Category : Theology

(Guardian) Carol Birch–Reject the cruelty of a me-first age that renders lonely people invisible

A staple of self-help dogma is that to protect ourselves from negativity we should give up our more needy friends. Surround yourself with positive people, we are told. Back off from the emotional drains, the sad saps; they really must not be allowed to bring you down. And so those most in need of a friend are abandoned.

Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year, initiated a cross-party campaign to tackle the problem of loneliness. Now her family and some MPs are taking this forward. Research for the Jo Cox Commission published last week shows that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely. Quite apart from the huge strain this puts on the health service (chronic loneliness is as bad for the health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day), the weight of untold sadness is enormous. As well as highlighting how the government’s massive underfunding of social care causes older people’s isolation, the campaign encourages people to get involved with “befriending” services: to knock on a door, pick up a phone, join the forgotten army of volunteers and good neighbours.

This is badly needed. It’s important, however, not to underestimate the scale of the problem. “Happy to chat” badges will not work for an unreachable demographic: the painfully shy, the stiff, the awkward, the unprepossessing, the unhappy young. Loneliness is common among students, the ones who don’t click with anyone during freshers’ week and thereafter walk alone. They are the naturally introverted, uprooted, changing, alienated. People sleepwalk into loneliness on social media, deluded into thinking the size of their following means they’re connected.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Though our iniquities testify against us,
act, O Lord, for thy name’s sake;
for our backslidings are many,
we have sinned against thee.
O thou hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why shouldst thou be like a stranger in the land,
like a wayfarer who turns aside to tarry for a night?
Why shouldst thou be like a man confused,
like a mighty man who cannot save?
Yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us,
and we are called by thy name;
leave us not.”

–Jeremiah 14:7-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Eleanor Parker) A medieval song about the Annunciation

Gabriel, from heaven’s king
Sent to the maid sweet,
Brought her blissful tidings,
And fair he did her greet:
“Hail be thou, full of grace aright,
For God’s Son, this heaven’s light,
For man’s love
Will man become
And take
Flesh of thee, maiden bright,
Mankind free for to make
From sin and devil’s might.”

Gently him did answer
The gentle maiden then:
“In what way can I bear
A child without a man?”
The angel said, “Fear thee naught;
Through the Holy Ghost shall be wrought
This same thing
Of which tiding
I bring.
All mankind will be bought [redeemed]
Through thy sweet childing,
And out of torment brought.”

When the maiden understood
And the angel’s words heard,
Gently with a gentle mind
To the angel she answered:
“Our Lord’s serving maiden iwis [indeed]
I am, who here above is.
Concerning me
Fulfilled shall be
Thy saw, [your words]
That I, since his will it is,
A maiden, without law, [i.e. outside the law of nature]
Of mother will have the bliss.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology: Scripture

Professor Markus Bockmuehl–Seeking to Understand Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

So why should anyone in their right mind pray, “lead us not into temptation”? Ours is a postChristian society that smells and fears insensitivity far more than it smells or fears evil, and which finds Christian morality no longer just irrelevant but positively offensive. Shouldn’t we should just rewrite the whole thing? “We affirm and celebrate the rich diversity of temptation; deliver us from attempts to resist it, because they are moralizing and exclusive.” To rephrase things like that would certainly spare us the open knives of Christianity’s cultured despisers.

In fact, even for Christians it seems tricky and difficult to know what it means to pray about temptation – particularly when we too often feel pretty clueless as to what it might
be. Is it something to do with food and dieting? With binge shopping or binge holidays? Or with sex? Or ambition for success? The ancient Christian author St Augustine captures
something of this difficulty even for those who might seem morally serious, when he admits that he used to pray that God would give him sexual chastity – “just not yet!”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

A Joint statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the Bishop of Sheffield

From here:

“The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

“We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

“Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology

A Poem for the Feast of the Annunciation from Andrew Hudgins

The angel has already said, Be not afraid.
He’s said, The power of the Most High
will darken you. Her eyes are downcast and half closed.
And there’s a long pause ”” a pause here of forever ””
as the angel crowds her. She backs away,
her left side pressed against the picture frame….

Read it all.

Posted in Poetry & Literature, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Case Thorp–A Seminary Snubs a Presbyterian Pastor

Today’s identity theology merely replaces northern European, male, cisgendered theology with another set of adjectives seeking to exercise power over others in the name of justice. But this is a false justice, because it lacks the divine righteousness that gives meaning to all lesser forms of justice. Call it retribution theology, a form of tribalism at its worst.

Christians need a theology that prophetically denounces sexism, homophobia and racism—in the past and in the present—without the divisiveness inherent to identity theology. This sort of inclusive theology is central to Mr. Keller’s preaching and ministry, which is done in one of the most diverse places in the world, New York City. Theologians like Mr. Keller focus on God, scripture, loving others, and missionary work. They’re not very concerned about their own navels.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” Martin Luther King said in 1964. Is Mr. Keller not our brother? I am sad that my alma mater chose to undermine King’s vision and succumb to the demands of identity theology. When Mr. Keller stands before the seminary community next month, he will not deliver an acceptance lecture for the Kuyper Prize. Instead, he’ll demonstrate grace and magnanimity, for Mr. Keller’s unity with his detractors will truly be in Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality

From the Morning Bible Readings

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

–Romans 6:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Princeton Seminary Rescinds its Award of the Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller

Dear Members of the Seminary Community,

On March 10 I sent a letter to the seminary community addressing the emerging objections to the Kuyper Center’s invitation to the Reverend Timothy Keller to speak at their annual conference and receive the Kuyper Prize. Those who are concerned point to Reverend Keller’s leadership role in the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination which prevents women and LGBTQ+ persons from full participation in the ordained Ministry of Word and Sacrament.

As I indicated in my previous letter, it is not my practice to censor the invitations to campus from any of our theological centers or student organizations. This commitment to academic freedom is vital to the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community. In talking with those who are deeply concerned about Reverend Keller’s visit to campus, I find that most share this commitment to academic freedom. Yet many regard awarding the Kuyper Prize as an affirmation of Reverend Keller’s belief that women and LGBTQ+ persons should not be ordained. This conflicts with the stance of the Presbyterian Church (USA). And it is an important issue among the divided Reformed communions.

I have also had helpful conversations about this with the Chair of the Kuyper Committee, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Reverend Keller. In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the Presbyterian Church in America’s views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality

From the Morning Scripture Readings

As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

–Psalm 42:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(JE) Opposing Tim Keller at Princeton Seminary

Unfailingly thoughtful and cerebral, frequently appearing in secular media as a religious and cultural commentator, Keller is one of the most influential pastors and Christian thinkers in America today. He is a guru of the rebirth of urban evangelical Protestant Christianity. His theology like his denomination’s is orthodox and Reformed. Keller typically avoids culture war issues and hot button debates. He affirms traditional Christian sexual ethics and marriage teaching but rarely speaks about it. His churches are full of New Yorkers who are socially liberal but drawn to his intellectually vibrant presentation of Christianity.

One Princeton graduate, a minister in the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), has been quoted in The Christian Post denouncing Keller’s scheduled appearance at her alma mater in her blog, which declares:

…An institution designed to train men and women for ministry shouldn’t be awarding fancy prizes to someone who believes half the student body (or is it more than half?) has no business leading churches. It’s offensive and, as I have taught my four and five year olds to express, it hurts my feelings.

She also complains that “he (and the denomination he serves) is also very clear in its exclusion of LGBT people.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we[d] rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man””though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

–Romans 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

South Carolina lawmakers considering allowing teens to get protection orders tied to dating violence

Lawmakers are considering allowing teenagers as young as 16 to get court orders of protection — without parental consent — when they are victims of domestic violence.

A proposed bill would also require teen-dating violence education in public schools and would increase penalties for those convicted of associated crimes.

Students from Ridge View High School in Columbia recently testified before a Statehouse panel supporting legislation that better defines teen dating violence.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, State Government, Teens / Youth, Violence

More young men are dropping out of job market to spend time in an alternate reality..the beginning of something big?

David Mullings was always a self-starter. Born in Jamaica, he moved to Florida to go to university, and founded his first company – a digital media firm that helped Caribbean content find a wider audience – before finishing business school at the University of Miami. In 2011 he opened a private-equity firm with his brother. In 2013 the two made their first big deal, acquiring an 80% stake in a Tampa-based producer of mobile apps. A year later it blew up in their faces, sinking their firm and their hopes.

Mullings struggled to recover from the blow. The odd consulting gig provided a distraction and some income. Yet depression set in as he found himself asking whether he had anything useful to contribute to the wider world.

Then Destiny called.

Read it all from the 1843 magazine.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Science & Technology, Young Adults