Daily Archives: March 30, 2016

[BBC World Service Newsday] Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali interviewed on the Lahore massacre

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is the former Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan. He spoke to Newsday’s Andrew Peach.

Bishop Michael: There has been a pattern of for example, mob violence against Christian communities, churches and sometimes even individuals, but this really is plumbing the depths of evil, because this time the target has been children and mothers playing at the swings. I don’t know of a softer target than that. So yes, things seem very bad here, from that point of view.

Interviewer: So it’s part of a series of attacks of this sort – attacks on churches, on Christian villages, that kind of thing, but also in a broader context in Pakistan – Christians facing violence; blasphemy laws have been targeting Christians in change recently.

Bishop Michael: Yes, there are layers of persecution, so there is legal discrimination against Christians, I mean that is embedded in the law now, and that was brought about 25/30 years ago. Then there is social discrimination in employment, in housing opportunities and schooling. Then as you say, there has been this mob violence. That has been very serious, lots of people have been killed, institutions destroyed. And now more recently there has been this terrorist attack, again part of a series of attacks – you may remember some churches were attacked last year.

How this has come about, because I remember a time, I was a bishop here before I was a bishop in England, and Christians and Muslims and others lived together amicably, neighbors went to the same schools, and ate in the same restaurants.

This has been brought about by this process of radicalisation based on an ideology that is regarded as based on religion. And it is not for me to say how authentic that is, but that is for other people to say how distorted it is or how authentic, but that is what is causing these problems.

Interviewer: And Michael, if that is your analysis on why this is happening, what do you think could change things in terms of stopping the persecution of Christians in Pakistan?

Bishop Michael: Yes, I think that is a very good question. I think there are a number of things. I think we need to address the teaching of hatred that children are absorbing from schooldays in their textbooks, in religious schools, even by religious teachers sometimes in public gatherings. That has to be addressed urgently.

The other is that we need changes in the law so that equality under the law is guaranteed for all. One law for all must be a principle that is recognised. Fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression, need to be safeguarded. And then of course there is the rampant misuse of the blasphemy laws. I have suggested again and again to successive governments how to deal with this, and I’ve had verbal agreement, ‘yes you know, it sounds a good idea we will do it,’ but in fact very little has been done. All those things which certainly improve the situation are of course the army and the security services are engaged, from their angle in curbing terrorist activity, and that is good, but I think these underlying causes also need to be addressed.

Listen to it all [Unofficial transcript by The Elves]

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

Tim Stanley–British Christians must start to think and act like a minority

it’s not all doom and gloom. Britain has gone through periods of near-faithlessness before ”“ and come out of them thanks to waves of mini-awakenings fired by popular zeal. In the mid-19th century, Anglo-Catholicism and non-conformism revived the spirit in urban centres. They also injected themselves into politics by fighting child labour and poverty. The idea that some separation of church and state exists in England is a recent, fatuous import from America: we still have an established church and policy has always been framed by religious viewpoints. The Labour Party was a movement dominated by Methodists and Catholics. The Anglicans were once called ”˜the Tory Party at prayer’. In the arts, too, Christians need to be as visible as CS Lewis, GK Chesterton or Malcolm Muggeridge. Speak up, speak out. Let people know that you’re a believer.

Christians ought to illustrate the ways in which their faith has informed so much that is lazily associated with secular liberalism. Humanism, they should remind the public, began in the Catholic renaissance. Tolerance evolved from the notion that conversion should be entirely a matter of free will. Even Britain’s constant guilt over its past treatment of religious minorities is, ironically, a Christian thing: there’s no such culture of self-abasement in Turkey, even if it did previously rule millions with an iron fist during the Ottoman period.

Doubt and criticism of one’s motives are essential to the Christian ethic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

Sunrise at Easter

Carl Nielsen – Overture Helios – Danish National Symphony Orchestra

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

CS Lewis– "to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection"

In the earliest days of Christianity an ”˜apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the Crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first-hand evidence of the Resurrection in addressing the outer world (Acts 1:22). A few days later St Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim”””˜God raised Jesus, of which we all (we Christians) are witnesses’ (Acts 2:32). In the first Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul bases his claim to apostleship on the same ground”””˜Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus?’ (1:9).

As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. . . . . The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ”˜gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ”˜gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. . . . . The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ”˜gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.

–C.S. Lewis, Miracles, Chapter 15, Miracles of the New Creation

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bishop of Chichester's 2016 Easter Sermon

And this is where the oddity of today’s celebration touches our lives in challenging ways. If I may speak personally, I find it increasingly difficult to resist the onslaught of information that is directed at me or required from me. My life feels as though it is regulated to the point of near extinction, by Government, by economic responsibility, by social and cultural suspicion, by commercial bureaucracy. And this is before I start on the day job! My space as a human being sometimes feels so thoroughly invaded and occupied that I just want to switch off, cut the wifi, abandon the mobile, stop the emails, and regain some quality of human and spiritual equilibrium.

It is no wonder that so high a percentage of young people in Britain today register anxiety as a dominant emotion. The tank of our potential for human flourishing is cluttered up with too much stuff. It’s as though we’ve filled the empty tomb so full with an unhappy blend of debt, regulation, kitsch memorabilia, and a craving for novelty, that there is no longer any expectation of room for glory, space for mystery, allowance for the confounding of limited expectation.

This is a situation that was recently described by Jonathan Sacks, in his masterly book, Not in God’s name, where he observes that we have attained “unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy and affluence”¦.[and] the result is that the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning”.

Which is why the symbol of the empty tomb is so powerful and haunting. Here is the sign of our mortality and death. One day the frame of this body will come to resemble that tomb, when the breath stops and the agency of control and demand is lifted from us. Then, as now when we celebrate the dawn of Easter glory and the glory of life, the very breath of God will be able to fill the space within us, to satisfy our deepest longing, to give freedom to our best and greatest loves, to perfect our every thought and deed that has already expanded the meaning of goodness, truth and justice.

