Daily Archives: November 19, 2016

(RI) Rob Sturdy–The Social Reformation

I bring this up to illustrate a very simple point. When Protestants think about the Reformation, their discussions are often limited to a reformation of doctrine. Thus the Reformation is often reduced to the righting of wrong thinking. But the Reformers understood that wrong thinking wasn’t just wrong, but that it was cruel. And they also understood one cannot be abstractly cruel, but cruelty is always relational and social in its scope. In the 16th century the wrong thinking behind indulgences worked out into the social cruelty of oppressing the poor. Thus the right thinking of the Gospel led to a renewed interest in lifting the burdens and victimization of the poor and correcting the social ills they suffered from. Here it’s worth briefly mentioning how the Gospel liberated the social consciousness of the Reformers. Luther worked hard to establish one of the first social welfare programs in Europe. John Calvin determined that care for the poor was a matter of #social justice long before the phrase was cool enough to be turned into a hashtag. Hugh Latimer, another Oxford martyr, preached before the rulers of England that God gave men money so that they could act as his heavenly treasurers in the distribution of wealth to the poor. For the Reformers there wasn’t a wedge between the “social Gospel” and the real Gospel. There was only one real Gospel. But the Reformers understood that the Real Gospel had social implications. They understood when the Gospel was rightly preached and believed it led to social engagement in matters of mercy, justice, and equity among other things. These concepts by the way are not foreign to the Biblical witness and neither are they foreign to the Reformation heritage that so many Protestants would claim as their own.

The Reformation’s keen insights into how false doctrine leads to cruelty and how that cruelty can become institutionally sanctioned is worth remembering. The same may be said of the Reformers courage not only in righting wrong doctrine, but challenging the institutionally sanctioned cruelty that false doctrine props up. Modern day children of the Reformation owe more to the legacy of the Reformation than merely singing “A Mighty Fortress” on the Sunday closest to Oct 31st (though I cherish doing that). These great-grandchildren of Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Luther, Calvin and others must not only cling to the precious doctrines of grace recovered in the Reformation, but also search out those dogmas that need reforming in their own day as well as curing those social ills caused by such false teaching be it in the church or the world.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Poetry to Soothe the Soul on a Saturday–Barbara Hamby's Driving in the Rain

This is when the world could end””about three
in the afternoon on a blacktop in Mississippi,
the sky darkening as if conjuring night, black thoughts
flying from the woods like crows or rattlesnakes in the grass,
and in that dark cathedral of clouds a purple god strikes
at the aimless world….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Poverty

153 years ago today–The Gettysburg Address never gets old

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elizabeth of Hungary

Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Hungary, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Calvin

O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ”˜God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ”˜God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

–Luke 18:9-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Catholic Herald] Pope criticises ”˜legalism’ after cardinals’ request for clarification

The debate over Amoris Laetitia has intensified, after Pope Francis suggested that some responses do not understand the document.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, partially translated by La Stampa, the Pope criticised “a certain legalism.” He said that responses to Amoris Laetitia exemplified this..
This weekend, the Pope will officially appoint new cardinals at a meeting known as a consistory. However, he has cancelled the usual pre-consistory session where cardinals raise issues of concern. No reason has been given, but there is speculation that other cardinals might have wanted to ask about the dubia.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

[Catholic Herald] Cardinal Burke: we will make ”˜formal act of correction’

..Cardinal Burke is one of four cardinals who have written to the Pope asking for a clarification of Amoris Laetitia. They say that the document could be read as contradicting Church teaching on the moral law and on the question of Communion for the remarried. The Pope has declined to reply to the letter.

Asked what would happen if the Pope remained silent, Cardinal Burke replied: “Then we would have to address that situation. There is, in the tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

AU 259 on CofE Evangelical Ostriches

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV

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

The Bp of Maidstone writes on new research showing theology matters to Church Growth

Respected new research published this week from Wilfrid Laurier University claims to have discovered that the ”˜secret ingredient’ for church growth is clergy and congregations committed to the historic truths of the Christian faith as a revealed religion, while a liberal approach to belief is consistently a predictor of decline (see Guardian Online 17th November).

This should be a great encouragement to us in the Church of England as we recognize that our core business is to bring the truth of the gospel to the nation ”“ and is a conclusion that confirms what we see on the ground where there is a confidence in the Bible as the Word of God.

It is also a conclusion that matches the Church of England’s clear theological identity. She identifies herself as apostolic – in other words faithful to the teaching of Jesus as given through the Apostles. According to Canon A5 this teaching is ”˜grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.’

So while for some this new research merely confirms the obvious, it is likely to be a major upset for those who hold to the comfortable notion that theology doesn’t much matter.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology