Category : T19 Categories

(Fulcrum) Colin Chapman–Christian Responses to Islamism and Violence in the name of Islam

Max Warren, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society from 1942 to 1963, used to tell a story from his time in hospital after returning from service in Nigeria with a serious illness. One day he was examined by a medical student as part of his final examinations in front of his professor. After the examination the student gave his diagnosis of Warren’s illness to the professor. Warren knew that the diagnosis was wrong. So when he saw the professor the following day, he said to him, ‘I suppose that student failed because he got the diagnosis wrong’. ‘Oh no!’ replied the professor. ‘The diagnosis was wrong. But he would have got there in the end because he asked all the right questions’.

While we have been living with Islamism for some years, the creation of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in June 2014 no doubt took all of us by surprise. And if there’s been a variety of responses among national governments, academics and journalists, there’s also been a variety of responses among Christians. So if none of us can claim to give a definitive answer to the question of how Christians should respond to Islamism and ISIS, can we at least attempt to ask some of the right questions? These would be the ten questions that I would want to ask.

(1) What do we Mean by ‘Islamism’ and How does it Differ from Other Kinds of Islam?

I hope we are past the stage of speaking about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and are starting to use terms like ‘Islamism’, ‘political Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’. I am not talking about ordinary Muslims who may have a political agenda of one kind or another, but Muslims who have a clear agenda about creating some kind of Islamic polity. It is important to recognise, however, that Islamists are not all the same. Some believe in democracy, pluralism and human rights, while others do not. Some believe that violence is sometimes justified in pursuing an Islamic agenda, while others reject the use of violence. They all want to see Islamic principles applied in the public sphere; but they recognise the huge differences in the political make-up of states all over the world and have different ideas about how a particular state could be more Islamic….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Justin Welby on the launch of Thy Kingdom Come

On the first day of resurrection, Easter Sunday, we are told that Jesus’ disciples were in a locked up room. They were in utter trauma due to all they had been through. They were broken and lost. But then the risen Jesus came among them and spoke to them. His first words were, ‘Peace be with you’. He then breathed the Holy Spirit onto them.

In these days of great pain and anguish, where there are many questions and few answers, let us pray that Jesus would enter all the rooms that are locked by fear.

Let us pray that he would breathe his Spirit into those of us who long for the coming of His Kingdom and His living presence would bring us peace beyond our understanding.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) We will repair damage done to our city and its people, Bishop tells Manchester

The killing of 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday had provoked “proper anger and rage” that must be directed into a “force for good”, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said this week.

In the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the London bombings of July 2005, a lone attacker, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an im­­provised explosive device at Man­chester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. Among those killed were children, and parents waiting to collect their children. In addition to the deaths, 59 people were injured. Many are being treated for life-threatening conditions.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that the threat level in the UK had been raised to “critical”, indicating that a further attack might be “imminent”. For the first time since 2003, troops were being de­­ployed to join the police’s armed patrols. “It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” Theresa May said. On Wednesday afternoon, the Manchester police chief, Ian Hopkins, said: “I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.” Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Augustine of Canterbury

O Lord our God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thine apostles and send them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless thy holy name for thy servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating thy Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom thou dost call and send may do thy will, and bide thy time, and see thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Syrian Clementine Liturgy

O God, Who art the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings, and the bestower of affection, Who sendest peace to those that receive it; open to us this day the sea of Thy love, and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Thy grace. Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace. Enkindle in us the fire of Thy love; sow in us Thy fear; strengthen our weakness by Thy power; bind us closely to Thee and to each other in one firm bond of unity; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

–James Manning,ed., Prayers of the Early Church (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1953)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Remembering the Manchester Victims

Some were teenagers—and younger children—excited to see a favorite pop star. Some were parents coming to pick up concertgoers. The Monday attack outside Manchester Arena claimed 22 lives, some of whose stories are below. Some ages are as reported in local media accounts.

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Posted in Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Blessed Feast of the Ascension to all blog readers

Posted in Ascension

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

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Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Vatican Radio) Our Lord’s Ascension : a musical meditation

As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of fine choral music to celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Ascension says music historian Monsignor Philip Whitmore. He suggests we listen is a piece of 20th century organ music written as an extended meditation and an uplifting motet for double choir by English composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in Ascension, Liturgy, Music, Worship

John Calvin on the Ascension (Acts 1:9)

The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.

–Commentary on Acts

Posted in Ascension, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension (III)

O Lord Jesus Christ, who after thy resurrection didst manifestly appear to thine apostles, and in their sight didst ascend into heaven to prepare a place for us: Grant that, being risen with thee, we may lift up our hearts continually to seek thee where thou art, and never cease to serve thee faithfully here on earth; until at last, when thou comest again, thou shalt receive us unto thyself; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–Frederick B. Macnutt

Posted in Ascension, Spirituality/Prayer

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ascension, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension (II)

O Thou merciful and loving High Priest, who hast passed within the veil and art in the presence of the Father: Help us with thy mighty intercession, that, our unworthiness being clothed upon with thy perfect righteousness, we may stand accepted in the day of thy coming; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–Henry Alford

Posted in Ascension, Spirituality/Prayer

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Advent, Christology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Uncategorized