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A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Baillie

Eternal God, Who hast been the hope and joy of generations, and in all ages hast given men the power to seek Thee and in seeking to find Thee: grant me I pray Thee, a clearer vision of Thy truth, a greater faith in Thy power, and a more confident assurance of Thy love. If I cannot find Thee, let me search my heart and know whether it is not rather I that am blind – than Thou Who art obscure, and I who am fleeing from Thee rather than Thou from me; and let me confess these my sins before Thee, and seek Thy pardon in Jesus Christ my Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sar’ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

–Genesis 12:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Saint Philip’s, Charleston) Denise C. Pickford–Recipe for a Christian Life: Reflections on Canon J.John’s Sermon

I love to cook. Browsing through recipes and then preparing them for my family and friends is one of my favorite things to do. To me, I am showing my love for them by taking the time to follow each step and make the preparations for a wonderful meal as my gift to them––and, of course, when my children were younger, to ensure their proper physical growth and health.

Is preparing nourishment in the form of food for our bodies any different from being nourished spiritually? We are not just a physical body; we have a spiritual body that must be fed as well. Without food and water, we would die. Without feeding our spiritual bodies or souls, we would become empty and begin searching for, in many instances, the wrong things to feed our hunger, which could never be satisfied with just earthly things. God wants to nourish our souls so that we may have the proper spiritual growth and health.

As I sat listening to Canon J.John on Sunday, his sermon struck me as the perfect “recipe” for how to live a Christian life!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(AI) Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of Uganda, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Parish Newsletter from Christ St Paul’s, Yonges Island, South Carolina

What is your response when you read this excerpt from John Eldridge’s book All Things New: Heaven, Earth and the Restoration of Everything You Love?

“One day soon you will step into a renewed earth, a young earth, sparkling like an orchard of cherry trees after a rain shower. Joy will be yours. How do we open our hearts to this after so much pain and disappointment? We have lost many things as we’ve passed through the battlefields of this war-torn world; our humanity has been stripped of such essential goodness.” (All Things New, Eldridge, p. 115)

Do you scoff with cynicism or cry out in wonder?

Read it again, stopping to consider your own thoughts of our future hope – The New Heaven and New Earth. We invited you to take advantage of one of the ways to further engage with this topic, to study, take in, and talk about something we don’t often talk about… what does eternity look like?

Or, pick up a copy of the book and “grab hold with both hands!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Eschatology, Parish Ministry

(Regent College) Dr. Amanda Russell-Jones–The Other Handmaid’s Tale

This year in my pondering of Mary’s Song I have had two companions along the way. My first companion has been another handmaid or, rather, many of them, in the shape of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; this time revisited in a powerful drama series created for television which incorporates Atwood’s book then extends it. In the dystopian world of Gilead, a highly religious patriarchy has been set up where the Bible is quoted tirelessly as the thread that knits together and mandates a unique way of life.

Women are divided into three classes—wives; Marthas, who perform the household tasks like cooking; and Handmaids—fertile young women assigned to a household and given a name based on that of their commander. Each commander impregnates his Handmaid against her will via a monthly ceremony. All this is justified by the argument that birth rates are so low and that this is due in large measure to the failure of women to know their place in the patriarchy and to fulfil their God given role of reproduction. No woman is allowed to read or dissent from the regime. Punishments include losing a finger or eye or tongue.

It is a tough watch, as all dystopian versions of Christianity are. Adding insult to injury, my favourite craft (and possibly the only skill for which I am an Olympic hopeful) comes in for criticism in one episode when a highly capable commander’s wife complains that she hates knitting. It was almost enough to cause me to put down my needles and throw the ball of wool at the screen. (For you fellow knitting fans who just cheered—it was a Christmas baby hat. I knew you would want to know. Keep knitting live!)

My other companion of some 10 years has been Josephine Butler, the English nineteenth-century Christian reformer. Butler’s use of the Bible in her arguments with church and state was the subject of my doctoral research and became and remains a great source of inspiration and joy. Butler was convinced that Jesus requires an absolutely equal standard of morality from everyone—male and female. In her time, it was expected that men would “sow some wild oats.” Women, however, were shamed and shunned for the smallest breaches of propriety. Men who frequented brothels or kept mistresses were excused for their behaviour, retaining positions of power and influence. In contrast, the women they used were permanently expelled from society with no opportunity for restoration. Butler pointed out the inconsistency, drawing on Christ’s words––“let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Prodigal sons were welcomed back when they repented, she observed, so why not prodigal daughters?”

If Mary had lived in the Victorian world, Butler asks, would she too have been cast out by a church and society quick to accuse and shun immoral women?

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Dozens of world leaders attend the the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp at the Yad Vashem remembrance centre

The Fifth World Holocaust Forum is the largest diplomatic event in Israel’s history.

More than 40 dignitaries attended and laid wreaths, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, US Vice-President Mike Pence and the Prince of Wales, who is making his first official trip to the Holy Land.

In the opening address, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin thanked them “for your commitment to remembering the Shoah [Holocaust], for your commitment to the citizens of the world, to those who believe in the dignity of man”.

He said their countries should not take for granted the common values that people fought for in World War Two, such as democracy and freedom, saying that Jewish people “remember because we understand that if we do not remember then history can be repeated”.

“Anti-Semitism does not only stop with Jews,” he warned. “Racism and anti-Semitism is a malignant disease that dismantles people and countries, and no society and no democracy is immune to that.”

Read it all.

Posted in Defense, National Security, Military, History, Israel, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Violence

Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex and opposite sex couples. A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

7. It has always been the position of the Church of England that marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful,
committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human
society. We believe that it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children, although it is not the only context that can be of benefit to children, especially where the
alternative may be long periods in institutional care.

8. The Church of England’s teaching is classically summarised in The Book of Common Prayer, where the marriage service lists the causes for which marriage was ordained, namely: ‘for
the procreation of children, …for a remedy against sin [and]…. for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’

9. In the light of this understanding the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage:
a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.

10. The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships. A major study of this and other areas of human sexuality is underway (the Living in Love and Faith project). This work, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will then inform further deliberations of the House of Bishops. In the context, however, of the introduction of opposite sex as well as same sex civil partnerships, the teaching of the church on marriage remains unchanged.

Read it all.

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

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Phillips Brooks

O everlasting God, who didst reveal truth to thy servant Phillips Brooks, and didst so form and mold his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom thou dost call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in thy word, and conform their lives to thy will; 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Thomas Becon

For these Thy most bounteous gifts, and for all other Thy benefits which Thou daily givest unto us of Thy great mercy both for our body and soul; we most humbly thank Thee, most gentle and merciful Father, beseeching Thee that Thou wilt give us grace through Thy Holy Spirit not to be unthankful, but to walk worthy of this Thy kindness, and so to behave ourselves all our lifetime in this world according to Thy holy will, that at the last day we may be found in the number of them to whom Thy only-begotten Son shall say: Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning of the world; through the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

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

(GR) Trinity Church Wall Street: Can reporters solve the case of the missing Episcopal rector?

It was a strange way to announce one’s resignation, I must admit.

On Jan. 5, the rector of the richest Episcopal church in the country was standing before his congregation in downtown Manhattan giving some rather banal parish announcements. Then, he added, he knew that some folks had heard that he was leaving and yes, this would be his last Sunday there. Comparing himself and his wife to the Mary, Joseph and Jesus trio in terms of being on the move toward Egypt (and away from Herod, one supposes), he said they were going to take a sabbatical and that he wished the church well.

It was clear that many in the church had no idea what was going on, including the choir that was awkwardly standing by, waiting to sing an anthem during the offering. (You can see all this go down in this video. Start at the 50-minute mark).

Read it all.

Posted in Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(TGC) D Blair Smith–Why We Need, More Than Ever Before, a Theology of Mankind

At the turn of the 20th century, the Scottish minister and church historian James Orr famously proffered a theory about doctrinal development. God, he suggested, has given to each age of the church a concern for a particular doctrine. According to Orr, the second century was an age of theological prolegomena and apologetics. The third and fourth centuries were concerned with the Trinity, and the fifth through seventh centuries tackled the many nuances of Christology. Reflection on soteriology began in earnest in the Middle Ages with Anselm on the atonement, but was furthered in the 16th century through the reformers’ thought on justification, regeneration, and sanctification. Orr believed the modern era had been reserved for eschatology.

As the 20th century wore on, however, anthropology increasingly took center stage.

Whatever one might think of Orr’s particular historical schema, he intuits something about divine providence that seems apparent: God gives his people certain challenges and opportunities in theological reflection that reflect their age.

Whether it’s our infatuation with the concept of identity, or the increasing ethical questions surrounding AI (artificial intelligence), many in and outside the church will agree that our own age presents myriad questions about what it means to be human. This offers the church a significant opportunity to engage in theological anthropology of wide-ranging depth heretofore not seen in the history of theology.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology

Al Mohler–Why Mormonism should not be considered Christian

The most important question is this: should we consider the Mormon Church, the church known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as a Christian denomination? No, we should not. It simply fails every major test of Christian orthodoxy. It is itself at its very foundation a repudiation of historic Christian orthodoxy. It claims an authority of a living prophet, living apostles and the book of Mormon as a successor. They call it another Testament of Jesus Christ to the Bible itself. They deny the most basic Christian doctrine of all, which is the doctrine of the Trinity, and they also reformulate the doctrines concerning Christ not only in terms of the person of Christ but also of his work. They preach what the apostle Paul identified in the book of Galatians as another gospel. And this must be recognized.

At the same time this is also a very timely reminder to Christians that in the name of Christ and in the service of the gospel it is never wrong to live amongst our neighbors with mutual respect. But that respect does not mean it’s a respect at the expense of the truth. We should expect our Mormon neighbors to believe in Mormonism, and we should also protect their religious liberty to do so where religious liberty that is threatened for both Mormons and evangelicals. But at the same time our respect for religious liberty and our respect for our neighbors does not prevent us in any way from either the responsibility or the urgency of evangelism. And we should note that goes both ways. Mormons are seeking to evangelize biblical Christians even as biblical Christians are seeking to evangelize Mormons. That’s honest and it need not be disrespectful. Furthermore there should be the recognition of the fact that we in terms of the biblical doctrine of common grace are glad to find the affirmation of certain very essential moral principles and affirmations of the structures of creation wherever they are found. We should be very happy to find a rightly ordered family wherever that rightly ordered family is found. That’s simply a testimony to the goodness of God in the very structures of the creation that he made for human flourishing.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Mormons, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

The Rev. Canon J. John Ali Lecture at Saint Philip’s, Charleston, SC, Yesterday

There are links for you to listen to it directly or to download it. You can read more about the event there.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

TEC elects a new Bishop for the Diocese of Alabama

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(1st Things) NT Wright–Loving to Know

As a historian, I knew that this either/or of “objective history” and “subjective meaning” was a gross oversimplification. In my 1992 book, The New Testament and the People of God, I suggested that we needed a better integration, one that transcended the antithesis of objective and subjective. I had been introduced to the idea of critical realism through the work of Bernard Lonergan, whom I encountered in the work of Ben Meyer. And in that context, I met what they thought of as “an epistemology of love.” Ever since then, I have tried to understand what that might mean and to put it into practice.

Along the way, I have realized that it isn’t only in biblical studies that the Enlightenment’s epistemological proposals result in false antitheses. In my Gifford Lectures for 2018, now published as History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural ­Theology, I laid out the ways in which so-called natural theology, on the one hand, and the historical study of Jesus, on the other, have become dangerously detached from each other. This isn’t because we have now discovered, in some objective sense, something about natural theology or the history of Jesus that requires them to be kept separate. It is because both studies, and any link between them, have been distorted by Enlightenment epistemology.

Enlightenment thought rejected Jesus’s resurrection, but not because of a new scientific awareness that dead people do not rise. Everybody has known from earliest times that dead people stay dead. The Enlightenment’s real reason for the rejection was that, if Jesus had risen from the dead, his resurrection would be the turning point of world history—a status the Enlightenment claimed for itself. There cannot be two such turning points. Here lies the crucial epistemological battle. The Enlightenment was in thrall to the split-level epistemology that, by insisting on hard facts and creaming off everything else into a subjective sphere, realized Francis Bacon’s maxim that “knowledge is power.” Knowledge of the Enlightenment sort—“we know the way the world is and we’re going to impose it on you”—became the instrument of the imperial projects of the modern West. But that kind of knowledge does not do justice to the ultimate realities of the world; and it fails to grasp, or be grasped by, the Ultimate Reality itself, which is the resurrection of Jesus as the launch of new creation in the midst of the old. As Wittgenstein said, “It is love that believes the resurrection.” Many of our current ills, social, political, and cultural, have emerged from our ignoring this or trying to bypass it.

My proposal is that paying attention to Jesus as a real figure of first-century history can point some ways forward for the Church and, through the Church, for our misguided and muddled world. And for all this—and for the multiple resultant tasks in theology and mission—we need to understand, and put into practice, new ways of knowing: specifically, an epistemology of love.

Read it all.

Posted in Philosophy, Theology

A Message From TEC Bishop of Albany Bill Love Regarding the Upcoming Hearing

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Albany,

Several of you have been asking about the status of the Title IV Disciplinary proceedings directed against me in regard to B012. I have been notified that a Hearing, headed by The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, (President of the Hearing Panel) is scheduled to be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The subject of the Hearing is “The Matter of Allegations Concerning the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany.”

It is alleged by the Intake Report and Investigator’s Report that I have “violated Canon IV.4.1(c) by failing to abide by the promises and vows made when he [I] was ordained, specifically the Declaration he [I] signed at his [my] ordination as bishop in which he [I] promised to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.’ ”

The above charge is the result of my unwillingness to abide by Resolution B012, passed by the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which if followed, would allow for same-sex marriages to occur in the Diocese of Albany.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Vincent

Almighty God, whose deacon Vincent, upheld by thee, was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us, we beseech thee, to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frederick B. Macnutt

O Holy Spirit the Comforter, Spirit of Jesus, come Thou upon us and dwell within us. Not of ourselves, but of Thee is our life. Teach us that we may know; cleanse us and purify us within; strengthen us to persevere, lest we fall away from Thee. Come into us, Thou Who art already there, that by Thine arrival again Thou mayest enter into Thy possession anew. And out of worldly death in which we languish create in us the life that shall make us as Thou art, through inward unity in which we are one with Thee. Come, then, eternal Spirit, Who with the Father and the Son art one God, and abide with us for ever.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

–Hebrews 6:11-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Leander Harding–the mission of a Cathedral to the modern world

In the remainder of this report I want to focus on responding to the immense missionary challenges that are facing the Christian Church in general and the Cathedral in particular. In November I gave a set of talks in the Diocese of Dallas on this problem entitled Modernity and Mission. The topic was the focus of my study and prayer for the Summer and Fall. I believe I have a better understanding of what is distinctive about the missionary environment in which we find ourselves and greater clarity about what an authentic missionary engagement with modernity looks like. I have been trying to share some of these thoughts in the Dean’s Forum. As a result of this study I believe strongly that The Cathedral of All Saints is uniquely positioned to be especially effective in reaching contemporary people for the sake of Jesus Christ.

There are many blessings of modernity for which to give thanks, modern medicine and a remarkable rise in the standard of living right across the world. Modernity is also characterized by what the old preachers called worldliness, a mentality which is preoccupied with the things of this world in which God is not so much denied as forgotten. The experience of transcendence, of holiness and otherness is rare. The experience of awe which leads to worship is rare and so modern people are in jeopardy of losing their souls and of losing that which is essential to our humanity: the worship of the one true and living God. It requires something powerful to break out of the captivity to this worldliness and the diminution and constriction of the human heart that must be its consequence. It requires something like a Gothic Cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Secularism, Theology

(CC) Samuel Wells–The dirty work of ministry: What two drastically different messages from parishioners taught me

Some people are quick to judge, and some remarks are designed to hurt. A month ago I received a letter from someone I haven’t met but who is nonetheless convinced of all my faults and more. She wrote to tell me how outraged she was about how she sees our church approaching its work in the local community.

My chief sin, it turns out, is that I’m not a certain predecessor of mine. “You have turned that lovely, caring community run by lovely gentle gentlemen in my time, into a modern-day business, bent on efficiency,” she asserted. It seems the glorious amateurs have been replaced by hard-nosed professionals—me chief among them. “When I think of the saints who worked there, I could weep.” The rhetorical dial went up a couple of notches: “Shame on you.” And then the big ending: “Don’t sleep easy in your bed tonight. And tomorrow roll up your sleeves and do some of the dirty work.”

She didn’t explain precisely what this dirty work is. It took me back to a rather conflictual relationship many years ago, when a parishioner detonated the nuclear judgment: “You have failed this community as a priest.” No answer to that. The scar abides.

I got an insight into the dirty work later the same day….

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry

(CT) The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian

Every day, 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.

Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.

And every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly.

So reports the 2020 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for their faith.

“We cannot let this stand,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, during the 2020 list’s unveiling in Washington, DC, this morning. “People are speaking out and we have an obligation to hear their cry.”

The listed nations comprise 260 million Christians suffering high to severe levels of persecution, up from 245 million in last year’s list.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Other Churches, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(WSJ) Michael Helfand–Discrimination Without Discriminating? The Supreme Court next week will hear another challenge to an anti-Catholic law

In Trinity Lutheran v. Comer (2017), the justices took aim at Missouri’s Blaine amendment, which the state had invoked to withhold funding for a church-run school. By 7-2, the justices deemed Missouri’s denial a First Amendment violation because “Trinity Lutheran was denied a grant simply because of what it is—a church.” But the court focused on the discriminatory impact of the specific case, rather than the discriminatory intent of the Blaine amendment.

Espinoza involves a scholarship program the Montana Legislature created in 2015 to promote school choice. The state offered a $150 tax credit for donations to nonprofits that award scholarships to students attending any private ‘“qualified education provider,” a definition that initially included religious schools. But the law conflicted with Montana’s Blaine amendment, which bars “any direct or indirect” funding to religious schools. The state Department of Revenue redefined “qualified education provider” to exclude religious schools. That exclusion triggered a set of lawsuits arguing that the modified rule violated the First Amendment—a strong argument given Trinity Lutheran.

Then the legal fight took a strange turn. The Montana Supreme Court held that the program could not support institutions providing scholarships to religious schools. But it also found that the Department of Revenue lacked the authority to modify the program to exclude religious schools. Because the law authorized what the state constitution prohibited—funding religious schools—the entire law had to be struck down. That meant no private school received funding.

As a result, the law that discriminated against religious schools is off the books. Thus the most natural application of U.S. Supreme Court precedent—that a state may not exclude a religious institution simply because of “what it is”—does not easily apply. Given this peculiar posture, how might the justices decide the case?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(Daily Post) Boko Haram executes CAN chairman, Lawan Andimi

The Boko Haram sect has executed Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Lawan Andimi.

This was made known on Tuesday by Ahmed Salkida, a journalist known to have access to Boko Haram.

He tweeted: “To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by Boko Haram was executed yesterday. Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family.”

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Another Woodstock, Virginia, Photo from the Weekend

A number of blog readers may remember Peter and Amy Mitchell from their time in the diocese of South Carolina. They now serve at All Souls Anglican Church, Woodstock, VA.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Photos/Photography

(Premier) When John Lennox met Dave Rubin

Justin Brierley has moderated hundreds of lively debates on Christianity and atheism, but when a renowned Christian apologist met a popular YouTube personality at a Californian megachurch, it turned out to be one of the most remarkable events the broadcaster has ever hosted

In the 14 years since I began my faith discussion show Unbelievable?, I’ve never witnessed a conversation quite like the one that took place in front of a 1,000-strong audience at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California.

I had invited John Lennox and Dave Rubin to join me for a live recording of The Big Conversation video series, in which Christians and atheists debate big questions about science, faith and philosophy.

Lennox is a longstanding Christian thinker whose background as an Oxford professor of mathematics has seen him debate high-profile atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Rubin is a rising star in the online world, regularly sitting down with various public intellectuals to debate culture, politics and – with increasing frequency – religion. His YouTube channel The Rubin Report has more than 1 million subscribers.

Lennox has often spoken and written about his own Christian convictions and why he holds them. What made this conversation unique was that Rubin’s views on religion are in a state of flux.

At one time he looked like a typical US Millennial. He had grown up in a culturally Jewish household but, as a gay, secular liberal, he adopted the atheist outlook of many of his peers. A turnaround in his political views occurred in his mid-30s, however, as he began to question the so-called progressive left-wing ideology and its effects on free speech. Rubin is now counted as a leading conservative voice in America’s culture wars. But could his political conversion be followed by a religious one?

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; 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