Daily Archives: March 1, 2018

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint David of Wales

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of thy mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the gospel of Christ, we may with him receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(RC World) Ron Rittgers–Martin Luther’s Reformation Of Love

Viewing Luther’s central problem as an inability to fulfill the two great commandments helps to account for why he spends so much time in Reformation manifestos like The Freedom of the Christian on love of neighbor. He believed that his evangelical theology enabled one to truly love the neighbor as one received unmerited divine love through loving trust in God, which fulfilled the first commandment (LW 29:186). A big chunk of The Freedom of the Christian is given over to a consideration of neighbor-love. As Luther reflected on the Christ hymn in Philippians 2, he asserted, “…the good things [i.e., faith and righteousness] we have from God should flow from one to the other and be common to all, so that everyone should ‘put on’ his neighbor and so conduct himself toward him as if he himself were in the other’s place. From Christ the good things have flowed and are flowing into us. He has so “put on” us and acted for us as if he had been what we are. From us they should flow to those who have need of them… This is true love and the genuine rule of a Christian life. Love is true and genuine where there is true and genuine faith” (LW 31: 371).

Luther posited a radical solution to a traditional problem. He argued that the way to enable fallen human beings like us to love God and neighbor is to assure us of God’s prior unconditional love for us in Christ, which frees us from our perceived need and ability to make ourselves lovable to God through our own efforts. Luther argued that once we experience the inflowing of this radical love into our hearts and lives, this love itself moves us to love God with childlike trust and to love our neighbor as we ourselves have been loved. At its best and at its heart, the Reformation was all about this reformation of love.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) What happens when a church closes?

By now it has sadly become a familiar story that we hear about or read in the news—a church is being closed, deconsecrated and put up for sale somewhere in the country.

The reasons for closure are almost always identical—the congregation has steadily and dramatically declined, the buildings needed many repairs and the cost of maintaining them was prohibitive.

Sometimes the closures happen voluntarily, sometimes after a long, drawn-out battle with church leaders. But when they happen, they are heartbreaking, to say the least.

The effects are profound. Many parishioners have compared it to losing a loved one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Parish Ministry

(PR FactTank) 5 facts about U.S. evangelical Protestants

1 About a quarter (25.4%) of U.S. adults identify with evangelical Protestantism, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. In that survey, evangelical Protestants are identified mainly on the basis of their affiliation with evangelical denominations (such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or the Presbyterian Church in America, to name just a few) or with nondenominational evangelical churches. Evangelical Protestantism is the nation’s single largest religious group, exceeding the size of the nation’s Catholic (20.8%), mainline Protestant (14.7%) and religiously unaffiliated (22.8%) populations.

2 The evangelical Protestant share of the population has dipped slightly in recent years (from 26.3% in 2007 to 25.4% in 2014), but more slowly than the mainline Protestant and Catholic populations. Though the percentage of Americans who identify with evangelical Protestant denominations has ticked downward, the absolute number of evangelicals appears to be rising as the overall U.S. population grows. In 2014, there were roughly 62.2 million evangelical Protestant adults, up from about 59.8 million in 2007.

3 Three-quarters (76%) of evangelical Protestants in the U.S. are white, but the share of evangelicals who are not white is growing.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(ACNS) Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa’s 2020 vision for reviving God’s work in Tanzania

The next Primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa, is to consult widely with the bishops and lay leaders of the province as it prepares for its half-century anniversary in 2020. The province was created in 1970, when the then-Province of East Africa gave birth to the Provinces of Kenya and Tanzania. After his enthronement on 20 May, Bishop Maimbo will visit the bishops and diocesan leaders as he prepares a new strategy to “revive God’s work” in Tanzania.

Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service today (Tuesday), Bishop Maimbo said he viewed last week’s election with “a mixture of feelings”. Upon his enthronement, he will combine his role as primate with his existing role as Bishop of Tanga. “On the outside you feel as if you are called to the ministry to do God’s work,” he said, “but in the deepness of heart, you feel thoughts of fear, that if you are working in the diocese, which needs you more, then you are elevated to this position, how will you divide the work?

“But as Paul guides us, the Lord who has called us to do both will enable us.”

The Church in Tanzania is growing. Its 28 dioceses cover almost the entire country. “We are honoured to thank God that among the members of the Church we have those who are revivalists, we have those who are evangelical, we have those who are Anglo-catholics,” Bishop Maimbo said. “And with all the traditions that we have, we remain united as one church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Tanzania

(Marriage Foundation) UK Marriage Rates hit an all time Low

Today’s release from the Office for National Statistics reveals that marriage has hit an all-time low.

  • The number of weddings in 2015 was 239,020, down 3.4 per cent on the previous year.
  • Marriage rates, the proportion of unmarried people who marry in any given year, are now at their lowest level since records began, more than two thirds down from their peak in 1972.

All of this makes for pretty grim reading, just as there were signs that the trend away from marriage had bottomed out. Even if we get a temporary bounce next year from the effects of another Royal wedding, we are not there yet.

The only remotely good news is that weddings continue to rise among the over 45s and there are signs that a slowly rising proportion of us are ever likely to get married based on today’s rates – we’ll do a report on this soon.


Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Marriage & Family

(CT) ‘Queen Esther Inspired Me to Speak Up,’ Says Nassar Victim Larissa Boyce

Once Rachael Denhollander spoke out against Nassar in 2016, Boyce was still conditioned to defend him. She thought Denhollander was mistaken. Encouraged to contact lawyers but unable to evoke most details of her “treatments,” Boyce resolved to return to her gymnastics training arena, Jenison Fieldhouse at MSU. She walked around trying to remember specifics, which flooded back into her mind after seeing her former coach’s office.

That visit was the turning point for Boyce to go public after 20 years. She gained the fortitude to combat the shame she had been experiencing, realizing she was not the guilty one. The former gymnast also wanted to demonstrate the importance of standing up for truth to her four children, ages two through ten at the time.

As a Messianic Jew, her religious ideals provided further motivation. She looked to the biblical account of Queen Esther to inspire her to stand against her enemy. One of Boyce’s sisters exhorted her to model Esther’s courage when she foiled a plot by the Persian king’s chief minister, Haman, to destroy her people. In the story, Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, urges the Jewish heroine to disclose Haman’s conspiracy to the king with the words, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

Growing up, Boyce and her family attended a Reform synagogue and a nondenominational church, and she was accustomed to observing Jewish holidays. With the holiday of Purim—which celebrates the events in the Book of Esther—soon approaching, Boyce heard these words as a direct message.

“I felt that if my story could help at least one other person,” Boyce said, “then it would be worth it.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

Albert Mohler–Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is)

We are justified by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and redeemed from our sin by Christ alone. Moralism produces sinners who are (potentially) better behaved. The Gospel of Christ transforms sinners into the adopted sons and daughters of God.

The Church must never evade, accommodate, revise, or hide the law of God. Indeed, it is the Law that shows us our sin and makes clear our inadequacy and our total lack of righteousness. The Law cannot impart life but, as Paul insists, it “has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” [Gal. 3:24]

The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.

Hell will be highly populated with those who were “raised right.” The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Moralism is not the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Archbishop says British society needs to be rebuilt like in 1945

He said that society‘cannot thrive’ while education ‘is marked by cuts and inequalities’.

“It threatens our togetherness. Without a properly funded education system with values at its core, our long-term outlook is poor. This applies not only to the highest performing child but for all,” he added.

He said that Brexit ‘has divided the country’ and ‘we now need a new narrative’.

“There is a danger that there is a schism in our society into which the most vulnerable are falling. Austerity is crushing the weak, the sick and many others.

“Today in Britain we are suffering from a lack of such common values – values that have deep roots in our nation’s Christian history.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(America) The United States is dangerous for children. How we can help more of them live to see adulthood?

A recent study in the journal Health Affairs had some dismal news for U.S. children: They have a 70 percent greater chance of dying before they reach adulthood than their peers in comparable developed nations. While child death rates in the United States are still much lower than they were 50 years ago, children still face unique risks that resulted in an estimated 600,000 preventable deaths from 1961 to 2010.

Why is the United States so exceptionally dangerous for children? The report suggests that there are three primary groups of U.S. children at risk: children of all ages who die in car crashes, teenagers killed by guns and babies who die before their first birthday.

The first group—representing about 1,000 children younger than 13 per year—is both the least complex and the most difficult to change. Passage or stricter enforcement of laws requiring that children be properly restrained in cars may help, as roughly 20 percent of child deaths in car accidents occur in situations where the victims are not wearing a seatbelt or in a safety seat. Also, about 20 percent of child deaths in car accidents are related to drunk driving, and any interventions to reduce drunk driving will also help to reduce child deaths related to the same. But Americans will continue to make most trips by car as long as our government subsidizes highways and encourages sprawl with all sorts of housing-related restrictions. As long as we are driving fast everywhere, we are going to keep getting into accidents, and it is not going to be easy to dramatically shift where we live and how we get around.

In the second group, there are 1,000 or more children who are killed by guns every year in the United States. Incidents such as the mass shooting at a high school in Florida on Feb. 14 are depressingly common, but gun deaths from suicide are now even more common than those from homicide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

Rabbi Chaim Jachter–Why is Megillat Ester Written in Such a Secular Style?

The twentieth-century philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, an outspoken atheist, was once asked what would happen if, after his death, he would unexpectedly find himself before God, who would be ready to punish him for his heresy. He replied that he would say that God did not supply sufficient evidence for His existence. I believe that Megillat Ester provides a response to such superficial thinking. The Megillah teaches that there is abundant evidence of Hashem’s existence and mastery of the world for those who make the correct choice to discern Hashem’s hand operating behind the superficial, secular mask.

Read it all.

Posted in Judaism, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O God, who, calling Abraham to go forth to a country which thou wouldest show him, didst promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Fulfill thy promise in us, we pray thee, giving us such faith in thee as thou shalt count unto us for righteousness; that in us and through us thy purpose may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

–Mark 4:21-34

Posted in Theology: Scripture