Monthly Archives: August 2016

Ed Stetzer–Why Burkinis Should Matter To Christians Who Care About Religious Freedom

Yesterday I wrote an article for Religion News Service about women and burkinis. But, it was not really about women and burkinis. It was about secularism and its march.

Before you go much further, click here and see this picture at the New York Times. It’s of the French police making a woman take off more clothes to stay on a beach.

So, this is not really about burkinis, but it is about the right of religious people to live out the implications of their beliefs, even in the face of the secular march of the Western world.

Read it all from CT.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Evangelicals, France, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AT) Bruce Davidson–Is Evangelicalism Dying?

The greatest force to remold evangelicalism may be psychotherapism. In the past, many evangelical institutions slammed the door shut on humanistic theological liberalism. Ironically, they then let the same way of thinking in by the back door, in the shape of humanistic psychology. As early as 1993, in No Place for Truth, David Wells lamented the ascendency of psychology over theology in evangelical seminaries, where counseling courses and psychology-based programs had already become more popular than theology.

Evangelical institutions largely abandoned an emphasis on Bible exposition, doctrine, and moral living in favor of promoting therapy for practical problems and emphasizing self-actualization. The result of all this has been the proliferation of mega-church and mega-media personality cults, where the message frequently contains more psychobabble than Bible. The charismatic leaders piloting these institutions are often poor at explaining scripture and doctrine.

However, by jumping on the psychotherapeutic bandwagon, evangelical organizations made a grave mistake. Many popular psychotherapeutic concepts, such as self-esteem and repressed memory, have been discredited by contemporary psychological research. If evangelicals had held fast to traditional, scriptural notions like inborn human depravity, they would now be in the strong position of being able to say “I told you so.” Instead, evangelical institutions have become havens for debunked pseudoscience. Moreover, the therapeutic orientation has encouraged the current epidemic of religious narcissism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Ship Operators Explore Autonomous Sailing

“All hands on deck” may become a thing of the past.

Ship designers, their operators and regulators are gearing up for a future in which cargo vessels sail the oceans with minimal or even no crew. Advances in automation and ample bandwidth even far offshore could herald the biggest change in shipping since diesel engines replaced steam.

Ship operators believe more automation will enable them to optimize ship use, including cutting fuel consumption. “The benefit of automation is as an enabler of further efficiency across the 630 vessels we operate,” said Palle Laursen, head of Maersk Line Ship Management, a unit of cargo-ship giant A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

(JE) John Lomperis–5 Ways the new United Methodist Bishops’ Commission Can Foster Trust

….our denominational dialogues specifically on homosexuality have suffered from a skewing of the voices heard.

One should always be careful in guessing at the motives of others. But it seems safe to assume that when Love Prevails demands the inclusion of “LGBT people” as commission members, particularly when Love Prevails declares that it cannot be appeased by the inclusion of some “Queer people who are moderate and acceptable to [our bishops’] vision of polite conversation,” the sort of people it has in mind are not Christians who find themselves to be same-sex-attracted but choose to remain celibate for life, out of their deep personal support for the moral boundaries affirmed in our Discipline.

But such voices are important….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer blog) Vicars warned not to wear dog collars in public for fear of Islamist attack

We are not told which officials in which diocese have issued this warning, but it is advice which needs to be ignored. To heed such guidance is to surrender to fanatical Islamists; to conceal one’s Christian faith out of fear of the consequences; to hide one’s light under a bushel in order not to provoke some hot-headed Muslim extremist to combat.

Easy for someone to say who’s not in danger of being a target, you may say. But what have we become if we relinquish the vestments of our national faith out of fear of the adherents of another religion? What is ceded? Who is appeased? Where is the victor and who is the vanquished?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Everliving God, who didst call thy servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and endued them with loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Kendall Harmon

Gracious Lord, we rejoice in the gift of life and in the present of another day, and as we begin by receiving it from your hands we pray that we may be open to the many other benefits you have in store for us, and wise in our use of the time so we may through the Holy Spirit use it for your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

August 2016 Pastoral Letter from GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

But now what happened in North America is being repeated elsewhere. If not effectively challenged, false teaching is contagious, especially when it is well funded. At the recent meeting in Kigali of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the London based Anglican Communion Secretary General, Josiah Idowu-Fearon commended the relief and development work of the Anglican Alliance, but new research by the Institute for Religion and Democracy shows close links between this organisation and TEC. Even now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is contemplating the overturning of Scripture by legitimising the blessing of same sex unions in breach of Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998, despite reaffirming it at the recent meeting of the Council of Anglican Churches of Africa in Rwanda.

However, the greatest cause for concern continues to be the British Isles. The Scottish Episcopal Church has already opened the door wide to conducting same sex ”˜marriages’ while in England, Salisbury Cathedral has become the latest of a growing number of cathedrals which publicly support and even bless ”˜Gay Pride’ marches. Chichester Diocese has issued a statement commending those of its churches ”˜with open doors to celebrate all that the Pride Festival stands for’ while the website of the Church of England’s Diocese of Europe celebrates the ”˜truly joyful occasion’ of the same sex ”˜marriage’ of a member of one of its congregations conducted by the Lutheran Bishop of Copenhagen.

I am therefore encouraged that seventy two members of the Church of England’s General Synod have written an open letter to the English bishops ahead of meetings planned later this year calling on them not to compromise by adopting practices that are contrary to Lambeth Resolution I.10 and warning that to do so ”˜could set the Church of England adrift from her apostolic inheritance.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

NYT–How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers

A long but important article if you haven’t seen it–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Globalization, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Syria, Terrorism

(FT) Martin Wolf–Capitalism and democracy: the strain is showing

Is the marriage between liberal democracy and global capitalism an enduring one? Political developments across the west ”” particularly the candidacy of an authoritarian populist for the presidency of the most important democracy ”” heighten the importance of this question. One cannot take for granted the success of the political and economic systems that guide the western world and have been a force of attraction for much of the rest for four decades. The question then arises: if not these, what?

A natural connection exists between liberal democracy ”” the combination of universal suffrage with entrenched civil and personal rights ”” and capitalism, the right to buy and sell goods, services, capital and one’s own labour freely. They share the belief that people should make their own choices as individuals and as citizens. Democracy and capitalism share the assumption that people are entitled to exercise agency. Humans must be viewed as agents, not just as objects of other people’s power.

Yet it is also easy to identify tensions between democracy and capitalism. Democracy is egalitarian. Capitalism is inegalitarian, at least in terms of outcomes. If the economy flounders, the majority might choose authoritarianism, as in the 1930s. If economic outcomes become too unequal, the rich might turn democracy into plutocracy.

Read it all (if necessary another link is there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Politics in General, Theology

Albert Mohler–Do the sexual revolutionaries+their theologians understand what they've unleashed?

Let me be clear. I agree with Gushee’s main point. Middle ground is indeed disappearing on LGBT issues. Indeed, the very idea of middle ground or a “third way” on these questions is ludicrous on its face. I have been making this argument in public for well over a decade. In 2005 I wrote an article with the title, “No Middle Ground on Homosexuality.” My argument then and my argument now is that the normalization of LGBT behaviors and relationships and revisions of human identity is incompatible with a commitment to biblical authority and the historic faith of the Christian church defined by Holy Scripture.
Middle ground was always untenable, even when some version of middle ground was David Gushee’s own position. The demand of the LGBT revolution is not merely toleration or even legalization, but required celebration. Middle ground disappears in the irreconcilable nature of the conflict. The “third way” is just a delaying tactic on the taxiway to full take-off.
When it comes to actions to be taken against Christians and Christian institutions, Gushee’s language is very informative. He raises “the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tuesday Mental Health Break–NeedtoBreathe, a local group, from their new Album: Clear

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology

(CT) Mark Galli–Evangelicals and Race””A New Chapter

Mainstream white evangelicals have experienced collective “God moments.” In the 1970s, few churches concerned themselves with the relief of world hunger. Then Ron Sider wrote Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and before long, we just assumed that evangelicals should be concerned about hunger. Before Roe v. Wade, abortion was sidelined as a Catholic concern. But after the advocacy of Francis Schaeffer and others, we quickly saw the great evil that abortion is. These were God moments””times when our Lord graciously gave us moral clarity about an issue he was calling us to engage.

We are currently experiencing a new “God moment,” when God is shining his burning light on how our nation and our churches are fractured by racial division and injustice. In the past two years, we’ve seen image after image of injustice perpetrated against black Americans. We’ve studied the statistics. And most important, we’ve heard the anguished cry of a suffering community that is understandably hurting, angry, and demanding progress.

Moderate white evangelicals, who make up the bulk of our movement, see more clearly than ever how racism is embedded in many aspects of our society, from business to law enforcement to education to church life. We have been slow to hear what the black church has been telling us for a while. And in all that, we hear God calling his church to seek justice and reconciliation in concrete ways.

To be evangelical now means to be no longer deaf to these cries or to God’s call.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Father Emmanuel Ojeifo–The death of Christianity in Nigeria?

In the last few years, despite claims of being a growing economy, the standard of living in Nigeria has continued to fall dramatically. Interestingly, this fall in the human condition seems to have created a fertile environment for the emergence of the kind of deep religious spirituality that has ironically placed our country on top of both the most religious and corrupt nations of the world. One would ordinarily expect that in this environment of widespread moral degeneracy, religious leaders would rise up to their prophetic responsibility of not only speaking truth to power and working for the enthronement of a just social order, but also of showing good example in the manner in their personal conduct. But this is not the case. In a nation where millions of people go to bed hungry every day, some of today’s acclaimed preachers have ridden on the crest of our collective social dysfunction to financial stardom.

Add to this phenomenon the rise of nouveau riche prosperity gospel preachers who continue to feast on the ignorance and gullibility of the people, capitalizing on their socio-economic condition to rob them of their faith and money. Through the prosperity gospel, the hawking of miracles, signs and wonders, the advertisement of God-induced financial breakthroughs, and the crave and craze for hedonistic materialism, the public face of religion in Nigeria has been so battered and badly disfigured, such that if Jesus Christ were to come back today on earth, he would be hard pressed to recognize our version of Christianity as what he bequeathed to us. Just take a cursory look at the lifestyle of some of today’s acclaimed men of God. Their highly materialistic way of life is a brutal affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They lack every iota of modesty, frugality, and simplicity.
Today, the Christian gospel has become so reduced to financial inducements and promises of wealth and power. In today’s religious geography, God is more or less a first-aid box, a quick fixer and a money doubler.

Read it all (my emphasis) [Hat tip: ABK).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Christology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Muslim Holy Day on Sept. 11? Coincidence Stirs Fears

Every year, Muslim leaders around the world look to the moon to predict the date for one of their most important holidays, Eid al-Adha ”” the feast of sacrifice.

When Habeeb Ahmed began about two months ago to plan for that holy day, he noticed a potentially fraught coincidence: Eid al-Adha could fall on Sept. 11.

“Some people might want to make something out of that,” said Mr. Ahmed, who was recently elected president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, adding that he could easily foresee how some might misunderstand the festivities, and say, “Look at these Muslims, they are celebrating 9/11.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Ruth Gledhill's article on yesterday's C of E new synod to oppose new sexual ethics news

A spokesman for Anglican Mainstream said: “This is not an initiative organised or directed by Gafcon.”

But he said there were many similarities between them and Gafcon.

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Charles Grafton on his Feast Day–Catholicity and the Vincentian Rule

This little treatise begins with giving an application of the Rule of St. Vincent to some theological questions concerning faith and practice. St. Vincent’s name is a household one in our Communion, especially since the Reformation. He was often quoted by the Reformers and Anglican divines in their controversy with Rome. In his disputation at Oxford, Ridley said, when doubts arose in the Church, “I use the wise counsel of Vincentius Lirinensis, whom I am sure you will allow; who, giving precepts how the Catholic Church may be, in all schisms and heresies, known, writeth on this manner: ‘When,’ saith he, ‘one part is corrupted with heresies then prefer the whole world before the one part: but if the greatest part be infected then prefer antiquity.”‘

On the southern coast of France, there is an island called St. Honorat. It had in Vincent’s time the name of Lerins. A quite famous monastery flourished there. Under the discipline of its holy religious rule and the Church’s sacramental system, St. Vincent’s mind and character were developed.

It was about the year 434 that his short treatise appeared. The controversies which had been raging in the Church led him to put forth his little book as a practical guide for a Churchman in times of trouble. He must, through Divine assistance, fortify his faith in a two-fold manner: by authority of the Divine Law, and by the tradition of the Church. “Catholics,” he said, “and true sons of the Church will make it their special care to interpret the Divine Canon by the tradition of the universal Church and according to the rules of Catholic theology. Wherein it is also necessary to follow the universality, antiquity, and consent of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Grafton

Loving God, who didst call Charles Chapman Grafton to be a bishop in thy Church, endowing him with a burning zeal for souls: Grant that, following his example, we may ever live for the extension of thy kingdom, that thy glory may be the chief end of our lives, thy will the law of our conduct, thy love the motive of our actions, and Christ’s life the model and mold of our own; through the same Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Remember, O Lord, what thou hast wrought in us, and not what we deserve; and, as thou hast called us to thy service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are mad.” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking; and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell this to James and to the brethren.” Then he departed and went to another place.

–Acts 12:1-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Do not Take Yourself Too Seriously Dept: (Babylon Bee) Pastor Kicks Off New Study Of His Opinions

Entitled “Nothing But The Truth,” the sermon series expositing Foley’s subjective feelings and points of view promises to be packed with lively illustrations, heartfelt stories, and important practical advice, all entirely based on Foley’s own personal experiences from 42 years of life and convincingly delivered as plain gospel truth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Humor / Trivia, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Gene Wilder Dies at 83; Star of ”˜Willy Wonka’ and ”˜Young Frankenstein’

Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.

With his haunted blue eyes and an empathy born of his own history of psychic distress, he aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”

Mr. Wilder was an accomplished stage actor as well as a screenwriter, a novelist and the director of four movies in which he starred. (He directed, he once said, “in order to protect what I wrote, which I wrote in order to act.”) But he was best known for playing roles on the big screen that might have been ripped from the pages of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry

(AI) Muslim mob murders 8 in revenge attacks in Northern Nigeria

The Church of Nigeria’s Bishop of Gusau, the Rt. Rev. John Danbinta Garba (pictured) reports a sectarian riot erupted last week at the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in the city of Talata-Mafara in Northern Nigeria after a Muslim mob attempted to lynch a man who had converted to Christianity. On 21 Aug 2016 a newly baptized Christian was describing his conversion to fellow students when Islamist militants began to assault him. The penalty for apostasy from Islam was death, they said, and attempted to lynch him. Christian students intervened and rescued the convert and a Muslim bystander drove the injured man to the hospital. The mob then turned their sights upon the Muslim good samaritan — they marched to his home and set it ablaze, killing eight people inside. T

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Life Ethics, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Is it Too Soon to Write Off the Church in Europe?

The evangelical Church in Europe is on the precipice. Christianity is thriving in Asia and Africa ”“ with new churches popping up all the time ”“ but in Europe it’s decline and more decline. Evangelicals make up just 2.5 per cent of our continent’s population. Projections suggest that UK Christianity will be wiped out by 2067. Has the Church, the hope of the world ”“ and of Europe ”“ lost its own hope?

While the media paints an ugly picture, there’s another story waiting to be told. It’s bubbling out of churches helping Syrian refugees along the Greek coast. It’s in the hands of Moldova’s Baptist community. It’s on the lips of the French woman whose life has been transformed by Jesus’ love. Perhaps we’ve been thinking about the Church in Europe all wrong ”“ we’ve been seeing numbers instead of people, we’ve been looking in empty churches rather than at the open hearts on our streets. When we focus on the tomb, we miss the resurrection. There is hope ”“ the Church in Europe is alive.

Yes, it’s numerically smaller than it was a generation ago, and we should do something about that. But, equally, the social pressure to go to church in many European countries has gone ”“ so, arguably, the people left in our churches actually believe that Jesus is the saviour of the world. This is what Teun van der Leer, Rector of the Dutch Baptist Seminary, is seeing in the Netherlands. He suggests the fact that some of us still go to church even though we don’t have to has left those outside curious about the Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Evangelism and Church Growth, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

St Philip's Church in Paremata on the chopping block as diocese set to sell building

A 100-year-old church in Porirua is scheduled to be sold and removed, but its angry congregation will fight to the last to ensure its survival.

The blink-and-you-miss-it St Philip’s Church, opposite Paremata School, is a well-used and welcome haven to its 27 members.

That’s why they were shocked when a parish review, carried out by the Anglican Diocese this year, recommended St Philip’s be sold.

Read it all from Stuff.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Charleston SC Couple Experience 1st Year at Seminary Together

Both Henrietta and Matthew chose to become full-time students, thanks to full scholarships awarded them by Trinity. The seminary, they learned, wants no student to leave with school-related debt. However, despite this welcome financial help, they found they did have to borrow to cover living expenses. This made them instantly very budget conscious.

“So, what was it like to study together,” I asked them? They smiled. “We rarely study together.” Each has their unique study styles. Matthew devoured his books till late at night, but struggled with writing papers. Henrietta wrote with ease, but enjoyed her sleep and was not as absorbed in books as Matthew. So they studied separately unless they were together with a group of students at their kitchen table. Both, however, loved the lectures and found themselves drawn to particular professors who they saw as very genuine and helpful. Greek and Hebrew proved to be the big challenges, as they had been to me. This is why, they explained, they are heading back to Trinity for part of the summer to finish the language requirements for their degree program.

But after that they are off to Indonesia with a team of others from Trinity to do first-hand mission work in a Muslim country. A grant from the SAMS (the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) made the trip possible. They shared that one of the greatest discoveries of their year away was gaining a global view of God’s Kingdom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

An Appreciation of John Bunyan [for his Feast Day] by Charles D. Bell (1883)

While under the thraldom of superstition, he continued to indulge in his besetting sins; he was a Sabbath-breaker and a profane swearer, and took much delight in all that was evil. A sermon which he heard on the holiness of the Lord’s Day smote him to the heart, and for a time almost drove him to despair. But he shook off these convictions, and,“kicking against the pricks,” played the madman at such a fearful rate, that even wicked people were amazed at his audacity. On one occasion, while he was garnishing his discourse with oaths at the beginning and the end, an abandoned woman who stood by severely reproved him, and told his companions to quit his conversation, or he would make them as bad as himself. This unexpected reproof cut him to the quick, and, standing by the shop-window, he hung his head in silence and in shame. “While I stood there,” he says, “I wished with all my heart that I might be a little child again, that my father might learn me to speak without this wicked way of swearing.” From that moment he left off this sinful habit, and one by one he relinquished the other sins which so easily beset him, though he was as yet a stranger to the love of Christ, and had a heart alienated still from the life of God. He was under the lash of the law. He had only reached Mount Sinai, “that burned with fire, and the blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words;” and he was distracted by terrors and alarms. “Poor wretch as I was,” he says, “I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ, and about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein had not God in mercy showed me more of my own state by nature.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Theology

C.S. Lewis for John Bunyan Day

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the “virtues.” In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are “good,” it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of “prudence” about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only “as harmless as doves,” but also “as wise as serpents.” He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not “Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever,” but “Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.” God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.

—-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (my emphasis)

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