Posted by Kendall Harmon

If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.

There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.

Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a more accurate understanding of the Reformation understanding of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (and, indeed, explains why Lutherans can consider the Lutheran Symbols authoritative). We cannot simply reject the history of the Church. True, where Tradition is appealed to as a source of new dogma, we are right to resist it. But when Tradition codifies and clearly re-presents the teachings of Scripture, it is to be accepted as a norming influence on our individual reading of Scripture.

Philipp Melanchthon explains the Lutheran position well: “Let the highest authority be that of the Word which was divinely taught,” he explains. “Thereafter that church which agrees with that Word is to be considered authoritative.” And again: “Let us hear the church when it teaches and admonishes,” he writes, “but one must not believe because of the authority of the church. For the church does not lay down articles of faith; it only teaches and admonishes. We must believe on account of the Word of God when, admonished by the church, we understand that this meaning is truly and without sophistry taught in the Word of God.”

Christianity Today’s report suggests that some Protestants have forgotten this right relationship between Scripture and Tradition. We are right to trust in Scripture alone; but it is foolhardy to read Scripture by ourselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear:

If any one is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if any one slays with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

--Revelation 13:1-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 31, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. HALLOWEEN CELEBRATES EVIL

Although people celebrate Halloween in different ways it remains, at its core, an event that glorifies the dark, creepy and scary side of life.

Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons.

If you want to be different you can hire costumes to make you look like a chainsaw killer, a psychopathic butcher or even a shooting victim (‘with authentic-looking bullet holes’).This is hardly harmless.

Whatever view we have about life, we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong.

Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away and glorify everything that is evil and unpleasant. Talk about sending out mixed messages!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 30, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

--Psalm 50:14-15

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 30, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

--Revelation 12:1-6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Your divine throne endures for ever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellows;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

--Psalm 45:6-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 28, 2014 at 4:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a ruling made public Oct. 27, the denomination’s top court upheld a June decision by a regional appeals committee to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials, modifying the penalty imposed upon the Pennsylvania pastor after he was found guilty last November of violating church law by performing a same-sex wedding for his son in 2007.

“The Judicial Council upon careful review of the decision of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals in the matter of the Rev. Frank Schaefer and the questions of law presented by the counsel for the church finds there are no errors in the application of the church law and judicial decisions,” said Decision 1270. “The penalty as modified by the Committee on Appeals stands.”

In its decision, Judicial Council also recognized the fact that “some within the church do not support this outcome today.”

The ruling came during the Judicial Council’s Oct. 22-25 fall meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, and followed an oral hearing on the case. The Rev. Christopher Fisher, who served as counsel for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference during Schaefer’s trial, appealed the decision of the committee on appeals to Judicial Council.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Blessed is he who considers the poor!
The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.

--Psalm 41:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 27, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“But what sort of thing is God’s gift of wisdom? What effect does it have on a man?

Here many go wrong. We can make clear the nature of their mistake by an illustration.

If you stand at the end of a platform on York station, you can watch a constant succession of engine and train movements which, if you are a railway enthusiast, will greatly fascinate you. But you will only be able to form a very rough and general idea of the overall plan in terms of which all these movements are being determined (the operational pattern set out in the working time-table, modified if need be on a minute-to-minute basis according to the actual running of the trains). If, however, you are privileged enough to be taken by on the high-ups into the magnificent electrical signal-box that lies athwart platforms 7 and 8, you will see on the longest wall a diagram of the entire track layout for five miles on either side of the statio, with little glow-worm lights moving or stationary on the different tracks to show the signalmen at a glance exactly where every engine and train is. At once you will be able to look at the whole situation through the eyes of the men who control it: you will see from the diagram why it was that this train had to be signalled to a halt, and that one diverted from its normal running line, and that one parked temporarily in a siding. The why and the wherefore of all these movements becomes plain, once you can see the overall position.

Now, the mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that this is an illustration of what God does when He bestows wisdom: to suppose, in other words, that the gift of wisdom consists in a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us, an ability to see why God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is going to do next.

People feel that if they were really walking close to God, so that He could impart wisdom to them freely, then they would, so to speak, find themselves in the signal-box; they would discern the real purpose of everything that happened to them, and it would be clear to them every moment how God was making all things work together for good. Such people spend much time poring over the book of providence, wondering why God should have allowed this or that to take place, whether they should take it as a sign to stop doing one thing and start doing another, or what they should deduce from it. If they end up baffled, they put it down to their own lack of spirituality.

Christians suffering from depression, physical, mental, or spiritual (note, these are three different things!) may drive themselves almost crazy with this kind of futile enquiry. For it is futile: make no mistake about that. It is true that when God has given us guidance by application of principles He will on occasion confirm it to us by unusual providences, which we recognise at once as corroborative signes. But this is quite a different thing from trying to read a message about God’s secret purposes out of every unusual thing that happens to us. So far from the fidt of widsom consisting in the power to do this, the gift actually presupposes our conscious inability to do it; as we shall see in a moment.

We ask again: what does it mean for God to give us widsom? What kind of a gift is it?

If another transport illustration may be permitted, it is like being taught to drive. What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things, and the soundness of your judgment as to what scope a situation gives you. You do not ask yourself why the road should narrow or screw itself in a dog-leg wiggle just where it does, now why that van should be parked where it is, nor why the lady (or gentleman) in front should hug the crown of the road so lovingly; you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations of everyday life.

To drive well, you have to keep your eyes skinned to notice exactly what it is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to be clear-sighted and realistic – ruthlessly so – in looking at life as it is. Wisdom will not go with comforting illusions, false sentiment, or the use of rose-coloured spectacles. Most of us live in a dream world, with our heads in the clouds and our feet off the groun; we never see the world, and our lives in it, as they really are. This deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism is one reason why there is so much little wisdom among us – even the soundest and most orthodox of us....

--JI Packer, Knowing God, quoted in this morning's adult Sunday school class on Proverbs and the book of James

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory. Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

--Psalm 63:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 26, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

--Luke 11:1-13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 25, 2014 at 7:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I did not know the man I was drinking tea with in the parish hall below my office. He had introduced himself as a retired Episcopal priest a few days before, when he'd called for this appointment. He told me then that he was offering something called "coaching," and was asking for referrals from local clergy. At the time of the call I had thought he was running some sort of sports team, but now, over tea, he was telling me what he meant by the word "coaching."

"We ask five power questions to help people change their lives," he told me (I cannot remember even one of those power questions). "This helps individuals grow and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and recognize his working in their lives."

"So far so good," I thought to myself. "At least up until now he has said things I cannot fault." Still, something felt wrong. And then he told me what coaching had done for him.

"It helped me evolve," he said with a wide smile. Since he appeared to be an average homo sapiens, I awaited an explanation. "Why, just last week I drove up to Maryland and did my first ever same-sex wedding."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides is said to be the last place in Britain where the fourth commandment - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy - is still strictly observed. But how has modern life changed attitudes to the Lord's Day on this island of 20,000 people?

They used to talk of the Scottish Sabbath, then it was the Highland Sabbath and now it is just the Lewis Sabbath, as the number of places keeping Sunday free for God has dwindled.

The Reverend Alasdair Smith, who is now in his 80s, and his wife Chrissie remember the days when people would be "horrified" by someone riding a bicycle on the Sabbath - even if they were cycling to church.

Chrissie says: "I went to Sunday school and enjoyed it because you could walk to the school with your friends and if it was a nice day you ambled back. Because that was the only time you got to go for a walk - to church or Sunday school - not for pleasure.

"But Sunday was special," she adds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistory* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”

--Luke 10:38-42

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Grant, we beseech thee, O God, that after the example of thy servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsSpirituality/Prayer* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

--Psalm 37:3-5

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 23, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the true identity of Christ our Lord, his inner Person begotten of the Father, remains a mystery concealed from the world (John 14:22), something similar is also said rightly of those who put their hope in Christ, because they too are defined by their communion with the Father in Christ. They are known by God (John 10:14 ; 1 Corinthians 8:3 ; 13:12 ).

To be sure, the world is able to look at Christians and label them for social and demographic purposes (Acts 11:26), but it does not really know them.

“You died,” wrote Paul to the Colossians, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3).

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to listen to it (starts after the reading of the gospel, maybe 3 minutes in).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

--Luke 10:17-24

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 4:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It would be foolish to claim that this framework alone will resolve everything. Easy access to pornography, the hook-up culture, and media portrayals of recreational sex as the norm are difficult to counter. The social expectations that are producing ever more exorbitant wedding events do not get the attention they deserve.

The widening practice of cohabitation is vexing in another way. Young people hesitating to vow themselves to one another permanently are perpetuating the culture of contingency even though they have often been its victims—for example, as children of divorce. And even if the contingency of cohabitation makes lasting relationships somewhat less likely, it does approximate and thus honor marriage in some ways.

So the church and its leaders need great pastoral wisdom to do two things simultaneously:

Walk back from the culture of contingency by explaining and insisting in fresh ways that God intends for active sexuality to belong uniquely to marriage.
Work compassionately with those who have embraced the relative fidelity of cohabitation, even if they have not yet moved to embrace a covenant of marriage or a vocation of celibacy.

If we aim for these two goals, Christians will be better able to speak clearly and work energetically because together we’ll affirm that marriage is good—for everyone.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

--Psalm 26:8

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 21, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Essentially, the “relatio” (or report) published today, at the close of the Synod, will serve as a starting point for future discussion. It was also presented with great transparency, including even sections that did not win the necessary votes for complete approval.

Before we look at five things the synod did, it’s important to understand the unique “form” of this unusual final document. Pope Francis asked to have all of the paragraphs presented in the “final” report, even those that failed to win the majority needed for full passage (a two-thirds majority). Two of those three dealt with LGBT Catholics, and one addressed divorced and remarried Catholics. What’s more, the Pope asked that the voting results be shown alongside all the paragraphs, which were voted on separately. Gerard O'Connell called this a break with 49 years of tradition.

In other words, if the final document was published with only the fully approved texts, those three paragraphs would not appear.

Why might the Pope have chosen to do this?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bible illiteracy isn't an isolated problem, though; it's part of a larger pattern of low spiritual engagement that must be addressed. They are all related.

Simply put, we have a biblical literacy deficit in part because we have a spiritual maturity deficit. Plenty of research shows the correlation between spiritual maturity and reading the Bible. If you want spiritually mature Christians, get them reading the Bible. That's a statistical fact, but more importantly, it's a biblical truth.

Most Christians desire maturity. Our research shows 90 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement, "I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do." Almost 60 percent agree with, "Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths." Most of us desire to please Jesus, but few of us bother to check with the Bible to find out what actually pleases Jesus.

Reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on growth in this area of spiritual maturity. As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who aren't reading the Bible regularly. You simply won't grow if you don't know God and spend time in His Word.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

--Psalm 25:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 20, 2014 at 4:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.

--Psalm 148:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 19, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CK: In your evening public lecture at Regent this summer, “Confessions of an Ex-Pastor,” you said, “I wished I’d have lived and ministered more out of a Sabbath heart.” Can you unpack this a bit more?

MB: In my lecture, I made reference to the story in John 12 that during a celebration dinner for Jesus after Lazarus was resurrected, Lazarus had become as interesting, dangerous, and fruitful as Jesus. But the backstory in John 11 begins with Jesus getting some bad news: “The one you love is dying, please come quickly.” Jesus doesn’t come quickly. He delays and, according to Mary and Martha, he delays far too long. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I think there’s something compelling about that example of Jesus in the face of what we would consider as one of the greatest ministry crises imaginable for a pastor. The story begins with Jesus resting and ends with Lazarus resting with Jesus.

To draw a larger lesson from that, I think all effective ministry comes out of attentiveness and restfulness. That’s what I mean by a Sabbath heart. What you find in the life of Christ and the life of those who are present with him is an incredible fruitfulness and effectiveness in their ministry that people who are super busy don’t have. They’re not raising people from the dead like Jesus because they themselves are half dead.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

--Psalm 20:7-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fulness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

--Psalm 16:7-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 4:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after the TEC House of Bishops met in Taiwan, a group went to West Malaysia. They announced that they had heard the consecration of a new assistant bishop was about to take place and they were there to participate. Leaders in the Anglican Church in Malaysia said, “You are welcome—to our country. You cannot participate in the service however, because of the actions you have taken to tear the fabric of the communion and you remain unrepentant. We are not in Communion with you, so you cannot participate in the service.”

The visit was part of TEC’s initiative to demonstrate that they are fully part of the Communion and are in relationships with other Anglican Provinces. The tactic has been used in a number of places in Africa where they visit, are received with hospitality (because that is the culture of those people), and then take pictures to demonstrate that there are no significant issues even though there may be disagreement over things like sexuality.

In this case, the TEC plan did not work in Malaysia. The leaders in the Diocese of West Malaysia are very well informed and steadfastly faithful. Not only did they turn TEC away, they knew I was traveling in South East Asia so they sent me a message. “Can you change your travel plans to be at the consecration we are having in Kuala Lumpur? We want to demonstrate that we are not in Communion with TEC, but we are in Communion with the ACNA. If you can get here, we’d like to make your visit highly visible.”

I was able to change my itinerary and arrived in time to participate in the Consecration including the laying on of hands for Charles Samuel, consecrated as Assistant Bishop for the Panang district of the Diocese of West Malaysia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Commentary- Anglican: Latest NewsAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby--Rowan WilliamsEpiscopal Church (TEC)Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted October 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me,
the torrents of perdition assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me,
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

hen the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare,
at thy rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

He reached from on high, he took me,
he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
They came upon me in the day of my calamity;
but the Lord was my stay.
He brought me forth into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.

--Psalm 18:1-20

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 16, 2014 at 4:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On their return the apostles told him what they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a city called Bethsa'ida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing.

--Luke 9:10-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 15, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amit'tai, saying, "Arise, go to Nin'eveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

--Jonah 1:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If Christians are to accept...so-called [same-sex] marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If... [same-sex] marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common PrayerParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

--Psalm 1:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 13, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have a problem with Aaron, number two in the great and glorious epic that recounts the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. He is a man of peace. He succeeds at everything. Everyone admires, even loves him. Whether great or small, they need him, his understanding and his mediation. Whatever he does, he is well regarded.

But is it possible that Aaron is without fault? Like all biblical characters, he must be imperfect. He too has his moments of weakness and his crises. But in those he is forgiven.

His younger brother Moses must overcome obstacles and dangers. More than once, Moses’ life has been threatened and his reputation questioned. But not Aaron, who passes through difficulties unscathed. Moses is often torn between two passions, two obligations: the demands of God and those of his people. But not Aaron....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is another way of putting it that the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics and on annulments risks overshadowing the bigger question, which is how to prevent marriages from breaking down in the first place?

Absolutely. The preventative approach is important. Of course, we never should be making a choice between helping people who are suffering and trying to prevent them from getting hurt in the first place. We have to do both.

What would be most useful to you as an American bishop out of this synod?

I think the most useful result would be a confirmation of the beauty of the Church’s teaching and a resolve on the part of the Church at all levels, not just the bishops, to support marriage and family.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things.

I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1 Corinthians 4:9-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 12, 2014 at 4:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?

--Psalm 137:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

--Psalm 140:13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having spent most of his career writing original music for TV and film scores, as well as orchestral-choral / filmic music for commercial release and live performance, Steven wanted to do some composing that would bring together his two vocations: composing music for media and being an ordained minister in the Anglican Church.

The result was the Psalms Project, a contemporary journey through the vivid landscape of the Psalms, told in the musical language of feature films.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

--Psalm 131

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 4:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

9 What does good disagreement look like?
This is a fundamental question which underlies our conversations. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be brought to a single position on same-sex relationships. What we can look for, however, is a way of living with disagreement that honours and respects views we don’t agree with, believing that those who hold such views are not just perverse, ignorant or immoral, but rather are bearing witness to different aspects of the truth that lies in Christ alone. Not only is all truth God’s truth, but God’s truth is ultimately bound to be beyond our grasp because our minds are but miniscule receptors before the great and beautiful Mystery of God.

10 Time is not on our side
Some of our ethical/doctrinal discussions have taken decades, if not centuries, to work through – contraception, remarriage after divorce, the ordination of women. It’s important not to rush debates on profound issues, and it’s also important to keep such Godly conversations in the liquid solution of grace. However, the speed of social exchange in today’s world and the seriousness of our dis-connect with large sections of society on the issue of same-sex relationships mean that we haven’t got the luxury of endless internal debate. We are in real need of faithful, hopeful and pastoral ways forward.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted October 8, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Woe to those who devise wickedness
and work evil upon their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
because it is in the power of their hand.
They covet fields, and seize them;
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Therefore thus says the Lord:
Behold, against this family I am devising evil,
from which you cannot remove your necks;
and you shall not walk haughtily,
for it will be an evil time.

In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you,
and wail with bitter lamentation,
and say, “We are utterly ruined;
he changes the portion of my people;
how he removes it from me!
Among our captors he divides our fields.”
Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot
in the assembly of the Lord.

“Do not preach”—thus they preach—
“one should not preach of such things;
disgrace will not overtake us.”
Should this be said, O house of Jacob?
Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?
Are these his doings?
Do not my words do good
to him who walks uprightly?
But you rise against my people as an enemy;
you strip the robe from the peaceful,
from those who pass by trustingly
with no thought of war.
The women of my people you drive out
from their pleasant houses;
from their young children you take away
my glory for ever.
Arise and go,
for this is no place to rest;
because of uncleanness that destroys
with a grievous destruction.
If a man should go about and utter wind and lies,
saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,”
he would be the preacher for this people!

I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob,
I will gather the remnant of Israel;
I will set them together
like sheep in a fold,
like a flock in its pasture,
a noisy multitude of men.
He who opens the breach will go up before them;
they will break through and pass the gate,
going out by it.
Their king will pass on before them,
the Lord at their head.

--Micah 2:1-13

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 8, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

--Psalm 121

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 7, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:

“atonement”

“scapegoat”

“Jehovah”

“mercy seat”

“Passover”

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.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyTheology: Scripture

4 Comments
Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

--Psalm 106:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!

--Psalm 118:1

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 5, 2014 at 4:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we are going to reflect on a theme like “The Ethics of Sex, Marriage and Family,” and presume to be doing so on the basis of the canon of scripture, we must be prepared to accept a cardinal reality. To speak of Christian Ethics is to speak of scripture in action, in the lived life of Christian formation and catechesis. Increasingly, very few progressives dismiss the scriptural record on sex, marriage and family. Some of course still do. They are bold to proclaim that the biblical witness is not just wrong in its parts (Genesis 1-3 as ancient Hebrew musing, Paul as wrong or speaking about something else, Jesus as all loving and disinterested in a modern phenomenon like gayness, which exists in a timeframe the bible does not nor could ever be expected to comprehend). The Bible is wrong, outdated, or just not addressing the matter of the challenge of new understandings of sex and human thriving, altogether. If it gets things right, it does so accidentally or inferentially, like the proverbial blind hog finding an acorn.

I mention this right up front because, as with the early church, what we now see is something else: a heavy assault mounted from within Christian circles themselves on prior understandings of the estate of marriage and its goods. Not from cultural despisers or secularists, but from those who purport to argue that their new understanding is indeed scriptural after all. Many secular and religious proponents of same-sexuality had concluded earlier that marriage was a patriarchal invention that no card-carrying proponent of sexual liberation—gay or straight—ought to go near. Inside Christian circles, this has changed.

So alongside those dubious about scripture having anything to say, accidentally or properly, are those who argue that their new understanding of sexuality is somehow biblical after all. In this sense, the debate over marriage, sex and family is one in which both sides, or several sides, all appeal to scripture. That is, not unlike the early church examples just cited. So we must ask: What account of scripture is it that has been brought to bear on our present and older understandings of sex, marriage, and family. Because of its scale, depth, and complex two-testament character, Scripture is infinitely capable of producing multiple interpretations. Irenaeus used the image of a mosaic. One receives a gift of scripture with all its myriad pieces, and the goal of interpretation is to see the face of the king, Jesus Christ, when all the pieces are properly and proportionally assembled....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Ba'als, and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught E'phraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one, who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them in their fortresses. My people are bent on turning away from me; so they are appointed to the yoke, and none shall remove it. How can I give you up, O E'phraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboi'im! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy E'phraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.

--Hosea 11:1-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

--Psalm 102:25-27

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 3, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

--Psalm 105:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 2, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he left everything, and rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

--Luke 5:27-39

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 1, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

--Psalm 97:1-6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 30, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1) What is an archangel?

The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.

Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.

2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?

The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical Seasons* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 4:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. "And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, 'My husband,' and no longer will you call me, 'My Ba'al.' For I will remove the names of the Ba'als from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. And I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. "And in that day, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel; and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Not pitied, and I will say to Not my people, 'You are my people'; and he shall say 'Thou art my God.'"

--Hosea 2:14-23

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her harlotry from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and set her like a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no pity,
because they are children of harlotry.
For their mother has played the harlot;
she that conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns;
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers,
but not overtake them;
and she shall seek them,
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, ‘I will go
and return to my first husband,
for it was better with me then than now.’

And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished upon her silver
and gold which they used for Ba′al.
Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season;
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
And I will put an end to all her mirth,
her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths,
and all her appointed feasts.
And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
‘These are my hire,
which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
And I will punish her for the feast days of the Ba′als
when she burned incense to them
and decked herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
and forgot me, says the Lord.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.

--Hosea 2:2-14

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and having exhorted them took leave of them and departed for Macedo′nia. When he had gone through these parts and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedo′nia. Sop′ater of Beroe′a, the son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalo′nians, Aristar′chus and Secun′dus; and Ga′ius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tych′icus and Troph′imus. These went on and were waiting for us at Tro′as, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Tro′as, where we stayed for seven days.

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. And a young man named Eu′tychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the lad away alive, and were not a little comforted.

But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there; for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mityle′ne. And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chi′os; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we came to Mile′tus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

--Acts 20:1-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year's synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, "because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married."

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a "son of the church" on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, "the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharistTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And he went down to Caper′na-um, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the sabbath; and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

--Luke 4:31-37

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 26, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury was unable and unwilling to do what was necessary to save either of the two initiatives. Consequently, the bishops of ECUSA (who received their invitations to Lambeth as though nothing had happened) had no motivation to change course. Indeed, the latter were only too willing to see the Primates' efforts fail, without their having to do anything overt to torpedo them. And Lambeth itself was both a collegial dud (thanks to the imposed but phony indaba gimmick) and a financial disaster.

By 2008 the hostility and disputes inside ECUSA spilled over into the uncanonical depositions of four orthodox bishops -- three of them diocesan (+Schofield, +Duncan and +Iker). The lawsuits picked up in earnest, and largely remain unabated to this day. These blatantly illegal actions by the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA directly brought about the formation of what in time became the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The division of ECUSA was now formal -- even if most of those whose actions had led to it refused to recognize what had happened.

Dr. Williams' dithering over Lambeth, ECUSA's thumbing its nose at him over pastoral oversight, and its continued actions against dissident bishops and clergy, greatly widened the fractures in the Anglican Communion. Over three hundred bishops from African denominations refused to attend Lambeth, and a number of the Global South primates announced GAFCON's first gathering, timed to take place before Lambeth 2008 even convened. The division within the Anglican Communion was now formal, even though again most refused to recognize what was happening.

After the events of 2008 within ECUSA, there was no longer any reason for the revisionists in ECUSA to hold back in the slightest.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican PrimatesEpiscopal Church (TEC)Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Windsor Report / Process* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of my study during these weeks when we are discussing the nature and purpose of the Bible, I have been reading N.T. Wright’s illuminating book, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today.

I particularly like his point that there is need to clarify what we mean when we speak about the Bible’s “authority.” Affirming that authority rightly belongs to God in the context of his Kingdom rule, Wright says we must have a more dynamic understanding of the term: the Bible only has authority in the sense that God exercises his sovereign rule through it.

Thus, Wright says, Scripture’s authority does not lie in its status as a “court of final appeal” or as a compendium of doctrine, as rules for living or a devotional manual. Rather, the “authority of Scripture” must be understood within the context of God’s Kingdom and God’s mission to the world. Scripture is a primary means by which God acts in and through his people to bring healing and redemption to all creation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.

None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistory* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

--Luke 4:14-21

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 25, 2014 at 4:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While Apol′los was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God; but when some were stubborn and disbelieved, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the hall of Tyran′nus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

--Acts 19:1-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 24, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (starts about 7:15 in). Also note there is a download option.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lila expresses some unorthodox ideas, but they didn’t spoil the book for me in the way they would have if I’d felt like Robinson was using her as a mouthpiece for heresy. Rather, as Lila reads the Bible for the first time, starting with Ezekiel then Job (instead of Matthew as her husband suggests), she encounters the strangeness of God and tries to work him out according to her own logic. Lila has far to go before she grasps the justice of God, and even farther before she understands his mercy. Lila doesn’t come at the Scriptures from a position of arrogance, but of ignorance, a condition of which she is keenly and painfully aware.

Lila is not a cheerful book, but it is a beautiful book. Robinson writes as convincingly as a sinner lately-loved as she did in the voice of a third-generation pastor. As I neared the end of the book, my reading slowed—not because I grew disinterested, but because I was sorry to see it end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new Persian translation of the Bible will be smuggled into Iran to feed a growing Christian community in the Islamic republic, defying a campaign of persecution by Tehran.

Publishers of the new edition, unveiled at a ceremony in London today, plan to ship 300,000 copies into Iran over the next three years. Iranian clerics have denounced the text, but missionary groups claim Iran’s Christian community is the world’s fastest growing, rising by 20 per cent a year.

More than 60 Christians are being held in Iranian jails, and police continue to target the “house churches” where small groups gather for prayer and Bible study.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to listen to it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E'phraim and Benjamin and Manas'seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!

--Psalm 80:1-2

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Linda] Woodhead sees Fresh Expressions and other forms of missionary outreach as attempts to boost the God-fearers. She puts her faith in both the churchgoing and non-churchgoing mainstream. There are several problems with this strategy. With admitted exceptions, clergy tend to be recruited from the committed. As numbers shrink, it becomes more difficult to recruit able candidates, especially able young candidates. Studying American evangelicals, Christian Smith has suggested, teaches us that churches thrive when they have a distinctive message but remain in dialogue with the secular society. What is crucial is that Christians choose the right issues on which to make a stand. Woodhead ignores signs that the number of those who claim church affiliation but are not active members or believers is in decline as more claim to be ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. Woodhead herself has studied this pattern in Kendal. One move would be to make the Church more welcoming of spiritual seekers and turn clergy into what the NHS already terms ‘spiritual care givers’. Questions need to be asked about how far the Church can go in this direction and still be Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Thy decrees are very sure; holiness befits thy house, O LORD, for evermore.

--Psalm 93:4-5

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the set time which I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars....

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

--Psalm 75: 2-3; 6-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bishop of Manchester David Walker]...said, "[it is]...more important to get it right than get it quick. . . If we rush at this, we will simply end up repeating tired old failures to reach solutions."

He was interviewed alongside the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, by the Church of England's director of communications, Arun Arora. Bishop Dakin appeared more ready to emphasise the extent of the division within the College.

"These are Gospel issues that we are talking about," he said. "They go deep. They are very important to many of us, personally, or by conviction, or by a sense of deep commitment to a way of life."

He went on: "Our different traditions of wisdom and our understanding of reason have actually probably brought us to the point where we have got some deep disagreements and we need to be able to speak the truth in love to one another in a Christian way and then work out what we're going to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehu′man, Biztha, Harbo′na, Bigtha and Abag′tha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served King Ahasu-e′rus as chamberlains, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command conveyed by the eunuchs. At this the king was enraged, and his anger burned within him.

Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times—for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, the men next to him being Carshe′na, Shethar, Adma′tha, Tarshish, Meres, Marse′na, and Memu′can, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom—: “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasu-e′rus conveyed by the eunuchs?” Then Memu′can said in presence of the king and the princes, “Not only to the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also to all the princes and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasu-e′rus. For this deed of the queen will be made known to all women, causing them to look with contempt upon their husbands, since they will say, ‘King Ahasu-e′rus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will be telling it to all the king’s princes, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go forth from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be altered, that Vashti is to come no more before King Ahasu-e′rus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.

--Esther 1:10-19

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.

The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church "proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation" as a missionary church in a changing culture ?

The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?

Read it all and listen to the podcast linked at the bottom as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of thee.

--Psalm 71:5-6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican clergyman is facing opposition from parishioners over a service in his local church to bless his same-sex civil partnership.

The Rev Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes around the village of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the special service this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.

The service, taking place in the 14th Century St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth on Saturday next week was given a go-ahead by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

--Psalm 72: 18,19

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take the time to listen to it all (an MP3 file). You can read more about read more about Marcus there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

--Psalm 61:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

--Psalm 56:3-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

--Psalm 24:7-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Running through the Bible and Christian thought is the conviction that the idea of covenant lies at the heart of God's relationship with human beings. It is therefore at the heart of how we as peoples relate to one another. 'Better together' is almost an echo of 'It is not good for a human being to be alone' in the book of Genesis. Therefore, any covenanted relationship based on mutual trust, fidelity, common purpose, interdependence and a care for one another's welfare is always better than being independent and alone. The breakup of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah was regarded as a disaster by the prophets because it flew in the face of a covenant between peoples.

This is why I think that for Scotland to say no to the Union of which we have all been a part for 300 years would not only be a tragedy, but also a denial of a hard-won principle of human society that the United Kingdom expresses. The point is not whether Scotland could be a successful, prosperous nation on its own. I am sure it could. But the Christian ideals of mutuality, partnership and service surely point in the opposite direction from narrow nationalisms and self-interest. They suggest that we should be reinvigorating the relationships between us, not dismantling them.

The United Kingdom is not a perfect union: far from it. The English have a long history of treating the Scots with disdain, even contempt. Durham Cathedral, 'half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot' in Sir Walter Scott's famous words, epitomises an often violent, destructive relationship. We English need to repent of this, and start treating Scotland as an equal partner in the Union.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both [Cardinal Walter] Kasper in his address to the consistory and the ITC refer to John Henry Newman’s essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Even today, Newman’s bold analysis and brilliant exposition have not lost their capacity to shock. Focusing on the fourth-century Arian heresy, probably the most dangerous the church ever faced, Newman asserts that during this period the divine tradition committed to the infallible church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the episcopate; that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; and that it was the Christian people who supported great solitary confessors such as Athanasius, who would have failed without them.

[John Henry] Newman’s controversial essay, which put him under a cloud in Rome (“the most dangerous man in England,” said Msgr. George Talbot), is given full credit in the ITC study. Newman demonstrated, the commission says, that the faithful, as distinct from their pastors, have their own active role to play in conserving and transmitting the faith. For Newman, the commission notes, there is something in the shared life (conspiratio) of pastors and faithful “which is not in the pastors alone.” And the commission draws attention also to the often neglected role of the laity in developing “the moral teaching of the church.”

What if the faithful experience “difficulty” in receiving the teaching of the authorities and show “resistance” to it? Then there is an impasse. It can only be broken if both sides realize they have to think again. The authorities need to “reflect on the teaching that has been given and consider whether it needs clarification or reformulation in order to communicate more effectively the essential message.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written,

‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will set it up,
that the rest of men may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. For from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every sabbath in the synagogues.”

--Acts 15:12-21

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

--Psalm 50:14-15

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now a certain man was ill, Laz′arus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Laz′arus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Laz′arus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, “Our friend Laz′arus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Laz′arus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

--John 11:1-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Your divine throne endures for ever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellows;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

--Psalm 45:6-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christian Church as a whole, a body of which the Church of England is one branch, has held a consistent position with regard to sexual ethics over the past two millennia, with a remarkable degree of unanimity. That is, marriage is defined as an exclusive, permanent union between one man and one woman, and that sexual activity outside this union cannot be considered holy. The Church has always sought to uphold this principle while at the same time applying appropriate pastoral practice at the local level, both where the principle has been breached “through weakness and through deliberate fault”, and where men and women despite temptation aim to conform their lives to the historic understanding of Christ’s teaching in this area. But the principle of Christian marriage, deriving from the clear teaching of Scripture, Church tradition, and fellowship with the worldwide body of Christ, cannot be overturned or redefined without a serious fracture in the church today, and a severance from what ties us to authentic Christian faith.

In view of this, Anglican Mainstream, representing the views of many faithful members of the Church of England, lay and ordained, views with dismay the recent statement by Changing Attitude, urging the House of Bishops to rescind the February Statement on marriage, and to allow couples in same sex relationships, especially clergy, to marry, and be blessed in church.

The Changing Attitude statement is unhelpful and should be politely rejected, for the following reasons:

a) the Shared Conversations of Sexuality, Scripture and Mission are about to begin, and the process will last more than two years. After the conversations are over, motions and resolutions can be put before Synod by those on different sides of the argument, and debated. The Bishops have no authority to make the kind of changes demanded by Changing Attitude before this time. In the meantime, Bishops have responsibility to promote and defend the teaching of the Church, and should not be bullied by lobby groups to do otherwise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.

We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:

There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to suffer through it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ike many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage—though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree.

I triumphantly quoted J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, and cited Socrates in Plato’s Apology, about the limits of religious views on civic matters and the growth of our national wisdom, respectively. The arguments seemed clear. I agreed with Jon Meacham, “society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.”

Then something changed. As I entered college, I found myself being drawn from social democratism to conservatism thanks to Roger Scruton, and from skepticism back to the Catholic Christianity of my upbringing thanks to Pascal, Chesterton, and David Bentley Hart. But I still held to the consent-based or revisionist view of marriage, rather than the conjugal view defended by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George. The turning point came when I read a paper by Scruton and Phillip Blond. They distinguished how a romantic union between two individuals of the same sex could have the same level of intensity as that between two individuals of the opposite sex. Yet they said that the conjugal view of marriage did not see exclusivity of romance as the telos of marriage. Rather, it “extends beyond the individuals who marry to the children they hope to create and the society they wish to shape.”

I came to realize the institution of marriage is not merely a private contract between two partners....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMenPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureWomen* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

--Matthew 5:13-20

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 4:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

--John 10:9-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessings of same-sex unions, Milwaukee's bishop has opened the door for blessings to take place in his diocese.

But the new rite, created by Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller, will be available only to those couples already married by civil authorities, and only in churches where the vestry, or parish council, signs off on its use.

The decision, outlined by Miller in a letter to clergy dated Aug. 29, appears to be a compromise between the personal convictions of the bishop, who has criticized the rite approved by the national church as deficient, and most of the clergy in the diocese, who had been pushing for him to allow its use locally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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