Daily Archives: April 12, 2017

Martin Davie–An Anglican understanding of inclusion

It looks as though the Church of England now has a new buzz word. In the past few years the buzz word has been ‘good disagreement’ but now it appears to be ‘radical inclusion.’ In his speech at the conclusion of the debate in General Synod on the House of Bishops report on Marriage and Sexual Relationships after the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury talked about the need for ‘a radical new Christian inclusion.’ The same phrase was then used by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their letter issued in response to the debate.

One of the problems with the term ‘good disagreement’ was that its meaning was never formally defined and so it was difficult to be sure what it actually meant. In a similar fashion the Archbishops have not given a clear definition of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’ either, but in their letter they appear to link it to a way forward for the Church of England that is ‘about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.’

There are three problems with this view of the meaning of radical inclusion. First, it mentions the creation of human beings in the image of God, but passes over the fact that human beings are also fallen. Secondly, it talks about our belonging to Christ, but is silent about what this belonging involves. Thirdly, by linking both under the rubric of our ‘common humanity,’ it suggests that all human beings without exception are not only created by God, but also belong to Christ (which is not true).

In the remainder of this blog I shall set out an alternative Anglican account of inclusion that avoids these problems, drawing on the teaching of the Thirty Nine Articles and other authorised Anglican sources, as well as the work of Martin Luther.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(First Things) Paul Stallsworth–A Disunited Methodist Church

Why do our bishops lead in such ecclesiastically unhealthy ways? For several reasons.

First, many of them were theologically and morally formed during earlier days of American Christendom, before secular forces in the culture became dominant. During those days, the church and the culture mostly got along. If they did not, the church simply tried to catch up to the culture. The church and her leaders were seldom at odds with the culture and its leaders.

Second, there are theological reasons for inept episcopal leadership. Liberal Protestantism’s God—the “God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross” (as H. Richard Niebuhr put it)—has trouble saying “No” to anything except the racism, sexism, and other isms denounced by progressives. So do bishops who worship this God. As you might guess, these bishops believe this God is all—and I mean all!—about the grace of acceptance.

Third, some key bishops are progressive in their moral theology, or at least they have progressive sympathies. They have clearly taken sides in the current church struggle; they do all they can to support the progressive cause; and they are all too willing to intimidate the more evangelical and orthodox bishops on the Council of Bishops.

And fourth, more than a few bishops lead in this way because of an articulated, or assumed, organizational calculation. This is what they figure: If they play the middle in this disagreement in their church, if they “reach out” to the progressives and the moderates and the traditionalists, if they try to please as many United Methodists as possible, if they create as many moral choices as possible for clergy and laity in the church, if they offend as few United Methodists as possible, if they work hard to “accommodate diversity,” if they talk incessantly about the “unity” of the church (without substantive reference to doctrine, scripture, or truth), then they and their ministries will hold the United Methodist Church together. Instead, their goal of accommodation is leading to a slow, continual erosion of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(CEN) Andrew Symes–A Kenyan Grassroots Anglican project addresses serious, hidden crisis of child sex tourism

Kenya is rapidly becoming one of the major destinations for child sex tourism.

According to ECPAT UK, an organisation that campaigns against child trafficking, at least 30,000 Kenyan children are being exploited in the sex industry. Their report goes on to describe some of the reasons for the endemic nature of the crime:

“It is well recognised that local men and those from neighbouring countries sexually exploit Kenyan children, but sex tourists, both men and women, are also active in the country. Activists believe the rise in the sex tourism industry is the result of the weak application of the law and the corruption of some officials, which allows offenders to commit abuses against children with impunity….”

Faith-based projects with strong values predicated on the dignity of all human beings and with concern for the protection of the most vulnerable from exploitation are best placed to succeed where overall funding is limited, and governmental and local community motivation is low due to apathy, corruption, and public taboos about discussing issues of sex.

The Centre for Compassion, Rehabilitation and Development in Athi River, near Nairobi, is an encouraging example of such a project. It is part of the youth ministry programme of the Anglican Diocese of Machakos, whose Bishop, Joseph Mutungi, is concerned about pervasive indoctrination and sexual exploitation of young people in Kenya, and wants to offer an opportunity for transformation through Christ and a return to Bible-based values.

Read it all (may require subsciption).

Posted in Anglican Church of Kenya, Kenya, Sexuality, Violence

(ES) London vicar offers burglar the hand of friendship after catching him trying to break into shed

A vicar offered the hand of friendship to a bike thief after catching him trying to break into his garden shed.

The Reverend Christopher Rogers was working in the shed when he heard someone rattling the handle on the door, and opened it to come face-to-face with burglar Christopher Clarke.

The vicar and Star Wars fan, of All Hallows Church in Bow, chased Clarke and attempted to take his picture to give to police.

But when he spotted the thief loitering outside his home the next day, Mr Rogers told him: “If you ever need help, knock on my front door, not the shed,” and shook his hand.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

The Archbishop’s Holy Week Lecture 2: ‘Have we lost our national nerve?’

The challenge of solidarity is the challenge to care for those with whom we have connections. Because we’re human. In the age of social media that is essentially the whole world. That’s an extraordinary thing isn’t it. When my grandmother was first back from India where her father was working, she wrote to him – and she got a letter back weeks later. And now she would be Facetiming him! And the fact that I’m in a WhatsApp group means I know a great deal more about the eating habits of my latest grandson. And thus the culture of sensing loss must be developed not so as to paralyse us before the endless suffering of human beings, but to call us to belong to one another.

A friend of mine, a bishop in the Congo, was asked about the number of refugees in the area where he lives. He said: “Oh, around two million.” When I asked him how he coped, what he did in the face of such unmeetable needs, he said, “We do what we can, what God enables us to do.” That is as good a definition of solidarity as Donne’s.

Solidarity is a value which resists gross inequality but seeks for the gain of others so that all may gain. Despite Donne’s words about a bit of Europe going missing, he is not being called in aid of resistance to Brexit, but rather of commitment to finding a new way in which as a country we are bound to the rest of the world.

And finally, another word, far more spoken of than acted on, is subsidiarity. The principal is simple. All actions and decisions in any group or organisation should be taken at the lowest possible level, at the most local level. It sounds obvious, but everything militates against it, especially our growing capacity in information technology and in systems.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

(Sky News) Boko Haram using drugged child suicide bombers – UNICEF

Islamist group Boko Haram is increasingly forcing children to carry out suicide bombings – often drugging them before missions, according to UNICEF.

At least 117 suicide attacks have been carried out by young people in the Lake Chad basin region since 2014, with nearly 80% of the bombs strapped to girls, a new report says.

UNICEF’s Marie-Pierre Poirier said the mere sight of children at checkpoints and markets was sparking fear – meaning almost 1,500 children were detained last year across Nigeria, Cameron, Niger and Chad.

Ms Poirier said: “These children are victims, not perpetrators. Forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible.”

Read it all.

Posted in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence

(AI) Bp Mouneer Anis–Please pray for us and for Egypt

Palm Sunday this year was a sad one. As I was going to celebrate Palm Sunday at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, I heard the news of the explosions at Mar Girgis [St George’s] Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, in the middle of the Nile Delta area. During the Service, I heard of another explosion at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The outcome of these terrorist attacks is that 45 were killed and 129 injured, some of whom were Muslim policemen and guards. Sadness overshadowed all Palm Sunday celebrations all over Egypt.

Intensive security measures and regulations have been made since this last Saturday. This included security personnel emptying all the streets around the churches and cathedrals of cars with extra policemen and sniffer dogs checking all church buildings and worshippers before Services start. I believe these measures were done to safeguard all church buildings in the country. Although the security was very tight, the evildoers have their own ways and it is extremely difficult to achieve 100 per cent security. This was also the case behind the recent terrorist attacks in Sweden, Britain, Germany and France.

Both terrorist attacks were done by suicide bombers. In Tanta, the suicide bomber succeeded to enter the Church, while in Alexandria, the metal detector gates beeped as the bomber was going through and to avoid being arrested, he detonated the bomb.

As I am writing these words, the burial of the Coptic Orthodox martyrs from the Church in Alexandria are being held at Mar Mina Monastery in a mass grave.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Holy Week, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Terrorism, Violence

(Spectator) Matthew Parris: Why I admire the Church of England

Mr Dreher, who advocates the second of these two responses, disapproves of the Church of England’s frequent accommodations with secular society. I do not. Like many atheists, agnostics and searchers, I find myself rather drawn to a church that, however fitfully, seems to be trying to stay open to ideas, differences and influences outside.

Connecting a religion and the culture within which it lives, the metaphor of a length of elastic is illuminating. The two may diverge, but each exerts a pull on the other. In its long, turbulent history, the church has sometimes run ahead of secular culture, sometimes lagged behind. It has a proud record in questions such as the abolition of slavery; in education, welfare and prison reform it has sometimes lit the way. On overseas aid and concern for the homeless, the church has led where secular society first looked away.

On the other hand, the church has had a chronically difficult relationship with the advancement of science, and, in recent centuries, has had to be dragged reluctantly to a recognition that religion is not the seat of learning about the material world. Wherever sex or gender are involved, the church has tended to lag a good few paces behind the rest of society. Mr Dreher might disagree, but I think that — pulled by secular society and with the elastic often stretched very tight — the church’s agonised progress towards the recognition of divorce and the acceptance of contraception (with of course powerful pockets of resistance among Roman Catholics) has been good for the world. Though I’m not myself opposed to abortion, I think Christianity’s anxiety about careless disregard for human life has also been good for the world.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture

(Spectator) Rod Dreher: The Benedict option–Believers must find new, more radical ways to practise their faith

The collapse of religion in Britain has been perhaps the most striking feature of the last generation. The sheer pace of the decline has been recorded by Damian Thompson in this magazine: church pews are emptying at the rate of 10,000 people per week. In 1983, some 40 per cent of the population declared itself Anglican. Now, it’s 17 per cent. To be a practising Christian in the West now is to belong to a minority.

How, then, should believers adapt to a society that is not just unsupportive but often hostile to their beliefs? In his influential 1981 book After Virtue, the Scottish moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre warned that the Enlightenment’s inability to provide a binding and authoritative source of morality to replace the Christian–Aristotelian one it discarded had left the contemporary West adrift. He likened our age to the era of the Roman Empire’s fall — a comparison that Pope Benedict XVI has also made.

The old believers, MacIntyre wrote, need to respond. Which means to stop trying to ‘shore up the imperium,’ and instead build ‘local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us’. MacIntyre famously concluded by saying that we in the West await ‘another — doubtless very different — St Benedict’.

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Posted in Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from L. Tuttiet

O God our heavenly Father, who to redeem the world didst deliver up thine only Son to be betrayed by one of his disciples and sold to his enemies: Take from us, we beseech thee, all covetousness and hypocrisy; and so strengthen us, that, loving thee above all things, we may remain steadfast in our faith unto the end; through him who gave his life for us, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I call upon God; and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.

–Psalm 55:16-18

Posted in Theology: Scripture