishop of Manchester

A play that portrays Jesus as a transgender woman who refers to God as ‘Mum’ is to be performed in a Church of England church today.

To the fury of critics who say the play is deeply offensive, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, will not block the staging of The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven.

The one-woman play by Jo Clifford, an award-winning Scottish playwright who has herself changed gender, imagines Jesus returning to earth as a ‘trans woman’ and retelling the parables with a transsexual slant.

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

**CofE Synod: David Porter Plans July Facilitated Conversations on Sexual Immorality

[BUMPED for topical reasons]

Canon David Porter and his team are introduced by David Walker, Bishop of Manchester – he who thinks portraying Jesus as a transgendered woman is fine in his diocese.

Watch it all or listen here

See also related posts:
+ John Bingham: CofE’s teaching on marriage ”˜up for discussion’ to accommodate same-sex couples (February 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm)
+ Archbishops of York and Canterbury: Reply to letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories (February 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

(AI) Communique from the Church of Nigeria Standing Committee's February 2016 Meeting

Read it all carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

(NYT Op-ed) Arthur Brooks–Narcissism Is Increasing. So You’re Not So Special.

My teenage son recently informed me that there is an Internet quiz to test oneself for narcissism. His friend had just taken it. “How did it turn out?” I asked. “He says he did great!” my son responded. “He got the maximum score!”

When I was a child, no one outside the mental health profession talked about narcissism; people were more concerned with inadequate self-esteem, which at the time was believed to lurk behind nearly every difficulty. Like so many excesses of the 1970s, the self-love cult spun out of control and is now rampaging through our culture like Godzilla through Tokyo.

A 2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the percentage of college students exhibiting narcissistic personality traits, based on their scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely used diagnostic test, has increased by more than half since the early 1980s, to 30 percent. In their book “Narcissism Epidemic,” the psychology professors Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell show that narcissism has increased as quickly as obesity has since the 1980s. Even our egos are getting fat….This is a costly problem.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology