Category : Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) We can reach millennials and this is how, says Church Army

The Church Army is releasing guidance on how to evangelise millennials in an attempt to reverse a worrying lack of young people in the pews.

Just 0.5 per cent of 18-24 year olds attend an Anglican church, its figures reveal, but research based on 12 case studies is aiming to persuade vicars working with young adults is not as difficult as it seems.

‘The findings are really encouraging in that they suggest that mission with young adults, while challenging, is not as difficult as one might think,’ said Dr Tim Ling, the Church Army’s director of research who headed the project.

The nine-month long scheme was based on 12 different approaches to mission and evangelism around the UK and from a variety of church traditions. Across the projects at least 60 people had become Christians through the churches studied, with a further 48 reporting the case study church had helped them rediscover a lost faith.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Young Adults

(Christian Today) Irene Lancaster–Bishop George Bell was a hero who saved Jewish children. It is time his reputation was restored

…may I suggest that readers of Christian Today take some time to read the very clear report written by Lord Carlile on the way the Bishop Bell case has been handled. Then please ask yourselves if, on the evidence, Bishop Bell is guilty of child abuse as charged, or simply a victim of the workings of the Church of England.

Lord Carlile was asked by the Church authorities to look into the way the investigation of this case was handled, and has concluded that the arrangements were shockingly cavalier and that as a result a man has been found guilty without any proof whatsoever.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to read the report. And on reading it myself, it is hard not to conclude that the evidence is overwhelming that Bell is a martyr not of the Church but by the Church. And if, after reading the report on the workings of the Church of England in this case, you agree with me, don’t you think that you should do something about it?

Because the biblical Moses was asked by G-d to entreat the Pharaoh of his time to let his own Jewish people go – in words that have enthused heroes such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

But what Bishop Bell did in the 1930s was if anything even more heroic: what he did was to take on the entire Church establishment of the day to ask them to take in the tiny remnant of the Jewish community in Germany and eastern Europe. And this the Church establishment found too difficult to contemplate.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Germany, History, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Roman Catholic bishop says churches should stay open like the Church of England

Catholic churches should follow the Church of England to keep their doors open outside of services, the bishop of Portsmouth has said.

Philip Egan complained that on a recent visit outside his diocese he had been unable to visit any churches because they had all been shut.

In a Tweet posted on Sunday he said: “Why oh why?! Just spent a few days outside the Diocese but every Catholic church I tried to visit was locked.

“One even had the utter hypocrisy to display a poster ‘From Maintenance to Mission’! Why is this, when every Anglican Church is welcomely open?”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Peter Jensen–How important is Sex?

To say that we need to stop talking about sex and start talking about Jesus makes two big errors.

First, it undervalues the power of sexual transgression to damage us as human beings and to damage our relationship with God. Our sexual instincts are so powerful and so central to our lives that they are integral to our personal identity. When we misuse our body by abandoning God’s instructions, it helps corrupt our self-understanding. It is actually cruel.

Furthermore, when we turn away from the living God, we replace him by the worship of idols. Again, this worship is often expressed and accompanied by sexual licence. Indeed we are living at a time when sexual permissiveness is the norm and there is no fear of God.

Second, it means that we cannot adequately summons people to repentance. Without the call to repentance there is no gospel. The great sin from which we need to repent is pride – lives directed by ourselves. But this great sin exhibits itself in idolatry, and idolatry often expresses itself in sexual sin as well as the horrors of greed and injustice and lack of love.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Clergy: Stressed Out Anglican Priests Turn To Trade Unions For Support

“It was isolated, insatiably demanding, and I was, on the whole, working without close colleagues.” The role is, “for many, quite overwhelming and exhausting…” [Archbp Justin Welby] said.

This kind of pressure may well explain why increasing numbers of his priests in the Church of England are seeking help outside the church for their problems. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, priests are turning instead to trade unions for support.

According to one of Britain’s largest unions, Unite, there has been a rapid increase in the past year in the number of Anglican parish priests, or vicars, joining its specialist faith worker branch. Almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the union last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.

The Anglican vicars are joining despite not having the usual British employment rights, because they are termed “officeholders” and cannot take their complaints to an employment tribunal. And while they cannot pursue rights they don’t have as members of Unite, they can seek counsel and support there from others familiar with their travails.

According to Rev Peter Hobson, who is head of the priests’ Unite branch, Church of England Clergy Advocates, vicars are turning to the union because they are under pressure from all sides – from the people in the pews and from their bishops.

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Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stress

(NR) David French–The Dangerous Supreme Court Case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, nobody Is Talking About

The NIFLA case, however, is unquestionably about compelled speech. The state of California has enacted a law, the so-called FACT Act, that requires pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers to prominently place a notice informing clients that California offers low-cost and even free abortions to women who qualify and providing them a phone number that grants quick access to abortion clinics.

In other words, California is requiring pro-life professionals — people who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting the unborn by offering pregnant mothers alternatives to abortion — to advertise state-sponsored abortions. California is making this demand even though it has ample opportunity to advertise state services without forcing pro-life citizens to do so. The state can rent billboard space on the very streets where crisis-pregnancy centers are located. It can hand out leaflets on the sidewalk. It can advertise on television and the radio. It can advertise on the Internet or social media. But rather than using its own voice, it is co-opting the voices of its pro-life citizens, forcing them to join its pro-abortion crusade.

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the FACT Act is constitutional. To validate California’s oppressive act, its decision carved out a dangerous First Amendment exception for what it deemed “professional speech” — “speech that occurs between professionals and their clients in the context of their professional relationship” — and ruled that the state had much greater leeway in regulating, for example, doctor/patient communication.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Christian Today) Church of England looks to millennial ‘creatives’ for digital ideas

The Church of England is turning to millennial ‘creatives’ to boost its online reach as regular church attendance is replaced with digital engagement.

Around 50 ‘technicians and creatives’ from around the UK are being brought into central London for a day-long event pitching ideas for new apps, hashtags and websites to help the Church boost its web presence.

Their ideas will be judged by an expert panel including the BBC’s senior digital producer Lynda Davies and the LEGO Group’s global social media team senior manager, James Poulter.

It comes as the Church battles dwindling numbers coming on a Sunday and instead is trying to reach people through social media and digital marketing techniques. Figures released in October say 1.2 million people every month engage with the Church online through its videos, images, podcasts and blogs.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Language, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Young Adults

(CT) Austin Channing–Stop Asking ‘What Would MLK Do?’

Whatever wisdom we think MLK would bring to this moment seems to often discount that he was assassinated on a balcony, taken from his wife, his children, his friends. Why do we think MLK would say anything other than an indicting statement of fact: “You killed me.”

It’s so much easier to think of King’s death as inevitable, as that of a martyr, a heroic end to a life of public service. We’d rather not consider the bullet that ripped through his face, entered his neck, and severed his spinal cord, causing a quick, bloody death on that concrete balcony. We like our pictures in black and white.

To feel what his wife felt; to feel what his children felt; to feel what his friends felt; to feel what his supporters felt is to invite pain over celebration, rage over rousing speeches, devastating loss over convenient platitudes.

Rather than think of King as a person, a husband, and a father, we like to think of him as the stone statue in DC—large, strong, unmovable. King’s legacy may be all those things, but he was human. He read lots of books, listened to lots of preachers, worked on the craft of writing and speaking. He was a human who laughed and cried, knew joy and pain.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolence

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens’s claim that, on account of King’s commitment to nonviolence, in “no real as opposed to nominal sense … was he a Christian.” Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King’s understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

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

Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

(Washington Post) Why so many white churches resisted Martin Luther King Jr.’s call

To King and many other Christians, racial justice was core to the biblical message. Racial segregation and the other ills it created — like the wealth gap, unemployment and under-education — were an affront to the image of God in all people. Christians had an obligation to transform the systems and laws that allowed racial inequality to persist.

Many white evangelicals agreed with King’s affirmation of racial equality. They may have believed all people should be treated fairly. They objected to the notion that the government should play a role in bringing about equality and that Christians should concern themselves with material issues rather than simply focusing on conversion.

This difference in approach continues to the present day. In “Divided by Faith,” sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith describe how many white evangelicals emphasize personal salvation and tend to view themselves as individuals rather than members of a race, which affects their view of racial issues overall.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

Worth every minute on Martin Luther King Jr day–Loving like Jesus in a Fractured World with Dr. John M. Perkins

After so many sad flashpoints in 2017, Pastor Rick [Warren] invited the great Dr. John M. Perkins to help him talk about the Christlike response to violence, injustice, racism, and poverty. As a contemporary of Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Perkins shared his story of loss, abandonment, and search for love. Yet through every circumstance, the 86-year-old author and speaker modeled a spirit of reconciliation. In this message, you’ll learn the five principles of loving like Jesus with dignity, diversity, community, love, and reconciliation. Discover how to find hope in tomorrow by restoring relationships today through Christ’s perfect model.

Posted in Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Michael Emerson offers 4 lessons we Can Learn from Birmingham for Martin Luther King Day

[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.

The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement’s momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.

How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day–KSH.

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