Daily Archives: June 3, 2016

Simon Watkinson–It’s not every young person’s dream, but I plan to be a vicar

The release of Church of England ministry statistics this week confirms once again the “ageing crisis” of Anglican clergy. Signs of change are evident, but it remains the case that there are almost twice as many clergy aged over 60 as under 40.

You would be forgiven for questioning the veracity of that data after walking into the church where I serve, however. St Luke’s Kentish Town has a clergy stock blessed with a vicar in his mid-30s, a curate just shy of 30, and me, as ordinand, aged 26. At the last count, the average age of the 200-strong congregation was 27. This is perfectly in keeping with our young north London location, but pitches us ”“ clergy and congregation ”“ as significantly more youthful than the Church of England as a whole.
Vicars needed: the Church of England’s fight to fill its vacancies in the north
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While the church realises that there are unusual enclaves such as ours, misconceptions are common about what really goes on in them. To be clear, this is not just the young leading the young. We (and many like us; we might be uncommon but are in no sense unique) are normal parishes, seeking to present and represent Jesus Christ faithfully to those around us, irrespective of age.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(1st Things) Dale Coulter–John Webster, 1955-2016: A Tribute

Almost all of Webster’s efforts at constructive theology after that address were an exercise in dogmatic theology, from his breviary on holiness (2002) to his “dogmatic sketch” of scripture (2003) and his collection of essays aptly titled Confessing God (2005). Of course, there was much more to the body of work Webster left than the three titles I have mentioned, but those three illustrate his ongoing concern with a theology of retrieval that privileged the particularity of Christian culture.

There is still one more lesson I gleaned from Webster during those early days at Oxford, and this was the role of grace in the theological task. At the conclusion of his introduction to Jüngel’s theology, Webster noted that Jüngel had focused on the role of grace as divine gift, to the exclusion of grace as elicitation and call. The indicative of the gift elicits the imperative of the call because the person is caught up into something greater that makes possible what was impossible. One can see how grace as elicitation began to permeate Webster’s work as he sought to redress the imbalance he found in Jüngel. The reconstruction of human identity in and through the sanctified life makes possible the task of theology, because theological reason just is “the exercise of redeemed intelligence within the economy of God’s revelatory grace.” Teasing out this notion of grace took Webster into the domain of pneumatology and the work of John Owen. But I learned the lesson through the deeply pastoral way in which Webster guided his students, even to the point of inviting us to continue dialoging in his house at Christ Church long after the lectures in the examination schools had ended.

As I reflect back on those heady days at Oxford reading through volume one of Barth’s Church Dogmatics with Webster at the helm in a room filled with Protestants and Catholics, I cannot help but recognize the way he became God’s gift of grace to so many. It is in this living communion that one discovers the many channels through which grace flows. John Webster was and is one such channel.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Theology

(Church Times) Ministry Statistics report clergy are older, and fewer are stipendiary

Falling numbers of stipendiary clergy in the Church of England, reported in the latest statistics, show the urgent need for more ordina­tions, the Director of Ministry for the Archbishops’ Council, the Ven. Julian Hubbard, has said.

The statistics, released yesterday, reveal that, while the total number of ordained ministers has remained at around 20,500 from 2012 to the end of last year, the number of stipendiary bishops, priests, and deacons fell from 8006 in 2012 to 7661.

The number of stipendiary women clergy has risen slightly every year, but has not offset the decline in numbers of men.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

(WSJ) Eric Metaxas–Are Atheists Afraid of God?

I have some history with Mr. [Lawrence] Krauss. In an op-ed in 2014 for this newspaper called “Is Science Increasingly Leading Us to God?” I discussed the implications of a fine-tuned universe””and stirred up swirling dust-devils of atheist outrage. Mr. Krauss attacked the op-ed in the New Yorker magazine with an essay called “No, Astrobiology Has Not Made the Case for God,” dismissing the idea of a divinely ordered universe as sheer nonsense.

How awkward. None other than Christopher Hitchens himself had taken the fine-tuned-universe argument seriously. In the 2009 documentary “Collision,” about his encounters with evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson, Hitchens says: “At some point, certainly, we [atheists] are all asked which is the best argument you come up against from the other side. I think every one of us picks the fine-tuning one as the most intriguing,” adding that “you have to spend time thinking about it, working on it. It’s not . . . trivial.”

If atheist activists want to be taken seriously, they must be willing to engage the facts. The fact is that Mr. Taunton has simply said that Hitchens late in life was “not certain” of his atheism. Unable to tolerate this crack in the atheist facade, Mr. Taunton’s critics reacted hysterically. The response lent credence to what many of us suspect””that atheists really do fear some facts, and, more than that, fear where those facts might lead.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, Books, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Part of) The Witness of J Robertson Mcquilkin, RIP

A Promise Kept Trailer from CIU Alumni Relations on Vimeo.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology

John Robertson McQuilkin's obituary in the (Columbia, South Carolina) State Newspaper

Upon graduating from seminary, he taught for two years at Columbia Bible College, and then became headmaster of Ben Lippen School in Asheville, NC. Five years later, he, his wife, Muriel, and their four children moved to Japan. For 12 years he planted five churches, winning people to faith in Jesus Christ. While in Japan he also served as interim president of Japan Christian College. In 1968, he was called back to Columbia Bible College and Seminary to serve as president for 22 years. During that time enrollment doubled, radio station WMHK was founded and Ben Lippen School was moved from Asheville to Columbia. In 1990, Robertson resigned the presidency to care for his first wife who was in the advanced stages of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

John Robertson McQuilkin, RIP

[The Mcquilkin’s].. love story went national when [John’s wife of what would be 55 years] Muriel developed Alzheimer’s disease and was eventually terrified to be without McQuilkin. Some of his friends advised him to put her into an institution. But he chose instead to leave Columbia eight years short of retirement in order to care for her.

McQuilkin explained his decision to CT:

When the time came, the decision was firm. It took no great calculation. It was a matter of integrity. Had I not promised, 42 years before, “in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part”?
This was no grim duty to which I stoically resigned, however. It was only fair. She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting Father, we pray that by through the ministry and might of your Holy Spirit, you may open the word to our hearts, and our hearts to your word; speak, Lord, for your servants seek to hear, in Jesus precious name. Amen.

–Used by yours truly often before sermons, I have no idea when it first came to me but I have been using it every since; KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

To give a human example, brethren: no one annuls even a man’s will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

–Galatians 3:15-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Statement by Bp Angaelos of the UK Coptic Orth. Church on the attack on the Coptic commnity in Menia

Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring.

The ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt has always been one of forgiveness, as was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of over one hundred churches and places of ministry in August 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year. Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional ”˜reconciliation meetings’ based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion.

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations; and that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s initial denial that these crimes actually occurred.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(AP) It's official: Prince was the latest high-profile victim of the opioid painkiller epidemic

A Minnesota medical examiner says Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

The report from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office was issued Thursday, more than a month after the music superstar was found dead at age 57 at his Paisley Park mansion.

The single-page report said Prince “self-administered fentanyl,” referring to a synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin.

Read it all and Get Religion asks pertinent questions about it there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Music, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(TGC) Justin Taylor–Rob Bell revisited: 5 years later

If anything, I think the initial concerns were understated.

Bell defenders were saying, “But you haven’t even read the book!” (In fact, I was able to read a pre-pub copy of the book during the week after the controversy broke.) But the actual book itself vindicated the dismay that so many of us felt. Kevin DeYoung’s thorough review of the book showed just how problematic the book turned out to be.

How did all of this change Rob Bell’s reputation?

I think it made it harder for a lot of younger evangelicals””who cared about biblical theology and sound doctrine but admired Bell’s creativity and insights””to defend him. There has been a resurgence of theological training among young evangelicals over the past few decades, and I think most people who have carefully studied Scripture and theology and church history””whether they have a seminary education or not””were able to see that Bell was seriously out of his depth. A lot of folks saw that he was on a certain trajectory and that he was now happy to leave evangelicalism in the rear-view mirror. His decision to leave his church and literally sign on to the Oprahfication of spirituality has only solidified and deepened those concerns.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Christology, Eschatology, Evangelicals, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture