Yearly Archives: 2020

(Church Times) Philip Williamson–A History of Prayer amidst Wars, famines+pandemics

National acts of special worship could be either particular prayers or whole church services. Until the 1850s, the services were for use on special fast or thanksgiving days. These were usually ordered by royal proclamation, for observance by the whole population. As they were often appointed for weekdays, all work was suspended as on Sundays.

In England and Wales, and in Ireland, these prayers and services involved departures from the Book of Common Prayer. New texts were supplied by special forms of prayer, long series of which are often found in parish records.

The original rationale for these occasions was provided by the conceptions of “special providences” and divine judgements, drawn especially from Old Testament examples of afflictions suffered under the kings of Israel. Dislocations in the natural world as well as in human affairs were seen as God’s punishments for the collective sins of the kingdom, to be assuaged by simultaneous penitence, petitionary prayers, and promises of repentance.

A preface in the forms of prayer used during plague epidemics in the 16th and 17th centuries declared:

We be taught by many and sundry examples of holy Scriptures, that upon occasion of particular punishments, afflictions, and perils, which God of his most just judgement has some times sent among his people to show his wrath against sin, and to call his people to repentance and to the redress of their lives: the godly have been provoked and stirred up to more fervency and diligence in prayer, fasting, and alms deeds, to a more deep consideration of their consciences, to ponder their unthankfulness and forgetfulness of God’s merciful benefits towards them, with craving of pardon for the time past, and to ask his assistance for the time to come to live more godly, and so to be defended and delivered from all further perils & dangers. . . (1563)

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(The Hill) Poll: Almost one in four small businesses are two months or less away from closing permanently

Twenty-four percent of small businesses say they will close permanently within two months or less due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife released on Friday.

Eleven percent of small businesses say they will close within one month and 24 percent of small businesses are already shut down on a temporary basis, the poll, which was conducted March 25 to 28, found.

The poll found that it is likely that 54 percent of all small businesses will close temporarily in the next 14 days. Forty percent of businesses surveyed that have not yet temporarily closed are expecting to do so in that timeframe.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard of Chichester

We thank thee, Lord God, for all the benefits thou hast given us in thy Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he hath borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of thy saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the German Reformed Church

Almighty and most merciful God, who hast given thy Son to die for our sins and to obtain eternal redemption for us through his own blood: Let the merit of his spotless sacrifice, we beseech thee, purge our consciences from dead works to serve thee, the living God, that we may receive the promise of eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

–2 Corinthians 4:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Nearly 315 million Americans are in the midst of some kind of stay-at-home order as of today

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Health & Medicine

(The State) South Carolina cases climb to 1,554 as coronavirus spreads to every county. Death toll hits 31

South Carolina cases of coronavirus reached a new high Thursday after health officials announced 261 new patients have tested positive.

Statewide, 1,554 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in all 46 of the state’s counties.

Cases are projected to continue to increase throughout the month with a peak in late April, according to projections by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

(Mere Orthodoxy) Brad East–Sacraments, Technology, and Streaming Worship in a Pandemic

What does that mean for Christian life under quarantine? Might not a pandemic call for emergency measures, even granting the sacramental character of the church’s worship? Isn’t abstention from the bread of life too much to ask, too painful to endure for weeks or even months?

It is indeed a great deal to ask. It is very painful. But that does not resolve the issue. If a thing is unwise or impossible, we do well to resist the temptation to recast it as unavoidable or necessary. Better by far to acknowledge the pain and lament it together, albeit apart. As Chris Krycho has written:

We are eager to return to gather with God’s people. We are eager to come to the Table again. This eagerness, this longing, is a pointer just in the same way that the weekly gathering and Communion are in ordinary time: to the consummation of all things when Christ comes again. The hunger we feel keenly now for the gifts of God in this age can remind us to hunger more deeply for the gifts of God in the age to come — the gathering of all the saints, the feast of the ages, and both unbroken and unending. Temporary loneliness can point us to final fellowship. Temporary fasting can point us to final feasting.

Or in Scott Swain’s words:

Our inability to celebrate the Lord’s Supper for a season can only be, should only be, cause for sorrow and tears. For now, we are not able to celebrate this remembrance of the Lord by “tasting” and “seeing” his goodness (Ps 34:8). But this does not mean we are consigned to a state of utter forgetfulness. No. There is a kind of remembrance that accompanies exile from the city of God (Ps 137:5-6), the remembrance that leads to faithful tears (Ps 137:1-2) and that cultivates hopeful longing for restoration (Pss 63:1; 143:6), the remembrance of those who have once tasted and who, by God’s grace, know they will once again taste and see the Lord’s goodness, whether it is at his table in the covenant assembly or at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). This is the kind of remembrance that we are called to cultivate in ourselves and in our flocks in this season.

American Christians desire instant gratification. We expect technological fixes to temporary glitches. But this pandemic is not a glitch. It is a trial, and one that has no quick solution. It can only be endured. Instead of living in denial, we should allow the terrible burden of our endurance to make its mark on our habits of worship during this time. The liturgy ought not to carry on just as before, hastening to distract us from the danger around us. Let it instead bear the imprint of our moment. Life is not as it was. Worship shouldn’t be either.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Sacramental Theology

(CNN) Experts tell White House coronavirus can spread through talking or even just breathing

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing.

“While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” according to the letter, written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences.

Fineberg told CNN that he will wear start wearing a mask when he goes to the grocery store.

“I’m not going to wear a surgical mask, because clinicians need those,” said Fineberg, former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. “But I have a nice western-style bandana I might wear. Or I have a balaclava. I have some pretty nice options.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(Local Paper front page) Rural Clarendon County is suddenly a SC coronavirus hotspot. Nobody knows why.

It was nearly supper time in Turbeville, but the owner of Chat N’ Chew on Main Street was leaning back in a patio chair outside the empty restaurant, reading a paperback book.

Occasionally, one of the town’s 800 residents would stop by to pick up dinner from a takeout window. But not often.

Bernard Blackman, the restaurant’s owner for the past 12 years, is losing money to keep the restaurant open during a coronavirus outbreak that has led other businesses to reduce hours or close. But the 69 year old doesn’t want to lay off his staffers.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

(PRC) Many Americans are praying and staying away from normal religious services in response to coronavirus

More than half of U.S. adults say they have prayed for an end to the spread of the coronavirus. Evangelical Protestants are among the most likely to say they have prayed for an end to the virus (82% say they’ve done so). A similar share of adherents of the historically black Protestant tradition (79%) say they have done the same. Two-thirds of Catholics (68%) and mainline Protestants (65%) also say they have prayed for an end to the outbreak.

Roughly one-third of Jews (35%) say they have prayed to end the virus. Religious “nones” – especially self-described atheists and agnostics – are less likely than those who identify with a religion to say they have prayed for an end to the outbreak, though 36% of those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” say they have prayed about the virus.

Fully 86% of people who pray every day say they have prayed specifically about the virus, as have two-thirds of those who say they pray on a weekly basis. Half of those who say they pray a few times a month report having prayed about the coronavirus, as have 15% of those who generally seldom or never pray.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Sociology

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–Bp Mark Lawrence’s address on him in 2008

In 1899 a relatively obscure priest working in a City Mission in the slums of South Boston was compiling a book on prayer from articles he had written for the Saint Andrew’s Cross, a magazine of the recently established lay order of the Protestant Episcopal Church known as the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Seven years before, this celibate priest had left the Order of the Cowley Father’s whose House was just across the Charles River in Cambridge. Although he left the order over a dispute between his superior, Fr. A. C. A. Hall and the Order’s Father Superior in England, the young priest never left the inward embrace of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience””even less did he leave behind the spiritual disciplines of the religious life he had learned so well under Fr. Hall’s steady hand. Somewhere between his pastoral and social work among the sordidness and squalor of the South End””replete with red light district, street waifs, immigrants and vagrants”” and his late night vigils of intercessory prayer or early mornings spent in meditation, not to mention the full round of parish duties, he found the time to write. In the final chapter of his little book, With God in the World, he wrote words that now appear as strangely prescient for his own life: “Men””we are not thinking of butterflies””cannot exist without difficulty. To be shorn of it means death, because inspiration is bound up with it, and inspiration is the breath of God, without the constant influx of which man ceases to be a living soul. Responsibility is the sacrament of inspiration. . . . The fault of most modern prophets is not that they present too high an ideal, but an ideal that is sketched with a faltering hand; the appeal to self-sacrifice is too timid and imprecise, the challenge to courage is too low-voiced, with the result that the tide of inspiration ebbs and flows.” He was to parse this belief taking root in his soul, with the phrase “the inspiration of responsibility”. Within two short years he would have the opportunity to test these words with his life.

His name was Charles Henry Brent, born the son of an Anglican clergyman from New Castle, Ontario in 1862. How Charles Brent, a Canadian by birth, came to be a priest in of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and under the episcopacy of the renowned Phillips Brooks, and later, the almost equally celebrated Bishop William Lawrence, is itself an interesting story we haven’t time to explore. Suffice to say that God seemed to be grooming through the seemingly quixotic twists and turns of providence a bishop not merely for the church or for one nation, but for the world””a man, of whom it could be said, he was Everybody’s Bishop.

You may find Part One there and Part Two here. Take the time to read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–Time Magazine’s Cover Story on him, August 29, 1927

In the past few weeks, the Christians of the world have been holding their first major conference in some 500 years for the specific purpose of seeing what can be done about unifying Christianity as the sum of its world-wide parts.

Preparation. Today the parts (denominations) number 200-odd, all of them organized as distinct entities. The practical necessity of relating so many parts, of discovering identity among so many entities, was established by the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. The logical necessity was established later the same year, at a convention of the Episcopal Church in Cincinnati. The man who then proposed a world conference on Faith & Order lived to see such a conference actually held, after 17 years of preparation, and to preside over it as chairman, at Lausanne, Switzerland, the past three weeks.

Chairman Brent. This man was Bishop Charles Henry Brent of the Episcopal diocese of Western New York. Canadian-born and educated, naturalized in the U. S., an obscure worker in the awkward robes of the Cowley Fathers among the poor of Boston, later (under Bishop Phillips Brooks) an Episcopal rector who was made a missionary bishop and sent to the Philippines because of his earnest simplicity, rugged strength and adaptability among people of other races, it was Bishop Brent who confirmed General Pershing in the Philippines and subsequently became Chaplain-in-Chief of the A. E. F.

First in war, first in peace, Bishop Brent had had experience in handling international conferences, as president of opium parleys at Shanghai (1909) and The Hague (1911). He declined the bishoprics of Washington, D. C., and New Jersey, to preserve for his world ministry the freedom of action he enjoys at Buffalo, N. Y. When his world ministry reached its peak this month, he was not content merely to preside over the hundreds of churchmen he had brought together, but went with them into their councils; explained, directed, adjusted and dictated daily despatches on their progress to the New York Herald Tribune.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Henry Brent

Heavenly Father, whose Son did pray that we all might be one: deliver us, we beseech thee, from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following thy servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of thy Son Jesus Christ: who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Scottish Prayer Book

O God, whose blessed Son did overcome death for our salvation: Mercifully grant that we, who have his glorious passion in remembrance, may take up our cross daily and follow him; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court denies Petition for Writ of Prohibition by The Episcopal Church

The South Carolina Supreme Court announced yesterday that it has denied the Petition for a Writ of Prohibition submitted on February 21st by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), which sought to prevent Judge Edgar W. Dickson from ruling on the Diocese’s and parishes motion to clarify the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling. If granted, the petition would have prevented Judge Dickson from ruling on the case as he has indicated he was about to do. The Supreme Court’s order succinctly states: “Petitioners seek a Writ of Prohibition to prevent the circuit court from clarifying this Court’s decision in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C. v. Episcopal Church, 412 S.C. 211, 806 S.E. 2d 82 (2017). The petition is denied.”

This ruling by the Supreme Court allows Judge Dickson to proceed with clarifying the Court’s earlier August 2017 ruling, which was comprised of five separate opinions. That situation is unprecedented in the history of the court. This open-ended denial of the petition by the Supreme Court places no restrictions upon the appropriateness of Judge Dickson’s work in interpreting the meaning of the original ruling.

Ironically, this ruling comes almost exactly a year after TEC and TECSC filed a similar Petition with the high court for a Writ of Mandamus meant to force Judge Dickson to rule in the case. The Mandamus Petition asked the Supreme Court to require the Circuit Court to interpret the Supreme Court’s August 2, 2017 ruling favorably for TEC and TECSC. That petition was also denied by the Supreme Court in July of last year.

As before, the Prohibition Petition was an attempt to end run Judge Dickson’s exercise of his discretion in interpreting the August 2, 2017 decision in a manner that may differ from TEC and TECSC’s interpretation.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina welcomes this decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court affirming that the Circuit Court is the proper venue to resolve the many uncertain issues arising from the August 2, 2017 decision.

The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, President of the diocesan Standing Committee observed, “In this time, our focus is on caring for our people and praying for a world deeply rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, we are profoundly grateful that the Supreme Court has denied the request for a Writ of Prohibition, and hope this ruling helps move things along. We pray for Judge Dickson and the complex issues he has to deal with, even as we continue to focus on concerns far more pressing to most people.”

The brief in support of the motion by the Diocese to dismiss this Petition can be found on the Diocesan website, along with further background on the earlier Petition for Mandamus. The August 2, 2017, ruling by the Supreme Court may also be found here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(The Hill) New Jersey high school baseball coach, 30, dies of coronavirus after being released from the hospital

A 30-year-old high school baseball coach in New Jersey died Monday from the coronavirus after being discharged from the hospital.

News of Ben Luderer’s death was shared by Cliffside Park superintendent Michael Romagnino in a letter to families.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Local Paper) With 210 new coronavirus patients, South Carolina records 1,293 total cases and 26 deaths

South Carolina officials recorded hundreds more positive coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,293 cases and 26 deaths.

The new numbers include 210 new positive test results, more than the state has announced in a single day since recording its first case March 6. Forty-eight of the newly identified patients live in Charleston County, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Four more patients died after contracting COVID-19. They were elderly residents of Anderson, Beaufort, Lee and Richland counties, DHEC said.

“Every day that we unfortunately have to report these losses is a reminder of how serious this situation is and the obligation we all have to help prevent the loss of additional South Carolinians,” said DHEC medical consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler. “Social distancing and staying home can help save lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

(NYT) If You Have Coronavirus Symptoms, Assume You Have the Illness, Even if You Test Negative

This is a real patient’s story. In fact, it is a lot of people’s story — at least some version of it. Across the world, people with signs and symptoms of Covid-19 are testing negative and wondering what it means. They are not showing up in the statistics, and they are left in limbo about what to do next.

The problem may be with the test. Current coronavirus tests may have a particularly high rate of missing infections. The good news is that the tests appear to be highly specific: If your test comes back positive, it is almost certain you have the infection.

The most common test to detect the coronavirus involves a process known as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, a jumble of words that describes a method capable of detecting virus particles that are generally present in respiratory secretions during the beginning of an infection. From a technical standpoint, under ideal conditions, these tests can detect small amounts of viral RNA.

In the real world, though, the experience can be quite different, and the virus can be missed. The best the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can say is that if you test negative, “you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected.” The key word there is “probably.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine

(Reformed Blogmatics) Renewing theological anthropology

In his contribution to The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology, Reinhard Hütter describes two approaches to the Christian life. One approach views God as standing behind the human being, with the world lying before him as his ultimate field of engagement. The other approach views the human being as standing before God, with the world coming to him as a gift from God’s fatherly hand in order that it, along with the human being, might ultimately be ordered to God.

In too many cases, contemporary Reformed and evangelical approaches to anthropology exhibit the former approach rather than the latter. Renewing theological anthropology will, above all, require recovering the latter approach, which locates human beings where they should be located: a little lower than the angels, over the animals, in Christ, in the presence of God, from whom and through whom and to whom are all things (Rom 11:36).

This, in the end, is the awe and wonder of what it means to be human. “What is man?” The psalmist asks. Following Scripture, the Westminster Shorter Catechism answers: man is the creature whose chief end it is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Stat News) Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic: We’re just clambering into a life raft. Dry land is far away

Imagine you are in a small boat far, far from shore. A surprise storm capsizes the boat and tosses you into the sea. You try to tame your panic, somehow find the boat’s flimsy but still floating life raft, and struggle into it. You catch your breath, look around, and try to think what to do next. Thinking clearly is hard to do after a near-drowning experience.

You do, though, realize two important things: First, the raft is saving your life for the moment and you need to stay in it until you have a better plan. Second, the raft is not a viable long-term option and you need to get to land.

In April 2020, the storm is the Covid-19 pandemic, the life raft is the combination of intense measures we are using to slow the spread of the virus, and dry land is the end to the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

Local Paper Editorial: Stay home, South Carolina. Together, we can get through the coronavirus pandemic

Assume that everyone you see is infected with the coronavirus.

If you absolutely must leave home, keep your distance from others. And limit where and how often you go.

Don’t touch anything you don’t have to outside your home. Don’t touch your face unless you just washed your hands.

Assume that you are one of the many people with symptomless COVID-19. Cough into your elbow, not your hands. If you don’t feel well, stay home….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

A Graph of Current Coronavirus Cases in South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of F.D. Maurice

Almighty God, who hast restored our human nature to heavenly glory through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ: Keep alive in thy Church, we beseech thee, a passion for justice and truth; that we, like thy servant Federick Denison Maurice, may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of thy Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Richard of Chichester’s Prayer (in the Post below) in Music–Bob Chilcott – A Thanksgiving (King’s Singers & Concordia Choir)

Listen to it all and the composer’s website is there [I first learned of this through Preston Trombly].

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard of Chichester

Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us, for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, now and for evermore.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

–Mark 10:14-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Most Pastors Bracing for Months of Socially Distant Ministry

A new survey by Barna Research found over the course of just a week, most church leaders went from thinking they’d be back to meeting as usual in late or March or April (52%), to projecting the changes would extend to May or longer (68%).

“There is this realism that’s setting in,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group president.

But while most pastors are realistic, they’re also optimistic, according to Kinnaman. “One of the cool things about pastors we’ve learned over the years is that they are by job description and by disposition more upbeat, positive, hope-filled people,” he said. “So they are often pretty capable of putting a good face in a tough situation, and they, like other leaders, are going to face a lot of tough decisions in the coming weeks as the crisis continues.”

Though most had already called off normal activities at church, pastors also implemented swift changes in policies around smaller group meetings over the past several days.

The percentage who still allow the church building to be used for “small meetings and gatherings” has dropped by about half (from 18% to 8%), according to Barna’s Church Pulse survey, hearing from 434 Protestant senior pastors and executive pastors in the US. A plurality say the church staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future (up from 25% to 40%).

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(9 Marks) Colton Corter–4 Reflections after Listening to 18 Hours of Sermons in America’s Biggest Churches

1. The gospel at best assumed; most of the time, it’s entirely absent.

Let me begin with the most important observation: in 36 sermons, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was unclear 36 times. Often, some or all of these facets of the Christian gospel were left out. “No gospel” became a common note. (Here’s an answer to the question you’re probably asking: What content is necessary in order to communicate the gospel?)

I don’t mean to say various elements of the gospel weren’t occasionally mentioned; they were. Todd Mullins (Christ Fellowship Church) mentions in his sermon series, “What Do You See Next?, that faith is believing in what Jesus did for you—carrying the cross, rising from the dead, etc. But none of those elements are articulated or explained. It’s unclear exactly why we need Jesus to do anything for us. Furthermore, it’s unclear exactly what he did by doing the things Mullins mentions. Isolated phrases here and there without much reference to how the Bible puts them together was the norm.

In his sermon, “The Robe of Righteousness,” Robert Morris (Gateway Church) provides a happy exception. He mentions the doctrine of imputation, stating that we aren’t worthy of God and are in need of a “balancing (of our) . . . account.” Morris goes on to say that in the gospel we get Jesus’ assets while Jesus receives our debts. That’s as close to the gospel that any of these sermons gets—and even in this instance, the true things Morris mentions are isolated from the rest of the truths that make up the gospel message. (Neither God’s holy judgment, sin, nor repentance is mentioned.)

But here’s what’s even more disheartening: in his next sermon, Morris says the Jesus who accomplished all this for us “lays down all his divinity” (“The Ring of Authority). Conspicuously missing from Morris’ explanation of what he calls “substitutionary, propitiatory, blood-bought salvation” is the response one must have to this message in order to be saved, which leads us to our next observation.

2. Repentance rarely comes across as something urgent and necessary; instead, it’s either optional or not worth mentioning at all.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture