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(NYT) Chiune Sugihara: The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting

In 1939 Sugihara was sent to Lithuania, where he ran the consulate. There he was soon confronted with Jews fleeing from German-occupied Poland.

Three times Sugihara cabled his embassy asking for permission to issue visas to the refugees. The cable from K. Tanaka at the foreign ministry read: “Concerning transit visas requested previously stop advise absolutely not to be issued any traveler not holding firm end visa with guaranteed departure ex japan stop no exceptions stop no further inquires expected stop.”

Sugihara talked about the refusal with his wife, Yukiko, and his children and decided that despite the inevitable damage to his career, he would defy his government.

Mr. Zimbardo calls the capacity to act differently the “heroic imagination,” a focus on one’s duty to help and protect others. This ability is exceptional, but the people who have it are often understated. Years after the war, Sugihara spoke about his actions as natural: “We had thousands of people hanging around the windows of our residence,” he said in a 1977 interview. “There was no other way.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Japan, Judaism, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (IV): Surviving Church

There is of course the standard appeal to the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10. This is quoted in full to remind the reader that only ‘marriage as a union in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment’ is to be regarded as the ‘teaching of Scripture’. Anything else will only be tolerated if it is ‘sexually abstinent’.

I found myself reading this letter with growing irritation. It represents an appeal to Scripture and traditional Anglican statements which will only work if the person doing the appealing is not familiar with Scripture. It is, in particular, the assumptions about what Scripture has to say about marriage that caught my attention. We have presented to us in the letter the idea that the Bible has but one model of sex and marriage that is commended by Scripture for all time. If we take the complete Bible as the uniquely inspired word of God, we encounter enormous problems in maintaining that there is this single model for sexual behaviour and marriage. Many of the assumptions about relationships between men and women in the Old Testament are, by today’s standards, criminal and totally unacceptable. Exodus 21 & 22 contains a number of divinely given commands which relate to relationships between the sexes that have been outlawed for centuries….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (III): Adrian Hastings

The whole letter is worth reading, because its warmth, compassion, reasonableness and discernment will soon be drowned out by a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. Indeed, it has already started…

For a moment there it seemed sensible to link to a number of tweets issued in response to this letter, which tell of Evangelical arrogance, self-righteousness, shallowness and judgmentalism. Yet merely to have drawn your attention to the authors of these tweets would have been met with a chorus of ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’. It is no longer possible to reason with some anti-Evangelical revisionists because (from experience) it simply isn’t worth the hassle.

The Church of England is manifestly divided on this matter (as, indeed, is Evanglicalism), and the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone, Lancaster and (formerly) Shrewsbury are concerned that knee-jerk tweets alleging ‘homophobia’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’ aren’t elevated above Scripture, catholicity and traditional morality:

We also believe that LLF must recognise and address the wider challenges in church and society to traditional Christian teaching. In recognising these wider challenges alongside the questions raised by LGBT+ people it is therefore important we do not lose sight of our common, shared humanity and the need for the church to offer a coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves: rather that we are made in God’s image, have fallen captive to sin, are redeemed by Christ, and are being sanctified by the Spirit.

What this comes down to is that if the CofE’s “radical new Christian inclusion” doesn’t extend to full equality and full inclusion (ie, same-sex marriage), the church will continue to be ‘homophobic’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘hateful’. If, however, the “radical new Christian inclusion” extends to a fundamental change in the doctrine and liturgy of marriage to incorporate the union of two men or two women, it will cease to be faithful to Scripture or to traditional Christian morality (and so, some will aver, it will cease to be recognisably Christian). If you think the Prime Minister is between a rock and hard place with Brexit at the moment, just wait until the skubalon hits the flabellum when LLF finally reports in 2020.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (II): A Church Times Article

Eleven bishops, including four diocesans, have warned that a future pronouncement on sexuality may have “practical consequences” relating to the structure of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England.

The 1800-word letter, posted on the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council, is addressed to the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth. Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project, set up by the House of Bishops as an attempt to look more deeply into matters of sexuality after earlier attempts failed to heal divisions (News, 30 June 2017).

The project, which involves groups looking at the social, scientific, biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral aspects of sexuality, is expected to report back in early 2020.

The signatories to the letter (ten men and one woman) are the Bishops of Blackburn, Carlisle, Durham, and Peterborough, as well as the Suffragan or Area Bishops of Birkenhead, Lancaster, Ludlow, Maidstone, Plymouth, and Willesden; together with the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, formerly Bishop of Shrewsbury. The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, is the only signatory involved in the formal LLF discussions, as part of the pastoral advisory group.

The letter advises Dr Cocksworth and his colleagues against any sort of Anglican fudge, urging them to go beyond an evaluation of different perspectives. It calls instead for a “coherent, single ethic for all of us as people whose fundamental identity is not something we define for ourselves”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document (I): A Christian Today Article

They warn any changes in that stance ‘will create major problems for many of us, both here and in the wider [Anglican] Communion’, declaring that ‘recent history tragically demonstrates that introducing changes in teaching and liturgy has consistently divided Anglicans globally and within provinces’.

The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster, and by the former bishop of Shrewsbury. It is understood other evangelical bishops are also in agreement with its contents. It has been sent to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, who is chairing the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF) project. This is aiming to tackle the ‘tough questions and the divisions among Christians’ over gender, marriage and sexuality. The project is due to report back in early 2020.

The eleven bishops pointedly comment that the Church of England’s current discussions are ‘taking place after the gathering of nearly 2,000 Anglicans from 50 countries at Gafcon’ – the international Anglican grouping emerging as a potential future alternative to the Anglican Communion. They also highlight how the US Episcopal Church has ‘struggled to enable the flourishing of those within it who remain committed to traditional biblical teaching’. Thus, they say, there is ‘importance for our unity of how we teach and learn on these contested matters’.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, 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 Leonine Sacramentary

Grant us, O Lord, so to enter on the service of our Christian warfare, that, putting on the whole armour of God, we may endure hardness and fight against the spiritual powers of darkness, and be more than conquerors through him that loved us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amit’tai, saying, “Arise, go to Nin’eveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

–Jonah 1:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CL) Witchcraft Casts an Ever-Widening Spell on Millennials

If you’ve noticed an increase in references to witches and mysticism lately, that’s not just because Halloween is approaching. Surveys, social media sites and product branding indicate an increase in people who practice or are interested in witchcraft. Trend-spotters say millennials—especially young women—are drawn to Wicca, astrology and new-age spirituality.

About 1 to 1.5 million Americans label themselves Wiccan or pagan, according to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than the membership of some mainstream Christian denominations in the United States.

The rise in witchcraft is likely more than a trend, according to Carolyn Elliott, founder of Witch magazine. “We are in the midst of a beautiful, occult, witch renaissance,” she says. Her comment appears to be in line with the ever-increasing reach of the occult into the general population. In a series of three surveys conducted from 1990 to 2008, Trinity College watched Wicca rise from 8,000 practitioners to 340,000 over the course of those years. Now, as Pew reported in 2014, that number has risen to as many as 1.5 million.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism, Young Adults

(NYT) Archbishop Óscar Romero and Pope Paul VI Are Made Saints by the Roman Catholic Church

Thirty-eight years after being gunned down in a hospital church in El Salvador, Archbishop Óscar Romero was named a saint on Sunday to cheers in St. Peter’s Square, while thousands watched the ceremony on video monitors in the Salvadoran capital.

Pope Francis also canonized Pope Paul VI, who is credited with continuing the work begun by Pope John XXIII and bringing the church into the modern era with reforms wrought from the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

In his homily, Francis said Archbishop Romero “left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people.” Of the pope, he said, “Even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally.”

In all, Francis canonized seven people at the ceremony, which was attended by 70,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, according to the Vatican.

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Posted in --El Salvador, Central America, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Some Church of England Evangelical bishops write a letter about the House of Bishops Teaching Document on Marriage and Sexuality currently in Process

We are convinced that it is essential for LLF [Living in Love and Faith] to clearly articulate and explore the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion. The form of this is what Lambeth 1920 called a “pure and chaste life before and after marriage” and is expressed in the received teaching of the Church of England and summarised, for example, in Canon B30, the 1987 General Synod motion, and numerous Lambeth resolutions, most notably Resolution I.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. We believe that this vision of (1) sexual intercourse as “an act of total commitment which belongs properly within a permanent married relationship” (Lambeth 1988), (2) marriage as a union of a man and woman in a covenant of love marked by exclusivity and life-long commitment, and (3) faithful, sexually abstinent love in singleness and non-marital friendships, is the teaching of Scripture. It therefore expresses the character and will of God which is our guide in ordering our lives and in addressing public global ethical issues. We also believe that reaffirming this teaching offers us the best way of maintaining our unity-in-truth. We therefore hope that, as well as considering why this “traditional biblical teaching” (Lambeth 1988) is being questioned and rejected by some, LLF will clearly articulate it and commend it, explaining why it has been, and remains, a deeply-held conviction for most Christians. Here we believe it is vitally important that LLF help the Church of England engage with these issues ecumenically. We were encouraged that, in May, ARCIC III announced its forthcoming report “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal” and is pursuing further work on its mandate to consider “how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching”.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Glenn Davies’ Presidential Address to the Diocese of Sydney

The reason why GAFCON came into existence is that parts of the Anglican Communion had departed from the doctrine of Christ. While the presenting issue was concerned with human sexuality, the underlying problem was the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, the so-called Instruments of Communion failed to address this departure from the faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’. It is for this reason that a vast number of bishops, including the Archbishop and Assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Sydney, did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. The doctrinal bond that held the Anglican Communion together had dissolved. Whereas previous Lambeth Conferences had expressed their mind through resolutions, which at least had moral force for all Anglican Provinces, in 2008 the conference was resolution-free. The agreed tenets of our Anglican faith were no longer held in common. The lure of the world’s values and the accommodation to the world’s view of human sexuality had broken the bonds of affection and the ties that bind. Echoing Ezekiel’s explanation as to the coming judgment of God upon Israel,

…for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed
to the standards of the nations around you. Ezekiel 11:12

GAFCON is a reforming instrument of the Anglican Communion and calls all faithful Anglicans to stand firm for the teaching of Christ, explicitly recorded in Matthew 19:1-12. Yet it is not a single focus movement. The establishment of nine strategic networks last June, from theological education to ministry to children and youth, reflects the global reach of GAFCON in seeking to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. GAFCON is no threat to the Anglican Communion. It is only a threat to those who consider the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is outmoded and irrelevant, or to those who want to maintain a mere façade of unity, where no real unity exists. It is for this reason that the ‘Letter to the Churches’, overwhelmingly endorsed by the whole assembly of GAFCON 2018, expressed the view that attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference could not be contemplated, if bishops from those provinces who had departed from the teaching of Christ were invited. While I have a personal respect and affection for the Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries a grave responsibility upon his shoulders. If our Anglican Communion is merely defined by historical connections and heritage, rather than a doctrinally grounded commitment to Christ and the teaching of the Bible, then our koinōnia is not the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. GAFCON seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion by reclaiming its doctrinal foundations.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Teresa of Avila

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee: Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling us with light and grace, so that, bearing about with us the infection of a good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles—to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.”

–Acts 26:12-23

Posted in Theology: Scripture