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 June 30, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the new dispensation, traditional restrictions and attitudes are viewed as judgmental, moralistic forms of socially sanctioned aggression, especially against women and sexual minorities. These victims of sexuality have become the new secular saints. Their virtue becomes their rejection and flouting of traditional sexual morality, and their acts are effectively transvalued as positive expressions of freedom. The first commandment of this new secularist writ is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong. Two corollary imperatives are that whatever contributes to consenting sexual acts is an absolute good, and that anything interfering, or threatening to interfere, with consenting sexual acts is ipso facto wrong. Note the absolutist character of these beliefs as they play out in practice. For example, it is precisely the sacrosanct, nonnegotiable status assigned to contraception and abortion that explains why — despite historical protestations of wanting abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” — in practice, secularist progressivism defends each and every act of abortion tenaciously, each and every time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep thy statutes.
I cry to thee; save me,
that I may observe thy testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in thy words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate upon thy promise.
Hear my voice in thy steadfast love;
O Lord, in thy justice preserve my life.

--Psalm 119:145-149

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every year around this time—June is of course Pride month in LGBT communities—I go back and reread an older essay by Eve Tushnet called “Romoeroticism.” Tushnet points out that in the nineteenth century, as same-sex love was being newly described as a pathology, a psychological disorder, it was the Catholic Church, of all places, where many same-sex attracted men and women found a home—because it was the Church that, rather than medicalizing same-sex love, celebrated “the possibility of shockingly chaste same-sex love.” When I first read that, several years ago now, it reconfigured my whole way of thinking about being gay and Christian: Yes, Scripture was telling me that gay sex wasn’t the true fulfillment of my longings for same-sex intimacy, but no, it wasn’t telling me to deny the goodness of that longing itself. On the contrary, traditional Christianity, it turned out, was radically pro-same-sex love.

The actual on-the-ground history is messy, of course. Many Catholic parishes aren’t exactly safe places to be out as LGBT, and the rich history of celebrated same-sex love is largely unknown—or suppressed—in many churches. But Tushnet’s point is that the resources are there in Catholicism (and, I would argue, in my own Anglican Communion and other churches too) to dignify and nurture same-sex love. We wouldn’t have to compromise one iota of historic Scriptural, Christian teaching in order to open our doors to gay and lesbian people, to offer them a place free from disdain and rejection and humiliation, and even to affirm their (our!) desire to lay down their lives for a friend.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.”And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent,who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

--Against Heresies: Book III, Chapter 2.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy SpiritTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

--Psalm 121:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 28, 2016 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 June 27, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The art and literature of Paul's day provide ample evidence for the widespread practice of sexual immorality. When we read that "the sexual life of the Graeco-Roman world in NT times was a lawless chaos" (Barclay 1962:24), we only need to observe the chaos in our own world to understand the conditions in Paul's day. In fact, a good case could be made that in the two millennia since the Roman Empire, our generation comes closer than any previous one to the blatant prevalence of sexual perversions that was characteristic then. And a study of the fall of the Roman Empire suggests that any society that tolerates the unchecked promotion of such perversions will inevitably fall apart from the rottenness within.

--G. Walter Hansen Galatians (Downer's Grove: IVP Academic, 2010), pp.174-175

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistorySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op′agus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for
‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your poets have said,

‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from among them. But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionys′ius the Are-op′agite and a woman named Dam′aris and others with them.

--Acts 17:16-34

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 26, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

--Romans 6:1-11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 25, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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

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Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:45 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 June 24, 2016 at 5:00 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 June 23, 2016 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

--Matthew 20:1-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 22, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many ways disagreement is healthy. It shows that people really care about things, and perhaps disagreement is an inevitable corollary of all change: it’s often about who has to change, the cost of change, and who has to pay it.

But disagreement can also be divisive, destructive and dangerous to our health, both individually and collectively. It can disguise the many things we do agree about; it can distort people’s understanding of what being a Christian means; and it can dismay and divert those who would otherwise join us.
If disagreement is inevitable then we have to learn to do it better. This suggests finding ways that enable us to understand fully what we disagree about, and why.

These notes set out some ways to help us turn debate and confrontation into dialogue, empathy, shared understanding and the commitment to love each other even when – perhaps especially when – we are deeply opposed.

Read it all (15 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Who thought we’d ever see Bible and spammers together in a sentence? At first blush, it sounds like a good idea, since God’s Word doesn’t return void. But . . . the overwhelming clutter of media today desensitizes people. Our challenge in a digital culture is to develop strategies for making sure the message cuts through and actually gets noticed.”
~Phil Cooke, author, Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media

“When we throw biblical phrases to the winds, we invite people to supply their own context rather than the biblical one. Without the context of an imprisoned Paul, confident that God is able to use even his imprisonment to advance the gospel, the phrase ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ can become a claim to support pretty much anything one wants to do.”
~Frank Thielman, author, Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetBooksReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So while it is true that, in the wake of Orlando, or of Jo Cox's murder, or of some future atrocity that lies before us, talk is not enough, we won't be in position to act in some life-giving or productive way until we learn to do two things. First, we must interrupt the simplistic branding of the atrocities that confront us, which only personify both victims and perpetrators in unhelpful ways, while fuelling our own sense of self-righteous rage. Second, we need to learn again what to do with the justified anger that erupts within us as we face the injustices and violence that surround us. Such powerful emotions have to be directed somewhere outwards, yet without merely being vented at targets of convenience. Doing that only expands the dominant cycles of mythic violence.

As we struggle to learn such difficult lessons, we need to find a way to regain confidence that another's wrath trumps our own, so that the concept of justice can be defined according to something beyond our own immediate personal preference.

We might not all be able to imagine this in the traditional imagery of the Psalms, or through the concept of the divine, but we all nonetheless must find a way to imagine it. Any other response to Orlando or to the murder in West Yorkshire falls short of what these victims demand of us.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.England / UK* TheologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin.”

Is this blessing pronounced only upon the circumcised, or also upon the uncircumcised? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received circumcision as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but also follow the example of the faith which our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

--Rmoans 4:1-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 21, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For example, we need to think and plan for what ministries and leadership our churches, chaplaincies and fresh expressions need (including how to give effect to the decision to increase the number of ordinands by 50% by 2022).....

And we need to expect God to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, that he will take us to places and people that we cannot yet conceive and in ways we may not yet understand. We hope that every diocese will seek to articulate their own narrative of hope, informed by their context, enriched by all that God has been doing and continues to do, and confident of God’s promises for the future. We hope that every parish will similarly look honestly and prayerfully at how and where God has been leading and where he may be taking us next. As the writer of Lamentations says:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness

Renewal & Reform is built on hope. And hope is a very, very good thing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

5. “Everything happens for a reason”
No. It just doesn’t.
Evil has no reason. It is anti-reason. And anti-love.

Read it all.

Filed under: * TheologyChristologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

--Psalm 89:1-2

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 20, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Behind closed doors and in groups of up to 20, bishops, priests and lay members will discuss their views on homosexuality when General Synod, the church’s parliament, meets in York from July 8.

David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser organising the “shared conversations”, admitted that they would not prevent a split within the church over...[same-sex marriage], but said that clerics should be judged on “how we fracture”.

To that end, the church has produced a manual entitled Grace and dialogue: shared conversations on difficult issues, which says that the debate over sexuality is damaging the Church of England and putting off those who might consider joining.

Read it all (subscirption only)

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

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Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

--Psalm 66: 8-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the story of how celebrated Harvard scholar Karen King, author of books such as The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, was duped really gets thick. It involves East Germany, BMW brakes, porno films, antiquities scholarship, and an academic fitting the evidence to her prejudices. Really, it’s a story worthy of Werner Herzog. I’m not giving away too much when I say that the papyrus is clearly a fake and proves nothing about Jesus’s marital status.

The Catholic Church puts an enormous amount of emphasis upon marriage. Isn’t this odd for a tradition that was founded upon the teachings of a celibate Messiah? What could celibates know about marriage and sexuality?

Most Catholics have probably heard a millions versions of these questions from people with smug looks on their faces. It is the sort of look that says “I’ve caught the simpletons in a massive contradiction. Let’s watch them squirm.”

My preliminary surveys indicate some, not all, Catholics might be surprised that the perfectly orthodox (small “O”) answer to this question is that there’s nothing odd about the Catholic obsession with marriage, because Jesus is married as well. No, I’m not talking about Swedenborg’s The Delights Of Wisdom Pertaining To Conjugial Love where people get married in heaven. This is different and decidedly not heterodox.

Read it all (from Patheos) and take special note of Addison Hart (yes, the brother of David Hart) and his new book The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden: A Study of Imagery in the Gospel of John.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMedia* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I reminded [Walter Fritz] that I was a journalist; I wrote fact, not fiction. Nor could I accept favors from the subject of a story. But I was curious: What role would the Walter Fritz character play in this hypothetical book, whose underlying ideas, after all, would be entirely his? He gave me a quizzical look. “I wouldn’t have a role in it,” he said.

He wanted, that is, to be the invisible hand.

As I walked back to my car, I realized with something like a shudder that Fritz had hoped to lure me into a trap from which my reputation might never recover. I knew enough about his dealings with King and Laukamp to recognize all the signs: the request for secrecy, the strategic self-effacement, the use of other people for his own enigmatic ends.

Fame and fortune would rain down on me, he’d promised. All I had to do was lower my guard and trust him with all the important details.

This is a really important piece--take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

--Matthew 19:1-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 18, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?...Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

--Psalm 88:10-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

--Psalm 34:1

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

--Matthew 18:1-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 15, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.
He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments....

--Psalm 78:2-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 14, 2016 at 5:00 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 June 13, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord is King;he has put on splendid apparel;
the Lord has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength.

He has made the whole world so sure *
that it cannot be moved.

--Psalm 93:1-2

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

--Galatians 6:11-18

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 11, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a letter released after the vote, the Gafcon UK Panel of Bishops said they offered "to provide alternative episcopal oversight, and thereby your recognition as faithful Anglicans by the worldwide Gafcon movement, which represents the majority of Anglicans worldwide".

The letter was signed by four bishops on behalf of Gafcon UK's panel and four other Anglican clergymen.

Written before the vote, it was released by the traditionalist Scottish Anglican Network in the immediate aftermath of the decision. It said the SEC was "dividing the church" over the issue of gay marriage and promised to "stand united with faithful Anglicans in Scotland seeking to uphold the plain doctrinal and moral teaching of the Holy Scriptures".

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod has made the first steps of any Anglican Church in the UK towards allowing gay marriage in church.
The synod voted that a change to its Canon law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the church's seven dioceses.
A further vote will happen at next year's synod.
The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyRural/Town LifeSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What we heard today is that the question has been asked of the Archbishop of Canterbury as to what, if any, the consequences of making this change might be. It would appear that the only consequence is very personal to the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

He met Justin Welby two weeks ago and was told directly by him that if the Scottish Episcopal Church goes ahead and makes this change then the Primus will himself be personally removed by the Archbishop from leading the World Anglican-Reformed Dialogue – an ecumenical series of international meetings.

It seems to me that we have come to a new place if the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to personally threaten the Primus of a province of the Anglican Communion if that province makes a decision.

There were a number of people at this afternoon’s synod meeting proudly wearing badges that said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury hath no jurisdiction in this realm of Scotland”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

--Galatians 6:7-9

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two weeks ago, I went to London and met with Archbishop Justin specifically to ask the question, 'Will this also apply to us if we complete the process of Canonical change in 2017?' The answer is that it will. Most directly, I will be removed from the role of Anglican Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue. But other effects are limited. Our bishops will be present and fully involved in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020. We shall continue to be actively involved in our network of Diocesan Companionships and in the Anglican Networks.

Let me try and explain to you what has happened and what has changed.

The Anglican Communion does not have a central authority, The Provinces - of which our own SEC is one - are autonomous. But clearly we owe a duty and respect to other Provinces, We sometimes say 'autonomous and interdependent'. That delicate balance becomes stressed when Provinces which live in very different contexts address the changing context in which they live in very different ways.

The Global North is experiencing massive social change in respect of human sexuality - not that the church simply follows that. The Global South - and in particular Sub-Saharan Africa - remains deeply conservative and is under pressure from the Islamisation of Africa. The legacy of colonialism makes measured and respectful dialogue very difficult. Different understandings of collegiality and leadership confuse expectations about how issues will be addressed.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesPrimates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016Anglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been learned today that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has privately threatened to sack the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth, from ecumenical dialogue if members of the church’s General Synod do not do as they are told with respect to same-sex marriage.

This will be an extension of the sanctions applied to the Episcopal Church of the United States of America by the Primates’ Meeting in January of this year, after ECUSA agreed to acceptance of marriage equality within their own province.

It is fair to say that this communication to our Primus came as a surprise to members of our own General Synod.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In closing, I would like to make three final observations. First, I keep being told that there are ‘good arguments’ for the Church to change its teaching on this issue. If there are, then where are they? Jeffrey John is a leading figure in this debate, so how come he offers us here such a poorly researched, implausible and incoherent case? Why is the case being made by SEC, a sister church in the Communion, so thin?

Secondly, what is Jeffrey John doing from the pulpit? He consistently makes the claim that texts ‘must mean this’ when they probably don’t, that Paul ‘certainly would have thought this’ when the majority think he wouldn’t, and that ‘this is what Jesus does’ when the gospels writers suggest the opposite. It is one thing to make a case, even a contentious one; it is quite another to disguise from your listeners that there is another possibility. It is a bit like saying ‘I am not interpreting the Bible; I am simply telling you what it says.’ It is a naked power play, and is wrong whoever does it. Some would call this dishonest; others might label it deceptive. It doesn’t seem to me to be a legitimate way to feed sheep....

Read it all.

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

Update: Robert Gagnon has written on the passage in question there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“While Athenian philosophy was in many respects quite distant from the political cosmologies that characterized the great Near Eastern empires,” writes Yoram Yazony (The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture), “it continued to develop their view of man as being essentially a creature of the state that governs him, and of ethics as a discipline that aims to understand how the virtuous individual goes about contributing to the good of this state” (132).

On this point, the ethics of the Hebrew Bible diverges quite radically: “The very first instruction that the God of Israel issues to Abraham is the command to leave the country of his birth and to sever his ties with it - just that which Socrates presented as being unthinkable.” Other biblical heroes find themselves in similar positions, often standing outside or against the established powers: “virtually all of [them] are portrayed as being in a condition of acute conflict with the rulers of the nations in which they live, and as disobeying their laws and commands almost as a matter of course. Indeed, it often seems as if the authors of the biblical narratives believe that the laws of states, and the commands of the kings who rule them, are no better than empty words, bearing no normative force whatsoever” (132). Hazony doesn't believe this is the case, but the theme of resistance to power is striking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most disheartening section of the [Anglican Church of Canada's] report comes in its treatment of the words of our Lord in Mark 10:1-10 and Matthew 19:1-9. Whatever the motivation may have been, the report circumvents a straightforward reading of Scripture. In his disputes with the Pharisees regarding divorce, Jesus invokes the original purpose of God in establishing marriage: namely, to create an indissoluble bond between man and woman. The report comments on these passages (5.2.3.2):
Jesus refuses to be entrapped, and yet also refuses to make a new law; rather, he challenges the “hardness of heart” reflected in both casual and utilitarian practices of divorce and remarriage in the Hellenistic world. Jesus is therefore not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage, but rather giving a pastoral (and political) response to a particular set of practices.
The first sentence in this paragraph is on the right track. Jesus doesn’t fit into the casts forced upon him by some contemporary rabbinic positions regarding divorce. He does not make a “new law” either; in fact he simply reiterates a very old “law,” one going all the way back to creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Further, the report is correct in noting that Jesus probably was concerned about “a particular set of practices,” not least the permissive attitude toward divorce that was common at the time.

It does not follow, however, that Jesus is “not stating a timeless doctrine of marriage.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 9, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church has conceded that a vote on same-sex marriage this week risks putting it at odds with the remainder of the Anglican Communion.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, said the potential split was “a very serious issue” for the Scottish church but added that all sides were committed to maintaining unity.

Members of the church will be asked on Friday to consider a change to canon law, which currently states that marriage must be between a man and a woman, at its General Synod.

Read it all from the (London) Times (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal ChurchSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In little more than ten years St. Paul established the Church in four provinces of the Empire, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Before AD 47 there were no churches in these provinces; in AD 57 St. Paul could speak as if his work there was done, and could plan extensive tours into the far west without anxiety lest the churches which he had founded might perish in his absence for want of his guidance and support.

The work of the Apostle during these ten years can therefore be treated as a unity. Whatever assistance he may have received from the preaching of others, it is unquestioned that the establishment of the churches in these provinces was really his work. In the pages of the New Testament he, and he alone, stands forth as their founder. And the work which he did was really a completed work. So far as the foundation of the churches is concerned, it is perfectly clear that the writer of the Acts intends to represent St. Paul's work as complete. The churches were really established. Whatever disasters fell upon them in later years, whatever failure there was, whatever ruin, that failure was not due to any insufficiency or lack of care and completeness in the Apostle's teaching or organization. When he left them he left them because his work was fully accomplished.

This is truly an astonishing fact. That churches should be founded so rapidly, so securely, seems to us today, accustomed to the difficulties, the uncertainties, the failures, the disastrous relapses of our own missionary work, almost incredible. Many missionaries in later days have received a larger number of converts than St. Paul; many have preached over a wider area than he; but none have so established churches. We have long forgotten that such things could be. We have long accustomed ourselves to accept it as an axiom of missionary work that converts in a new country must be submitted to a very long probation and training, extending over generations before they can be expected to be able to stand alone. Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St. Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being accused of revolutionary tendencies.
--Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours; A Study of The Church In The Four Provinces, Chapter One


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 8, 2016 at 6:00 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 June 8, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This world is no friend to grace…The world is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form. World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis. We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong….

People submerged in a culture swarming with lies and malice feel as if they were drowning in it: they can trust nothing they hear, depend on no one they meet. Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship. The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

Read it all (with our thanks to TS).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Says my current pastor, the Reverend Dr. Timothy E. Tyler at Denver’s Shorter Community AME Church: “The mid-week prayer meeting was always a very intimate atmosphere—a place of renewal, love, and connectedness. As a child, when my mother and father dragged me there, I remember noticing that the large crowds of Sunday were much smaller on Wednesday. This group was the spiritual core of the church. The people would testify, petition God, and pray for each other. I finally understood it as a mid-week check-in on your spiritual self. Then you were ready for another Sunday.”

I listen to his words, realizing I like reflecting on such things with my own pastor: as I would on a Wednesday night.

He reminds me how Methodism itself, including its practice by African Methodist Episcopalians worldwide, finds its origins in the weeknight prayer meetings and love feasts organized by Methodist movement founder John Wesley.

“Wesley said, ‘We’re still Anglican,’ but let’s go beyond the ritualistic worship of Sunday and meet God in prayer here tonight,” my pastor explained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* South Carolina* TheologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 7, 2016 at 7:00 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 June 7, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of special interest is the "Faith and Order Board Doctrine Committee Paper on the Theology of Marriage" which starts on numbered page 20--take a look.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 10:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one church separated by a border - but this week Anglicans in the Church of England and in the Scottish Episcopal Church face falling out over the issue of same-sex marriages.

In the progressive corner is the Scottish Episcopal Church - in effect the Anglican church in Scotland - which is preparing to vote for clergy to be allowed to carry out same sex marriages. Meanwhile, its southern neighbours, the Church of England, is on the reactionary side, opposing any such move.

Members of the Scottish Episcopal Church will be asked if they back a change to canon law which currently states that marriage must be between a man and a woman, at the Church’s General Synod in Edinburgh on Friday.

Read it all from The Herald.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 6, 2016 at 7:00 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 June 6, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three major changes that are reshaping the landscape in which we read and engage with the Bible. These shifts are most apparent among today’s youngest generations so, in a sense, they give shape to the present and future reality within which we read and interact with the Bible.

First, the steady rise of skepticism is creating a cultural atmosphere that is becoming unfriendly—sometimes even hostile—to claims of faith. In a society that venerates science and rationalism, it is an increasingly hard pill to swallow that an eclectic assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies and letters, written and compiled over the course of 3,000 years, is somehow the sacred “word of God.” Even in just the few years Barna has been conducting “State of the Bible” interviews, the percent of Americans who believe that the Bible is “just another book written by men” increases. So too does the perception that the Bible is actually harmful and that people who live by its principles are religious extremists.

Second, as Gabe Lyons and I propose in Good Faith, the broader culture has adopted self-fulfillment as its ultimate measure of moral good....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 5, 2016 at 2:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The next day, as they were on their journey and coming near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house, and to hear what you have to say.” So he called them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went off with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

--Acts 10:9-23

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 5, 2016 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

--Galatians 3:23-4:6

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 4, 2016 at 6:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everlasting Father, we pray that by through the ministry and might of your Holy Spirit, you may open the word to our hearts, and our hearts to your word; speak, Lord, for your servants seek to hear, in Jesus precious name. Amen.

--Used by yours truly often before sermons, I have no idea when it first came to me but I have been using it every since; KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted June 3, 2016 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To give a human example, brethren: no one annuls even a man’s will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

--Galatians 3:15-22

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 3, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If anything, I think the initial concerns were understated.

Bell defenders were saying, “But you haven’t even read the book!” (In fact, I was able to read a pre-pub copy of the book during the week after the controversy broke.) But the actual book itself vindicated the dismay that so many of us felt. Kevin DeYoung’s thorough review of the book showed just how problematic the book turned out to be.

How did all of this change Rob Bell’s reputation?

I think it made it harder for a lot of younger evangelicals—who cared about biblical theology and sound doctrine but admired Bell’s creativity and insights—to defend him. There has been a resurgence of theological training among young evangelicals over the past few decades, and I think most people who have carefully studied Scripture and theology and church history—whether they have a seminary education or not—were able to see that Bell was seriously out of his depth. A lot of folks saw that he was on a certain trajectory and that he was now happy to leave evangelicalism in the rear-view mirror. His decision to leave his church and literally sign on to the Oprahfication of spirituality has only solidified and deepened those concerns.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyEschatologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm [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 June 2, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the recent General Conference, talk of a formal church split became more salient. A prominent self-professed centrist pastor suggested a three-way division among liberals, moderates and conservatives. Some liberal voices, frustrated by their declining influence, for the first time publicly sympathized with schism. A formal church split appeals to some as the ostensibly easy solution to nearly half a century of conflict over sexuality.

Except there would be little easy about it. Most United Methodist congregations are not homogeneously liberal or conservative or even centrist. A typical local church has a wide range of perspectives, reinforced by the denomination’s clergy appointment system, in which liberal clergy often are appointed by bishops to more conservative churches, and vice versa. A formal denominational schism would likely mean anguishing division in thousands of United Methodism’s more than 30,000 congregations, accompanied by years of litigation. The ultimate winners would be few.

Maybe such a cataclysmic denominational split for America’s third largest church eventually will occur. (A thoughtful proposal at this year’s General Conference allowing liberal churches that dissent from church teaching on sexuality passed in committee, but it got no plenary vote because of deferral of sexuality legislation to the bishops.) Some hope that the bishops’ new study commission on sexuality will propose formal division.

I expect and prefer a less disruptive scenario....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Resources & Links* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 2015 report (due out quite soon) will be much more specific about the particular operational issues, and lists

Failure to recruit sufficient new clergy and lay leaders
Failure of new initiatives to deliver church growth
Failure of safeguarding processes, and impact of national enquiries (such as the Goddard report)
Failure to gain support for the Renewal and Reform programme
Financial insolvency in a significant part of the church
IT capacity and security.
I wonder how that compares with your own list? I suspect most people would suggest that there is one very significant strategic risk for the church as a whole which isn’t covered by the above list of operational risks: the danger of schism over a major issue of belief or practice. Reading newspaper headlines, or attending to the internal workings of the Church, it would be hard not to notice that the debate on sexuality and its outcome is the ‘major issue’ currently threatening the future of the C of E as we know it.

If that is the case, why would any diocesan bishop act in a way to exacerbate this risk? Yet in the last month, two appear to have done just that.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth AfricaEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kenneth E. Bailey, the scholar who introduced evangelicals to Middle Eastern culture and history, died [on] Monday [May23]...at age 85.

Bailey gave Western readers “the eyes to see” the deeper significance of Jesus’ life and stories by placing them in the cultural context of the Middle East, publishing books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, a 2012 CT Book Awards winner.

Bailey was the “premier cultural interpreter of the life of Jesus,” according to Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge. Bailey’s insights stemmed from his own childhood in Egypt and a 40-year career studying and teaching in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified[a] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.

--Galatians 2:11-21

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 1, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Delegates to the Episcopal convention last summer approved a marriage equality resolution allowing same-sex couples to be married in an Episcopal church if the local priest is willing. The passage of the resolution came days after the June 26, 2015, ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage for all Americans.

For some, like Mark McCarty, that was the last straw. McCarty was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest for 60 years before deciding to leave over the same-sex marriage issue. To him, it is a matter of biblical interpretation. He says no one has been able to show him a Bible passage that OKs same-sex marriage. He prefers the "traditional biblical Anglican worship" referred to in the newspaper ad.

Deciding to leave Heavenly Rest was painful, McCarty said. He will miss the beauty of the building itself, the bell tower, the music and grandeur of the service. But, McCarty said, he believes staying at Heavenly Rest for those reasons, when he opposes the Episcopal Church's theology, would be wrong.

"That's idolatry," he said. "That's building worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Here are the questions to ponder after listening.

1) Is your faith in Christ your personal faith?

2) Is your faith consistent and active?

3) Is your faith aware of its potential impact on others?

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

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Matthew 13:53-58

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 31, 2016 at 5:01 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 May 30, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Question: How are you doing? Answer: busy… how many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
As a pastor, Eugene Peterson is the voice in the back of my head. When I experience challenges in my vocation, my sense of direction, or conflict in my understanding of my role as a pastor, I usually hunt around for what Peterson would say to my situation. He nearly always has the wisdom I’m looking for, and he never lets me off the hook.
Peterson’s vision of the Unbusy pastor has become the paradigm that I’m chasing. Busyness kills the pastoral vocation....Peterson’s probing question is essentially this: If I was not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what would I actually do as a pastor?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm [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 May 29, 2016 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wherefore, no marvel if new errors have come abroad in all ages, seeing every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols.

--From his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 28, verse 6, from the Fetherstone translation (you can find one source for it here) [Emphasis mine]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But in order to arrive at its full meaning, we must suppose that David felt an inward struggle and opposition, which he found it necessary to check. Satan had raised a tumult in his affections, and wrought a degree of impatience in his mind, which he now curbs; and he expresses his resolution to be silent. The word implies a meek and submissive endurance of the cross. It expresses the opposite of that heat of spirit which would put us into a posture of resistance to God. The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction.

--From his commentary on the Psalms

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

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 7:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

--Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 28, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, "Thou art my God." My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

--Psalm 31:15-16

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 27, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly here or download it there,

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

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Posted May 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm [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 May 26, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Love will keep us together, the Rev. Eli Sule Yakku of Central Nigeria said at the end of a long day filled with both kind and harsh words on the floor of the 2016 General Conference over lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and their role in The United Methodist Church.

The day started with a silent vigil by LGBTQ clergy and clergy candidates. Delegates walked past people wearing robes and holding crosses draped with “Shower of Stoles.” Many United Methodist clergy and clergy candidates came out as gay in the past two weeks.

During a particularly tense moment, a delegate rose and asked Bishop William T. McAlilly to step down as the presiding officer.

The decision to accept a recommendation from the Council of Bishops held all votes on human sexuality and referred all that legislation and the entire subject to a yet-to-be named special commission that will examine “every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality.”

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the suffering doesn’t go away through reading the Bible or prayer, the person affected may despair of his or her spiritual ability or maturity. The very thing that should provide unshakable confidence, that should strengthen our faith in Christ, becomes a source of shame if our faith isn’t “strong enough” to beat the illness.

Most of the time when a physician treats a chemical imbalance and there are some manifestations of those challenges, that imbalance doesn’t go away by prayer or by reading your Bible alone. Sometimes medication is needed and there should be not shame in that.

The more Christians struggle with how to deal with mental illness, the more we fail to create a safe and healthy environment in which to discuss and deal with these issues. As a result, many of our Christian churches, homes, and institutions promulgate an aura of mistrust, guilt, and shame.

As more of us are coming forward with our own stories of struggle and pain, I’m encouraged that it’s okay to talk about these things. We have to defeat the shame because the reality is that many Christians struggle with mental illness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

--Psalm 38:21-22

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 25, 2016 at 4:59 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 May 24, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here--KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ‘third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ‘third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ‘equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ‘married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ‘marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ‘heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Scottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm [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 May 23, 2016 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.

--Psalm 146:1-3

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 22, 2016 at 5:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove...that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit....when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.

--Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

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

1 Comments
Posted May 21, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always....

--Proverbs 8:22-30

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 21, 2016 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Methodists from around the world are in Portland this week for their General Conference, a big meeting about church teachings and laws that happens every four years. This year, at least, the delegates aren’t focused on bureaucratic minutiae. They are considering whether [non-celibate] gay and lesbian pastors should be ordained, and whether same-sex couples should be able to be married in the church. Depending on what they eventually choose, they may effectively decide whether the denomination should schism.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted May 20, 2016 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposal to amend the marriage canon to permit same sex weddings in churches will be considered by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church next month. The proposed changes, which were requested by the Synod in 2015, remove the current definition of marriage in the first clause of the canon and adds a new “conscience clause” to prevent clergy opposed to the move from being forced to conduct same-sex weddings against their will.

The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 11:09 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....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: 7-8;11

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 20, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the behaviors and beliefs of Christians mirror those of their unbelieving neighbors, it is evidence that the Church is a product of the culture it is called to transform, and that instead of producing disciples, it has been turning out "belonging nonbelievers," if not "functional atheists."

So, if you want find fault for the recent Court ruling, look no further than the doorstep of the Church and a decades-long ethos of non-discipleship Christianity. The thing is, the solution to our national condition starts at the same threshold.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted May 19, 2016 at 7:01 am [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.

Then 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

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Council of Bishops asked General Conference to delay a debate on homosexuality at this gathering of the denomination’s top legislative assembly until a proposed commission can study church regulations.

Instead, the bishops asked for the body’s permission to name a special commission that would completely examine and possibly recommend revisions of every paragraph in the Book of Discipline related to human sexuality. The commission would represent the different regions of a denomination on four continents as well as the varied perspectives of the church.

Read it all.

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

8 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough that called for unity but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people.

The Rev. Mark Holland, a delegate from Great Plains, said the May 17 call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed 428-364.

The bishops do not have a vote at General Conference, but they can call for a special session of the General Conference.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A top United Methodist bishop Tuesday acknowledged the denomination’s severe divisions over the role of gays and lesbians, as well as despair over the church’s falling American membership — but he refuted reports that the denomination’s leadership was preparing a proposal to split the church and its assets.

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church, speaking to delegates at the church’s legislative gathering in Portland, Ore., did acknowledge high-level meetings at which church leaders across the theological spectrum have “risked exploring what many would consider radical new ideas to organize the United Methodist Church.”

But, he added, the council is “committed to maintain the unity of the United Methodist Church, not a superficial unity to serve as a veneer over our disunity, but an authentic unity born of the Holy Spirit.”

Later in the day, delegates to the General Conference voted to ask the bishops to come back with a recommendation on how the divided church can move forward.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.

--1 John 5:1-12

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 18, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Bruce Ough acknowledged the pain and anger that has been bubbling up at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference over the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, but said the Council of Bishops supports church unity.

Social media rumors before his announcement indicated the bishops were going to create a special commission to explore the church’s differences and hold a meeting in 2018 to discuss schism.

That is not correct, Ough said. However, he did say the bishops were not in unity with each other.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the proposal to change its Canon 31 on Marriage, removing the reference to “one man and one woman”, a step it prepared for in the equivalent meeting last year. At that time the Synod was presented with a paper from its Doctrine Committee, considering change to the doctrine of marriage “in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason”. That remains the only formal presentation of the questions at issue the church has published to date, so that when the question is asked, in Scotland and beyond, what considerations have led to this moment of decision, it is the sole source for an answer. It is important, then, to be clear what the nature of the guidance has been.

In a series of articles on the Fulcrum site published just ten years ago I discussed the broader question of how the Anglican churches could think together about the gay issue. 2 Between then and now I have written no more on the matter, and return to it now, prompted by the reflections offered to the Scottish Synod, with considerable reluctance. The paper in question devotes two whole pages to a partly critical response to what I wrote then, and I have no wish at all to pursue an argument, direct or indirect, with what they write about me, which was intended, and is taken, in candour and respect. But the issues now at stake, which were large enough ten years ago, are now infinitely greater: disagreements, which have been extended by the arrival of the so-called “equal marriage” on the secular statute-books, now spread out, like a Canadian wildfire, from the sphere of ethics into the sphere of doctrine, and threaten the catholic identity of the church. But in the vacuum of Anglican theological discussion that prevails in Scotland, these fateful deliberations are able to slip by without much notice. As a theologian holding a license from a Scottish bishop, though with no part in any of the Scottish deliberations, I am not quite at liberty to shrug my shoulders when all around me are shrugging theirs.

Read it all from Fulcrum.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesScottish Episcopal Church* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there is a clear theme, it is instead that the tossing waves of adversity (whether caused by our own hands or by the hands of others) do not let up in this world. The pressure and pain of sin can feel like a relentless force, not to mention that much of what we see is often barely comprehensible at best.

Perhaps then, if waves are a certainty, we have a word of comfort from Hezekiah to his people to which we can hold fast: “‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed . . . With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles’” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).

Read it all.

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me, and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Get wisdom; get insight.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

--Proverbs 4:1-7

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 17, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Friday, delegates voted 355 to 477 against the proposal, in what is likely a preview of any vote taken on biblical sexuality. In general, Rule 44 was embraced by proponents of gay marriage and opposed by proponents of traditional marriage.

That’s probably because the usual method has been working pretty well for conservative Methodists who favor traditional marriage. Though other mainline denominations have opened the doors to the full participation of gay members, the UMC’s General Conference spent the last 44 years consistently voting to maintain the denomination’s ban on same-sex unions and on ordaining non-celibate clergy.

The UMC’s firm stance doesn’t stem primarily from its American members; less than half of them (46%) agree with the current ban, while 38 percent oppose it. Almost all of the 100-plus proposals on changes to the UMC's stance on human sexuality came from American conferences.

Some even spent the preceding weeks practicing denominational civil disobedience: the day before the conference began, 111 Methodist religious leaders revealed their homosexual orientation in an open letter. A week earlier, 15 clergy and candidates for clergy in the New York Annual Conference did the same thing. And elder David Meredith married his partner at a Methodist church in Columbus, Ohio, on the weekend between the two.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Here are the questions to ponder after listening.

1) Power - Are you in need of God's power? Are you aware of how weak you actually are?

2) Surprise - Are you a Holy Spirit led person that can be open to surprises? Are there surprises God can do in your life, which you will actually notice if he does them?

3) Understanding - Who are the people in your life who don't have an understanding of the Gospel? Can you pray for them? Can you be a message bearer to them so that they might have understanding?

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecostParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyEcclesiologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted May 16, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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