As Easter celebrations begin, those of you who gave up alcohol, sweets, cakes and biscuits, can look forward to your Easter gin and tonic, the glass of remarkable claret, and unbridled pleasure as you accept the offer of a chocolate after lunch. This is your enactment of the reception of divine love in the glory of resurrection; you have made an empty space in your appetites and desires, in order to rehearse what it will be like to receive, all over again, a perfect and eternal gift in the new creation that evokes something you have already known so well. The full to overflowing font is the symbol of that perfect gift and what resurrection means. It is the recovery of our total capacity to expand into the divine life of God, as in baptism we are united with Jesus Christ: “In him the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form, and you have come to fullness in him” ”“ is how St Paul describes it (Col. 2.9) So, happy Easter. Savour the gin, raise a toast to the CofE with the claret, enjoy the chocolate, and expand into the freedom of a bank holiday. But more than these transient celebrations, attend to the eternal fulfilment they betoken. Don’t run away from the empty tomb; it is your destiny. Let its haunting beauty inspire you. Make space for the glory of God to begin its transformative effect in your life now.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Oliver O'Donovan–Resurrection and the Senses: In Defence of Thomas

Thomas the Twin became Thomas the Witness, and that required an integrated intelligence of what had happened, seeing and touching and hearing to establish faith. But Thomas the Witness became Thomas the Apostle and Martyr, and no one can be an apostle and martyr without venturing beyond what is understood through sight and touch and hearing. And so the blessing Jesus pronounces on those who believe without seeing, will apply later on to Thomas, too.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” What we are to do, what we are to suffer, is not shown to us in advance when we are sent out on our mission. If it were, it would not be a mission. There is none of us, however assured and convinced of the truth of the resurrection faith, who will not at some point have to live without knowing.

The blessing is for all of us, for we are all sent to engage with a world of which we have no foreknowledge. Neither the risks nor the possible achievements have been explained to us in advance.

Faith may look for a well-grounded confidence, but when it has won its confidence, it ventures upon it. That is why faith is active and potent, a force for the condemnation of sin and the liberation of bound souls. It is for that that the Holy Spirit is given.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(Independent) Sex will be made unnecessary by 'designer babies', Stanford professor says

The majority of humans in developed countries will stop having sex to procreate within decades, a leading academic has predicted.

Professor Henry Greely believes that in as little as 20 years, most children will be conceived in a laboratory, rather than through sexual intercourse.

He even suggests the natural process of conception could become stigmatised.

The change would mark an evolutionary break with all other human beings, and indeed animals, throughout history.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Men, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

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

O risen and victorious Christ, whose power and love destroyed the darkness and death of sin; Ascend, we pray thee, the throne of our hearts, and so rule our wills by the might of that immortality wherewith thou hast set us free, that we may evermore be alive unto God, through the power of thy glorious resurrection; world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.”

Matthew 28:5-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Cigarette breaks and crochet: the unlikely revival of inner city churches

Cigarette breaks between hymns, candlelit services in pubs and parties serving halal food to welcome Muslim neighbours are among unlikely new ideas helping revive the fortunes of once run-down inner city churches, highlighted in a new report.

The breach with traditional ecclesiastical style is singled out in the study into an at-times controversial plan by the Church of England to “plant” new congregations into historic parishes where numbers in the pews have dwindled for decades.

The policy, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior clerics, involves asking a group of often young, enthusiastic members of successful, growing congregations to move to another church as “planters” to inject new energy and ideas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

[Canon Phil Ashey] The Primates’ Authority does not depend on Canterbury

I want to commend the statement issued by Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, “Does the Primates meeting have any authority?”. Archbishop Mouneer issues a robust defense of the authority of the Primates’ meeting to oversee the relationships between Anglican provinces with regards to doctrinal, moral and pastoral issues.
The Communion’s Primates are NOT impotent when the Archbishop of Canterbury fails to respond publicly to the Anglican Consultative Council’s public repudiation of Primatial authority. What do the Primates do when the Archbishop of Canterbury remains silent in the face of such a public repudiation of their “enhanced responsibility”? Do they simply wring their hands? Must they remain silent until he speaks””IF he ever decides to speak? Of course not. That is why the Primates of the three largest Churches in the Anglican Communion”“Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda””have spoken so clearly. They understand that their Primatial authority or “enhanced responsibility” to guard the faith and order of the Churches of the Anglican Communion derives from their office as “Principal Bishops” of their Churches, and not from Canterbury. Primates can and do act whether the Archbishop of Canterbury calls them together or not, whether he speaks up for them and their collegial mind and decision making””or not, as Archbishop Welby has chosen to do.

The enhanced responsibility of the Primates to guard the faith and order of the Churches of the Anglican Communion is more than moral and persuasive. It is an ancient principle in Church law..

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

Tuesday Mental Health Break–The first 100 Days of Mei Lun and Mei Huan

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Photos/Photography

(Her.meneutics) Q+A: Darlene Zschech, the ”˜Mama Bear’ of Worship Music

What is your vision for the global 21st-century church?

That we would be hungry for the presence of God in our midst and that we would be more united. When the Word says that when we’re united, there’s a blessing. There is a dying to self that happens when you want unity. A lot of people feel that that is too hard, so I would pray that we become better at that. I would pray that there is another great awakening and revival, and that we get passionate about people getting saved. It’s only Jesus that can do that.

As his representatives, I hope we have a great revelation of who we are in Christ. You don’t need a platform, and you don’t need a microphone. You just need to go and preach Jesus wherever you find yourself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology