Blogroll Category: Christian Resources

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George Carey – a victim of Stasi-style injustice?

Anglican Ink - Fri, 19/06/2020 - 21:59

Has the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey been the victim of a Stasi-style injustice in the summary removal of his permission to officiate in Oxford Diocese?

According to a diocesan statement, Carey, 84, had his PTO removed because ‘new information has come to light’ in the course of the Church of England’s ongoing review into its handling of the John Smyth abuse scandal. The review is led by a well-respected former director of social services, Keith Makin. In the 1970s and 1980s, high-earning lawyer Smyth, then a Queen’s Counsel, savagely beat boys he groomed through the Iwerne evangelical camps for pupils from the ‘top 30’ fee-paying English boarding schools.

The Oxford statement does not specify what this ‘new information’ was that was passed onto the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, which then told  the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, that he had to act against Carey.

But the ‘new information’ is almost certainly to do with the fact that Carey was principal of Trinity theological college in Bristol when Smyth was an independent part-time student there in 1983 a year after the Iwerne leadership privately told Smyth to get out of the network.

Carey claims he has no memory of meeting Smyth and is ‘bewildered and dismayed’ by the sudden decision to take away his PTO and the lack of an explanation why.  In 2017 Carey resigned his role as an honorary assistant bishop in Oxford Diocese.

after admitting he had been duped by the serial church abuser, Peter Ball, and to mishandling the allegations against Ball whilst he was Archbishop in the 1990s.

Carey’s PTO, which he applied for in 2018, enabled him to help out with services at his local parish church. Surely a lesser man than Carey would not have bothered with Christian service at his local church after resigning as an honorary bishop in the diocese?

The strong evidence is that even if Carey did meet Smyth at Trinity and forgot about him amidst the various student faces passing his eyes, he would have had no knowledge of the abuse scandal. After a victim disclosed Smyth’s abuse in 1982 to the then vicar of the Round Church in Cambridge, Mark Ruston, the scandal was kept secret. Ruston compiled a report on the abuse but circulated it to a small group of Iwerne leaders. The report was not made public or passed onto the police.

Carey, being from a working class background, was not a Iwerne insider. He would not have been shown the Ruston report.  Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that so soon after the Ruston report any Iwerne insider would have told Carey that he had an abuser at his college.

So, why has Carey been fingered for an association with Smyth? And where does that leave clearly Iwerne-background clergy in the Church of England who knew about the Smyth scandal in the 1980s. If ‘new information’ comes to light about them in the course of the Makin review, which is due to report next year, will they be summarily suspended Stasi-style?

Julian Mann is an evangelical journalist based in Morecambe, Lancashire, and author of Christians in the Community of the Dome

The post George Carey – a victim of Stasi-style injustice? appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Breaking: South Carolina court rejects TEC claims against parish properties

Anglican Ink - Fri, 19/06/2020 - 18:31

Judge Edgar Dickson has ruled the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the national Episcopal Church have no interest in 36 parish properties or in Camp Christopher, the diocesan camp. All rights, title and interest in the properties are held by the parishes, he ruled in an order handed down on 19 June 2020.

This story is developing ….

SC Episcopal Church Case – Order of 2020.06.19 by George Conger on Scribd

The post Breaking: South Carolina court rejects TEC claims against parish properties appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Give yourself a COVID-19 spiritual health check

The Good Book Company - Fri, 19/06/2020 - 11:21

When our health is at stake, medics will check our vital statistics. But medics at my church long for their patients to take a spiritual health check, too. CEM co-founder Rico Tice has prepared this video to ask some vital questions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How is your spiritual health?

Categories: Christian Resources

How should believers talk about injustice? A response to the rhetoric of victimhood.

Anglican Ink - Fri, 19/06/2020 - 00:31

Isaiah 9 describes God’s divine rule as one free from oppression and filled with justice—an almost unimaginable picture for many of us given the current state of our world. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God calls His people again and again to make the suffering of marginalized groups like widows, orphans, refuges, and the poor a priority. Clearly, justice is on God’s agenda. 

But how should believers talk about injustice in the contemporary, politically polarized world? Dave Doveton’s “Theology of Victimhood: A Pastoral Response” (published recently in Anglican.ink) describes pitfalls he urges believers to avoid. The article begins by declaring that Christians must stand against all oppression and unjust “victimization,” but continues that they also must not allow “victimhood” to become part of a marginalized group’s identity. By victimhood, he means blaming others (oppressor groups) for one’s own suffering, which, he believes, lead to demonization of others and assumptions that oppressed status somehow equals unquestionable piety. 

While Doveton’s argument is largely a response to cultural Marxism’s influence on minority groups’ collective identities, his article is strongest when discussing “victimhood” on a purely individual level. By examining the suffering of Cain and Abel, of Jacob and Esau, and of Joseph and his brothers, Doveton aptly points out the evils of resentment and self-pity in individual responses to difficult circumstances, which are sometimes of one’s own making and sometimes caused unjustly by others. Likewise, it is easy to agree with Doveton’s premise that “self-pity is not a Christian virtue,” nor is it a healthy response to suffering. 

However, as useful as Doveton’s “pastoral” admonition on victimhood is on the individual level, it isn’t aimed solely at individuals but at the ways minority groups articulate their collective struggles. If used incautiously to talk about “other people’s identities,” such discussions of victimhood risk misrepresenting others by not letting them represent themselves. 

When we do not offer fellow believers with whom we disagree a place at the table, there can be consequences. In the rest of this essay, I want to address some ways that even the best intentioned arguments can miss their mark before returning to that difficult question of “how should we talk about injustice?”

As we dive in, I should clarify that, while Doveton’s article addresses any minority groups whose identities might be impacted by cultural Marxism, given that I live just a few hours away from where George Floyd was killed, I cannot help but focus on how this discussion impacts the larger church’s relationship with our grieving African American brothers and sisters. This means I’m leaning into this question from a different angle, perhaps with different concerns and with different scenarios in mind than Doveton. I’m taking the time to acknowledge this difference largely out of fairness to his argument and intentions. Partly though, I also want to suggest just how important a different perspective can be. In the end, my goal is not so much to “knock down” Doveton’s analysis of responsibility as to expand it, while suggesting ways we might redirect the larger conversation regarding injustice.

So why does allowing fellow believers to represent themselves matter? Let me offer three reasons.

First, not giving voice to others often creates a straw man argument. This occurs when what “we” saw about “them” is different than what “they” would actually endorse. The simpler and more extreme the argument sounds, the easier it is for the audience to accept the critique, though it’s more like holding a pep rally for the home team than winning a difficult football match. In this case, Doveton does not summarize, quote, or otherwise reference any Christian perspectives that he believes demonstrate the politics of resentment and self-pity. It’s not obvious then which fellow Anglicans or other Christians actually hold these criticized beliefs or who would actually take these criticized claims as far as is suggested. For example, which believers would say that anyone from “an oppressor group” is “incapable of redemption” or that those who can claim “oppressed” status are excused from taking any responsibility for their own choices? Those are weighty accusations. If they are well deserved, let the wayward condemn themselves through their own mouths. 

And if we instead infer these attitudes from behavior rather than from actual words, is “victimhood” really what we most often see from Christians advocating for justice? To take a relevant historical example, let’s consider the witness of the African American church in the U.S. As Esau McCalley has pointed out, the mere fact that so many enslaved, mistreated people embraced the very God espoused by their oppressors is perhaps the greatest testimony to the gospel’s truth. Courage like this hardly sounds like victimhood. 

But embracing the God of redemption does not mean unjust suffering is over and past. Sometimes, as in Joseph’s story in Genesis, God miraculously reverses the fortunes of those who have been dispossessed. More often though, as in the centuries of enslavement of Joseph’s descendants,  those who have experienced suffering for their ethnicity, gender, nationality, economic status, or other reasons may continue to suffer—not just because of universal fallenness or a few, isolated individuals’ choices, but because they belong to this group in the first place. When African Americans fear for their sons’ lives should they go jogging through a white neighborhood, when death rates from Covid-19 disproportionately hit the poor, native Americans, and other people of color, when it’s obligatory for parents of black and brown children to explain how not to get shot by the police—the sins of all our fathers continue to haunt our every step. Suffering for one’s group identity isn’t really a choice, nor is naming the suffering or being honest about why it exists in any way self-conceited. 

Instead, it is those who are not of the majority who must continually be aware of how the majority sees them. “Will I come off as ‘too angry’ if I share how I really feel?” “How much better do I need to dress than my colleagues for them to take me seriously?” “If we get together to discuss issues that affect us, will we be seen as too focused on the concerns of black or brown parishioners to minister to the needs of the wider church community?” It is those in the majority who enjoy the luxury of unintentional conceit, for they can most easily forget about the existence, unique challenges, or culture of their brethren.

The second major way not giving voice to those being criticized creates misrepresentation is through collateral damage. Vague, “some folks out there,” critique risks splashing a scarlet letter across friend and foe alike. While discernment is sometimes necessary, we engage in a risky proposition when the goal becomes discerning the potential sinfulness of other people’s rhetoric—especially when those others occupy demographic groups different than ourselves. The vaguer the group, the easier it is to apply our judgments unfairly. In the present historical moment, should we, for example, apply Doveton’s analysis to African Americans marching in support of justice for George Floyd? Should it be applied only to those who voice “too many negative feelings,” who seem “too confrontational,” or who might be guilty of using language like “privilege” or “systemic inequality” that sounds too left-leaning? Perhaps it should only be applied to the looters (though many of them are neither black nor members of any minority group, and I doubt many would justify their actions with spiritual arguments). When I took a mandatory hunter safety course as a teenager, the first principle they taught was “never point your gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot.” Let us be similarly cautious with our verbal weapons. In aiming at an ideology taken up by some members of marginalized groups, it can be difficult to avoid friendly fire at the marginalized believers themselves. 

Third, there is a risk that the language of victimization can become less about checking our own hearts than expressing our frustrations with others. As a white, middle-class man, I have sometimes found myself sitting amongst friends of different ethnicities, genders, and socio-economic classes—in their houses on their home turf—feeling a little anxious at the turn of conversation. In these cases, sometimes I have been surprised by the amount and intensity of “complaints” against dominant groups, by hurt feelings, and yes, sometimes, even by what feels like resentment. Not having the same lived experience, it wasn’t something I could understand in one afternoon visit, but I remember leaving friends’ houses still feeling uncertain and uncomfortable. 

For me at least, fears of others’ victimhood come from moments like this: moments when I, as a member of the majority, feel negative vibes that don’t seem to have an immediate, actionable point in response, no clear and tidy solution we can use to clear them up. Worse, sometimes, it feels to those in the majority that they aren’t allowed to understand the unique suffering of minority groups, aren’t allowed to examine any of the claims such groups make regarding the origin of their suffering. No one wants to feel like they are forced to be “the bad guy,” incapable of redemption,” just for being white, or a man, or born in the country of one’s citizenship, or plagued by some other marker of majority status. What I didn’t realize at first is the level of trust being bestowed upon me when friends let their guard down a little—or the powerful opportunities for my own growth that these moments offered. 

And let’s suppose for a moment that some of those frustrations members of the majority feel are, in some cases, not unfounded. What if some fellow believers who happen to be black, or brown, or refuges, or women, or any other non-majority group occasionally articulate their suffering in less than the best possible way? Would that minimize the God-given responsibility to listen to their concerns and respond as urgently to those needs as if to our own? 

If one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. And if one part of a body suffers, the first priority is not to stop and judge whether the arm or leg that hurts is sending those signals in just the right way. The first priority is to pay attention to the part that is in pain, trying to understand the underlying cause of its agony. This means that it is precisely those parts of the body that are the most comfortable that bear the most responsibility toward those which are most pained. If one’s leg falls asleep because of the whole body’s posture, the rest of the body needs to change its posture, though only the leg was suffering. When the rest of the body shifts in response, the pain sharpens initially because the root cause is finally being addressed.  However, only with willingness to share pain can the whole body function together as designed.

In classical rhetoric, there is a concept called kairos. It means seeing and seizing the opportune moment. We see New Testament references to this concept when Paul says that “at just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for us” (NIV Romans 5:6). Likewise, Proverbs offers a similar conception:“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (NAS  Prov. 25.11). The right word, delivered at the right time, can bring healing, can restore lost hope, or can return the wayward to the path of wisdom. I believe that this last goal is what Dave Doveton intended in his article, and I am grateful for the principles he offers that, if applied as a self-check to our own, individual hearts, can help all believers respond well to our own unique moments of suffering. 

Sometimes though, the timeliest, the most appropriate, and perhaps even the holiest action to which God calls us is to change our collective posture, which starts by occupying the posture of listening even when it is uncomfortable: even when others surprise us with their anger; even when there is no clear solution offered; even when it seems things might be going a little too far; even if some who are examples of this group’s suffering had rough lives or aren’t great role models; even when the process takes a very long time and we can’t come to firm conclusions right away. Make no mistake though. Listening is an active posture. It does not mean simply waiting for others talk, nor does it mean overwhelming them with questions. It means proactively seeking out voices that are already speaking and continuously putting ourselves in a position to keep learning. 

Talking about injustice is not always easy or comfortable, but if the church is to truly address suffering, we must discuss it on both the individual and corporate level. Yes, we need to know (as Doveton shows us) how individuals can turn to God when suffering unjustly. Yet, we must give at least as much urgency to the corporate, to how each part of Christ’s body can turn unflinchingly toward one another’s pain. 

There is a point here we must not miss. Even when done at the behest of just one part of the body, changing our collective posture heals the whole. After all, it is those who are comfortable with their own posture, refusing to be uncomfortable for the sake of other parts of the body, who most risk abdicating their responsibility: the very pitfall Doveton wants us avoid. 

The post How should believers talk about injustice? A response to the rhetoric of victimhood. appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Carey proclaims his innocence after mystery suspension by Oxford diocese

Anglican Ink - Fri, 19/06/2020 - 00:20

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev George Carey, has rejected suggestions he was involved in the John Smyth affair, stating he had never met the Iwerne Camp leader and had no knowledge why the Diocese of Oxford would suspend him in connection with the Smyth investigation.

He also said his experiences with the National Safeguarding Team and Archbishop Justin Welby’s office game him “little confidence” in the investigations.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford released a statement this week saying that in the course of the review of the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late John Smyth QC, who allegedly abused boys from the Iwerne camps over 35 years ago “new information has come to light regarding Lord Carey, which has been passed to the National Safeguarding Team for immediate attention”.

“Lord Carey’s PTO (permission to officiate) was revoked by the Bishop of Oxford on Wednesday 17 June. Lord Carey is currently unauthorised to undertake any form of ministry in the Diocese until further notice.”

The diocesan statement noted that no allegation of abuse had been made against Lord Carey, however.

In a 17 June 2020 statement Lord Carey proclaimed his innocence. He was also nonplussed as to why he was suspended and what he was alleged to have done to merit the discipline.

“I am bewildered and dismayed to receive the news a short time ago that due to ‘concerns’ being raised during the review of John Smyth QC I have had my PTO revoked. I have been given no information on the nature of these ‘concerns’ and have no memory of meeting Mr Smyth. In 2018 the National Safeguarding Team and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury invited me to meet with them to arrange safeguarding training and facilitate a meeting with survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse. To my immense disappointment they have failed to deliver action on either of these matters which were the subject of a mutually agreed plan. As a result, I have little confidence in their ability to pursue a proper investigation. I understand from the testimony of victims and survivors of clerical abuse that this lack of confidence is widely shared.”

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The Supreme Court’s transgender ruling undermines the rule of law

Anglican Ink - Thu, 18/06/2020 - 17:45

Bostock v. Clayton County is the first U.S. Supreme Court decision that directly addresses the issue of transgender rights. At issue is the meaning of the word “sex” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, specifically, whether the word “sex” encompasses sexual orientation and gender expression/self-identity. Policy questions aside, the Supreme Court has once again proven an unsettling enthusiasm for enacting laws without Congressional approval or the president’s signature. Led by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the majority of the Court ignored canons of statutory interpretation and decades of legislative history in order to read a meaning into the law that was never intended. This decision is celebrated by activists as a victory that they have continuously been denied by the deliberative and democratic legislative process, but it represents a significant blow to authentic diversity, the separation of powers, and the rule of law.

What was at stake?

The plaintiffs in these cases include a transgender funeral home worker, a homosexual skydiving instructor, and a homosexual government employee. All three lost employment due to their status as homosexual or transgender and sued to recover damages, claiming they were fired because of their “sex.” The Court decided to combine all three cases, and this week the nation learned that lurking beneath the plain meaning of the text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is an expansive definition heretofore undiscovered.

Acts of jurisprudential sleight-of-hand like this one are far too common. It is likened to a “pirate ship” sailing under a “textualist flag” in Justice Samuel Alito’s masterful and devastating dissent.

Most significant is the case of Harris Funeral Homes, which fired a transgender employee who was hired as a man and who initially wore men’s clothing but later decided to dress and present as a woman. Gorsuch found that in this case the employer’s decision was bound up with the employee’s sex. A man would never be fired for dressing like a man, so a woman could never be fired for dressing like a woman. Any disparity would be impermissible under the law. Gorsuch has assumed, however, a subjective answer to the question, “What is a woman?” Up until very recently, this question has had an obvious and objective answer that would almost certainly be the type of fact ripe to be considered by way of judicial notice, a legal procedure that admits “notorious or well known” facts into evidence. The answer is now a topic for strenuous debate.

Obfuscating true diversity

This decision contains significant implications for the nation’s democratic self-determination and Americans’ unalienable rights. The Court has pledged that there was never a consideration of religious freedom in this case, so neither the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) nor the exclusive rights of churches to consecrate their own clergy as recognized by the Court in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC is in peril. It is hard, however, to place much stock in this assurance given the ease with which six justices undermined the constitutional order and effectively rewrote the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What remains unclear, however, is how women (as society has traditionally understood the category) will ever enjoy protection against discrimination under this new scheme. A person who is male in all ways other than self-identification is free to compete in women’s sports, seek admission to a battered women’s shelter, or gain access to locker rooms and restrooms that are segregated by biological sex. How can anyone demand to hear women’s voices on corporate boards or see them represented even on the Supreme Court if the only prerequisite to being a woman is a self-declaration completely disconnected from any objective standard? Authentic diversity, which is already difficult to realize, has just become more elusive.

The dangers of a “living constitution”

The most alarming part of Bostock, however, is not those implications, as serious as they are. The most dangerous aspect of this decision is the precedent for the blatant rewriting of the law. The Constitution vests the legislative power of the United States in the Congress. Legislatures are elected from communities and, more than any other part of the government, they are most responsive to the popular will. Of the available options, it is in the legislature that policy decisions are most fruitful and most authoritative, even if the process itself is flawed and corrupted by special interests and often self-serving politicians. And, as Justice Alito points out in his dissent, there is a long history of Congress indicating time and again that “sex” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their biological sex. The relative wisdom of the various answers to the policy question is irrelevant: The law simply does not support the decision in Bostock, especially in light of overwhelming evidence that the rightful promulgators of law have been aware that “sex” does not and has never encompassed sexual orientation or gender self-identity. The Gorsuch majority opinion has ignored the clear separation of powers and claimed even more ground for the courts to shape public life without regard to the democratic process.

The U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in the world in large part because it has given the people democratic control over the divided and balanced powers of government. While the constitutional structures of the system have steadily eroded, the system has cultivated a stable society with predictable laws and legal processes. This is the very heart of rule of law, which is dependent upon consistency and clarity. Members of a society must have assurances that the law that they read today will not change in ways that alter their standing before the law, their contracts, the claims to property, and any other right protected or recognized by law. It is decisions like this one that undermine the rule of law by subverting the system that has given rise to it.

The consequences of this decision

Reckless jurisprudence like that on display in Bostock is often defended, because some argue that it is not the role of the judge to look ahead to the social or legal chaos that may ensue because of a particular ruling. The duty of a court is a duty to the law. It is not a duty to activism nor to innovation. In fact, the judicial branch should be the least innovative branch of government and a safe harbor for consistency and restraint. Six justices of the United States Supreme Court have betrayed that duty this week and, in the process, dealt a significant blow to a system that has—despite its imperfections—provided the space for economic, cultural, and even moral growth. It remains to be seen just how significant the damage will be.

The post The Supreme Court’s transgender ruling undermines the rule of law appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Episcopal leaders hail Supreme Court ruling barring LGBTQ workplace discrimination

Anglican Ink - Thu, 18/06/2020 - 17:43

Episcopalians and church leaders are cheering the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 15 ruling that protects gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination, a groundbreaking decision that follows decades of church advocacy for greater LGBTQ rights.

“The Supreme Court has spoken again for the equality of all God’s children,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said on June 16, praising the court’s 6-3 decision in remarks to church employees at the start of their two-day annual staff meeting.

In July 2019, Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, signed a friend of the court brief supporting the plaintiffs in the case.

Speaking to employees via Zoom, Curry put yesterday’s ruling in the context of the court’s June 2015 ruling that upheld same-sex marriage nationwide. That earlier decision was handed down just as The Episcopal Church’s General Convention was getting underway in Salt Lake City, Utah, spurring bishops and deputies to approve trial-use marriage rites for same-sex couples.

Jennings posted the news on Facebook, quoting from a July 2019 statement she made when she and Curry filed their legal brief on behalf of more than 700 interfaith leaders.

“As Christians, we bear a particular responsibility to speak out, because attempts to deny LGBTQ people their dignity and humanity as children of God are too often made in the name of God,” Jennings said. “This way of fear is not the way of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to cast out fear.”

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court’s sole Episcopalian. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” he declared.

The court’s ruling this week expands job protections under the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Gorsuch was joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and the four members of the court’s liberal bloc.

The decision settled a series of lawsuits brought against employers by former employees who said they had been fired after revealing they were gay or transgender. The plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, Gerald Bostock, was working as coordinator of a program monitoring children placed in foster care in Clayton County, Georgia, near Atlanta, when he was fired in 2013. He had joined a gay softball league six months earlier.

“I’m elated, and words cannot fully express the gratitude I have for the justices,” said Bostock, 56, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s report on his post-ruling news conference.

Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright also praised the ruling and highlighted The Episcopal Church’s ongoing work toward greater LGBTQ inclusion in the church and society.

“Our joy flows primarily from the fact that this ruling affirms what God has ordained and what we already know, that every human being is made in the image of God and has inherent, dignity, value and worth,” Wright said June 16 in a written statement. “And that prejudice in every form is incompatible with faith in God and with a nation whose goal is greatness.”

TransEpiscopal, a group that connects transgender and nonbinary Episcopalians and advocates for their full inclusion in the church, celebrated the decision and thanked Curry and Jennings for their part in it.

“We feel the support of our wider church, particularly from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings, who were lead signers on an amicus brief,” the group wrote. “Thank you.”

However, the group tempered its celebration of the ruling by noting that just a few days before, the Trump administration eliminated an Obama-era regulation that banned discrimination against transgender people in health care, part of a broader effort by the administration to remove protections for transgender people throughout the federal government. Health care in particular, the group wrote, continues to be a major vector of inequality in America, made visible in recent months by the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on African Americans.

The group also lamented what it called a “horrific systemic pattern” of killings of transgender people of color in America.

Some Episcopal bishops joined Wright in celebrating the Supreme Court ruling. Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde expressed gratitude for the years of advocacy work that led up to the decision. “What once seemed impossible happened today,” she said.Mariann Budde@Mebudde

What once seemed impossible happened today. What some Christians wanted to happen today didn’t. What many Christians prayed and worked for, alongside many others, happened. I’m giving thanks tonight and celebrating with my GLBTQ friends and family.5578:19 PM – Jun 15, 2020 · Washington, DCTwitter Ads info and privacy64 people are talking about this

Curry echoed their sentiments in a statement released to Episcopal News Service later June 16.

“The fundamental equality of humanity is God-given. It is enshrined in the Bible in the first chapter of Genesis when it says human beings are created in the image and likeness of God,” Curry said. “There is no hierarchy of that image, we equally bear it. Later in Genesis, in the ninth chapter, verse six, the text picks up the theme of the image of God in human beings as conferring value so great that human life should not be taken.

“This decision is another one of those moments when our nation is living up to the ideals of America.”

In recent years, some of the most intense debate within The Episcopal Church over greater inclusion of LGBTQ Christians has focused on same-sex marriage, though the church’s opposition to anti-gay discrimination dates back even further. In 1976, General Convention passed a resolution affirming that “homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens.”

Expanding that position to include gender identity, a 2009 resolution called for “enactment of laws at the local, state and federal level that prohibit discrimination.” It also sought prosecution of violence against people for their gender identity as hate crimes.

And in 2017, the church’s stance against discrimination nearly prompted Episcopal leaders to move the 79th General Convention rather than hold it as planned in Austin, Texas. At that time, the Texas Legislature was considering a “bathroom bill” that would have required anyone using a public restroom in Texas to use the facility labeled with the gender that matched the sex stated on the person’s birth certificate or driver’s license.

Curry and Jennings sent a letter to the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in February 2017 saying if the bill became law, The Episcopal Church would face the “difficult choice” of moving General Convention to a different state rather than support legalized discrimination.

The bill was defeated in August 2017, and Episcopal leaders kept Austin as host city for the church’s triennial gathering.

“We give thanks for all of the Texan Episcopalians, elected officials, business leaders, and advocates who raised their voices publicly against this proposed law and the physical, spiritual and emotional damage it threatened to do to transgender people,” Curry and Jennings said at the time.

When General Convention met in Austin in July 2018, it passed a resolution reaffirming its support for transgender rights and pledged to support “legislative, educational, pastoral, liturgical, and broader communal efforts” to oppose violence and discrimination against transgender people.

The post Episcopal leaders hail Supreme Court ruling barring LGBTQ workplace discrimination appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Springfield bishop, diocese’s Standing Committee hit impasse over timing of retirement

Anglican Ink - Thu, 18/06/2020 - 17:39

The Diocese of Springfield’s Standing Committee is in mediation with Bishop Daniel Martins to settle a disagreement over the bishop’s retirement, with Martins planning to retire in June 2021 and the Standing Committee insisting he step down sooner.

In documents obtained by Episcopal News Service, the Standing Committee has informed Martins it is unhappy with its previously approved arrangement allowing the bishop to reside in Chicago and commute to the diocese, which encompasses the largely rural southern half of Illinois.

“Your continued residence in Chicago presents an untenable situation best addressed by advancing your previously announced retirement date,” the Standing Committee said in a May 8 letter to Martins, threatening to revoke the permission it granted him to live outside the diocese.

Springfield Bishop Daniel Martins was consecrated in 2011. Photo: Diocese of Springfield

The Standing Committee also referenced an April 15 letter to Martins, in which it urged Martins to move his retirement date up by eight months, to October 2020. “This will give you the opportunity to preside at the annual synod and for the diocese to celebrate your ministry with us,” the Standing Committee said in April, offering to make “appropriate financial arrangements” for him.

Martins refused, according to the Standing Committee.

The diocese now is working with a mediator to settle the dispute, with input from Bishop Todd Ousley, who leads The Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development and regularly assists dioceses with their bishop transitions. In an email, Ousley declined to comment for this story, citing “this sensitive diocesan matter.”

The Rev. Beth Maynard, president of the Standing Committee and rector of Emanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, said by email she wouldn’t respond to questions about the dispute, because of the ongoing mediation.

Martins announced his retirement plans in October 2019 in an address to the diocesan synod. When reached by phone, he declined to talk for this story about the mediation and the Standing Committee’s efforts to force his early retirement. He confirmed to ENS that he had asked for and received permission to live in Chicago starting in September 2018 because of a “personal family matter” while returning to his diocese to continue his ministry there.

He told ENS, however: “My hope is to remain in office until my successor is consecrated.” The Standing Committee announced in December it was laying the groundwork for a bishop search, but Martins said this week he wasn’t sure how far the search had progressed.

The Standing Committee outlined its dissatisfaction with Martins’ living arrangement in its April 15 letter. “Your relocation has increased the financial burdens to the diocese as your level of involvement in the work of ministry in this diocese, and your physical presence in this diocese have greatly decreased,” the letter said. “Full episcopal ministry is not being provided, and you are largely inaccessible.”

That letter was drafted a month after Martins joined most bishops across The Episcopal Church in suspending in-person worship at Episcopal churches starting in mid-March in response to the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases at the outset of the pandemic. Two months later, with new cases on the decline in Illinois, Martins began allowing congregations to return to their churches on a limited basis on May 31.

Some Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of Springfield have decided they will continue to gather online only, while virus transmission remains a threat at public gatherings. For those that chose to reopen, Martins initially had them cap attendance at 10 people. A week later, Martins raised that cap to 25 percent of church capacity, mirroring the approach to reopening taken by Roman Catholic churches in the region.

Martins also resumed his visitations, starting with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alton on May 31. He visited Trinity Episcopal Church in Mattoon on June 7, and on June 14, he joined an outdoor worship service at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Havana. Worshipers sat in chairs spread around the churchyard so they could maintain the distance recommended by public health officials to slow the virus’ spread.

Members of the congregation at St. Barnabas presented Martins with a drawing of their church, inscribed to him on the back “with much love, gratitude and thanksgiving for your guidance, leadership and episcopal support.”

The Diocese of Springfield is known as one of the more theologically conservative dioceses in The Episcopal Church. Leading up to the 79th General Convention in July 2018, Martins was one of eight diocesan bishops who still refused to allow use of same-sex marriage rites in their dioceses, though most of those bishops, including Martins, reluctantly accepted a compromise resolution to make the rites available in all domestic dioceses.

Martins was consecrated as the 11th bishop of Springfield in March 19, 2011.  His predecessor, Bishop Peter Beckwith, retired in February 2010, leaving the diocese’s ecclesiastical authority in the hands of the Standing Committee. Between Beckwith’s retirement and Martins’ consecration, administration duties fell to the Ven. Shawn Denney, then serving as the diocese’s archdeacon. Denney, vicar of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Springfield, now is a member of the Standing Committee that is seeking to expedite Martins’ retirement.

The post Springfield bishop, diocese’s Standing Committee hit impasse over timing of retirement appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Washington cathedral lays off staff in wake of COVID-19 slowdown

Anglican Ink - Thu, 18/06/2020 - 17:23

June 16, 2020

Dear friends,

More than a century ago, a group of visionary leaders caught hold of a dream to create a great Cathedral for all Americans, a sacred place where the nation could gather to celebrate our highest ideals, and a place big enough and strong enough to shelter our deepest emotions.

Throughout the Cathedral’s history, there have been starts and stops in construction as our life together yielded to the conditions around us. War and economic downturns slowed our pace, but never diminished the zeal to live into God’s calling to be a national house of prayer for all people.

Now, caught in the grips of a global pandemic, we find ourselves again shaped by economic forces around us. The coronavirus closures have upended life at institutions large and small, including here at the Cathedral, even as we have been able to successfully adapt our offerings to an online environment.

The question before us now is how we keep that original vision thriving as the Cathedral weathers this latest challenge.

The reality is that three months of closure due to the pandemic have had serious negative consequences on our finances. At the same time, we anticipate that social distancing requirements, public sentiment and concern for the most vulnerable all mean that it may take 12 to 18 months for us to return to pre-pandemic levels, and perhaps longer.

Called to be careful stewards of the gifts God has entrusted to us, we find ourselves forced to reckon with the conditions as we find them, not as we might wish them to be. As a result, today the Cathedral announced a series of painful cuts that are both necessary and hard to accept.

These changes are all the more difficult because they are not the result of mismanagement or poor planning. Indeed, the last four years have seen consecutive budget surpluses and growth in the size of our reach and the impact of our ministry. Today’s changes are the result of forces beyond our control.  

Out of a commitment to responsible and sustainable financial stewardship, we need to reduce the Cathedral’s footprint until a vaccine is developed and the public feels comfortable gathering in large groups once again. Cathedral life has shifted these last three months, and we need a budget that reflects our new reality, for as long as it lasts.

To that end, we have reduced the Cathedral full-time workforce by 15 percent. In the new fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2020, 13 full-time positions will be eliminated, as well as 13 part-time positions. An additional 12 full-time positions will be fully or partially furloughed, and most of our part-time and contract employees will see their hours reduced for the foreseeable future. Our most heavily impacted departments are those most involved in public engagement, particularly tourism and events management.

It is important to me, and to the Cathedral’s senior leadership, that this is a shared sacrifice. To that end, our FY21 budget includes a 20% pay cut for our highest-paid employees, including myself. Moreover, all employees will see reduced benefits for the next 12 months, and we will forgo pay raises and new hires until conditions improve.

I want you to know that these are more than mere numbers on a spreadsheet; each decision involves painful change for treasured colleagues and friends, and it grieves me deeply. In my 30 years of ordained ministry, this is the hardest set of decisions I’ve ever had to make.

I ask you to join me in prayer for each member of our Cathedral family who is impacted by these changes. We will make every attempt to support them personally and professionally, and we will walk with them through this transition.

Over the new few weeks, we will meet as a Cathedral team to plan our next steps. Our core commitments remain in Welcoming, Deeping, Convening and Serving. We will prioritize our energies around worship and music, and use our place at the intersection of the civic and the sacred to bring people together at this critical time in our country’s history to address the two pandemics that plague us: COVID-19 and the sin of racism.

As we do this, we will work to enhance our ever-increasing digital presence, creating a truly virtual Cathedral that can minister to the growing numbers of people who have turned to us as a beacon of hope and healing in these dark times.

In spite of their grandeur and immensity, Cathedrals have been fragile enterprises for centuries. They are constantly buffeted by change and subjected to external environments that aren’t always friendly. Yet Cathedrals are also built to the glory of the living God, anchored in the certainty of God’s unfailing love and the assurance of God’s life-giving Spirit. That is where I place my hope, and my prayers, for the days ahead.

With every blessing,

Hollerith
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
Dean, Washington National Cathedral

The post Washington cathedral lays off staff in wake of COVID-19 slowdown appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

The cross: the most precious gift we have to offer the world

The Good Book Company - Thu, 18/06/2020 - 10:10

Many Christians may feel familiar with the basics of Christ crucified. But the more we can understand about the cross, the more we’ll delight in God’s amazing grace, and the better we’ll be able to explain it to unbelieving family, friends and colleagues.

The Cross Is There From Start to Finish 

Christ crucified is central to Christianity. The cross is the purpose of creation and the turning point of history, the climax of Scripture and the heart of our faith. It is the highest revelation of God’s glory and the deepest joy of our eternity—forever stirring the vast crowds of heaven to worship the Lamb of God who was slain (Revelation 5 v 6-10)!

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And the cross saturates the pages of Scripture from start to finish. For example, one word used for the cross (translated “cross” in Acts 10 v 39 and “pole” in Galatians 3 v 13) is also used at the beginning of Scripture, in the Garden of Eden, for the “tree of life” keeping God’s people alive (Genesis 2 v 9). At the end, in Revelation 22 v 2, in a beautiful vision of God’s new creation, the same “tree of life” is there to heal and sustain God’s people for ever. This language points to the fact that Christ crucified is the center of everything.

Themes of The Cross

Surveying the whole of Scripture, we find that by his death, Christ has glorified his Father in many marvellous ways—too many to describe in detail here. For example, his death completed an exemplary Christian life that shows us how to live. His death disarmed Satan’s claims upon us by suffering the penalty we deserve under God’s law. And his death has saved us into a new humanity. But the supreme accomplishment of Jesus’ death was in satisfying God’s holy justice. He accepted onto himself, like a lightning conductor, all God’s anger against our sin. By faith in him, our sin is no longer counted against us.

The most precious gift we have to offer the people of this world and the communities where we live is the life-saving message of “Christ crucified”.

The background which explains this wondrous accomplishment is found in three unfolding themes, beautiful crimson threads, flowing throughout the Old Testament. This is why the risen Jesus himself turned to the Old Testament to explain his death to his bewildered
disciples on the road to the village of Emmaus:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24 v 25-27)

Paul, too, emphasised the importance of the cross in the Scriptures when he wrote:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15 v 3)

We will marvel more at the beauty of the cross, and be able to explain “Christ crucified” more clearly to others, when we follow these three crimson threads through the Old Testament to discover how the death of Christ brings us freedom, forgiveness and justice.

Purpose and The Cross

There is a fourth word which will also help us to fully embrace Christ crucified: Purpose. In a world full of people crying out to know who they are and why they exist, the cross of Christ fills our lives and our churches with the all-consuming mission and deeply satisfying purpose for which we have been created and re-created: to pick up our own cross and follow Jesus in a life of sacrificial service for the salvation of others.

As Christians we seek to love the people around us in every way that the Bible commands. We resist injustice, prejudice and ecological irresponsibility; we seek relief for victims of crime, poverty and trafficking; we contend for freedom of speech, protection of the unborn and the reformation of church denominations. But the most precious gift we have to offer the people of this world and the communities where we live is the life-saving message of “Christ crucified”. It is the power of God to save sinners from the horrors of hell, for the holiness of heaven, in happiness forever.


This is an extract from the introduction of The Cross In Four Words, which looks at how the cross wins us freedom, forgiveness, justice and purpose. Written by Kevin DeYoung, Richard Coekin, and Yannick Christos-Wahab, this book sums up the victory of the cross in those four words and explores what that means for us.You can buy a copy here. 
 

Categories: Christian Resources

Letter from Eastern & Western Michigan standing committees: Notice of suspension of Bishop Hougland for adultery

Anglican Ink - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 22:56

15 June 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today, we were notified of an accord reached between the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, and our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., as part of a Title IV disciplinary action.

Bishop Hougland, in a meeting with the Bishop for Pastoral Development, the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, disclosed that he had made “serious mistakes” and admitted his participation in an extramarital affair. The other person involved is not Episcopalian and is not a member of the staff of either diocese. No state or federal laws have been broken.

Under the Canons of the Episcopal Church, an accord is a written resolution to the disciplinary process, which is negotiated by and agreed to by both parties.

The accord places Bishop Hougland on suspension for a minimum of one year. During that time, he will be required to undertake personal steps to be accountable to the Church and emotionally healthy for himself, his family, and his dioceses, in accordance with the Canons, which state:

The Church and each diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected. – Canon IV.1

It is the hope of the Presiding Bishop’s office, our Standing Committees, and Bishop Hougland, that this time is one of healing and reconciliation. At the conclusion of the suspension, the Standing Committees and Bishop Hougland will decide whether to continue the relationship with Whayne as our bishop.

The Standing Committees have met and are in the process of working out the details of the one-year leave, including a plan for maintaining the daily operations of the dioceses. Specifics will be available next week. At this time, we expect to hold the ecclesiastical authority of our respective dioceses and will work with our neighboring bishops to conduct the duties that only a bishop can conduct, including ordinations and confirmations. We also are committed to affirming the vote taken last Fall to explore mutual relationship between our dioceses for 3-5 years, by making decisions together as much as is possible and appropriate, maintaining our now-regular joint meetings of Standing Committees and staffs, as well as continuing all other ongoing and potential ministry collaborations.

We ask that you not be in contact Bishop Hougland directly. Any notes may be forwarded to him through Canon Bill Spaid, wspaid@edwm.org, or may be mailed to the Western Michigan diocesan office.

Know that we are praying for you, the people of Eastern and Western Michigan, and we ask your prayers for your elected leadership, as well as for your diocesan staffs, Bishop Whayne and Dana, and for each other.

Yours in Christ,

The Standing Committees of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

To the Clergy and People of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan,

I will not have the ability to personally speak to you individually or as a group, but I appreciate the opportunity for you all to hear from me. I have not honored my ordination vows or my wedding vows, nor have I honored the faith and trust you set in me. I have much personal work to do to be healthier and rebuild my relationships.

I apologize to the people of these dioceses for betraying my sacred oath to be a wholesome example for the entire flock of the Church.

I apologize to the staff of the dioceses for abandoning you to pick up the pieces of my error.

I apologize to the clergy for my gross lapse of moral judgement, thereby damaging our sacred relationship under orders and weakening our moral authority.

I apologize to the Presiding Bishop and the members of the House of Bishops for not living up to the standards of behavior and conduct expected for Bishops and for damaging our credibility and respectability as moral leaders in society at large.

I apologize to the other party and her family for disrespecting their relationship.

And most of all, I apologize to Dana, our daughters, and our extended families for my betrayal of their gracious abiding love.

I do not yet fully understand why I behaved in this manner, but I alone am responsible for my actions and the discipline that the Presiding Bishop and I have agreed to. Over the next year, I will carefully and fully examine what I need to do to be the person you and I expect me to be. During this time, I will be repentant, take the steps I need to amend my life, and request forgiveness from those I have wronged. I am thankful for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the promise of forgiveness for those who are truly repentant. I will do the work.

Thank you, Presiding Bishop for your pastoral care and for your hard discipline, I need them both.

Thank you, Standing Committees for your leadership in this difficult time and for your graciousness to me in this difficult moment.

Thank you for your continued prayers and ongoing support and concern for Dana and our family.

Humbly,

Whayne M. Hougland, Jr.

The post Letter from Eastern & Western Michigan standing committees: Notice of suspension of Bishop Hougland for adultery appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Anglican Priest Killed In South Sudan In Renewed Military Conflict

Anglican Ink - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 15:03

Renewed fighting between the Republic of Sudan’s army, called the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), and the militant group National Salvation Front (NAS) has claimed dozens of civilians’ lives, including that of an Anglican priest last week.

The recent conflict has displaced thousands of civilians from their homes in the defunct Yei River State amid the country’s ongoing battle with the coronavirus.

The Feb. 22 formation of a coalition government between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar was supposed to end the civil war that began in 2013, but experts never had high hopes for this peace deal, saying it is too similar to other deals that have failed.

Since March, the spread of the coronavirus to South Sudan has added even more burden to the country’s ailing economy, sinking infrastructure and food insecurity.

In an interview with Religion Unplugged, the Most Rev. Archbishop of the Central Equatoria Internal Province, Paul Yugusuk, said in June the warring parties tortured civilians, looted property and abducted two ordained priests of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, part of the Anglican communion. One has been released, and one is still held captive.

Another priest, Theophilus Abugo Dalima, and a church member, Joel Milla Oliver, were killed, and one family of four remains missing as of last week.

“You know, we are the victims,” Yugusuk said. “Those are two giants [the government and NAS forces] fighting, and eventually, the anger is released on the civilians and the church. So, I am speaking on behalf of the people. I am not supporting the NAS rebels [or] the government forces.”

The spokesperson of the National Salvation Front, Suba Samuel Manase, said he had not received any information regarding the arrest of clergy by NAS forces in Lainya County, who are under the command of General Thomas Cirilo Swaka.

“We have our forces operating in that area, but I haven’t gotten any information regarding the arrest of the Anglican priest in Lainya,” Manase said.

The National Ministry of Health on June 11 confirmed 72 new cases of COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,670, with many deaths unrecorded.

Yugusuk said the church compound is being overwhelmed by the displaced persons seeking refuge as the violence escalates.

“Life is very difficult,” he said. “There is no way to tell the displaced persons to keep social distancing or use masks. There are no face masks, washing containers and sanitizers. Their houses were burned down and property looted — if they go back now, there is no food. They can’t go back home. They have to remain in the displaced camps. Of course, we would continue to create awareness about coronavirus and solicit for humanitarian assistance.”

South Sudan is a landlocked country bordering Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, several of which have confirmed rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the past week.

“We were first affected by COVID-19 and now there is armed conflict,” Yugusuk said.

In addition to providing medical care, the church is providing counseling services. Many of the displaced persons have been tortured and beaten.

The Sant’Egidio community, a Catholic association, mediated a peace process Jan. 13, called the Rome Declaration, between the government of South Sudan and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), which culminated in the signatories’ committal or recommittal to the 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

But the Sant’Egidio-mediated peace process between South Sudan’s warring parties came to a halt as the Rome-based association battled the coronavirus pandemic in Italy.

SSOMA is a coalition of six armed opposition groups that rejected the IGAD-mediated revitalized peace agreement signed in 2018 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, saying the deal fell short of addressing the root causes of the conflict in the world’s youngest country. IGAD, or Intergovernmental Authority on Development, is a trade bloc of eight African countries.

Since 2013, South Sudan’s civil war has caused severe man-made hunger and famine, problems now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, communal conflicts and child abductions.

Recently, Yugusuk said, SSPDF soldiers killed two members of South Sudan’s Kaliko community at the border between South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“The Kaliko people were staying in DR Congo, not as refugees,” he said. “They have been given land in DR Congo by the natives to cultivate. While they were staying there, the SSPDF soldiers crossed the border into DR Congo and attacked the Kaliko, killing two people and then looted their property.”

South Sudan’s army spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang, denied the allegations.

Yugusuk calls on the country’s newly appointed Chief of Defense Forces to discipline and transform the national army to respect the civilians and stick to their constitutional mandate of protecting the country’s territorial integrity. He says he was happy with the visit of the Chief of Defense Forces, General Johnson Juma Okot, to Lainya and Yei.

“We are urging him to organize the army. The army needs to be organized because there are so many commands, and we don’t know who belongs to whom, who reports to whom and who to be approached when there is conflict,” he said.

Regardless of the pledges made by several high-ranking government officials to prioritize the delivery of services to the civil population, the security sector receives about 20 percent of the country’s annual budget allocation, while the social sectors remain gravely underfunded.

Yet the majority of soldiers in the country are food insecure, with their salaries often delayed.

“Our forces are suffering, though the security sector [combined with the public administration sector] is getting 40 percent of the annual fiscal budget,” Yugusuk said. “Despite this, the soldiers are not paid and are not given food. The new Chief of Defense Forces should address this issue. We want to see our soldiers getting money and they are fed well and then they are trained. The soldiers should be trained and professionalized to respect the citizens.”

More than 40 church leaders have been killed in South Sudan from the outbreak of the civil war in 2013 to 2017, and the number is expected to be much higher now. Among those killed are Simon Kwaje, who was a priest at Emmanuel Cathedral when he was brutally attacked by unknown gunmen along the Juba-Mukaya road in March 2017. A Slovak Catholic nun and physician, Veronika Terezia Rackova, was killed in 2016 by government soldiers at a checkpoint in a Yei town while driving an ambulance with an expecting mother, according to reports from Yei.

Most of the priests who have been killed served with South Sudan’s Episcopal Church, while others were from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church.

In November 2018, a Kenyan Jesuit priest was also shot and killedby armed men in South Sudan’s Gok State.

As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise in South Sudan, the defunct Yei River State, which is southwest of the national capital, Juba, remains volatile. Many of the hold-out groups who are not signatories of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement continue to engage in an active military confrontation with the government, displacing thousands of civilians from their homes.

The post Anglican Priest Killed In South Sudan In Renewed Military Conflict appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

“Inclusive” ECUSA: “Love Never Ends” — but +Love Must Go

Anglican Ink - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 14:57

In a theological dispute that ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has now personally allowed to become a travesty, the Episcopal Church in the USA (what I call “ECUSA”, because it is a spawn of today’s secular United States, and as such is not qualified to assume the broader mantle of “TEC”, or “The Episcopal Church”), held a formal hearing whose object was to remove the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, from the post to which his diocese long ago elected him. 

His sin (sc. offense against the authorities) that requires his deposition? It was his faithfulness to the “doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church (USA)” — exactly as he vowed when he took Episcopal orders, and again when he was consecrated one of that organization’s bishops.

Bishop Love took God at His word when He decreed in Gen. 2:24 that “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In today’s PC terminology, he denied to same-sex couples their humanly implied right to have their unions receive God’s sanction and blessing in the churches of his Diocese. But the 2018 General Convention passed a Resolution (see below) purporting to make the availability of an “alternate rite” for same-sex couples mandatory in all dioceses. And Bishop Love has steadfastly refused to allow any such rite to be celebrated in any of his parishes.

For such an unforgivable trespass upon General Convention’s claimed divine prerogatives, Bishop Love must now depart his post, according to  that apostate group’s current leadership.

To my regular readers: please forgive the barely concealed disgust in those lead-in paragraphs. Your Curmudgeon cannot refrain from it, when it comes to describing the apostasies of the church in which he was raised from birth, and from which its leadership, by those same apostasies, has now forever alienated him. As I have documented abundantly on this site, that leadership continually abuses its ($350 million worth of swaggering) power. Your Curmudgeon was trained always to speak the truth to power. If that truth be seen in some circles as contempt for “ECUSA’s leadership” (an oxymoron in itself), then so be it — let the shoe fit him who wears it.

The (in)validity of the charges brought against Bishop Love turns first upon the status of Resolution B012 passed (after many amendments from the floor, which you may trace at the link) at ECUSA’s 2018 General Convention. That Resolution states at its outset (with my bold emphasis added):

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize for trial use, in accordance with Article X of the Constitution and Canon II.3.6, “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage 2” and “An Order for Marriage 2” (as appended to the report of the Task Force for the Study of Marriage to the 79th General Convention), beginning the first Sunday of Advent, 2018 . . . 

The two liturgies referenced in the Resolution purport to be ceremonies joining or blessing the union of two persons of the same gender in what they each call a “marriage” now recognized ecclesiastically by General Convention, but not by ECUSA’s standard Book of Common Prayer (1979 revision). It was the adoption of their predecessors in the 2015 General Convention that proved to be the final straw that compelled your Curmudgeon to quit his theretofore lifelong membership in ECUSA — because of the ceremonies’ reliance on outright blasphemy against Christ and His Church (as explained in this earlier post).  When ECUSA’s assembled bishops blessed ritual blasphemy, it was time for faithful Christians to depart from their company.

Way back in 2012, when General Convention was beginning to consider proposals to provide trial services for the ecclesiastical union of two men or two women (I refuse to use the term “marriage” to describe such things, because it would be a category mistake), I put up a series of carefully researched articles that demonstrated why General Convention lacked the legislative power to do any such thing, without first proposing to amend the Book of Common Prayer. (See Part I herePart II herePart III herePart IV here, and Part V here.)

The reason for its inability is that both the Constitution (Art. X) and the Canons (Canon II.3.1) make the BCP mandatory and normative for all forms of worship in the Episcopal Church (USA). And General Convention — to repeat myself — has not altered the marriage liturgy or rubrics in the BCP, both of which specify that Episcopal marriage is the union of a man and a woman in Holy Matrimony.

Let’s try an analogy or two here in order to understand the magnitude of the problem facing Bishop Love’s Hearing Panel at this point. Suppose General Convention enacted a resolution that purported to authorize, “for trial use, in accordance with Article X of the Constitution and Canon II.3.6” (exactly as it did in the case of 2018 Res. B012), a liturgy for Holy Eucharist to be celebrated by a lay (i.e., non-ordained) person (which it called a “President”). Would the bare reference to its authority under Art. X and Canon II.3.6 suffice to make the measure constitutional, or even canonical (which at bottom has to be the same thing, because the Constitution limits what GC may enact as Canons)?

Or again, suppose General Convention passed with the same references a resolution authorizing the substitution of readings from the Muslim Qur’an in place of those from Holy Scriptures. (I am deliberately choosing from among examples within our lifetime in order to avoid any charge of fantastical fabrication.)

Could either such a measure be upheld as canonical — i.e., within the competency and powers of General Convention as spelled out in ECUSA’s Constitution and Canons?  No? Well, why not?

Because in both instances, the proposed “alternatives” would violate the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer.  Those rubrics bar anyone but a duly ordained priest or bishop from officiating at Holy Eucharist, and prescribe given readings from the Old and New Testaments for each Sunday in the calendar. If General Convention could change the liturgies of the BCP by passage of a single resolution at any one session, then the rites of the BCP would cease to be the constitutionally mandated forms of Sunday worship, and Article X of ECUSA’s Constitution would lose all of its force and meaning.

And that is why Article X of ECUSA’s Constitution requires that all proposed revisions or additions to the BCP pass a first reading in both Houses at a given General Convention, followed by a formal transmittal of them to the individual dioceses for deliberation in their respective annual conventions, following a passage (by carefully specified majorities) on second reading in each House at the next succeeding General Convention. (For the qualifying details, see my posts on amending / revising the BCP as linked above.)

For reasons of expedience, the backers of 2018 Res. B012 chose to deny that they were proposing any addition or alteration to the Book of Common Prayer.  But their proposed “alternative to the rite of marriage in the BCP” does just that, and is contrary to its explicit rubrics concerning marriage, as any reader of English may plainly ascertain for himself.  So where does that leave Resolution 2018-B012?
Its supporters next fall back upon the change they made to Canon I.18 in 2015, purporting to change its definition of marriage (then matching the BCP’s rubrics) to one expansive enough to embrace same-sex unions under the “Church’s umbrella.”

To pretend to change the language of the marriage canon, however, is meaningless if one does not change the rites and rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer — which requires, as I remind the reader, two successive General Conventions for its accomplishment.

Admittedly, the Church’s Canons may be changed by resolution duly adopted in just a single session of General Convention — but not (according to Article X) the Book of Common Prayer!Precisely because it takes a longer process to amend ECUSA’s Constitution and BCP than it does to amend its Canons, canon law authorities have uniformly held that the former two documents take precedence over the latter in the case of any conflict. As it states in the last two paragraphs on the last page (p. 482) of Volume I of White & Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons (viewable / downloadable at this link), which is every canon lawyer’s bible, in regard to a similar attempt to amend Canon I.7 in 1979:The 1979 Amendment to Canon 7 is now inconsistent with the authority granted by the rubrics of the rite for the Dedication and Consecration of a Church which is part of the 1979 Prayer Book.

The authority granted in the Prayer Book would take precedence over the provisions added to Canon II. 7 at the 1979 General Convention.So those members of General Convention who fancifully imagine they solved the problem by their purported 2015 “amendment” to Canon I.18 delude themselves — from a constitutional standpoint.  And if an organization will not respect the terms of its own duly adopted and agreed Constitution, then what is the point of organizing under it in the first place?

From what has been logically demonstrated above, the conclusion logically follows: the prosecution of Bishop Love is neither canonical nor constitutional.  It is brought upon baseless charges that have no backing under ECUSA’s Constitution and Canons properly adopted thereunder — which, for the reasons stated, do not include the current version of Canon I.18.

The disgrace that should fall upon those in ECUSA who are pressing the charges against Bishop Love is made manifest by these other incontestable facts:

1. The same General Convention that passed Resolution 2018-B012, under which Bishop Love is being prosecuted, also passed Resolution 2018-D078, which had language showing that it was expressly intended as a change to a specific part of the BCP, as authorized by Art. X, section b of the Constitution — so General Convention knew perfectly well how to signal when it was using its authority under Article X to amend the BCP (quoted with my bold emphasis added):

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize The Holy Eucharist: Rite II, including Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, (Expansive Language) for trial use throughout this church as a proposed revision within pages 355-382 of the Book of Common Prayer pursuant to Article X(b) of the Constitution;

2. Not only that, but the same General Convention showed that it was fully aware of the Constitutional defects in its previous adoption of church-wide “trial rites” intended to supplement, and not amend, the Book of Common Prayer. (As mentioned, my 2012 series of posts linked above went into those defects in depth.) With Resolution 2018-A063, the Convention passed on first reading a proposed amendment that would grant the following specific authority to the power of a single session acting with the appropriate majorities under Article X of the Constitution, by adding a new subsection (c):

(c) Authorize for use throughout this Church, as provided by Canon, alternative and additional liturgies to supplement those provided in the Book of Common Prayer.

(Emphasis added.) This amendment will not become effective, however, until it passes on a second reading at GC 2021 next year. So it cannot save the illegitimacy of Resolution 2018-B012, and it cannot rescue the prosecution of Bishop Love from its illegality, as well. To the contrary — by passing the proposed Amendment to Article X, General Convention 2018 in effect conceded that it lacked all authority to propose any supplements to the BCP for mandatory use throughout the church without observing the formalities that Article X requires.
3. But this third and final fact is truly stunning: the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island, who is the Chairperson of Bishop Love’s disciplinary Hearing Panel, was also one of the proponents of Resolution 2018-B012 — the very Resolution whose applicability to him Bishop Love is challenging! Why has no one to date noticed the inherent conflict of interest in Bishop Knisely’s appointment to the Hearing Panel?

It is all very complex and interrelated, I know. But I hope I have been clear enough in laying the matter out to show what the chief difficulty is with attempting to try (and convict!) Bishop Love for violating “the discipline and worship” of the Episcopal Church (USA):
As specified in Canon IV.2, “Discipline of the Church shall be found in the Constitution, the Canons and the Rubrics and the Ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer” (italics added). The “worship” of the Church is not specially defined in the canons, but how could it not consist of what is in the Book of Common Prayer?

The current Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer repeatedly provide, as they did when Bishop Love was ordained and consecrated, that a celebration of marriage in the Church is only between a man and a woman, and not between two of any other kinds of persons (see the BCP online here, beginning on page 423).

The rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, as we have seen, take precedence over any canon in the case of a conflict, and the rites in the Book of Common Prayer spell out the mandatory forms of the Church’s worship.

Therefore, it is impossible that, by adhering as he does to the text of the Book of Common Prayer (which does nothing other than incorporate God’s words in Gen. 2:24, as also quoted by Jesus in Mt 19:5), Bishop Love can be said to violate either his vows given upon ordination, or the discipline, or the worship of the Episcopal Church (USA).

The post “Inclusive” ECUSA: “Love Never Ends” — but +Love Must Go appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Parliamentary report warns of unfolding genocide in Nigeria against Christians

Anglican Ink - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 14:43

Release International welcomes a new report by UK parliamentarians highlighting the religious element behind much of the growing violence in Nigeria. The report warns of the risk of an unfolding genocide and calls for UK aid to be linked to efforts to protect Nigerian villagers from attacks by Islamist extremists.

The new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? is the result of an investigation by 100 UK parliamentarians from a wide range of political parties.

It describes attacks on churches and Christians which killed more than 1,000 in 2019. A partner of Release International, which supports victims of violence, estimates 30,000 have been killed since the conflict began in the 1980s. The United Nations put the death toll at 27,000.

In recent years, Fulani militants have taken over from Boko Haram terrorists as the number-one killers in the region. These herdsmen, searching for grazing lands reduced by global warming, have slaughtered farmers and driven them from their homes.

‘But this is not just about resources,’ says Paul Robinson, the Chief Executive of Release International.

‘This report acknowledges the religious dimension to much of the violence, which can no longer be ignored. This report shows these attacks can no longer be simplistically caricatured and written off as “herder-farmer violence”.’

According to the APPG report, many of those attacks have been carried out by militants shouting ‘Allah u Akhbar’ [Allah is greater] and ‘Destroy the infidels.’ The heavily armed extremists have destroyed more than 500 churches in Benue State alone.

The APPG report urges the world to face up to this religious dimension, however uncomfortable: ‘Commentators must not shy away from describing conflicts as motivated by religion or ideology when that is the case.’

Adds Paul Robinson: ‘Release joins with British parliamentarians in urging the world to wake up to the unrelenting Islamist violence in Nigeria.’

The report argues that in killing and driving out Christian villagers, the Fulani militants, wittingly or unwittingly, are serving the same agenda as Boko Haram. The stated aim of the terrorist group Boko Haram is to turn Nigeria into an Islamist state. Its spokesman has declared: ‘This war is against Christians.’

The APPG report stated: ‘While not necessarily sharing an identical vision, some Fulani herders have adopted a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and demonstrated a clear intent to target Christians and symbols of Christian identity such as churches.’

In the APPG report, Co-Chair Baroness Caroline Cox said: ‘While the underlying causes of violence are complex, the asymmetry and escalation of attacks by well-armed Fulani militia upon these predominately Christian communities are stark and must be acknowledged.

‘Such atrocities cannot be attributed just to desertification, climate change or competition for resources, as [the UK] Government have claimed.’

And Vice Chair of the APPG, Fiona Bruce MP, added: ‘Targeted attacks against churches and heightening religious tensions indicate that religious identity plays a role in the farmer-herder conflict.’

‘These attacks are taking place with impunity,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘And there is a growing religious dimension to these attacks. Nigeria must act to stop the violence.’

Release has been providing support, including trauma counselling, to victims of violence in Nigeria. Through its international network of missions, Release International is active in some 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.

Video and audio reports of a recent attack by Fulani militants are available here, with full transcripts here

The post Parliamentary report warns of unfolding genocide in Nigeria against Christians appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

The gospel is not a good cop/bad cop routine

The Good Book Company - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 09:51

We tend to repackage the word “sin,” because we know instinctively that people find the idea, and even the word itself, offensive. Everyone knows that the world is not as it’s supposed to be, and I’ve never met anyone who told me they’re perfect. But we have all sorts of euphemisms for speaking of sin, so that we can feel that it is not really our problem. We write it off as mere biological misfiring or we blame it on our education or on our parents. We say it’s just a “growth edge” or a “learning curve.” We try to shift the blame.

Perhaps that is why the current president of the USA has said that he has had no reason to repent of sin. It isn’t something that we think of as our problem. 

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The previous president, meanwhile, when asked to define sin, said that it is whatever is out of line with his own values. In that way of speaking, sin is our problem. It is a personal failing, a reason to be disappointed with oneself. But it is not really a serious problem, because it’s based on our own personal feelings of right and wrong, and those can change.

But in fact sin is what is out of line with God and his word. It is something for which each one of us is deeply responsible. And it cannot be written off as just a violation of our own personal values. To sin is to commit a deep injustice against God.

God justifies the guilty

When we sin, we are not just out of line with our own values, but with God’s. We fall short of God’s righteousness. We are guilty of breaking his holy law. And when you break the law, you deserve punishment. Judgment has to happen, and it has to happen not only because God is angry with sin but also simply because he is just.

Yet here is the tension: somehow, we manage to care deeply about justice being served on other people, and at the same time brush off our own wrongdoing as if it doesn’t really matter or isn’t really our fault. This is inconsistent. We have all done things that are unjust.

So God’s judgment is a good thing. Christ will one day come in judgment and make the world right. But at the same time, God’s judgment is also a terrifying thing, because we are sinners.

And yet Paul tells us that we are justified—declared completely innocent—in Christ. Though criminals, we experience no punishment because Jesus took it on himself instead:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3 v 23-25)

But how can this be right? How can this be the action of a righteous and just God—to let sinners go free and to punish the innocent?

This is the tension that we find in Isaiah 53.

God's deliberate plan

The first thing we need to understand about the suffering of Jesus is that it was part of an eternal plan, made between the members of the Trinity. It was no accident.

The servant in Isaiah 53 suffers willingly. He voluntarily takes the punishment of the wicked. And therefore he endures the affliction silently:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
(Isaiah 53 v 7)

In the previous verse, sinners too are compared to sheep:

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way.

(Isaiah 53 v 6a)

We are supposed to notice the contrast here. Sinners are like sheep in that we wander and go astray. But the servant is like a sheep in that he approaches his slaughter without a word. He does not go astray but knowingly embraces what has been determined for him.
 
Do not picture the Lord Jesus going to his death kicking and flailing and bemoaning his fate. In John 10 v 18 Jesus said that no one would take his life away: he would lay it down of his own accord. Yes, he asked the Father to remove this cup of suffering from him; but he also said, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22 v 42). We must not think that the Father punished the Son as a hapless victim of some cosmic child abuse. No, the Son went to the cross freely, willingly.

More importantly still, this was not simply Jesus’ own plan, but one which he conceived together with the Father:

It was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief.
(Isaiah 53 v 10)

This righteous servant suffered on our behalf because it was God’s will. This is the very heart of our good news. Because it was the Lord’s will to crush him, and no accident, we can behold the glory of our triune God in planning and procuring our salvation. The Son is not a divine good cop, appeasing a divine bad cop. He and the Father planned it together.

We must not think that the Father punished the Son as a hapless victim of some cosmic child abuse. No, the Son went to the cross freely, willingly.

The Father sent the Son, and the Son, in union of purpose with the Father and the Holy Spirit, agreed to be the agent of this salvation plan. On the cross Jesus did experience a kind of God-forsakenness, but that does not indicate any rift in the eternal internal dynamics of the Trinity. They were always at one.

Nor is it the case that Jesus’ death changed God’s mind about sinners. It is not that God hated us at first, and only after the cross did he begin to love us. Good Friday happened because God already loved those whom he had chosen in Christ. He had already set his affections upon us, already planned to make us his treasured possessions:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son. (John 3 v 16)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4 v 10)

Don’t think that God’s love is just a result of the cross. God’s love is what led to the cross.

Moreover, the fact that it was the Lord’s will to crush his servant means that we can have full confidence in the cross: we can be certain that Jesus really did take the punishment for our sin.

If it had not been God’s will, then he would have been able to say, ‘Well, that wasn’t my doing. I didn’t sign up to this deal. I’m not sure that that really is enough.’ But since it was God’s plan from all eternity, then we can be confident of his intentions. This was the eternal agreement between the Father and the Son. This is how they were always going to solve the problem of sin. Jesus died “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2 v 23).

So this is the good news: that the Father did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, and that the Son willingly drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath for our sakes. It was no random injustice. It was the plan of the triune God all along.

Freedom, forgiveness, justice, and purpose. We long for them in our lives and in the world. The cross delivers them! The Cross in Four Words features contributions from Kevin DeYouyng, Richard Coekin and Yannick Christos-Wahab and looks at passages from both the Old and New Testaments to sum up the victory of the cross in four words: freedom, forgiveness, justice, and purpose, and what that means for us personally.

Categories: Christian Resources

LET US PRAY: Prayers From Women of Color - Danielle Anderson

The Good Book Company - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 06:00

A Message from the TGBC team: 

Whatever the color of our skin, there is much to grieve and lament over right now. So many of us are hurting. So many of us feel powerless to help. Those of us who are not people of color want to stand with our brothers and sisters, but sometimes are unsure how to.

But all of us can pray. And all of us must pray.

So we’ve invited women of color to help all of us lift our eyes to the Lord of all and speak to him as our Father about the times we’re walking through. Each day for the next week or two, visit this blog and you’ll find a video, voice recording, or written prayer that will help you to pray into this situation. 

We’re honored that serving us today is Danielle Anderson who lives in Atlanta, GA, and is a Bible teacher, speaker, and writer.

A Prayer of Lament

Because of the Lord’s faithful love, we do not perish. For His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23

Thank you God that your word is true. Thank you that you are with us and that you speak to us. You are faithful - we will not perish, your mercies are new every morning. Lord, the circumstances around this scripture are fresh on my mind. Part of your display of faithfulness to your people Israel, was to keep your word around judgment, consequence. The people strayed from you, Jerusalem fell, and the people then cried out in lament. 

Lord, please help us to do the same. 

Help us individually lament the ways that we have ignored your word, not acted justly, not loved faithfulness, and not walked humbly with you our God (Micah 6:8). Lord, bring that which has been in darkness to light. Expose, so that we might move forward with healing. The doctor has to remove the infected tissue before healing can begin. We need you to expose and we need you to remove.

Expose and remove the ways we fail to listen, 
the ways we ignore present realities, 
the ways we are unwilling to learn, 
the ways we dismiss the pain of others, 
the ways we support unjust systems and disadvantage others,
the ways we are not an ally to our brothers and sisters of color, 
the ways we live for our nation before the Kingdom of Heaven, 
the way we love things more than people.

Give us the courage to confess our faults, because we know you are faithful and just to forgive them. Give us the courage to repent and to continue to walk the path of repentance. Help us to not go back to our old ways of thinking, speaking, and walking. Let our posture of confession and repentance be an encouragement to our neighbor, and may it spark a movement of lament in our families, churches and nation.

We confess that we may be afraid to lament - to passionately express our grief or sorrow. But we also admit our willingness to learn to do it. In lament we experience our Savior, who was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). You invite us into these spaces of lament because you can handle our pain. You are with us, you will never leave nor forsake us, so we can trust that you are present in our pain. We can trust that you are faithful in our pain. We can trust that you will be faithful to heal our pain.

Because of the Lord’s faithful love, we do not perish. For His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! Amen.
 

Danielle Anderson is also a contributor to His Testimonies, My Heritage. Hear the voices of women of color on the most important subject in any age—the word of God.

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This inspiring collection of devotions is by a diverse group of women of color—African-American, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian women. Contributors include Kristie Anyabwile, Jackie Hill-Perry, Trillia Newbell, Elicia Horton, Christina Edmondson, Blair Linne, Bev Chao Berrus and more.

Categories: Christian Resources

The Christian philosophy of C.E.M. Joad and his concept of personality and the soul

Anglican Ink - Tue, 16/06/2020 - 01:35

There is a small group of significant philosophers who had extraordinary turnarounds. The most famous of these is Ludwig Wittgenstein, who wrote about his magnum opus, ‘The author of the Tractatus was mistaken.’ So, too, A.J. Ayer who, in an interview with the BBC, said of his former philosophy, ‘At the the end of it all it was false’. Yet perhaps the most extraordinary turnaround was the enormously popular C.E.M. Joad.

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (1891-1953) was a university philosopher at Birkbeck College London, who wrote on a wide variety of philosophical subjects, both historical and contemporary. For most of his life he rejected religion—but in the 1940s and early 1950s he first abandoned atheism, then accepted a form of theism, and finally converted to Christianity.

Not until Recovery of Belief, in 1952, did he set out the Christian philosophy in which he had come to believe. This post explores just one aspect of that philosophy, namely his theory of personality and the soul—then briefly, what motivated him philosophically, to make such a radical about-turn. Here is Joad’s later view, in his own words:

‘Having considered and rejected a number of views as to the nature and interpretation of the cosmos, I shall state the one which seems to me to be open to the fewest objections. It is, briefly, what I take to be the traditional Christian view, namely, that the universe is to be conceived as two orders of reality, the natural order, consisting of people and things moving about in space and enduring in time, and a supernatural order neither in space nor in time, which consists of a Creative Person or Trinity of Persons from which the natural order derives its meaning, and in terms of which it receives its explanation.’

In his ‘interpretation of the cosmos’, then, Joad proceeds by seeking to vindicate ‘the traditional division of the human being [as] not twofold into mind and body, but threefold into mind, body and soul.’ The reference seems to be to the view identifiable in late-Scholastic theology, that a human being has an immortal part which can sin, be forgiven, and rise at the Last Judgement (the soul); a thinking part which can understand, affirm, deny, desire, imagine (the mind); and a body which is the agent of the mind and soul.

In fairness, Joad does not claim to demonstrate the validity of the threefold analysis; he claims no more than that ‘if it were true it would cover a number of facts which seem to be inexplicable on any other’. He offers it as what we might term an inference to the best explanation. He found no better way to explain the cosmos as he found it.

The soul, Joad tells us, is ‘the essential self and is timeless’. It is incarnated in bodies but can exist without them, since after our bodily death, it remains an individual entity and ‘sustains immortality’. At this point, the influence of Plato’s theory of the soul in the Phaedo is clear. Unplatonic, however, is the notion that the soul is ‘normally inaccessible to us’, and that we at least approximate to an awareness of it in ‘mystical experience’—experience with which ‘most of us, at any rate, are acquainted [in] certain moments of transport of tranquillity that we enjoy in our intercourse with nature’.

Yet Joad’s theory does not rely solely on mystical experience. There are those, he writes, to whom mystical experience is denied. Thus he posits the soul as our ‘point of contact and communication’ with the divine … God, to use the language of religion, influences man through his soul’.

Joad suggests that ‘The phenomena of spiritual healing and spiritual regeneration are … most plausibly to be explained on the assumption that God, in response to prayer, acts upon us through the soul to heal the body and strengthen the mind. The soul is also the ‘still small voice of God’ of which we are conscious when the hubbub of ordinary life and consciousness dies down”. This presupposes the existence of God, and of a God who acts in these ways.

Of the mind, Joad tells us that it ‘is brought into being in consequence of the contact of the soul with the natural, temporal order, which results from its incorporation in a physical body’. The mind cannot be identified with matter, as Locke’s ‘thinking substance’, for instance. Mind ‘cannot be adequately conceived in material terms … Is the notion of conscious matter really thinkable?’ Joad asks rhetorically and in protest against Julian Huxley.

Yet Joad concedes that ‘The mind is, it is clear, constantly interacting with the body and the brain.’ Again, it is not Joad’s purpose to demonstrate the validity of his analysis. In fact, he states that this is a paradoxical occurrence which ‘is, by us, incomprehensible’. This incomprehensibility, further, he sees as being characteristic of what he calls ‘all the manifestations of the supernatural in the natural order’; the supernatural here being the soul—with the mind and the natural being the brain and the body.

There is, however, a crucial concept which subsumes the categories of body, mind, and soul. This is ‘personality’, which Joad describes as being ‘logically prior’ to the soul, mind, and body as the three elements of our being. He introduces us to this concept by considering the relation of a sonata to its notes, and of nation or society to its members (with a more thorough discussion of mereology).

While Joad does not define logical priority, the basic idea is that the soul (to borrow a phrase from C.D. Broad) is ‘an existent substantive’ which temporarily ‘owns’ or is characterised by the mind, the brain, and the body. Hence any idea that the person is a composite, ‘resulting from the concurrence of a number of parts’ has things the wrong way round. The person, essentially identified with the soul as ‘the seat of personality’, is prior to the ‘parts’—the mind, brain, and body.

It came down to this. C.E.M Joad considered the creeds of a single, materialist, physical order of reality ‘palpably inadequate’, almost meaningless, in explaining the universe and our place within it. ‘Personality’ seemed the only explanation left.

Fifteen years after Joad’s death, the philosophical theologian Francis Schaeffer’s major work, The God Who is There, was published in the USA. Interestingly, Schaeffer there presents ‘personality’ as his core idea. He writes that we have either ‘personality or a devilish din’. Schaeffer had an enormous influence on American society and religion. Among other things. President Ronald Reagan, thirteen years later, ascribed his election victory to Francis Schaeffer.

Joad’s final, almost forgotten book may have been more important than we suppose—but not only for society and religion. The idea of ‘personality’ as being logically prior to all else might become a critical pre-condition for humanity’s survival in the 21st century.

The post The Christian philosophy of C.E.M. Joad and his concept of personality and the soul appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

LET US PRAY: Prayers From Women of Color - Jamie R. Love

The Good Book Company - Mon, 15/06/2020 - 06:00

A Message from the TGBC team: 

Whatever the color of our skin, there is much to grieve and lament over right now. So many of us are hurting. So many of us feel powerless to help. Those of us who are not people of color want to stand with our brothers and sisters, but sometimes are unsure how to.

But all of us can pray. And all of us must pray.

So we’ve invited women of color to help all of us lift our eyes to the Lord of all and speak to him as our Father about the times we’re walking through. Each day for the next week or two, visit this blog and you’ll find a video, voice recording, or written prayer that will help you to pray into this situation. 

We’re honored that serving us today is Jamie R. Love, the Director of Women’s Ministries at New Life Fellowship Church, Waukegan, IL, an instructor in The “Ivy” League Bible Study Fellowship, and an author.

 

Prayer of Lament for our People and our Nation

Dear Father in Heaven, 

We come to you today in the name and on the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are living in some dark days and our hearts are burdened with hurt, mourning, anger, fear, and a host of other emotions that only the Holy Spirit can utter. 

But You said we must cast our cares upon You because You care for us. You said we must not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving we must make our request to You. You also said we must with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. 

Lord, we are in a time of great need. You know all about the plight and inhumane treatment of our people since we landed on the shores of what is now the United States of America. Our journey has not been easy. From the slave ships that transported our stolen bodies from our homeland, to the cruelty of the whip upon our backs, to the rape of our women, to the scattering of our families, to the segregation of Jim Crow and even unto today where it has become commonplace to see our people slain in the streets by those sworn to serve and protect us. It has not been easy, Lord.

Adding sorrow and frustration to our pain is the indifference of many of our white Christian brothers and sisters. A saint of old said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” We have endured the dreadful silence and inaction of our Christian brothers and sisters on our behalf. They have often stood on the side of, and joined in with, our oppressors, much like Saul of Tarsus who, before his conversion, watched over the garments of those who murdered Stephen. 

We are asking You to rend the heavens and come down to these United States of America. We are seeking you in the same way the Hebrew children sought you during their bondage in Egypt. You said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people Who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them…” Lord, see our afflictions and hear our cry!

The taskmasters who wield the whip of racism and injustice has never been restrained nor has his authority declined in the 400 plus years we have been sojourners in this land. Because of his merciless racism, “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public square and uprightness cannot enter.” 

Father, amid our struggle, it is our aim to honor and glorify You in our fight for the dignity of Your image bearers. While we wait for Your hand of justice to move against our adversaries, we ask that through these trials we become better not bitter. Lord be our strength and our guide. May the families of the recently slain, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd find the peace that only comes from knowing Jesus as Savior Who promised that He Himself would be our peace. 

We pray all these things in the Matchless name of Jesus Christ. Amen.  

Jamie R. Love is also a contributor to His Testimonies, My Heritage. Hear the voices of women of color on the most important subject in any age—the word of God.

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This inspiring collection of devotions is by a diverse group of women of color—African-American, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian women. Contributors include Kristie Anyabwile, Jackie Hill-Perry, Trillia Newbell, Elicia Horton, Christina Edmondson, Blair Linne, Bev Chao Berrus and more.

Categories: Christian Resources

Loving the Lonely (from 6 feet away)

The Good Book Company - Mon, 15/06/2020 - 06:00

Do you know anyone who’s lonely? My guess is you do—and maybe more people than you think. Research shows that 19% of people who work from home suffer from loneliness. But those stats come from before the lockdown. Since then, with many more of us working from home unexpectedly, the figures are likely to rise.

Last year I read an article about loneliness that said for some people the only contact they have in a day is with a bus driver. “That’s me,” I thought. Since I live on my own and work part-time, I can have two or three days a week when the regular driver—a chatty Italian—is the only person I talk to.

But again that was before lockdown. Now we’re told to avoid buses if possible, and if we do travel, we get on at the back with instructions to stay well away from the driver. All I can do is wave and shout a “Thank you” down the length of the bus.

So it’s got me thinking: how can we love the lonely in lockdown?

How does God love the lonely? Intimacy, security, community

Psalm 91 tells us that the Lord gathers his children like a mother bird gathers her chicks and protects them under her wings.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” …
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91 v 1-4)

I love that picture. And I really love it right now as it reminds me that the Lord isn’t limited by any virus!

Think of the intimacy described in these verses. God holds us. He hugs us. He draws us close. There’s no 6 foot rule here. When God is the one gathering us in, we are as safe and close to him as it is possible to be. No virus can prevent it, and no government rules can ban it. We are his.

Along with intimacy, God also gives his children security. Loneliness feels even worse in the face of something we once had but then lost. Remembering a precious relationship that we no longer have—maybe they moved away, perhaps they died, or simply stopped being our friends—that loss makes us feel all the more alone. But our Lord isn’t like that. He will never leave us, never die, never change his mind about us. In him there is security for ever.

As well as intimacy and security, the Lord also gives us community. When God is our Father, then every other Christian becomes a brother or sister. We don’t live as Christians on our own. We have a family.

God’s intimacy isn’t reduced by Covid-19. His security isn’t weakened. But what about the family? Has social distancing destroyed the community we need?

How can we love the lonely?

My Christian family know that I am alone, and finding it hard. Here are just some of the things they have done to help. Maybe these will spark ideas for how you can love the lonely as well:

  • Send a card. Emails and texts are lovely to have, but you can’t put them on the mantelpiece. I have treasured the cards I’ve been sent.
  • “Meet” to chat. A conversation on the doorstep, even though socially-distanced, brings the joy of being face to face with a Christian brother or sister.
  • Invite to the park. I have loved being invited to the park at the same time as a friend with two young boys. The boys climb trees. My friend as I stand well apart and chat.
  • A handmade gift. It’s three months since my hair was last cut. It flops into my eyes like the British PM Boris Johnson. So a friend made me a headband to keep it out of my eyes. Now I look like the American tennis player John McEnroe, but the headband still makes me smile every time I see it.
  • Board games by Zoom. One of our church homegroups are playing weekly board games by Zoom. Knowing that I was lonely, they invited me to join them. It’s fun, and I have felt truly welcome.
  • Show and Tell. Our church craft group is a low-key way to welcome new people into the building and share the gospel. Our monthly meetings are now on Zoom, where we “show and tell” the things we’ve been creating that month. And the linked WhatsApp group allows us to share photos of anything we finish (always a moment of celebration!). We even have one of our missionaries linking in from Africa.
  • Church livestream. Like many churches, we now livestream our Sunday services. It’s amazing how the simple act of joining in at the same time as everyone else helps me to feel part of the family.

And here are a couple of things I’ve started myself that help me feel I belong:

  • Praying for each other. I really miss being able to chat to people in the office, find out how they are, and pray for them. So for the past two months I’ve been sending emails to different people asking how I can pray. It’s a very easy thing to set up, but it really helps me to feel connected to my brothers and sisters as I read their replies and bring them before the Lord in prayer.
  • Rainbows. Are the windows of your local houses full of rainbows? Mine are. Coloured by children, often with a note saying “Thank you, NHS”. We have a rainbow download, linked with our new book, Seek And Find Old Testament Stories. Ours says “God is Faithful”. I genuinely enjoyed colouring it and displaying it in my window. Maybe you would too.

All these things help me to cling to the Lord who generously gives intimacy, security and community to his children. This lockdown won’t last for ever. But while it does, we can know that we are safe in the shadow of God’s wings.

Categories: Christian Resources

Shaky start for Church of South India moderator

Anglican Ink - Sun, 14/06/2020 - 21:11

An investigative report from Youth4CSI: Vindictive and Nepotistic Decisions Cloud Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam’s Start As CSI Moderator

Six months into his three-year tenure (2020-2023) as Moderator, Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of South Kerala Diocese (SKD) is fast becoming a serious contender for the title of ‘worst moderator’ the CSI has seen in its over 70 year history. And that will be some ‘achievement’ considering the church has had a few notoriously bad moderators in the past. This including the likes of Govada Dyvasirvadam — who spent two months in a Vijayawada jail during 2018-19 after his arrest on charges of having swindled the church — and Badda Peter Sugandhar, the father of the incumbent Synod Treasurer Vimal Sukumar.

As we reported earlier, Rasalam had a dozen criminal FIRs pending against him for forgery and cheating when he was chosen by his fellow bishops as Moderator during a bishops-only side event of the Synod held in Trichy on January 11, 2020. This choice made by the bishops — with much ‘consideration’ having reportedly decided the issue — was duly rubber stamped by the 350-member-plus Synod meeting in plenary about an hour later. Not one member of the Synod thought it fit to air even a token objection as to how a person who had admitted before a state-government-appointed judicial commission of having committed forgery could be made head of the church.

And then on the last day of the Synod on Jan 14, 2020 the newly minted over 100-member Executive Committee of the Synod, which oversees the affairs of the church between the triennial synod sessions, gave a parting gift to the four new Officers of the Synod. They authorised, or so we are led to believe, through resolution 2020: 09 (b) the awesome foursome (Moderator, Deputy Moderator, General Secretary & Treasurer) “to appoint Moderator’s Commissaries and Administrative Committees and to reconstitute/supersede/modify the Administrative Committees, wherever deemed necessary….” (see attached page). Such crucial decisions are usually taken only after consulting either the Executive or Working Committees of the Synod — bodies put in place by the CSI Constitution precisely for such important decision making between Synod meets.

Not long after his election as Moderator, Bishop Rasalam was summoned to the State Police Headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram for a private questioning session regarding the many criminal charges he faces (see photos of his official Innova car outside the DGP office and of him inside the compound captured by a resourceful CSI member). As we reported earlier, although the sections under which he is charged would entail automatic arrest, Bishop Rasalam is being protected by the politically powerful. This even though his written confessions to the judicial commission headed by a retired high court judge that investigated the massive black money-fuelled capitation fee scam at the diocese-run Somervell Medical College would itself have been enough to secure a conviction.

One of the first nefarious acts of Rasalam on becoming Moderator was to usurp the powers of the Diocesan Council of SKD and summarily remove its duly elected Treasurer Rev D.N. Clavin Kisto. Reason: The Bishop’s illegal financial orders were being resisted by Kisto who was replaced by none other than Vimal Sukumar himself (see https://www.facebook.com/youth4csi/posts/2707471262709432?__tn__=K-R ) As ‘financial administrator,’ the Synod and CSITA Treasurer remote manages SKD’s finances sitting in Chennai.

And now Rasalam has used the blanket permission contained in the Synod executive committee resolution cited above to appoint a new Administrative Committee for Tirunelveli diocese. This followed the appointment by him using the same resolution of a new Moderator’s Commissary, Bishop Baker Fenn of North Kerala Diocese, for Tirunelveli diocese following the retirement of the bishop there in March 2020. The following month the term of the Diocesan Council also expired leading to the Synod again stepping in. Interestingly there are two Madras High Court appointed retired high court judges overseeing the administration of the diocese since late 2019 following several years of intense infighting and over two dozen court cases that rendered the diocese virtually ungovernable. How the new administrative committee which has been given wide powers, as per the Moderator’s letter of June 6, 2020 (see attached), will function without treading on the toes of the two retired high court judges remains to be seen.

There are a number of troubling questions raised by the Moderator’s letter to Bishop Fenn and veteran church historian Dr. J.G. Muthuraj has dealt with some of these in detail in one of his recent “Stones Crying Out” e-newsletters. Arguably the most controversial issue is the appointment of one TT Praveen as the financial administrator of Tirunelveli diocese. Who is Mr Praveen has become the most widely asked question. Praveen Thankam Thomson, allegedly a Latin Catholic masquerading as a CSI member, is a very close business associate of Bishop Rasalam and of Dr Bennet Abraham the highly controversial director of the Somervell Medical College and former Synod Treasurer. Praveen (seen in picture seated at his office) heads a construction company called Michael Builders and Developers Pvt Ltd https://www.zaubacorp.com/…/MICHAEL-B…/U45200KL2013PTC034796

Sources say that Praveen has been favoured with many large building contracts by Bishop Rasalam and Dr Abraham, at highly inflated prices. Last year he created a ruckus outside the SKD office in Thiruvananthapuram as reported by The Hindu https://www.thehindu.com/…/tension-at-c…/article25963501.ece This after newly elected Diocesan Secretary Dr Rose Bist and Treasurer Rev Calvin Kisto — who have raised uncomfortable questions about Bishop Rasalam’s dubious financial dealings — refused to clear his bills as they found them highly inflated. How can such a person be entrusted with managing the finances of one of CSI’s richest dioceses?

What raises further questions on suitability is the fact that Praveen was convicted in a criminal case of, among others, attempt to murder and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for six months. The first two operative pages of the lengthy court order where he is shown as the prime accused (A1) are attached here. Some of the Rasalam’s detractors allege that Praveen played a key financial role in the bishop becoming Moderator and his appointment as Financial Administrator of a relatively wealthy diocese like Tirunelveli is simply a reward for personal services rendered.

Meanwhile, the former Secretary of the Vellore Diocese and ex-principal of Voorhees College Dr Jayakaran Isaac has written to Moderator Rasalam questioning the appointment of Praveen. The letter notes that Praveen lacks the desirable qualifications prescribed in the CSI Constitution for someone effectively discharging the functions of a Diocesan Treasurer, including having been a member of a Diocesan Executive Committee for at least one term. “The Moderator has laid himself open to the charge of nepotism by choosing a person from his own diocese. In a more general way any administrative action of this kind should satisfy the criteria of equity and good conscience which seems to be lacking” writes Dr Isaac adding he hopes the decision will be reconsidered.

The post Shaky start for Church of South India moderator appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

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