Daily Archives: August 29, 2016

(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.”

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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)

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

Church of England parishes conside 1st step to break away ovr new sexual ethics

A group of parishes is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over issues such as homosexuality, with the creation of a new “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teaching.

Representatives of almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.

Organisers, drawn from the conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, say they have no immediate plans to break away – but are setting up the “embryonic” structures that could be used to do so if the established church moves further in what they see as a liberal direction.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Bunyan

God of peace, who didst call John Bunyan to be valiant for truth: Grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at the last rejoice with all the faithful in thy heavenly city; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[Photo: portrait by Thomas Sadler, NPG, Wiki]

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Almighty God our heavenly Father, who hast bidden us to give thanks for all things and to forget not all thy benefits: Accept our praise for the great mercies we have received at thy hands; ever give us grateful hearts; and help us to magnify thee in our daily life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

China's Zhejiang Bans Religious Activities in Hospitals as Crackdown Widens

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals in an ongoing crackdown targeting the region’s burgeoning Protestant Christian community.

A public notice posted at the Central Hospital in Zhejiang’s Wenzhou, a city that has been dubbed “China’s Jerusalem” because of its high concentration of Christians, made patients and their visitors unequivocally aware of the new rules this week.

“Religious activities are banned in this hospital,” the notice said. The Wenzhou Central Hospital was originally set up as a Protestant hospital.

An employee who answered the phone at the same hospital…confirmed the new measures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture