Category : Theology: Scripture

(Authority & Interpretation of Scripture)

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat on Michael Cromartie–The Apostle to the Media

Like many evangelicals, he ended up working in the peculiar outsider-insider world of conservative Washington, influencing the Republican Party’s counsels even as the wider establishment continued to regard his faith and movement as exotic, disreputable, possibly dangerous.

But more than most Cromartie did not accept this suspicion and mistrust as permanent or necessary. His great work, which occupied much of the last two decades of his life, was a distinctive exercise in dialogue and encounter: Twice a year, he invited prominent journalists, members of one of America’s most secular professions, into extended conversation with religious leaders, theologians and historians, the best and brightest students and practitioners of varied faiths. These conferences, held in Maine and Miami and Key West, Fla., were purpose-driven junkets, intended to prove that religious believers and professional media elites did not have to be locked in a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust.

And in the discussion sessions that Cromartie ran they weren’t. There were tense moments and hostile interactions here and there, but for the most part when you were inside his conferences (or helping to choose the speakers, as I did for a while), you could imagine that pluralism could actually work, that religious views could advance by persuasion without encouraging intolerance, that the religious and nonreligious could argue and listen in good faith, that conservative believers could be taken seriously by the media and extend greater trust and understanding in their turn.

This little Arcadia was an extension of its presiding genius’s personality. I was not Cromartie’s closest friend, and for a deeper appreciation of the man’s distinctive qualities I recommend the many tributes in the last week from journalists who were closer — particularly Carl Cannon’s eulogy in RealClearPolitics, which captures Cromartie in full.

But he was a personal inspiration to me from very early in my career. Nobody in Washington was kinder to me as a novice journalist, nobody gave me more hope that my own peculiar vocation was worthwhile rather than quixotic, and few men I met in my D.C. years modeled the Christian virtues of faith and hope and charity so ebulliently, without the air of defensive irony that many of us weave around our unfashionable morality and metaphysics.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, 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 Scripture Readings

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine.

–Philippians 1:27-30

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Peter Candler–How an ancient African saint named Augustine helped me make sense of 9/11

I had nothing grand for them. I just told them about Augustine. I told them that “City of God” was written in response to a trauma: the collapse of the Roman Empire. Granted eternal dominion by the gods themselves, Rome was supposed to be the Empire without End. So, naturally, it came as a bit of a shock when it fell to pieces overnight, when, not with a bang but a whimper, Rome became just one more empire of dust. Some at the time were blaming Christians for the catastrophe, because Christians worshiped a dying God, seemed to celebrate weakness and claimed as their highest virtue not duty to the nation or force, but love of one’s enemies.

So Augustine set out to write a defense of the “city of God” against these accusations, but it soon swelled into a “giant of a book,” as he called it. “City of God” is a study in opposites: the city of God in contrast to the human, terrestrial city. Augustine’s argument throughout the early books is that, contrary to the high praise Rome lavished upon itself for its commitment to the virtue of clemency, Rome had spectacularly failed, and its temples were not the sanctuaries of humility and mercy Romans wished them to be. In the Roman temples of Juno, he writes, “men were forced into slavery as the property of the enemies who had overcome them”; but in the shrines of the martyrs and churches, “they were conducted to freedom by the merciful…”

This was what the students came to hear from Augustine. They came to hear him argue that when the common interest of a public is not grounded in love for its own sake, and when human rights are not grounded in a universal human calling to love God and one another, then we inevitably serve some other god than the God of Love. We worship at some other altar than that of true mercy and freedom, and above all we end up worshiping an idol whose shifting forms disguise his one name: domination. In our desire for mastery over others, we will merely become slaves to the lust for domination that we mistakenly call freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed is he who considers the poor!
The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.

–Psalm 41:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NT News) Activist for the new Sexual Morality Rodney Croome urges respect in debate and praises Tasmania Anglican Bishop’s pastoral letter as the way the No case should be argued

There are fears debate during the $122 million postal survey process could turn nasty.

“Even though I very much disagree with Bishop Condie’s views on marriage equality, his pastoral letter on the issue is a very good example of how the ‘no’ case should be conducted because it is respectful and based on principle,” Mr [Rodney] Croome said.

“I urge marriage equality supporters not to casually throw around the word ‘bigot’ and I urge those against the reform not to use offensive terms like ‘stolen generation’ to describe the children of same-sex couples.”

Bishop Condie’s letter said that, for Christians, marriage had always meant a commitment of one man to one woman voluntarily entered into for life.

“We shun actions and words that demean and marginalise; we reject discrimination, and especially grieve the way people who identify as homosexual have been treated in our society and churches,” the letter said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Tasmania’s Pastoral Letter on Marriage

Our prayer books set out the purpose of marriage: the procreation of children; a remedy against sin and fornication; and mutual support, help and comfort.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then Jerobo′am built Shechem in the hill country of E′phraim, and dwelt there; and he went out from there and built Penu′el. And Jerobo′am said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehobo′am king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehobo′am king of Judah.” So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan. He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jerobo′am appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and he ordained a feast for the people of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense.

–1 Kings 12:25-33

Posted in Theology: 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

(PD) Ann Snyder–The Magnanimous Man: In Remembrance of Michael Cromartie

Mike was a walking library of political hope. In my early years of working in conservative policy circles, most of them peppered by some religious spice, I often found myself confused by theo-political unions that seemed more cynical than fruitful. I’d come to Christian faith in the context of an aggressively secular New England prep school, followed by a Wheaton education that began from theology, not ideology. To me, notions of the religious right and religious left seemed cheap at best, damaging at worst. Mike would see my consternation before the awkwardness of melding the City of God with the City of Man, hand me a stack of books to read, and every day afterward check up on my progress. We discussed Mark Noll and Nathan Hatch’s The Search for Christian America, Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy, Michael Novak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, essays by Walter Russell Mead, Josef Joffe, Os Guinness, Francis Fukuyama, and Jacques Ellul. “You’re basically getting paid to get a graduate school education,” Mike would say. “Take advantage of it.”

His reading lists granted oxygen to a soul starved to understand her place as a Christian in political waters. But Mike also introduced me to the living map of Washington. His facility with DC’s social and institutional architecture continues to guide my own approach to understanding and interacting with new cities. He introduced me, too, to the craft of journalism and research, and to the art of connecting people to ideas and to one another. Mike’s tastes were unusual, in that they combined broad curiosity with confident judgment. He had a special radar for people of integrated excellence—mind and soul—and his speed dial included scholars of sociology, religion, physics, and history, statisticians employed by Gallup and Pew, an array of college presidents, and newspaper columnists from across the ideological spectrum….

Mike leveraged this impressive social and intellectual capital to create something that became the iconic culmination of who he was: the Faith Angle Forum. Founded in 1999, the Forum is a twice-annual, two-day breather for journalists to go deep with select scholars on the undercurrents of the day: terrorism and religious extremism, scientific empiricism and spiritual mystery, race and religion, technology, same-sex marriage, voting patterns among the faithful, social inequality. The goal is to grant a reprieve from the tyranny of the 24/7 news cycle and, in a coastal Florida setting, subvert stereotypes and fortify the reporting and commentary on religious believers, religious convictions, and the ways in which religiously grounded moral arguments affect American politics and public life.

Talk to any journalist who’s attended the Faith Angle Forum, and you’ll hear words like “irreplaceable,” “provoking,” “enlightening” and “a game-changer.” It’s served as the gateway for countless reporters from the likes of PBS, NPR, Time MagazineNewsweekThe AtlanticThe New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Economist, and RealClearPolitics to encounter the deeper currents underlying the news, peeling them apart in an intellectually rigorous, dialogue-driven circle….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Albert Mohler–The Urgency of Preaching

And how will they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:14

Has preaching fallen on hard times? An open debate is now being waged over the character and centrality of preaching in the church. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of Christian worship and proclamation.

How did this happen? Given the central place of preaching in the New Testament church, it would seem that the priority of biblical preaching should be uncontested. After all, as John A. Broadus–one of Southern Seminary’s founding faculty–famously remarked, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of Christian worship.”

Yet, numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth.

A subtle shift visible at the onset of the twentieth century has become a great divide as the century ends. The shift from expository preaching to more topical and human-centered approaches has grown into a debate over the place of Scripture in preaching, and the nature of preaching itself.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Primate Philip Freier’s Presidential Address to the Australian General Synod

Even though the matter is before the High Court of Australia this week, it is likely that Australians will soon be given the opportunity to vote on changing Australia’s
marriage law to include same-sex marriage. I have encouraged all Anglicans to exercise their democratic right and to participate in the postal plebiscite. Although not legally binding, I believe that Parliament will be better informed about Australians’ views by this means. Anglicans, like other Australians, have a wide range of opinions on same-sex
marriage, supporting or opposing it for a variety of reasons in accordance with their conscience and their understanding of the principles and issues. I do not presume to advise others how they should vote, though I myself intend to vote “no”.

I think Anglicans are capable of a respectful discussion without vilifying our opponents and respecting that each side’s position can be principled and considered. Kindness in our speech should be the hallmark of our engagement in difficult issues. For me, the most disturbing part of the recent discussion has been the assumption that Australians are incapable of discussing this matter with civility. It is unfortunate that this rhetoric, that we are well accustomed to in party political debate, has been applied to a large part of the electorate who reasonably expected to share a direct role in the decision. Stereotyping public opinion ahead of an argument being advanced is divisive and destructive of public discourse.

If same-sex marriage becomes law, the Church will of course need to accept that it is part of the landscape. Politicians on all sides have affirmed that we can still stand for and offer holy matrimony between a man and a woman as a sacred ordinance given by God, while accepting that the state has endorsed a wider view of marriage. The doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, that marriage is between a man and a woman, under God, forsaking all others until death parts them. I do not believe that the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology: Scripture