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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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We released some new research yesterday at LifeWay Research showing 84% of Protestant pastors disagree that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity. That view is generally called "universalism" or "pluralism" (though technically not the same thing, they are often used interchangeably and relate to one another). So, based on this data, Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly not pluralist/universalist.
However, the same cannot be said of their church members. When presented with the same statement, just 48 percent of adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more disagree strongly and 9 percent disagree somewhat.
Read it all.
Read them all.
Some people suggest that faith should be confined to the home and the house of worship, and play no role in public life. I believe that every person has a right, really a responsibility, to contribute his or her perspectives to the public forum, including perspectives of faith. But faith must never be the final word when it comes to writing the law.
Read it all.
On my late summer visits to Bubbie Birshtein in Norfolk Virginia, my mother’s mother, a surprise was in store for me. The Titanic words became real when I was introduced to a man in his forties, Mr. Aks, a family friend, and I was told that he was one of the babies who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
Amazingly, he was taken from his mother’s arms that terrible night as the ship began to carry its passengers under water and thrown overboard.
He was caught by a woman in a lifeboat, whose last name was Astor. She wrapped him in a blanket since he was only nine months old. Later he was returned to his mother, who did survive.
Read it all.
Saying that he hopes that his successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros. Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, will resign at the end of this year and return to academics. He will become the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge where he can meander along the River Cam and take tea at the Orchard Garden in Grantchester far away from the turbulence of the 85-million member Communion he leaves behind. When an archbishop retires at the usual age of 70, no one bats an eyelash. But when he resigns in good health nearly a decade before normal retirement age, people sit up and take notice. It evokes the image of a battle weary pugilist whose “sponger” looks at the condition of his man and tosses his sponge in the air. The fight is over. We might as well declare defeat.
The battle, of course, was his to lose. Anyone with half an eye could see the turbulence that lay ahead for someone assuming the role of leader of the world’s second largest Communion. The same year he took office an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire despite public assurances from Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, that he would not participate in the consecration. Griswold went right ahead and did just that. With one part of his Communion going its own way, and thumbing its noses at the rest, while the vast majority were profoundly upset, Williams was forced to choose. Either he would take a self-imposed mediatorial role, and desperately try to keep all parties at the table. Or he would take sides, and do what he could to bring the truculent back in line.
He chose the former, with the result that no one was satisfied. Privately he held to a liberal position on sexuality, as enunciated in his well-known, though highly inscrutable, paper entitled The Body’s Grace. Publicly, he towed the line that was spelled out by Lambeth Resolution 1:10, which stated as the official position of the Communion that “homosexuality was imcompatible with Scripture.”
Read it all.
The Resurrection of Jesus is "the collapse of all that is familiar and well known." Well, Professor [James] Alison is a scholar-theologian. I'm just a simple curate, and I'll put it this way: Easter means that Jesus is alive and normal is dead. Nothing, not even death, is certain, and in fact death is defeated, has met its match in Love Himself.
The tomb is empty – empty as in vacant; empty as in powerless. Death – life's great certainty; the most normal, expected, routine, trustworthy thing going, in fact a sure thing, has come untrue in Christ.
And now anything can happen, and love is the winning bet. That stone that lay across the tomb is pushed aside, and so the great rock of despair is blown to bits by the great Yes of the Living God who has given himself to us and for us in Jesus Christ.
Read it all and please note the audio is available here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina
Vicars and other church leaders in Leeds are being taught to Tweet and use other social networking systems as part of a campaign to improve communications between the clergy and congregations.
A free training programme designed to up-date vicars on new media communications has been launched by a Christian media organisation in a bid to bring clergy into the digital age.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media
Hungary’s Ambassador to the Holy See is rather perplexed by the negative reaction of some European figures and institutions to his country’s new Constitution -- a document he sees as offering a possible impetus to a "Christian renaissance" in Europe.
"We think it’s a little bit strange to hear such voices," Ambassador Gábor Győriványi told ZENIT March 27th. "The real founding fathers of the European Union planned to base the Union on Christian values, and expressed the notion that European democracy can only be viable if constructed on the Christian basis."
The preamble of the new Constitution, or "Fundamental Law," which came into force Jan. 1, contains references to God, Christianity, and traditional family values. It further stipulates that the life of a fetus be protected from the moment of conception (abortion remains legal, however, in cases where the mother’s health is threatened).
Read it all.
The numerous liberal Catholic appointments in the diocese of Southwark are causing increasing concern for evangelicals, in a row that is threatening to split the diocese. The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, has appointed liberals to the last seven senior vacancies in the diocese, including the Cathedral Dean and Bishop’s Chaplain.
Attending a meeting of the Southwark Diocesan Evangelical Union (DEU) last Monday, many felt he failed to satisfy the concerns of the 100 people in attendance. The Rev Stephen Kuhrt later said: “He has been politically naïve,” and called the situation an ‘absolute gaffe’. The vicar, who chairs Fulcrum, did not doubt Bishop Christopher’s integrity, but claimed he had been very badly advised. Fulcrum, while a more moderate evangelical Anglican group, joined Reform in the condemnation of the appointments, claiming the views of evangelicals were not being heard.
Read it all. Also, please peruse the Church Times article there as well.
Crimes against humanity in Sudan and South Sudan must be stopped — or the British Government will be guilty of allowing the horrors of Rwandan-style genocide to be repeated, Baroness Cox has warned.
In the wake of reports of ethnic cleansing in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan, Lady Cox told the House of Lords on Monday of last week that the Government must take a more robust approach.
“After Rwanda, the British Government famously said that they will never condone another genocide, but this is precisely what they are now perceived to be doing.” The “powerful intervention” by Britain into Libya raised questions about whether its foreign policy was influenced by racism, she said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --North Sudan --South Sudan England / UK
Not the least of the church’s problems now is the growing number of highly educated, formerly prominent Mormons who have left the LDS and are only too ready to tell the world exactly why.
As a molecular biologist studying forest trees in Brisbane, Australia, Simon Southerton was in many ways a Mormon role model. He was 10 years old when his parents joined the church and he was baptised into the faith in 1970. He rose steadily through the ranks and became a bishop to his flock. Over the years he was vaguely aware that some of the historical events described by the Book of Mormon did not match the archeological or scientific record. “But I hadn’t dwelt on it,” he said. He loved his church for its emphasis on families and the sense of community it fostered.
Yet there was one key aspect of church doctrine that began to trouble him. The Book of Mormon describes a migration of Israelite clans across the Atlantic to America long before Columbus. The notion of a New Jerusalem, founded on American soil by the ancient forefathers of Mormonism, is one of the faith’s key tenets. Yet Southerton, familiar with the use of DNA to chart early human migrations, began to worry about the sheer weight of scientific evidence undermining the Book of Mormon’s account.
“Once I started looking at it seriously, it didn’t take me very long at all to realise that the Book of Mormon wasn’t real history,” he said. According to Mormon doctrine, Native Americans are descended from one of the Israelite clans. “But there’s been no serious mainstream belief in anything other than Asian origin for Native Americans for much of the last century,” Southerton added.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Mormons
Please note this older article predates the news about the Congo and AMIA which broke late this week; it nevertheless has important details not found elsewhere--KSH.
The split has fractured the AMiA’s 150 congregations. While no numbers have been released by the AMiA, a majority of its congregations appear to have left Bishop Murphy’s oversight—including Bishop Murphy’s former parish and the AMiA’s headquarters, All Saints Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
One faction appears set to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a second group has pledged its loyalty to the Church of Rwanda but will seek to operate under the oversight of the ACNA, while a third remains with Bishop Murphy and his bishops. Negotiations to find an accommodation are currently underway between the Murphy faction and the ACNA, however the terms publicly set by Archbishop Duncan include reconciliation between Rwanda and the [Chuck] Murphy group.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Kenya Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Ecclesiology
(Please note that we first covered this upcoming meeting back in March.--KSH)
Bishop [Michael] Nazir-Ali said the manifesto was now “the only game in town” to prevent the fragmentation of the Communion.
“The Covenant has gone, the primates have been unable to gather, Lambeth had a significant number of bishops missing, a large number of leaders from the Global South have resigned from the main Anglican committees – so that causes us all a great deal of concern,” he said.
He added: “The Jerusalem Declaration is not perfect by any means and no doubt can be improved, but at the moment it seems to be the only thing that a large number of people could subscribe to in good conscience.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Anglican Primates Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * International News & Commentary England / UK
Prosecutors have uncovered more financial fraud in church networks than they ever imagined. "It took the financial downturn. Money was drying up—the new investors were not coming in, so Ponzi schemes collapsed," IRS Special Agent in Charge for Criminal Investigations Ken Hines told Christianity Today.
Hines, based in Seattle, has helped expose Ponzis for more than 20 years. He has seen first-hand how the church environment has proven to be an ideal context for affinity fraud. "When you go to church, you don't expect to get lied to or deceived or manipulated into losing your life's savings...."
The sickening net effect of fraud puts a dark cloud over pastors and other leaders in local churches....If a faithful church member cannot trust his or her own pastor, whom can they trust?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Currency Markets Personal Finance Stock Market * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Watch it all.
Almighty God, who broughtest again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the glorious Prince of Salvation, with everlasting victory over sin and the grave: Grant us power, we beseech thee, to rise with him to newness of life, that we may overcome the world with the victory of faith, and have part at last in the resurrection of the just; through the merits of the same risen Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
--1 John 1:1-7
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