Category : Theology: Scripture

(Authority & Interpretation of Scripture)

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Richard Peers–A Better Story: thinking about the Church of England Evangelical Council’s “Gospel, Church and Marriage – Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life”

The first thing to note about the document is that is is graciously written and utterly immersed in Scripture. The vocabulary is profoundly Christian. I think that there is a lesson to be learned by those seeking a more inclusive approach. It would be hard to imagine language such as ‘submission’ and placing ourselves under the ‘rule of Christ’ among those seeking to be more inclusive. Yet there is no reason that it shouldn’t. Radical inclusion will only be truly Christian if it is so because it is the will of God, if it is what Jesus calls us to.

The statement recognises that we are fallen and in need of salvation. “The Gospel shines into the darkness of our fallen hearts and cultures, and gives us the transforming knowledge of God’s mercy and grace in the face of Jesus Christ.” It recognises that we are called “away from idolatry, injustice and immorality”. I think this is so important. One of the things that has shocked me in recent months is descriptions I have read of Love Island. A programme that not only encourages casual sex but publicises it. We all know that pornography is too easily accessible and read horror stories of the number of young people watching it. In one school I worked in a colleague had to try and identify the six Year 10 boys filmed while a female pupil performed oral sex on them in turn. The world so desperately needs “the life-changing goodness of [Christ’s] ‘amazing grace’”.

There is a strong and deeply biblical section on grace, and a wonderful sentence reminding us that “In establishing Christian communities the apostles … did not teach doctrine without discipleship, faith without formation, or grace without godliness.” We talk a lot of discipleship. With my educational preference for teaching that is knowledge based, rather than simply experiential, I value this call to link discipleship with doctrine, formation and godliness. We don’t talk nearly enough about how our lifestyles should be different because we are Christians.

The next section highlights the special gifts of marriage and singleness. The marriage section is strong, as we might expect, but could have been more. Working with young people I have always struggled to know how to promote marriage as a vocation. So many young people have no direct experience of lifelong marriage in any members of their family or friends. It is hard to praise marriage without sounding critical of their own families.

It is the section on singleness that I think is stronger, Again, this is desperately needed in a culture which imagines that to be a single is a failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die.

–Ezekiel 18:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Alan Storkey–We Are Called to recover the truth that our God is a global God who cares for the whole world He has made

So much of the Bible contains world events. Egypt was the cradle of much early civilisation and we see the ordinary people of God being freed from slavery in Egypt. We see the formation of a nation-state under the hand of God. They are taught to see beyond rulers and fighting to God’s law and God’s ways, and are given the foundation at the time of Moses of the most important legal system in human history.

Then we see empires forming including the great Babylonian and Assyrian empires. They come and go on the biblical stage, but always under the ways of God, either through obedience and wisdom or disobedience and waywardness.

The New Testament is no different. Although much of its subject matter involves Jesus interacting with ordinary local people, teaching the way, the truth and the life, it also recounts the way in which Jesus confronts the Jerusalem leaders and also the Roman representative, Pilate. It is clear that Jesus offers a root and branch challenge to the Roman Empire and its rule of fear. He will die on a cross, but fearless of the system of intimidation on which the Romans rely.

Of course, it is the Jewish leaders’ grasp on power that leads to Jesus death. They have the vast money-making system of the Temple at Jerusalem, the tourist hub of the whole eastern Mediterranean, and because Jesus challenges it, he has to go, but insists on coming back.

Of course, none of this is surprising. God is going to challenge the way early tribes and empires do politics with something far better.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Church of England Evangelical Council’s (CEEC) statement on Gospel, Church and Marriage: Preserving Apostolic Faith

2.We recognise that some fellow Christians no longer accept the Church’s teaching on marriage, singleness and sex but, because it is an integral part of our calling to be holy, we cannot treat this teaching as an ‘optional extra’ (or adiaphora).

•We believe this teaching is both apostolic and essential to the gospel’s transforming purpose and thus must be compassionately and clearly proclaimed and explained in and by the Church.

•This area is therefore of a higher order than other divisive matters, often viewed as ‘secondary’ (for example , the ordination of women), because it calls for faithful obedience to the unambiguous and authoritative teaching of Scripture concerning godly living and human flourishing.

•Thus,the upholding ofthis teaching, rooted in our creedal confession of God as Creator, and the enabling of Christians to live it with joy and confidence, is an essential
aspect of biblical faithfulness—especially when, as in our day, these matters are being so hotly contested.

3.We believe that the Church of England, being defined by adherence to essential apostolic truth, should not accept teaching or affirm behaviour—whether implicitly or explicitly-which contradicts or undermines the boundaries laid down by apostolic teaching and practice.

Read it all (6 page pdf).

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 3:12-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Food for Thought from Saint Augustine for Ash Wednesday

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction….The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself….By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.

–Augustine, The City of God 14.13

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would hearken to his voice!

–Psalm 95:6-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

–Philippians 3:7-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

–Philippians 2:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor.

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

–2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Posted in 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

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Theological Reflection on Male-Female Complementarity

Today, gnosticism also finds expression in identity essentialism, where the body is merely the vehicle and the over-painted canvas of self-identification.

In the SEC Doctrine Committee’s Theology of Marriage, this Gnostic precedence of the mind is continued:

It is the way people treat each other that counts, not the shape of the fleshly tools they use to express this. As we understand circumcision to be of the heart and not the penis, so the way in which we must treat each other sexually is dictated by the heart and the Spirit and not the genitals.

This is an anti-incarnational false dichotomy, which sets up a false distinction between how we should employ both mind and body in relationship to others. It is also Hellenistic virtue ethics, which presumes that evidence (read, any declaration) of a virtuous motivation (‘I ended her life out of compassion. I couldn’t wait for marriage because I was so in love.’) is a true bellwether of right and wrong, rather than the actions in themselves, or foreseeable consequences of them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

–Romans 13:8-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Christian Post) Why Does Christianity Exalt the Human Body and Secularism Seek to Destroy It?: Nancy Pearcey

Arguably no subject divides Americans more passionately than what it means to be a human being, especially when it comes to sexuality, identity, and the body.

What lies beneath the bitter cultural squabbles over physician assisted suicide, abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism is a secularist ideology that wages war against the human body, argues Nancy Pearcey, a former agnostic who teaches at Houston Baptist University in her book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality, which was released last month.

“We live in a moral wasteland where human beings are desperately seeking answers to hard questions about life and sexuality, “Pearcey, who The Economist describes as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual,” stresses in the book’s Introduction.

“But there is hope. In the wasteland we can cultivate a garden. We can discover a reality-based morality that expresses a positive, life-affirming view of the human person — one that is more inspiring, more appealing, and more liberating than the secular worldview.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture