Category : Pastoral Theology

(Scotsman) Princess Royal: Scotland’s churches have ‘major role in welcoming strangers’

The Princess Royal has praised the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly as a place for “reasoned debate” in her opening address at the annual event.

Her remarks come ahead of a debate at the assembly later this week which could move the Kirk a step closer to allowing ministers to perform same-sex marriage.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

NYT: How one Christian School Dealt with a Teenager who bravely chose to Keep her Baby

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Uncategorized

(Good News) Tom Lambrech–Bright Spots in a Confusing Decision by the recent United Methodist Judicial Council

1. The Judicial Council clearly and forcefully upheld the principle that a jurisdiction’s bishops, acting on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church, cannot legally consecrate as bishop a person who does not meet the qualifications for office. The Western Jurisdiction had maintained that it could elect and consecrate whoever it thought would be an appropriate bishop in light of their particular context, and that the rest of the church could say nothing about their choice. The ruling recognized that bishops are bishops of the whole church and that jurisdictional bishops are acting on behalf of the whole church when they consecrate a bishop. No jurisdiction or annual conference is completely autonomous. We are part of a connection that is responsible and accountable to each other.

2. The Judicial Council clarified that “a same-sex marriage license issued by competent civil authorities together with the clergy person’s status in a same-sex relationship is a public declaration that the person is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” This important ruling will put an end to games that some openly homosexual clergy have been playing by living in a same-sex marriage, yet declining to acknowledge that they are practicing homosexuals. Rather than requiring church authorities to ask intrusive questions about the personal lives and practices of clergy, all that is now necessary for a person to be brought up on a complaint is the public record of being in a same-sex marriage. The Judicial Council recognized that being in a marriage assumes a sexual relationship, and that it would then be up to the clergyperson under complaint to give “rebuttal evidence” during a complaint process to refute that assumption in an individual case. This should make it much easier and more straightforward to hold accountable some clergypersons who are living contrary to the moral teachings of the church.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Caledonia administrator ‘shocked and saddened’ by decision not to consecrate bishop-elect the Rev. Jake Worley

…[The Rev. Gwen] Andrews said she was shocked at the bishops’ decision, partly because in March, before the electoral synod, a search committee formed by the diocese sent a copy of Worley’s curriculum vitae and his employment history to Privett, pointing out his missionary work under the bishop of Rwanda and asking if it posed a problem to his candidacy. The search committee told her, Andrews said, that Privett did not think it would pose a problem.

Asked about this, Privett said his remarks were “off the cuff,” not part of the formal vetting process, and based on the fact that Worley had been received by the diocese of Caledonia as a priest in good standing.

“In itself, it may or may not have been an issue,” Privett said. “At that point, it didn’t seem to be, because he was functioning in the diocese of Caledonia and I’d assumed that the diocese of Caledonia had received him in due order…It was only when it came to the House of Bishops, when we were looking primarily at the criteria in the provincial canon, that we recognized that we needed to look further than we had been before.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of Rwanda, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology

(AM) Transgender liturgies? Why are we even asking the question?

If a destructive, anti-Christian, revolutionary ideology is taking over society and even sections of the church, how should it be effectively countered? Whose responsibility is it to do so? Should Christians address the ideology itself and its dangers to society, or should they focus on its symptoms and effects, as encountered in people in churches? Is it counter productive to talk negatively about cultural trends at all, and should Christians instead seek to simply tell ‘a better story’ in a positive way? Will it be enough in terms of being salt and light in Western culture, for theologians to write books and essays for an audience of educated conservative Christians, by carefully and graciously explaining biblical truth and pointing out error?

Martin Davie has certainly carried out this latter task very well in his latest piece of work, a Latimer Monograph which goes beyond the title’s brief of merely answering the question “Should the Church of England develop liturgical materials to mark gender transition?” to address the subject of transgenderism much more comprehensively. In the book he outlines the arguments of the pro-transgender apologists, refutes them graciously but firmly and in detail, and provides a clear and up to date re-statement of the biblical doctrine of humanity as male and female, grounded in the creation narratives through to the teaching of Jesus and the promise of the new creation. He addresses the question of pastoral care in the church for people who present as transgender, stressing, of course, the need for welcome and compassion to individuals, but also not being afraid to talk about underlying problems connected with the Fall: disorder, sin, rebellion, and the need for repentance, faith and a new start in Christ.

Davie writes with his customary clarity and logic, and does not fall into the trap catching some theologians, of being so keen to be fair to opposing arguments that they end up sitting on the fence or being overly complex and nuanced. As an introduction to the topic, and as a handbook for clergy, those involved in pastoral care and interested lay people, this book has to be highly recommended.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) A New Battleground Over Political Correctness: Duke Divinity School

The email read like one that could easily be circulating at any American college in 2017: a professor at Duke Divinity School urged her colleagues to attend a two-day session on how to recognize and combat racism.

The diversity program “provides foundational training in understanding historical and institutional racism,” said the Feb. 6 email by Anathea Portier-Young, an associate professor of the Old Testament, who called it “transformative, powerful and life-changing.”

But to Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology, the March course was something else: akin to the retraining of intellectuals by “bureaucrats and apparatchiks” in totalitarian societies, he wrote in an email to his fellow professors that afternoon.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Seminary / Theological Education

Rod Dreher has 3 very important posts and documentation about recent goings on at Duke Divinity School

The controversy centers around Paul Griffiths who wrote in part as follow to his colleagues:

Subject: intellectual freedom & institutional discipline at Duke Divinity School

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Intellectual freedom – freedom to speak and write without fear of discipline and punishment – is under pressure at Duke Divinity these days. My own case illustrates this. Over the past year or so I’ve spoken and written in various public forums here, with as much clarity and energy as I can muster, about matters relevant to our life together. The matters I’ve addressed include: the vocation and purpose of our school; the importance of the intellectual virtues to our common life; the place that seeking diversity among our faculty should have in that common life; the nature of racial, ethnic, and gender identities, and whether there’s speech about certain topics forbidden to some among those identities; and the nature and purpose of theological education. I’ve reviewed these contributions, to the extent that I can (some of them are available only in memory), and I’m happy with them and stand behind them. They’re substantive; they’re trenchant; and they address matters of importance for our common life. So it seems to me. What I’ve argued in these contributions may of course be wrong; that’s a feature of the human condition.

My speech and writing about these topics has now led to two distinct (but probably causally related) disciplinary procedures against me, one instigated by Elaine Heath, our Dean, and the other instigated by Thea Portier-Young, our colleague. I give at the end of this message a bare-bones factual account of these disciplinary proceedings to date.

These disciplinary proceedings are designed not to engage and rebut the views I hold and have expressed about the matters mentioned, but rather to discipline me for having expressed them.

You need to start here and then go there and then go here.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Seminary / Theological Education

(C of E) General Election 2017: Archbishops highlight the place of faith in British life

Faith has a central role to play in politics and this general election, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York say today.

In a pastoral letter to the parishes and chaplaincies of the Church of England, Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu urge people to set aside “apathy and cynicism” and draw new inspiration from the ancient Christian virtues of “love, trust and hope”.

The three-page letter, intended to be shared in churches from this Sunday onward, encourages voters to remember Britain’s Christian history and heritage as well as a concern for future generations and God’s creation as they make their decisions.

Following divisions of recent years, it calls for reconciliation drawing on shared British values based on cohesion, courage and stability.

Read it all and make sure to read through the full letter which is linked at the end.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) Katie Sutherland–Sesame Street’s Julia and moving autism on TV beyond the genius stereotype

Isolation is of particular concern for children on the autism spectrum, who may have difficulty making friends and are prone to bullying, often leading to mental health issues.

One study indicated that 63 per cent of children on the spectrum had been bullied in their lifetime, with 38 per cent bullied in the past month.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, states that bullying was a key motivator for the introduction of Julia.

It also claims that nearly every family is affected by autism in some way.

In Australia, it is estimated that one in 100 people (around 230,000) have an autism spectrum disorder, while in the United States, this figure sits at around one in 68 people.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

Martin Davie Responds to the Theological Forum Report from the Church of Scotland

The argument that procreation within marriage is unimportant in relation to the growth of the kingdom of God is thus mistaken. Christian marriages are one of the main means by which the kingdom is populated.

The converse is also true. As Mary Eberstadt argues in her book How the West Really Lost God, a good case can be made out for saying that the decline of the Church in the West has been the result of the collapse of traditional family structures. As she puts it ‘family decline in turn helps to power religious decline.’[14] What this means is that those who are really interested in the growth of the kingdom of God should be seeking to support and encourage the traditional family and in particular the importance of having children rather than downplaying their significance.

Thirdly, there is nothing objectionable in principle in the argument that the Holy Spirit guides the Church through the witness of Scripture to discern truths that are not contained in Scripture itself. Scripture does not address every specific issue and situation which the Church faces during the course of its history and so the Church requires guidance by the Spirit which goes beyond what Scripture explicitly says although in accordance with it. [15]

However, in any given case it needs to be shown that the Church is actually being guided to discern truth. This means a persuasive case needs to be made out as to why what we know on the basis of Scripture leads us to view a new issue or situation in one way rather than another. In relation to the issue of same-sex marriage a case would need to be made out as to why the witness of Scripture leads us to believe that the Church should celebrate same-sex marriages in those jurisdictions, such as Scotland, where they are legal. As we have seen, the report fails to make out such a case. The report fails to show that there is anything at all in Scripture that points us in this direction.

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Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian [PCUSA], Theology: Scripture

The Church of Scotland releases its report on ‘An approach to the theology of same-sex marriage.’

The General Assembly is being asked to consider two key issues.

Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.

In releasing the report the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, said: “The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches.

“In years past there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.

“We don’t think like that now.

“That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called ‘constrained difference’.

“This is saying that within limits we can make space for more than one approach.

“It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls ‘mutual flourishing’.

“This is a centrist report, aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing.”

Read it all and make sure to see the whole report found at the link at the bottom.

Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Theology: Scripture

ACNA Bishop John Guernsey–a response to Truro Church on the Institute Announcement

Truro leaders have made clear to me that the heart of this initiative is evangelistic. They desire to build loving relationships and, through them, to win back to the truth of Scriptures those who have departed from the historic Christian faith. And they desire to lead to Christ those who do not know Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord, the only Savior of the world. I certainly support such goals and pray for even more fruit from Truro’s dynamic evangelism ministries.

At the same time, as I have been made aware of the vision of the Institute, I have repeatedly expressed to the Truro leadership my deep concerns over the possibility of their conducting this ministry in partnership with the Diocese of Virginia. Because of the false teaching of the Episcopal Church, I asked them not to enter into a joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese. The issues that divide us are of first importance and to partner with the Episcopal Church is to give he mistaken impression that these concerns are merely secondary. If I thought that the issues that divide us were secondary, I would never have left the Episcopal Church.

The Truro leadership has chosen to proceed in joint ministry with the Episcopal Diocese in spite of my opposition. I am deeply grieved by this, and I hope Truro will reconsider.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Christology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8

This spring, Cedarville University enacted new curriculum guidelines inspired by Philippians 4:8 and aimed at purifying coursework of erotic and graphic content.

Cedarville, a buttoned-up Baptist school with a 130-year Christian history, is not the kind of place where professors assign Fifty Shades of Grey or anything close. But administrators want to err on the side of caution. This means, for example, that now an R-rated movie like Schindler’s List cannot be shown in its entirety, nor can students put on plays that include swear words.

In its Biblically Consistent Curriculum policy, nicknamed for the Apostle Paul’s admonishment to Christians in Philippi, Cedarville has spelled out new guidelines officially barring any materials that “may be considered ‘adult’ in nature, that represent immorality, or that may be a stumbling block to students.”

The move comes as the Ohio school, located between Columbus and Dayton, unfolds a broader, campus-wide campaign to double-down on its biblical identity. At a time when fellow Christian colleges are looking to defy narrow evangelical stereotypes and compete with secular schools, Cedarville is instead deepening its conservative Christian distinctions.

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(CT) Sunday Bobai Agang–The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us

I appreciate our Christian patriotic interest in guarding the Christian faith from being supplanted by Islam. However, the church should not allow that concern to distract it from keeping its house in order. God does not call us to compete with Islam. Rather, he calls us to holy living. “It is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). As it is, the Christian faith in Nigeria is suffering public disgrace and disrepute because of our lack of self-control, ungodly living, and compromised integrity.

Jesus declared that he is the truth, the way to eternal life (John 14:6). Christians can be confident in our salvation by faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ; we have nothing to fear. Our source of power and authority is God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18–20). We are given power and authority to combat satanic and demonic oppression, to destroy the works of the flesh, to heal obsession with material things, and to create just structures and systems that guarantee human flourishing. By the power and authority God has vested in us, we have nothing to fear and no excuse for failure. We have in us what we need to create fertile environments for social and spiritual transformation, in Nigeria and around the world.

The fear of an Islamization agenda is very real, but it must not be allowed to distract us from our primary concern: Christlikeness, holy living, hard work, and moral integrity. If we are concerned about the spread of Islam, let us be equally concerned about the lack of Christian public integrity and witness in our society. We must not allow fearmongering or conspiracy theories to prevent us from recognizing the true threat.

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Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(GC) Ashley Null–5 Reasons Reformation Anglicanism Is Relevant

For those in the 21st century searching for meaning and purpose in life, Reformation Anglicanism’s commitment to the timeless wisdom of apostolic teaching gives them a solid rock on which to stand.

For those searching for a sense of historical continuity, Reformation Anglicanism offers a community close ties to the ancient church as expressed in its faithfulness to Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils.

For those who make the needs of others a top priority, Reformation Anglicanism’s focus on mission encourages what God has already put on their hearts.

For those looking to be sustained by inspiring, systematic, Scripture-shaped worship, Reformation Anglicanism’s liturgical heritage offers perhaps the best model for proclaiming the gospel of grace and gratitude with ancient beauty and contemporary sensitivity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture