Daily Archives: May 5, 2018

Bishop Jack Iker writes his Diocese in Fort Worth

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
As we move forward in this Easter Season of celebrating the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord, we now begin to look ahead to the great feasts of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost.

In the coming weeks, there are several clergy changes taking place that I wanted you to know about.

The search process for a new Rector of St. Andrew’s in downtown Fort Worth has now begun, and I ask you to pray for the search committee as they pursue the discernment process of finding a new pastor to shepherd them in the coming years. At the same time, Fr. Sam Wilgus has been called to serve as an assistant priest in the parish to assist Canon Ron McCrary, the priest in charge during the interim. Fr. Wilgus comes to us from St. John’s Cathedral in Quincy, Ill. He and his wife are the parents of an infant child, and we look forward to welcoming them to our diocese.

Fr. John Phelps has announced his plans to retire from the active ordained ministry, effective June 30th….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Julia Duin–It’s Hard to Find God on the Front Page: A lack of reporters means religious news gets short shrift—and lots of corrections

It’s always been a struggle to persuade news executives that Americans are more interested in religion than, say, sports. Associated Press religion writer George Cornell addressed the issue a few months before he died in 1994. He noted that religious giving in 1992 totaled $56.7 billion—some 14 times the gate receipts for America’s three biggest sports. Cornell also said that attendance at religious events, according to Gallup polls, was 5.6 billion in 1993. That was 55 times the 103 million total attendance reported by the professional baseball, football and basketball leagues. The gap has narrowed in the past 25 years, but religious giving still maintains a multibillion-dollar lead.

Such involvement—no doubt much of it in religiously active flyover country—was not reflected in the average newsroom, even in the relatively cash-flush 1990s. The typical regional paper employed small armies of sports reporters while maybe employing a religion reporter. And Cornell’s pessimistic piece came at only the beginning of a decadeslong decline in daily newspaper circulation. Never-ending layoffs, firings and closings left religion among the most decimated of the specialty beats. Whole regions of the western U.S. and Canada have no staff reporter covering religion. Imagine if no one covered sports in Oregon, Wyoming and Arizona….

It’s a shame so few outlets seem to take religion seriously anymore. Done right, the beat can be quite profitable. Anyone who wants to understand the forces behind much of today’s news needs to understand faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Media, Religion & Culture

(UMNS) Methodist Bishops propose plan for Way Forward amidst debate over the New Sexual Ethic for Christians

To find a way forward on the denomination’s homosexuality debate, bishops are recommending the church allow more freedom at the conference and local church levels.

Under what the Council of Bishops calls the One Church Plan, decisions about whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy or to officiate at same-gender unions would be made closer to the congregational level.

The plan would remove the restrictive language against the practice of homosexuality in the Book Discipline, the denomination’s policy book. The plan also adds assurances to pastors and conferences who in good conscience cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy that they don’t have to do so. Central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — could maintain current restrictions.

The plan “encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions,” said the bishops’ press release.

While the majority of bishops recommend the One Church Plan, the bishops also will submit two additional plans to the special General Conference on Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis. All three possibilities had support among some of the bishops.

The other two plans on the table are:

  • The Traditionalist Plan would affirm the current language in the denomination’s Book of Discipline, the denomination’s governing document, and seek to strengthen enforcement.
  • The Connectional-Conference plan would allow conferences to choose among three connectional conferences for affiliation. The connectional conferences would align based on theology or perspective on LGBTQ ministry — be it traditionalist, progressive or allowing for a variety of approaches. This plan would require multiple amendments to the denomination’s constitution.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNA) Marriage and Communion: Roman Catholic Norms address interchurch couples

For the universal church and in the guidelines offered by different bishops’ conferences distinctions are made between the faithful of the Orthodox churches and the faithful of the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments and welcomes members of the Orthodox churches to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church, although it cautions that their Orthodox pastors and bishops might object.

The U.S. bishops’ brief guidelines, published in 1996, said, “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches.”

For Anglicans and Protestants, the situation is more complicated and Catholic church law requires that they “manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament,” as the directory phrased it.

Shared faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not unlikely, however, because it formally has been affirmed over the course of more than 50 years of formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

Therefore, the norms published by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 1999 stated, “Episcopalians and Lutherans can be presumed to believe in the real presence. For members of other communions there may be need for some further discussion concerning their belief in the Eucharist.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology

(BP) Albert Mohler tells NRB of a ‘new regime of invented rights’

Mohler quoted a 2016 official report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in which the chairman, Martin R. Castro, wrote, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

The commission’s report, Mohler pointed out, placed both religious liberty and religious freedom in scare quotes as if they are “linguistic constructions without any objective reality.”

“We are now witnessing a great and inevitable collision between religious liberty and newly declared and invented sexual liberties,” he said, listing various incidents illustrating how the collision is now taking place.

Mohler encouraged Christian leaders to hold on to the truths expressed in the Declaration of Independence and to defend these truths “that should be, but often are not, recognized as self-evident.”

And to the generation of young people who are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ but assume that the defense of religious liberty is political, Mohler said they also need to be committed to the free propagation and voicing of the Gospel, without which sinners will not hear the Gospel.

“We’re in a fight that’s worth fighting,” Mohler said. “And we understand that as we contend for the freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech, and the freedom of press, again, we’re doing this not just for ourselves and for our children, not just for our churches, but for the world.

“Let’s pray that God will give us wisdom to hold these truths in perilous times,” Mohler concluded.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(CT) Joshua Chatraw–Stop Apologizing for Apologetics

…apologetics cannot simply return to the past, imagining that nothing has changed. While in some ways our pluralistic context mirrors the situation in the early church, in other ways our present situation is very different.

To name just one significant difference, we are no longer the new kids on the block. In the early church, we were strange, misunderstood, and a potential threat, but we had yet to wield power—or abuse it. In the West today, Christianity is increasingly seen as authoritarian and coercive. The resistance against Christianity is no longer simply that it is wrong, but that it’s also dangerously oppressive—and opponents claim to now have the evidence to prove it.

The history of the past wrongs of Christendom, the present-day Christian resistance to…[same-sex marriage], and the commitment to the (allegedly) repressive notion of divine judgment all fall outside the bounds of the plausibility structures assumed by the prevailing secular humanism. These kinds of moral issues are probably the chief apologetic challenges of late modernism; the beauty and the good of our truth claims are at stake.

The need of the hour is apologetic maturity—historically informed and theologically rooted in the gospel itself—which knows how to not only give reasons but also how to stoke imaginations, model cruciform lives, and even publicly confess. (We do, after all, have some planks to remove from our own eyes.) These are not the typical things most think of when they hear of apologetics, but this is only because we have not fully come to grips with our past—both the good and the bad. An apologetic approach for a secular age needs to utilize appeals to the essential features of personhood (such as the need for meaning, hope, forgiveness, and morality) along with arguments for the faith’s rationality.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics

A Prayer to Begin the Day from St. Augustine

Blessed are all thy saints, O God and King, who have travelled over the tempestuous sea of this life and have made the harbour of peace and felicity. Watch over us who are still on dangerous voyage, and remember such as lie exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptations. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in thy mercy thou hast set our course, so pilot the vessel of our life towards the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at last to the quiet haven of our hearts’ desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things which we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

–2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture