Category : Church History

(BGEA) A Video Tribute to Billy Graham

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass

Douglass rejoiced in 1865 when the Union triumphed in the Civil War and the nation ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery forever. But he did not believe his prophetic work had ended. At the end of his life, equality under the law remained an aspiration, not a reality. African Americans and women were denied the right to vote. The ghost of slavery lived on in oppressive economic arrangements like sharecropping. Jim Crow carved rigid lines of racial segregation in the public square. White mobs lynched at least 200 black men each year in the 1890s.

He had good reason, then, in 1889, to mourn how the “malignant prejudice of race” still “poisoned the fountains of justice, and defiled the altars of religion” in America. Yet Douglass also rejoiced in the continued possibility of redemption. A new way of seeing the world, and living in it, still remained—one that rested, Douglass said, on a “broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frederick Douglass

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the witness of Frederick Douglass, whose impassioned and reasonable speech moved the hearts of people to a deeper obedience to Christ: Strengthen us also to speak on behalf of those in captivity and tribulation, continuing in the Word of Jesus Christ our Liberator; who with thee and the Holy Spirit dwelleth in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Henry Newman

God of all wisdom, we offer thanks for John Henry Newman, whose eloquence bore witness that thy Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and who didst make of his own life a pilgrimage towards thy truth. Grant that, inspired by his words and example, we may ever follow thy kindly light till we rest in thy bosom, with your dear Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, where heart speaks to heart eternally; for thou livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

***Bishop Festo Kivengere’s account of the Martyrdom of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970’s when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, “We live today and are gone tomorrow” was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, “How do you prepare yourself for death?” Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)….
It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

…we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop’s arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum’s Memorial Service. She said, “This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn’t it?” And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin’s guards to pack St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the “Martyr’s Song,” which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, “Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord.” They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

–Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martyn Percy–‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word: apologetics and apologies in the Bishop Bell case

Lord Carlile reacted by saying that he was astonished that the Church had gone public with the new claim, when among his recommendations was that people accused of abuse should remain anonymous until the allegations are proven. We note that the decision of the NST to share the information through a press release is a direct breach of article 3.8 of the Practice Guidance 2017 from the House of Bishops, published in October 2017.

So, despite the Church of England saying – begrudgingly – that it had accepted many of Lord Carlile’s recommendations in his report, it appears that this is not the case. For starters, the ‘Core Group’ of the NST that will investigate the alleged “new information” looks set to include some members of the previously discredited group. Members of that original Core Group are seriously conflicted and should not in any way participate in the new investigation. The deficiencies and failings in the process and mind-set of the original Core Group were so extensive that no one who was a member of this dealing with the first complaint (by someone known as ‘Carol’) could be confidently relied upon.

We must remember that Carlile’s report noted that the original Core Group failed to establish a process that was fair and equitable to both Carol and the reputation of Bishop Bell. There was “a rush to judgment”, which failed to give proper consideration to the rights of Bishop Bell. The Core Group was set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, and became a confused and unstructured process. The ‘process’ – if that can be any meaningful description of the debacle overseen by the NST – was predicated on Bishop Bell’s guilt. The truth of what ‘Carol’ was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or and kind of wide-ranging inquiry. Carlile’s report was effectively a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the NST.

As for ‘proven’, Mrs Barbara Whitley, George Bell’s niece, and now 94 years of age, has made it clear that she wished to be represented by Desmond Browne QC. Yet without consulting with Mrs Whitley or the wider family further, on 8th February 2018, Graham Tilby of the NST informed Bell’s family and friends that he had assigned a Mr Donald Findlater to represent their interests and concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Bray

O God of compassion, who didst open the eyes of thy servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and didst lead him to found societies to meet those needs: Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(Eleanor Parker) ‘þu eart dust and to duste gewendst’: Ælfric, Ash Wednesday and ‘The Seafarer’

On that Wednesday, throughout the world,
as it is appointed, priests bless
clean ashes in church, and then lay them
on people’s heads, so that they may remember
that they came from earth and will return again to dust,
just as Almighty God said to Adam,
after he had sinned against God’s command:
‘In labour you shall live and in sweat you shall eat
your bread upon the earth, until you return again
to the same earth from which you came,
for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’
This is not said about the souls of mankind,
but about their bodies, which moulder to dust,
and shall again on Judgement Day, through the power of our Lord,
rise from the earth, all who ever lived,
just as all trees quicken again in the season of spring
which were deadened by the winter’s chill.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Lent, Preaching / Homiletics

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

C.S. Lewis for Ash Wednesday

The idea of national repentance seems at first sight to provide such an edifying contrast to that national self-righteousness of which England is so often accused and with which she entered (or is said to have entered) the last war, that a Christian naturally turns to it with hope. Young Christians especially-last-year undergraduates and first-year curates- are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England. What that share is, I do not find it easy to determine. Most of these young men were children, and none of them had a vote or the experience which would enable them to use a vote wisely, when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?

If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happening) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society. When we speak of England’s actions we mean the actions of the British government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing-but, first, of denouncing-the conduct of others.

–C.S. Lewis, “Dangers of national repentance”

Posted in Church History, Theology

Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Ash Wednesday

“Confess your faults one to another” (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Posted in Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Absalom Jones

Set us free, O heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear: that, honoring the steadfast courage of thy servants Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell: Church of England bullies George Bell’s elderly niece by denying her choice of lawyer

When Desmond Browne QC volunteered his services to Mrs [ Barbara] Whitley [93-year-old niece of the late Bishop George Bell], she was no doubt pleased that her long-dead uncle would have the previously denied skilled advocate at the table to evaluate and challenge evidence, assumptions and conclusions, and to make submissions as the matter unfolded. In this position, of course, he would not be participating in the making of the decisions, and could legitimately be asked to withdraw during decision-making deliberations. Core groups were once commonplace for me, with familiar modes of operation. Unfortunately, so far as I can ascertain, nobody making and shaping decisions on behalf of the church has any such personal experience of what is all in a day’s work a safeguarding lawyer.

But, inexplicably, Mrs Whitley’s choice of advocate was denied by the church.

Upon hearing of this decision, my fellow Synod legal colleague David Lamming and I presented a carefully evaluated case for letting Mrs Whitley have her wish, buttressed by warnings of the highly predictably adverse PR consequences for failing to do so, enhanced with entreaties and exhortations to ‘do the right thing’.

We had a prompt meeting with those who made and defended the refusal. We appreciated their willingness to listen, putting the case I now share, without success. It should not have been necessary. We can over-intellectualise these matters, but the man on the Clapham omnibus could have advocated the case for Mrs Whitley having her free choice of lawyer succinctly. It was, in John Cleese’s succinct if not-quite-biblical phrase, ‘bleeding obvious’.

George Bell’s niece is an elderly lady. She has suffered and continues to suffer prolonged anxiety as her long-dead relative has been and continues to be publicly traduced by the Church of England on the basis of a single uncorroborated allegation brought 60 years after the event, all as a result of inadequate process that need not be restated. You might have expected a compassionate and contrite church to have been on its mettle, but, as usual, the consideration of the little people gave way to what can best be described as institutional bullying – which will come as no surprise to the many dissatisfied victims of abuse at the hands of the church, some of whom gathered outside Church House the following day.

I am puzzled that so many sincere and ethically-aware Christians cannot see that one of the best ways of honouring past victims is not to create new ones.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Theology