Monthly Archives: April 2018

Stephen Noll–“Taking Sweet Counsel Together” and the Anglican Communion

I addressed the question of church discipline in my seminar at Gafcon 2008, titled “Communing in Christ” (Chapter 3 in my book), and in particular I referenced “Communion discipline” (pages 121-123). I defended the charge that Gafcon was schismatic in these terms:

We are here this week because, after ten years of patient but futile calls for repentance from the Episcopal Church on the part of the majority of the world’s Anglicans, the Communion, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has flinched. Hence while it may seem that we are the ones who have excluded ourselves, the truth is, as Richard Hooker put it, that this is our reasonable service to God.

Twenty years have now passed and the situation in North America has become more extreme. For anyone who doubts the current doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church USA, please read carefully its CANON III.1: Of the Ministry of All Baptized Persons”:

Sec. 2. No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital statussexual orientationgender identity and expression*, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.

*Please note: “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) is a specific legal category that will be used to undermine the religious rights of Christians.

Can anyone deny my exegesis of this passage?

In this canon, “marital status” means that divorced persons have an absolute right to ordination; further, “sexual orientation” clearly includes homosexual practice; and “gender identity and expression” explicitly includes transgendered persons. Acceptance of these practices is not only permitted, but it is required. Any priest or bishop who denies one of these individuals access to ordination on one of these grounds, may be brought up for trial and deposed. (Global Anglican Communion, pages 257-258)

It is clear, as was the case ten years ago, that the Archbishop of Canterbury is determined to maintain koinonia with those who teach that these practices are good and godly. He asks, Pilate-like, “What is truth?” These false teachers will be welcomed fully to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, whose theme is “Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together.”

What does the Scripture say about having fellowship with false teachers? The answer seems clear: have nothing to do with them.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Bishop Alan Wilson joins 300 Anglicans backing US Church’s plans for gender-neutral wedding service

A prominent bishop and 300 other Anglicans have backed the US Episcopal Church’s stance on same-sex marriage, saying it shows the Church is ‘not as homophobic as it can sometimes appear’.

They have signed an ‘alternative’ letter to one sent by the Church of England’s general secretary, William Nye, that warned American Anglicans could face ‘stringent consequences’ if it went ahead with plans for a gender neutral wedding service. He added such a move would increase pressure for the CofE to ‘disassociate’ itself from its US counterpart.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) in America permits same-sex marriage, unlike the Church of England and most other provinces in the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion around the world.

Nye’s original letter has sparked a fierce backlash from pro-LGBT Anglicans in the UK and more than 300 have signed a different note thanking TEC for ‘leading the way on this important issue’.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Bruce Fields–When He Died Upon the Tree: James Cone’s seminal book gives a theological response to the dark history of lynchings in America

These are signposts that can be passed together as there is much that is mutually informing between the cross and the lynching tree, and Cone makes a strong case on the horizontal, human plane. When it comes to the vertical plane between God and the human community, however, reflection on the Scriptures may call for walking along another pathway.

For African Americans, Cone’s vision may involve the empowerment of lament and forgiveness, ideas he does not address directly in his book. The reality of lament is illustrated by the parable of the servant who owed 10,000 talents (Matt. 18:24–35). There was no way that the servant could pay that amount. His master could sell him and his family as slaves to obtain some payment, but it would never be enough. But the master chose to forgive the debt, astronomical as it was.

There is a similar reality when it comes to the debt accumulated in the United States because of its racist heritage. Some crimes are so overwhelming to the senses and reason itself—inflicting pain and sorrow of unimaginable proportions—that no real restitution can be made for them. Repentance for the sin of racism is appropriate, but much damage has been done. Recognition of this reality through the practice of lament is necessary for healing to begin.

In his book, Born from Lament: The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa, Emmanuel Katongole conceives of lament as “a complex set of practices or disciplines—a way of seeing, standing, and wrestling or arguing with God, and thus a way of hoping in the midst of ruins.” Lament argues with God, but then leaves matters to him, paving the way for eventual forgiveness. Forgiveness is foundational to the gospel. For the dehumanized, it can bring healing to the soul, particularly to the memory. It can also prevent the dehumanized from becoming dehumanizers. It may take the biblical practice of lament and the difficult discipline of forgiveness for Cone’s vision of hope to be realized.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(CC) Black liberation theologian James Cone dies at 79

James Cone, 79, one of the most powerful voices shaping black liberation theology, died Saturday (April 28). According to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in which Cone was ordained, he had cancer.

The author of such books as Black Theology and Black Power (1969), A Black Theology of Liber­ation (1970), and God of the Oppressed (1975), Cone joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1969.

“In so many ways, James Cone has been Union Theological Seminary for the past 50 years,” said Union president Serene Jones. “To say his death leaves a void is a staggering understatement. His prophetic voice, deep kindness, and fierce commitment to black liberation embodied not just the very best of our seminary, but of the theological field as a whole and of American prophetic thought and action.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Theology

(The ARDA) Study: 1 in 5 baby boomers increasing faith as they reach old age

Are baby boomers, part of the first generation to lead the contemporary exodus from organized religion, returning to their religious roots?

The ninth wave of a multigenerational study that began in 1971 finds a little more than one in five boomers became more religious in the transition from their 50s to their 60s.

Why the change of heart among baby boomers as they moved from late middle age to early old age?

Older boomers cited several reasons, from seeking solace in life after the death of a spouse to finding other sources of meaning after the loss of a job to a desire to pass on religious beliefs to their grandchildren.

It is not clear if the findings suggest any kind of watershed moment for U.S. religion.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Sun Online) Nigerian Anglican Primates calls on Government to offer better security, criticizes idea of more armed self-defence

The clergyman said that the responsibility of security lies squarely on the shoulders of the government as that was, according to him, part of the social contract it entered into with the people.

Apparently referring to the call by some prominent Nigerians for the people to defend themselves, the Prelate said that a situation where everybody would have to carry arms to defend themselves would spell doom for the country.

The Primate made the call at the Cathedral of All Saints, Abakaliki, in an interview with newsmen shortly after commissioning about 135 metres of road that leads to the Cathedral, which was constructed by the Ebonyi State Government.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Police/Fire, Politics in General

Kendall Harmon’s recent Sunday Sermon–How Does one lead An Easter Life? (Psalm 23)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Hog-hair breath and refilling shampoo bottles: Bishop Graham Usher negotiates the trials of cutting out plastic

I was staggered by the terrible damage that our plastic usage is causing God’s creation, including humans, on this single island home that we call planet Earth. It’s nearly impossible to live plastic-free but we can all live with considerably less plastic if only we give it commitment.

Every piece of plastic I use will most probably outlive me by hundreds of years.

We can, one by one, and collectively as communities and nations and governments, do something about it. It’s simple. We have to do something about plastic. We can do it – now let’s do it!

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Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Sarah Hale

Gracious God, we bless thy Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for thy many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

O God our Father, whose law is a law of liberty: Grant us wisdom to use aright the freedom which thou hast given us, by surrendering ourselves to thy service; knowing that, when we are thy willing bondsmen, then only are we truly free; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

–New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

–1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Alfie Evans Case (III)–Dominic Lawson: Parents can love, but not protect: ask Alfie Evans’s mum

This is emphatically not an argument for parents to impose quacks on seriously ill children. But the NHS has an institutional antipathy to experimental forms of cancer treatment, even in cases where it knows its own methods hold no prospect of a lasting cure. I can’t help thinking a system in which patients and their parents are not themselves paying (except compulsorily as taxpayers) encourages the attitude that they should keep quiet and be grateful for what they get.

Still, the vituperation directed at the staff of Alder Hey is unconscionable. They looked after Alfie to the very best of their ability, and must also have felt distress as his condition — the result of an inexplicable degenerative disorder that attacked the brain of an apparently healthy newborn — worsened. But for him to have ended up as, in effect, a prisoner until death of the state that had earlier removed his ventilation against his parents’ wishes is no advertisement for the English medico-legal system. It’s one thing to give up the medical fight for the child’s life; quite another to say to the parents, “But, all the same, you can’t take him away from us, either back home to die or to a foreign hospital prepared to treat him at its own expense.”

Even if such treatments are pointless — our courts had decided there was no further point in the existence of Alfie Evans — it offends against our entire idea of family to treat the feelings and wishes of loving parents as irrelevant. This love is not just the indispensable basis of a good society. Maternal love is the most powerful force in the known universe. It demands more respect than this.

That truth is about to be put before the courts in another case, in which my wife is involved. With two other mothers whose adult children, like our younger daughter, have what nowadays is called “learning difficulties”, she is bringing a test case before the Court of Protection. As the law stands, the parents of such adults, whether in residential care or not, have no right to a decisive role in how their children are treated. The carers would be obliged to give the parents such a right if the mother or father were appointed by the courts to be their adult child’s welfare deputy. But the current code stipulates that this can be agreed by courts only “in the most difficult cases”.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Alfie Evans Case (II)-Ross Douthat: Alfie Evans and the Experts

[The New Yorker’s Rachel] Aviv focuses on the Kafkaesque odyssey of Julie Belshe, a mother of three who spent years extracting her parents from the talons of a woman, April Parks, who was later indicted on charges of perjury and theft. But Parks flourished in a larger system designed around the assumption that old people are basically better off without their kids, because offspring are probably motivated either by raw emotionalism or by gimme-gimme avarice, as opposed to the cool wisdom of expert doctors, professional guardians, and wise judges.

Such a system is custom-built for the coming world of post-familialism, the world bequeathed to us by sexual individualism and thinning family trees. Just as more and more children are growing up without the active fathers who fought for Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans or the extended kinship network that saved Jahi McMath, more and more people will face old age without sons and daughters to care for them or to challenge the medical-judicial complex’s will.

It is the tragedy of our future that for many people there will be no exit from that complex, no alternative means of receiving care. But it is the task of our present to ensure that where the family still has the capacity to choose for an aging parent or a dying child, the family rather than the system gets to make the choice.

Yes, that choice may be wrong; it may have its own dark or foolish motivations. But those are risks a humane society has to take, so that in our weakest moments we can hope to be surrounded not just by knowledge or power, but by love.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

The Alfie Evans Case (I)–Albert Mohler: Life in the Balance in Liverpool — Alfie Evans Is Not Alone

One of the most important rights throughout human history is the right of parents to make decisions concerning their children’s welfare. Almost every culture and civilization has honored this principle—formally or informally–as a basic human right and a necessary foundation for family flourishing. Western countries often recognized parental rights as natural rights—rights that cannot be compromised by government interference. But in the case of Alfie, the state is redefining parental rights so that they extend only as far as the government or other elites, such as the medical elites, determine.

Furthermore, unlike the Charlie Gard case, Alfie Evans has only been examined by one medical team or acute care team. As Charles Camosy has pointed out, those acute care teams of medical experts often make the wrong decisions regarding the inevitability of death. To put the matter bluntly, there are numerous cases in which medical authorities said an individual would surely die, but those people are still alive.

Sohrab Amari, writing for Commentary Magazine, is on point: “The medical complexities of the case, played up by the court and its defenders, serve to obscure a basic moral principle. No one is asking the UK National Health Service to expend extraordinary measures to keep Alfie alive. All Alfie’s parents ask is to be allowed to seek treatment elsewhere, again at Italian expense, even if such treatment proves to be futile in the end.” The same principle, says Amari, was at stake in last year’s Charlie Gard case. Once more, British courts have distorted the relevant legal standard, the best interest of the child, to usurp natural rights. This disturbing point is a political issue, to be sure. But natural rights are pre-political. Governments do not invent or grant natural rights. The rightful role of government is to respect and protect the rights that exist prior to the state and its laws.

If the state does not recognize parental rights as natural rights and government authorities and elites can subvert the will of parents, then we’re going to witness a long succession of cases just like Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans—and not just in Great Britain.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

(Anglican Taonga) Bishop Don Tamihere installed yesterday as the sixth Bishop of Aotearoa

About 750 people poured into a huge marquee at Manutuke marae, west of Gisborne, yesterday to tautoko the installation of Bishop Don Tamihere as the sixth Pihopa o Aotearoa, or leader of the Maori Anglican Church – and to applaud his recognition as Primate/Te Pihopa Matamua and Archbishop.

Bishop Don, who is 45, thus becomes the youngest archbishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion – and the service he oversaw demonstrated his determination to throw open the doors of Te Pihopatanga to young leaders and fresh initiatives.

He chose to be installed in his cathedra not by other bishops, but by three students from Maori schools: from Te Aute Kareti and Hukarere Maori Girl’s College (both venerable Maori Anglican boys and girls colleges) – and from Horouta Wananga, which is a new kura kaupapa Maori, or Maori immersion school, in Gisborne.

Then, to underline the ‘new wine, new wineskins’ message, he chose the newest, most recently ordained priest in Te Pihopatanga to preside at the Eucharist. The Rev Wiremu Anania, who is Vicar and Missioner of Tauranga Moana, is aged 24, and he was ordained to the priesthood just three months ago.

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Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia