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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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Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.
The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Globalization Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
I wish to conclude by quoting a statement of his about heresies in his Letter to the Trallians.
[Heretics] mingle Jesus Christ with their teachings just to gain your confidence under false pretenses. It is as if they were giving a deadly poison mixed with honey and wine, with the result that the unsuspecting victim gladly accepts it and drinks down death with fatal pleasure.
And so it remains today. The inventors of just about every false religion and heresy, even if mad and blind, still realize that the person of Jesus Christ is important and attractive. Even in their delusions, they are compelled to answer his question, “Who do you say that I am?” So they include in their falsehoods what I call a “token Jesus.” They give lip service to Jesus to add attractiveness and legitimacy to their false religion. But it is not the real Jesus Christ, but a supposed Jesu
Read it all.
Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Here is a thesis: that the dynamic “x-factor,” the key to the upsurge of Anglican mission in the modern era, and its common feature still today, may be found in the lineage of Wesleyanism. Wesley’s ministry had a shape that has been repeated and reappropriated over and over again. In mission, we are all Methodists now, at least in our root assumptions and many of our strategies. To understand what I mean, we need to consider the particular pattern of Methodist mission and ministry. It was focused on inwardness, conversion, the heart, and yet it was lived out in small groups, “class meetings,” in which the converted held each other to account. In those groups members could confess their failings, be exhorted and encouraged by their peers, and pray for one another. The leaders and the impetus were lay.
The gospel has to be presented to all so as to be received freely in faith. It sounds simple, but with Wesley this reality came to the fore anew. Thus he felt impelled to go to those who had not heard. Shockingly for this time, he went to the openings of mines to preach to the miners at dawn. The sermons were in fact long, dry, and learned, and yet their effect was electric. His earnestness and willingness to go out to people were paramount.
Soon there were numerous converts, and as a result services were held in the open air, where they would sing. Methodism was in large measure a musical movement. Many of the hymns by the Wesley brothers were for devotions preparatory to Holy Communion, or as the congregation waited while the long lines went up for the sacrament. The movement was at once deeply evangelical and eucharistic. And it had spinoffs: lives of the converted changed, drinking was curtailed, family life improved, trades were learned, and money was saved. Social change and conversion were intertwined.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology
Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, who in thy providence didst call Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and didst send him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the holy Scriptures into languages of that land: Lead us, we pray thee, to commit our lives and talents to thee, in the confidence that when thou givest thy servants any work to do, thou dost also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
When we began our quest for the 100 best Christian books, we knew that the material we were contemplating had already been through several refining fires. It had been worked on by its author, judged worthy to be published, and, over time, had impressed enough readers to be noticed — and, mostly, to be kept in print.
IT IS sometimes easy to forget it, given the variable quality of the books that come into the Church Times office for review, but works that get into print can be categorised, by and large, as quite good. Many that we review are not only good: some are very good. But “best”?
Best is, of course, a value judgement. We have kept it for this project because it is so obviously subjective. “Best” does not just cover a book’s intrinsic worth: it also prompts a consideration of what a book can achieve. Throughout our debate, we found ourselves balancing a title’s historical position with its place in our memories. A different set of judges on a different day — perhaps even the same set of judges — would certainly have come up with a different list.
But, perhaps, not that different.
Read it all and see what you make of their list.
The renowned evangelical speaker the Rev Dr John Stott called for Christians to continue to strive for ‘Christ-likeness’ during his final major address before retiring from public ministry.
Speaking at the annual Keswick Convention, the 87-year-old former chaplain to the Queen told the audience that ‘Christ-likeness is the will of God for the people of God’.
He warned his audience that being Christ like in ‘patient endurance’ may become ‘increasingly relevant as persecution increases in many cultures’, and highlighted the importance of the incarnation for Christians.
Read it all.
Holy God, no one is excluded from thy love; and thy truth transformeth the minds of all who seek thee: As thy servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of thy salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so grant unto us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming thy love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
In what ways did St. Francis revolutionize and transform the Church?
Six—detailed in my book: through a high view of friendship, by embracing the other, through personal poverty, by developing a new spirituality, through gentleness and care for creatures, and by embracing death.
For many of us, a favorite image of St. Francis is that of him delivering a spirited sermon to the birds. Did that really happen, and why did that particular story become so central to his legacy?
Sure, it happened, but it wasn’t cute. Our iconography has made it seem just cute—you know? Instead, as with many of the iconic moments in his life, it happened at a time of personal crisis and uncertainty.
Read it all.
Hope..is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
--C. H. Spurgeon, 1859
Loving God, Shepherd of thy people, we offer thanks for the ministry of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who left his native land to care for the German and Scandinavian pioneers in North America; and we pray that, following the teaching and example of his life, we may grow into the full stature of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.
The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.
One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
The Council has also had an enormous impact on Anglicanism, especially on the Anglican understanding of the Church, its liturgy, ministry, mission, and approach to Christian unity. By opening Rome to ecumenical dialogue it made the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) possible. With a few bumps along the road, ARCIC has achieved significant convergence in several areas that previously separated our two traditions: eucharistic theology, ministry and ordination, justification, ecclesiology, and authority. In the spirit of ARCIC, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have come together locally in many practical ways, and their bishops have held conversations in various parts of the world under the aegis of a parallel but more recent body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. A debate about the legacy and significance of Vatican II that may appear at first sight to be a purely internal issue for Roman Catholics is actually vitally important to Anglicans.
So what resources will enable us to understand what Vatican II had to say and what we can learn from it? The texts that the Council produced are available in English, Latin, and many other languages at is.gd/VaticanII. There are several English translations of the documents published in book form, including those by Walter Abbott, SJ (1966) and the generally superior edition by Austin Flannery, OP (1975, with subsequent revisions). The standard, authoritative translation is now that edited by Norman Tanner, SJ, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Georgetown University Press, 1990), in two volumes with Latin and English facing each other on each page. But most of us are grateful for some guidance in choosing and understanding what to read. Tanner’s Vatican II: The Essential Texts has interesting introductory essays by Benedict XVI and James Carroll, as well as brief prefaces to each document. It is a handy size for carrying around and dipping into, but it contains only six of the sixteen documents produced by the Council.
Much more helpful to someone wanting to get to grips with the riches of Vatican II is the well-named Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II by Richard R. Gaillardetz and Catherine E. Clifford.
Read it all.
Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:
And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries…
“Let there be light”
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”
Wonderful stuff--make sure to read it all.
Almighty God, who didst plant in the heart of thy servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and didst endow them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us, we pray thee, thy saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
ECKSTROM: Well, the argument is really about, most immediately about communion for divorced Catholics. So under church law right now, if you are divorced and get remarried outside of the church, you can't get communion. And so what they're arguing about is whether or not they should change that rule and allow those divorced Catholics access to communion.
ABERNETHY: Now there's no voting, no decision-making, no change in this synod. But next year there's going to be another synod next October about the family again, and then, Kim—
KIM LAWTON, managing editor: Well, then there could be some change. I mean, nothing's ever guaranteed, especially when you're talking about the Catholic Church, but this is supposed to be the time for just discussing and debating some of these issues. And then decisions would come later, down the road. And on this issue of divorce and remarriage, you know, the church doctrine is that sacramental marriage is forever. It cannot be dissolved. And so therefore they don't recognize divorce, and therefore if you are divorced and you get remarried, in the church's eyes you're living in adultery, and that's why you cannot take communion and other sacraments. And so what the cardinals are arguing about is does it affect the doctrine that marriage is not able to be dissolved if you change how you treat people who are in those situations? And I think some of the conservatives are worried if you start tinkering around with that, what other issues and areas of teaching can be tinkered around with?
ABERNETHY: But there's a lot more that they could be discussing and probably will be discussing.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary Europe Italy * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When Nyasaland became independent in 1964, Arden became Bishop of Malawi. He worked hard to encourage an indigenous ministry, consecrating the first Malawian suffragan bishop and increasing the number of ordained clergy from 23 to 100. He was keen on training the laity: “If the clergy are the lungs breathing in the fresh air of the Spirit, you laymen and laywomen are the hands and the feet and the mouth of the body of Christ,” he wrote. He was also instrumental in persuading the different Christian churches to establish a health association — it still provides 45 per cent of healthcare in Malawi.
Arden was particularly concerned about polio; at many confirmation services, polio sufferers would crawl to the front of the church or were carried there. He organised a survey of the area, discovering 500 cases. As a result he convinced a leading government surgeon to help to procure funds for a vaccination programme. Within a few years Malawi was the first developing country to be declared free of polio.
On the theological front, meanwhile, attempts were being made to revise the Book of Common Prayer, and Arden was a key figure in producing a new, 380-page prayer/hymnbook in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi.
He became Archbishop of Central Africa in 1971, and it was a matter of pride that he was the last white Archbishop of Central Africa.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Central Africa Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Missions Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Africa Malawi
Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.
The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.
Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Italy * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Arrest and imprisonment were only a matter of time. Bonhoeffer’s time came in April 1943 and landed him in Berlin’s Tegel prison. Astonishingly, with the German capital under regular Allied bombardment, Bonhoeffer continued even as a prisoner to enjoy a privileged existence. During his confinement in Tegel, according to Marsh, he received “extra portions of food, hot coffee, and cigarettes.” Visitors brought flowers and fresh fruit. An uncle stopped by to break open a bottle of champagne. Most importantly, Bonhoeffer had access to books, pen, and paper. During his confinement, he read and wrote ceaselessly.
All such niceties vanished in the crackdown that followed the failed July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Transferred to the custody of the SS, Bonhoeffer was moved to Buchenwald and then to Flossenbürg, where he was finally executed. Little reliable information about Bonhoeffer’s last days is available, and Marsh does not pretend otherwise. That the end was grim and brutal suffices.
In 1928, on the cusp of his journey of discovery, Bonhoeffer had observed that in modern life “religion plays the part of the parlor.” It had become a place “into which one doesn’t mind withdrawing for a couple of hours, but from which one then immediately returns to one’s business.” In our own day, faith remains in the parlor, the subject of polite and passing attention. The work that matters happens elsewhere. For Christians daring to rethink that proposition, Bonhoeffer’s life serves as an object lesson in what is to be gained—and lost.
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St Mary le Strand, which is located in the middle of the Strand, has a long and interesting history. The original medieval church was pulled down in 1549 by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, to make way for Somerset House. The current church was then rebuilt between 1714 and 1724, by the celebrated architect James Gibbs and St Mary le Strand has since been remembered as his Baroque Masterpiece.
The current St Mary le Strand was one of fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an Act of Parliament in England in 1710, with the purpose of building fifty new churches for the rapidly growing conurbation of London. Despite this ambitious plan, only twelve of these churches were ever built, with St Mary le Strand being the first.
Unlike many London churches, St Mary le Stand managed to escape severe damage during the Second World War, as the inspecting architect would sit in the church's muniment room during the bombings, to push incendiary bombs off the roof.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Read it all and check out the links.
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.
--Found among many places here in Wisdom from Franciscan Italy: The Primacy of Love (John Hunt Publishing, 2011 Obooks version) by David Torkington
Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant unto thy people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of thee delight in thy whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Two recent stories in The Tablet (the British Catholic journal) at least give a hint of how one might think about this problem.
The two stories, both dated September 13, 2014, were put under a heading “The New Monasticism”. Story #1, by Liz Dodd, reports further on a development that I had commented upon in an earlier post: the invitation by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a group from the Community of Chemin Neuf to live in Lambeth Palace (his historic residence). This project is now taking on a clearer shape. Chemin Neuf was founded in France in 1973 by the Jesuit Laurent Fabre. Originating in a Catholic charismatic prayer group in Lyon, it has now morphed into an international movement that does indeed propose a new model of the monastic life. Affiliates of the movement live together around a daily practice of communal prayer. In that respect the new model of monasticism doesn’t differ much from the classical one. In other respects the difference is radical. There are no vows of permanence, individuals stay for shorter or much longer periods. The mix of people includes clergy and laity, men and women, married couples and singles, Catholics and other Christians. While living in a community, individuals work outside at all sorts of jobs. As of September 2015, twenty individuals will move into Lambeth Palace, and stay for one year. The mix will be much like that of the Chemin Neuf model, though the spirituality will be Benedictine (Welby is a lay affiliate of the Anglican version of that order) rather than Jesuit. The Lambeth experiment will be called the Community of St. Anselm. The name emphasizes its English location, but also the unity of Western Christendom before the great schism of the sixteenth century (Anselm was of Italian origin, a Benedictine monk and one of the fathers of Catholic scholasticism. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1033 to 1109).
Story #2, by Riccardo Larini, is about the Community of Bose (a town in Italy), founded in l965 by a Catholic layman, Enzo Bianchi. It is similar to Chemin Neuf in its ecumenical emphasis, though it is closer to the classical model of monasticism in that permanence is assumed. The Community had its origin in the radical student movement of the time and it continues to combine its spirituality with political activism. Its main focus is ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Bianchi has recently been appointed as an advisor by Pope Francis I. Significantly, Bianchi was a close friend of Roger Schutz, who in 1940 founded the Order of Taize (though it was only called this much later). Schutz was a Swiss Reformed pastor, who during World War II was active in helping Jews escape from Nazi-occupied France to Switzerland. After the war Schutz and a few disciples created a sort of monastery at Taize in the heart of Burgundy. The group developed its own distinctive liturgy, which is congenial to its ecumenical membership—Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox. This too has now become an international order, whose members live and pray together, but disperse into the world in order to work. Taize has become a destination for pilgrims, mostly young people from all over Europe. I was there once, years ago. It is a tranquil place in a hauntingly beautiful landscape.
Read it all.
O God, who by the teaching of thy faithful servant and bishop Remigius didst turn the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of thee, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith; Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Episcopal Church was one of the pioneer churches of Dell Rapids, the Guild being organized when the town was only eight years old. In 1879, the idea of building an Episcopal Church was brought up, and a meeting was held in the sitting room of the Exchange Hotel to discuss raising funds. In the meantime, a warehouse was purchased for $100 and moved to a lot on Pearl Street (now 4th Street) and made suitable for holding church services. The lot was purchased from Peter Morse, the town’s founder.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?
Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.
The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.
Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.
"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."
Read it all.
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This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.
And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own SonNHis now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.
--From a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Sunday, the Twenty-fifth of December, 1614
Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I posted recently on Friedrich Engels’s On the History of Early Christianity, his 1890s text that actually makes some excellent historical points about the social and political contexts of the early church. On occasion, it’s actually… well, pretty funny.
As a historian, Engels had the enormous virtue of moving outside the library, to understand early Christianity though his own lived experience in the nineteenth century radical Socialist underground. He knew exactly what it was like to operate in a clandestine transnational movement of the lower class. Both were under constant observation by the police, and you never knew exactly who might be a spy or informer. Oddly, given his strongly anti-church opinions, Engels had something like a love for the early Christians, and he imagines talking to them as fellow-sufferers who came from exactly the kind of setting.
Read it all.
The great ideals of the past failed not by being outlived (which must mean over-lived), but by not being lived enough. Mankind has not passed through the Middle Ages. Rather mankind has retreated from the Middle Ages in reaction and rout. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.
--What's Wrong With The World (CreateSpace Independent Publishing reprint of the 1910 original) p. 23
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
“Much religion is really dangerous and I would say lethal,” he told the blog Philosophy for Life. “We project parts of ourselves – our anger, all kinds of personal psychic material – into the middle distance, deifying it.”
Bishop Chartres – who previously caused controversy by saying that flying to go on holiday was “a symptom of sin” – says religion in the West “has become ideas in the mind”, a development he describes as “a very modern tragedy”.
Read it all and take the time to read the full blog report linked in the article.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
We thank thee, heavenly Father, for the witness of thine apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
A tour guide hollers over the clip-clop of his carriage horse passing St. Michael's Church that the iconic white building at the Four Corners of Law is the city's oldest surviving church structure in a place rich with historic structures.
Tourists peer over the carriage rails, then up and up the steeple soaring 186 feet high, perhaps to see the oldest tower clock in North America or in hopes of hearing bells imported from England in 1764.
From Charleston's poorest days to its wartime sagas to these prosperous tourist-ladened years, St. Michael's bells have announced the city's routine life events, not to mention hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and two war-time bombardments.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * South Carolina
I’m at the Cambridge University college that Charles Darwin attended before heading off on a ship to change the world’s views about the origin of the species, particularly the evolution of humans.
Darwin’s theories have been used and abused for many things in the past century or two — to promote racism and defeat racism, promote competition and encourage cooperation, to treat humans as objects and see them as special, to believe humans are machines and to say they have free choice, to attack religion and advance religion (particularly through a movement sometimes known as ‘theistic evolution”).
A conference at Christ’s College in Cambridge, organized by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, is actually titled “The uses and abuses of biology.”
Read it all.
Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servants John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James's tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;--and we cherish their memories.
The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.
In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man's sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other's breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God's Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch's early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying up in the monarch's soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, "a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day's service, find a striking completion in this history. "God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity--they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves."
But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished.
Read it all.
Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.
“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.
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When the Serpent tempted Eve in Genesis 3, he told her that she could be her own god. That claim is false, but in its own way it is profoundly illuminating. Two chapters earlier in Genesis we are informed that Adam and Eve were created in God’s “image” and “likeness.” Human beings are “like” God in an extremely important way: they are “imagers” of the true God. Only an “imager” of God can make the fatal move of trying to be a god. My favorite heretics are thinkers who perversely acknowledge that subtlety of the serpentine deception.
The great John Courtney Murray put it nicely in his marvelous book, The Problem of God. These kinds of thinkers insist on bringing explorations of the human condition back to the “biblical mode.” He admired them for the way they directly pose for us the fundamental questions: “Which is the myth and which is the reality? Is the myth in Nietzsche or in the New Testament? . . . Is it in Sartre of Paris or in Paul of Tarsus?”
Sartre seems to have gone out of style in contemporary intellectual circles, and Nietzsche has mainly been taken over by the “literary criticism” folks. Maybe this is a good time to bring them back into the broader conversation. Perspectives that are both false and illuminating are in short supply these days.
Read it all.
O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant and bishop Ninian didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we beseech thee, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show forth our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
I am in no position to teach the Bishop of Salisbury about patristics, but what dear old Irenaeus wrote was “For the glory of God is a living man” (Gloria enim Dei vivens homo). He wrote in Greek, but that bit only survives in Latin. It comes in his masterpiece Adversus Haereses, the point of which is the central belief of Christianity: that God became a man; the Word was made flesh.
The Word of God, Irenaeus says in this paragraph (Book IV; 20:7), dispensed the fatherly grace of God, revealing God to man. (By “man”, homo, he means the kind of creature we humans are. We are also persons, but so are the persons of the Holy Trinity, so that word is better avoided here.)
The Word, Irenaeus wrote, “also protected the invisibility of the Father lest man should ever come to despise God”. However, “He made God visible to man by many methods lest man, entirely falling away from God, should cease to exist”.
Then comes the famous quotation: “For a living man is the glory of God; but the vision of God is the life of man.”
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Synthesis and radical: The two words don’t seem to go together. Synthesis often means bland middle-of-the road. Radical often means far out, extreme, fringe, crazy.
And yet, this is precisely where John Wesley was radical. He was a genius at the balance and interplay of experience, structure, and doctrine. Digging into Scripture, studying history and the created order, and reflecting on his own experience, Wesley held together in creative tension key truths that tend to fly apart in most periods of church history.
Wesley’s genius, under God, lay in developing and nurturing a synthesis in doctrine and practice that kept biblical paradoxes paired and powerful. He held together faith and works, doctrine and experience, the personal and the social, the concerns of time and eternity. His synthesis speaks profoundly to the church today.
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O God, who didst give to thy servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people shall be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to lead mourners at the televised funeral of King Richard III, found buried under a Leicester car park.
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, confirmed The Most Reverend Justin Welby would attend Leicester Cathedral for the King’s funeral in March next year.
He will be joined by his equivalent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and representatives of other faiths to bury the Last Plantagenet King with “dignity and honour”, Bishop Tim said.
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It has taken more than 100 years, but a North Oxford church looks set to be finally finished.
A decision was made when St Michael and All Angels’ Church, in Lonsdale Road, was built in 1909 to cut short its nave and erect a temporary west wall due to lack of funds.
Since then the Grade II listed church has never been “finished”, with succesive vicars feeling it was not necessary – until now.
Now Rev Gavin Knight has taken on the project as he wants to expand the church’s role in the community and felt he could combine this with completing the 105-year-old buidling.
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America’s Pastor, historian Grant Wacker’s assessment of the long career of Billy Graham, is to be published at the end of November by Harvard University Press. It is a highly readable study of how ‘a lanky farm kid from North Carolina’ was to have such a major impact on American culture. More an academic interpretation of Graham’s life than a straightforward biography it does contain revelations that will shock some readers.
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One of the really great theologians of the last century. He will be greatly missed. Read it all and there is more there (translation there).
In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."—Philippians 2:15.
We use lights to make manifest. A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions....
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Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength: We beseech thee look mercifully upon thy servants, and send thy Holy Spirit into their hearts, that when they must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy holy name, then they, strengthened with the defence of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and continue in the same unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
--Nicholas Ridley (c.1500-1555)
"We are seeing an extreme religious ideology that knows no limits in its persecution of those who are culturally or religiously different. Those who promote this intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to account without impunity. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority they come from. We must provide relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives, in consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.
"In meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and perseverance....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Middle East
The false premise goes something like this: Christianity, as a historical social phenomenon, basically adjusts its moral doctrines depending on the prevailing social conditions. Christianity, after all, gets its doctrines from "the Bible," a self-contradictory grab-bag of miscellany. When some readings from the Bible fall into social disfavor, Christianity adjusts them accordingly. There are verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there are also verses that condemn wearing clothes made of two threads, and verses that allow slavery. Christians today find ways to lawyer their way out of those. Therefore, the implicit argument seems to go, if you just bully Christianity enough, it will find a way to change its view of homosexuality, and all will be well. After all, except for a few shut-ins in the Vatican, most Christians today are fine with sexual revolution innovations such as contraception and easy divorce.
Look, there's obviously some truth in all that. Not every single bit of Christian morality has held constant over a history that spans two millennia, every continent, and almost every culture. And as Christians will be the first to admit, many strands of Christianity have been very accommodating of the idiosyncrasies of its host societies.
But this premise is also fundamentally mistaken, because the history of Christian ethics actually shows that the faith has been surprisingly consistent on the topic of sexuality. Christian opposition to homosexual acts is of a piece with a much broader vision of what it means to be a human being that Christianity will never part with.
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Almighty God, we remember before thee this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray thee that we, who honor their memory, may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
See if you can match these 20 famous names from church history with their pictures. Let us know in the comments how you did!
The quiz is here.
From Saint John's, Vancouver, Bruce Hindmarsh, the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, speaks on the Book of Common Prayer which he first encountered as a teenager at a bookstall in a mall in Winnipeg. Listen to it all--wonderfully nurturing and encouraging stuff.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship --Book of Common Prayer Spirituality/Prayer * International News & Commentary Canada * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant Clare, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
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Holy God, we bless thy Name for Herman, joyful north star of Christ’s Church, who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to thy native people in Alaska, to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace; and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.
Almighty God, whose servant Dominic grew in knowledge of thy truth and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the good news of Christ: Give to all thy people a hunger for your Word and an urgent longing to share the Gospel, that the whole world may come to know thee as thou art revealed in thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Do you think spiritual ecstasy is dangerous?
It certainly can be. We have forgotten how dangerous religion can be. We think of it as a minority leisure pursuit – another cup of tea, Vicar. To remember how dangerous it can be, you have to go back to before religion became obstinately metaphysical, to the Civil War, when the streets around here were filled with Levellers and Fifth Monarchists and other fanatics, who had caused a social revolution.
St Paul’s cathedral is, in some ways, Christopher Wren’s answer to religious enthusiasm – God as a mathematician rather than the terrifying arbitrary God of the Civil War.
The great Bishop Butler says to John Wesley: ‘pretending to special revelations of the Holy Ghost Mr Wesley is a very horrid thing. It’s a very horrid thing indeed.’ And it is indeed a very horrid thing. Unless it’s held firmly within a community of interpretation, with a shared communal experience of discerning between evil spirits and good spirits, then it’s very dangerous.
Read it all.
Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Killucan, Co Westmeath, Parish Registers (1696–1786)
Drogheda, Co Louth, St Peter’s Parish registers (1702–1900)
Taughboyne Union Registers, Co Donegal, (Taughboyne, All Saints’ Newtowncunningham, Killea & Craigdoonish)
(1820 – 1900)...
Check it out.
The Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese, told The Christian Post that he felt the 14-day trial went well
"Our legal counsel did an outstanding job of presenting our case (that our Diocese and parishes have a legal right to disassociate from TEC) and on the flip side, of discrediting all the arguments made by TEC," said Lewis.
"These points were made crystal clear not only in the testimony presented by our witnesses, but with equal force in their cross examination of those witnesses called by TEC..."
Holly Behre, director of Communications for TECSC, provided CP with a statement regarding the trial and its possible outcome.
"No matter how Judge Goodstein eventually decides, there will not be any winners in this as long as our church is divided. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina continues to pray for reconciliation," said Behre.
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The three-week trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) ended July 25, with Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who presided, telling the parties what she wanted from them to assist in her deliberations.
Attorneys representing the Diocese, the Trustees and the Diocesan churches were given 30 days to create a three-page document describing the testimony given in court which explained the procedures they followed to legally separate from TEC, (such as amending their by-laws, giving notice of meetings, properly taking votes, etc.) They were then to send those documents to the Court and to TEC and TECSC whose attorneys will have 30 days to respond in a similar fashion.
In essence, the judge’s last words reiterated what she said throughout the trial: The case will be decided on neutral principles of law, which means that the judge must apply the law to this case as it would any other – making no adjustments because it involves a religious organization. TEC and TECSC have opposed the application of neutral principles; essentially arguing that the judge should defer to their view on the issues since they are a religious organization.
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On Day 7, ECUSA finally got to the meat of the matter by calling an acknowledged expert in South Carolina’s religious and non-profit corporations law, Professor Martin McWilliams of the University of South Carolina law school. He offered an elaborate theory as to why the diocese’s vote to secede from the national Church was invalid under South Carolina law: according to him, the diocese incorporated the national Church’s constitution and canons into its articles by reference, holus bolus, when it simply mentioned them in passing. Then, because the national governing documents (as amended from year to year) were part and parcel of the diocese’s corporate articles, it could not change those articles in any manner that was inconsistent with the Church’s governing documents.
This theory, however, had a hole in it so wide that one could drive a truck through it, and it was a simple matter for Bishop Lawrence’s counsel, on their cross-examination of Prof. McWilliams, to discredit it completely. First Prof. McWilliams conceded that there was no language in the national governing documents – even if they had been incorporated into the articles by the brief reference to them – which forbade a diocese from seceding, or from amending its articles in any manner whatsoever. And with that concession, any effect Prof. McWilliams might have had with his testimony was finished. For he next had to concede that the Diocese was wholly within its rights under South Carolina law when it amended its articles so as to remove its language of accession to the national Church.
After that major concession, the case for ECUSA and its rump group never regained its momentum, and their attorneys became ever more desperate in their tactics as they tried to recoup lost ground. On Day 8 they tried to call an expert witness they had not bothered to disclose by Judge Goodstein’s deadline, and she blocked the testimony after giving the hapless attorney trying to introduce it a good tongue-lashing for disregarding her rules.
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Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who seton foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10
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Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear did prepare the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and did lay it in his own tomb: Grant, we beseech thee, to us thy faithful people grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Testimony in the ongoing lawsuit between the national Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and the Diocese of South Carolina wrapped July 25.
The Diocese, which filed suit against the church in January 2013 and maintains that it legally broke away from the church in 2012, brought suit against the church in January 2013 over who is the rightful owner of the Diocese name, seals and symbols – and some $500 million in property and assets.
The Diocese has for some time disagreed with the national church on matters of theology, morality, and polity, which ultimately led to its decision to break away from the Episcopal Church in 2012, according to Diocese officials. While such issues as same-sex unions and ordination of gay clergy have caused some friction, Diocese officials say it left the church only after the church attempted to remove Lawrence from his post as Bishop of the Diocese -- some nine years after the church appointed its first openly gay Bishop – an action the Diocese believed to be outside of the church’s authority.
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O God, by whose grace thy servant Ignatius, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
Just and eternal God, we offer thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of thy servants William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who, undeterred by opposition and failure, held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same Gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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That, in a nutshell, is prayer—letting Jesus pray in you and beginning that lengthy and often very tough process by which our selfish thoughts and ideals and hopes are gradually aligned with his eternal action, just as, in his own earthly life, his human fears and hopes and desires and emotions are put into the context of his love for the Father, woven into his eternal relation with the Father—even in that moment of supreme pain and mental agony that he endures the night before his death.
So it should not surprise us that Jesus begins his instructions on prayer by telling us to affirm that we stand where he stands: “Our Father.” Everything that follows is bathed in the light of that relationship. The Lord’s Prayer begins with a vision of a world that is transparent to God: “May your kingdom come, your will be done; may what you [God] want shine through in this world and shape the kind of world it is going to be.” And only when we have begun with that affirmation, that imagining of a world in which God’s light is coming through, do we start asking for what we need. And what do we need? We need sustenance, mercy, protection, daily bread, forgiveness; we need to be steered away from the tests that we are not strong enough to bear.
Origen is one of the early Christian writers who speak and write about prayer starting from this point. Origen (who died probably in 254) grew up in Alexandria and taught in various places around the eastern Mediterranean, especially in Alexandria and in Caesarea in Palestine. For a lot of his career he was a layman, but he was eventually ordained in Palestine (rather to the alarm of some people who thought he was very unsound); he was imprisoned in the great persecutions of the 250s and seems to have died as a result of the torture and injuries he endured in prison. He was not just an academic, then, but a witness who carried the cross in his own life and death.
Origen’s little book on prayer is the ﬁrst really systematic treatment of the subject by a Christian.
Read it all.
Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love thee, our ears to hear thee, and our hands to welcome and serve thee in others, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, who dost teach us in Holy Scripture to sing thy praises and who gavest thy musicians Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel and Henry Purcell grace to show forth thy glory in their music: Be with all those who write or make music for thy people, that we on earth may glimpse thy beauty and know the inexhaustible riches of thy new creation in Jesus Christ our Savior; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
While airborne I also listened to an episode of In Our Time, the BBC Radio 4 talk show hosted by veteran broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. Bragg is a polymath; his interest in subjects as varied as photosynthesis, Druids, and the Sino-Japanese War, his affability on air, and his ability to elicit scintillating conversation from scientists and scholars make him one of our best curators of general culture. In the episode I listened to, Bragg was discussing with historian of philosophy Anthony Kenny the bitter controversy over John Wyclif’s interpretation of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. “Could we just spend one more moment on this?” Bragg asked—“because I think it’s absolutely fascinating and key, and quite hard to grasp nowadays.” But if it is quite hard to grasp nowadays, that is because it was always hard to grasp. We are neither so stupid nor so technologically advanced as to be unable to share in the religious concerns of our ancestors—pace Rudolf Bultmann, who once said (in a paroxysm of what C. S. Lewis would call chronological snobbery) that “we cannot use electric lights and radios” and at the same time believe in the miracles of the New Testament.
We owe thanks to the Monuments Men and curators of our culture for rescuing and preserving treasures that would otherwise have vanished from view. But what of the civilization that produced these great works? Are we heading for a future in which our sacred objects will survive essentially as museum pieces? We need not only to preserve the past but also to reanimate it, to let it inform our prayer and thought, and thus to reanimate ourselves by recovering what is good and beautiful in our tradition.
Read it all.
Before the split, the diocese had 70 congregations with about 29,000 parishioners. It dates to the 1700s and is one of the original dioceses that joined to form the Episcopal Church. The national church contends that the departure of a diocese requires the consent of the church’s General Convention, which was not consulted.
[Bp Mark] Lawrence later told reporters “I’m hopeful and will continue to pray for Judge Goodstein and guidance as she rules on this.”
Read it all.
The Right Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th bishop of the Diocese of SC, whom TEC supporters have accused of plotting to lead the Diocese out of the denomination, was the only witness called during the final day of the trial. Diocesan attorneys asked him several questions about TEC’s authority and the process followed to punish him.
When asked if he had planned to lead the diocese out of TEC, he said, “Absolutely not.” He explained that no one had ever asked him to lead the diocese out and said it only decided to leave after TEC had taken steps to remove him as bishop – violating its own process for doing that.
The bishop also contradicted testimony from earlier in the week, in which TEC witnesses claimed that the denomination has supreme authority over its dioceses and congregations. The bishop said that he shared the opinion of 14 other bishops that TEC has no actual authority over its member dioceses.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
Whenever one is spared an ordeal, initial relief is soon succeeded by a measure of regret that one has been unable to make public the fruits of one’s research. After two weeks in Charleston and five days sitting in the St. George courthouse, the news that I was not to take the stand was hardly a surprise, however, after this morning’s bravura performance by Gettysburg College's Allen Guelzo, who delivered one of the most lucid pieces of witness testimony of the whole trial....
Both Mary Kostel and David Booth Beers did their best with a witness for whom they were unprepared (this is permitted under South Carolina law, as Guelzo was introduced for the purpose of rebuttal of their earlier argument pertaining to the manner in which the national church exercised control over dioceses and states). Kostel focused on the writings of nineteenth century commentators that have been at the center of my counterpart Robert Bruce Mullin’s arguments, but Guelzo fought back, in the process eliciting from the judge the revelation that state law requires that an expert witness have the freedom to offer a critique of a proffered document if he declines to accept it as “learned treatise” (something which came as news to a number of the South Carolina attorneys present for the independent Diocese). Freed from a simple acknowledgment of the statements presented, Guelzo happily explained how most of the advocates of national church hierarchy in the nineteenth century were ritualist partisans and certainly enjoyed no authority from the General Convention to say what they said. Asked for a counter argument from the same era, he proffered Calvin Colton’s Genius and Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (1853), a source of which, I must confess, I was unaware, but which I’ve no doubt fits the bill. The point at issue is that any notion of a churchwide consensus on polity is simply unsustainable. There followed a fruitless set of exchanges between Guelzo and David Beers in which the latter was in fairly short order outmaneuvered, when he attempted to switch the focus to twentieth century canon law, of which Guelzo did not profess to be an expert.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
O gracious God, we remember before thee this day thy servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that thou wilt pour out upon the leaders of thy Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among thy people; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
On the 13th day of the trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a director of The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church testified that the denomination has no supreme control over its dioceses or parishes, countering TEC claims to the contrary.
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, who is also a professor of history at Gettysburg College, an expert on the history of religious organizations including TEC and the author of 16 books, said that TEC’s authority is “prescriptive,” which means the denomination can advise its dioceses but cannot order them to do anything.
He also testified that TEC was formed by dioceses, including the Diocese of South Carolina, and that it did not form those dioceses. He said there was no evidence in its formation in 1789 or today that it controlled the dioceses that are in union with it. He also testified that nothing associated with TEC’s formation suggests that dioceses that formed it could not leave it as voluntarily as they joined it. “History shows that authority flows from bottom up,” Guelzo said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
Holy Father, who hast nourished and strengthened thy Church by the writings of thy servant Thomas a Kempis: Grant that we may learn from him to know what we ought to know, to love what we ought to love, to praise what highly pleaseth thee, and always to seek to know and follow thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Right across from our hotel here on Thomas Circle (roughly 14th and Massachusetts Avenue Northwest) is Luther Place Memorial Church with a huge statue in front of Martin Luther, who almost on purpose started the Protestant Reformation. (You could look it up.)
And quite close to that church is National City Christian Church. Both structures are big, imposing and -- by American standards -- quite old.
Those descriptions also fit a church a few blocks away, New York Avenue Presbyterian, which Abraham Lincoln used to attend and which today houses, in its Lincoln Parlor, an early Emancipation Proclamation document, along with the Lincoln pew in the sanctuary.
In fact, as I recently wandered around our nation's capital, I was struck over and over first by how many churches (to say nothing of synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship) help make up the structural and social fabric of Washington, and second, by how much this remains a reflection of the central role religion continues to play in this country.
Read it all.
In effect, this passage asks the court to extend the witness carte blanche to render any opinions he sees fit to give—without the necessity of alerting the other side in advance, so as to allow them to prepare for his cross-examination.
Needless to say, those are not the rules. The purpose of expert discovery in the first place is to (a) pin down the other side’s expert to specific, articulated opinions—which may then be subjected as necessary to the cross-examination required to test their merit; and (b) to avoid any element of surprise at trial when the expert does testify.
Apparently ECUSA did not bother to disclose Prof. [Walter] Edgar as an expert, and represented that he would simply catalog an entire litany of historical facts, taken from the various diocesan and other records, for the Court to consider. Well, he was allowed to do that—but he was stopped when it came to expressing his opinions about those facts, because he had not previously disclosed just what those “opinions” would be.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
According to Frederick Dalcho's An historical account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South-Carolina how many Diocesan Conventions did South Carolina have BEFORE the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1789?
Tommy Underwood wasn’t even born when Billy Graham made his preaching debut in Florida, yet the Putnam County native easily recalls stories of the fledgling minister. The one about Billy Graham’s first sermon, for instance, was a particular favorite of Underwood’s late father, and, during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library, Underwood shared the tale.
It was Easter weekend in 1937 when Billy Graham accompanied his college dean Rev. John Minder on a trip north of Tampa to Palatka, Florida. Tommy Underwood’s father, Cecil, greeted them and asked Minder if he would preach the upcoming weekend at nearby Bostwick Baptist Church. Minder declined and volunteered Billy Graham, much to the 18-year-old’s bewilderment. With knees knocking and four borrowed sermons to fall back on, Billy Graham delivered one after another in front of the 40 or so parishioners.
He concluded his first career sermon eight minutes later.
Read it all.
Merciful God, who didst call thy servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of thy grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after thy wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord, who in a time of turmoil and confusion didst raise up thy servant William White, and didst endow him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead thy Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, we beseech thee, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry thy people may be blessed and thy will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Day Five for the Diocese of SC v. The Episcopal Church (TEC) began with a slight hiccup. To speed up the testimony of the 36 witnesses, Judge Diane Goodstein Friday asked attorneys for both sides to meet over the weekend to go over testimony that could be stipulated.
When attorneys for the plaintiff told Goodstein that the two parties had agreed that proposed stipulates would include the facts the witnesses would testify to in lieu of live testimony, attorney Tom Tisdale, who represents the rump group that now goes by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), tried to qualify stipulation, effectively diverging from what the plaintiffs had agreed to. Judge Goodstein told the defendants that , “Stipulations…they are agreements. I’m hearing from you we don’t have a Stipulation.” She told both parties she would give them 10 minutes to huddle and determine if they had agreement to stipulations.
When they returned from their meeting, both sides had agreed to all the facts that the witnesses would testify to, but also agreed that any conclusions of law would be the sole province of the court.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology
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