May 23, 2013 3 Comments
… and not just salvation by works, but universalism–that all will be saved?
See what Fr Dwight Longenecker has to say.
May 22, 2013 9 Comments
The Lord has redeemed everyone with the Blood of Christ, including atheists. So says, Pope Francis:
As he celebrated Mass this morning, Francis said that the possibility of doing good is part of creation, and that Christ redeemed all of us, not only Catholics. Doing good “is a beautiful path towards peace” whilst “killing in the name of God is blasphemy.”
Asia News continues:
Pope Francis spoke about doing good as a principle that unites all humanity.
The pontiff began his reflection with today’s Gospel about the disciples who wanted to prevent a person from outside their group from doing good.
“They complain” because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” But Jesus corrected them. ‘Do not stop him,’ he said. ‘Let him do good’.”
“The disciples,” the Pope said, “were a little ‘intolerant’, set on the idea that they owned the truth, believing that ‘all those who do not have the truth cannot do good.’ And ‘this was wrong’.” In fact, “Jesus ‘broadens the horizon.”
“The root of this possibility of doing good,” which we all have, “lies in creation. The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: Do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, he is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. ‘He cannot.’ He must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, such ‘closing off’ [of the mind], which makes us think that all those outside [of our group] cannot do good, is a barrier that leads to war as well as to what some throughout history have thought [possible], namely killing in the name of God, [the idea] that we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply put, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
“On the contrary, the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in our heart: Do good and do not do evil. The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all!
May 20, 2013 3 Comments
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has denounced the Apostle Paul as mean-spirited and bigoted for having released a slave girl from demonic bondage as reported in Acts 16:16-34 .
In her sermon delivered at All Saints Church in Curaçao in the diocese of Venezuela, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori condemned those who did not share her views as enemies of the Holy Spirit.
The presiding bishop opened her remarks with an observation on the Dutch slave past. “The history of this place tells some tragic stories about the inability of some to see the beauty in other skin colors or the treasure of cultures they didn’t value or understand,” she said.
She continued stating: “Human beings have a long history of discounting and devaluing difference, finding it offensive or even evil. That kind of blindness is what leads to oppression, slavery, and often, war. Yet there remains a holier impulse in human life toward freedom, dignity, and the full flourishing of those who have been kept apart or on the margins of human communities.”
Read it all in Anglican Ink.
May 17, 2013 Leave a comment
According to a Harvard study:
Belief in God significantly improves the outcome of those receiving short-term treatment for psychiatric illness, a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School researchers has concluded.
In the study, published in the current issue of Journal of Affective Disorders, Dr. David Rosmarin, a clinician at McLean Hospital and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, examined individuals at the hospital’s Behavioral Health Partial Hospital programme to investigate the relationship between patients’ level of belief in God, expectations for treatment and actual treatment outcomes.
“Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” Dr. Rosmarin reported.
The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation, each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.
Of the patients sampled, more than 30 per cent claimed no specific religious affiliation yet still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in a higher power was rated as moderately or very high. Patients with “no” or only “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief.
The study concludes: “… belief in God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care. More centrally, our results suggest that belief in the credibility of psychiatric treatment and increased expectations to gain from treatment might be mechanisms by which belief in God can impact treatment outcomes.”
Dr. Rosmarin commented, “Given the prevalence of religious belief in the United States — over 90 per cent of the population — these findings are important in that they highlight the clinical implications of spiritual life.”
March 27, 2013 4 Comments
Damian Thompson blogs:
There’s a quaint Anglican concept of the universal Church known as the “branch theory”. This claims that there are three main branches to apostolic Christianity: Roman, Orthodox and Anglican. It’s much favoured by Church of England clerics who aren’t very keen on “Romans”, as they call Catholics, and convey their anti-Papist sentiment in pro-Orthodox code, forever banging on about the riches of Byzantine spirituality, the mystical power of icons, etc. Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, is an example of this breed.
What these pro-Orthodox Anglicans don’t stress is that ordaining women priests was just as great an obstacle to unity with Constantinople and Moscow and it was to unity with Rome. And women bishops? Metropolitan Hilarion, head of ecumenical relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, delivered a pretty blunt message to the new Archbishop of Canterbury last weekend (H/T Gillibrand):
The introduction of the institution of female bishops will lead to the elimination of even a theoretical possibility of the Moscow patriarchate recognising the church hierarchy of the Anglican church, the communications service of the Department of External Church Relations reported on Saturday.
Even a theoretical possibility, note. This is exactly the same message coming from Rome (please don’t kid yourself that a change of Pope will make any difference). Of course, Hilarion’s warning won’t stop the C of E eventually ordaining women bishops, but let’s be clear about the consequences: the Orthodox Churches, following the lead of Moscow, will finally conclude that the Church of England is a protestant denomination with High liturgical trappings but outside the apostolic succession. Cue creaking of timber as the branch theory falls apart.
March 21, 2013 3 Comments
So convinced is the incumbent:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says he is convinced his role will eventually be held by a woman.
He said it would “certainly” happen one day despite the Church of England General Synod’s rejection of plans to admit women to the episcopate in November last year.
He voiced confidence that a new measure to be fast-tracked onto the agenda when the Synod meets in July would eventually succeed.
He was speaking as he prepared to be enthroned as Archbishop in a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, confirming him as leader of the Church of England and the nominal head of the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Church.
In a sign of the changing face of the Church in the 20 years since the first female priests were ordained, he will be enthroned by a woman – The Venerable Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury.
Speaking to Channel 5 News, the Archbishop said a woman would undoubtedly sit on the throne of St Augustine one day.
Asked when this might be, he said: “When the right person turns up – but yes I think there certainly will.”
He added: “We’re going to bring in new proposals this summer and then they work through the synodical system and we’ll see how long that takes.”
But he insisted he wanted to make provision for those with theological objections to women bishops, rather than risk an exodus of traditionalists from the Church.
He said: “The point is we’re not a political party so we don’t simply vote in favour and say to the people who disagree in good conscience: ‘Well we don’t want anything to do with you’.
“The issue is about all of those who are in the Church of England are valued and allowed to exert their faith and their ministry.”
His Enthronement is dealt with by Archbishop Cranmer.
Lambeth Palace notes (and the Anglican Communion does not):
The date of the ceremony resonates in several ways: March 21st is the day when the church remembers the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1556. It is also the feast day of St. Benedict of Monte Cassino, a significant figure for both Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Justin himself, who is an oblate of the Order of Benedict.
February 17, 2013 3 Comments
The general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church will be asked by its Western Cape moderator to consider accepting homosexual relationships and pastors, Beeld reported on Thursday.
Western Cape moderator Dr Frits Gaum said the proposals were the collective plea of 26 church parishioners, among them Gaum’s own son, Laurie.
The issue was “a very divisive one in churches all over the world”, but the general synod should consider the request “in a sober, scripture-guided manner”, Gaum said.
In the proposal, the 26 request that a significant section of church policy, announced in 2007, should remain unchanged. This included the decision that only the union between a man and a woman could be regarded as a marriage.
However, the 2007 policy also states the church will not accept homosexual relationships as an alternative to marriage.
The new proposal asks the general synod to accept there could be a permanent and unique relationship between two people of the same sex.
In 2007, the church also ruled that gays could become pastors, on condition they led celibate lives. Gaum said he would ask the church to drop the celibacy clause.
February 1, 2013 3 Comments
Wright is always worth listening to.
… against the common evangelical message that the bulk of Jesus’ preaching about God’s Kingdom is lost in an exclusive focus on: “You’re a sinner. Jesus came to die for your sins. Believe in Jesus and you’ll go to heaven.” In our interview, when Tom Wright turns to his criticism of the beloved C.S. Lewis, readers will find that his critique focuses on this very point.
Read it here.
January 25, 2013 2 Comments
Via George Conger:
The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has agreed to launch a Task Force examining the question of the Holy Orders of women clergy. Meeting last week in Orlando, the ACNA bishops set down a five part protocol studying the question of women clergy in conjunction with the issues of Prayer Book reform, the creation of a Catechism for the church, and a review of its ecclesial structures.
In ordering their priorities, the bishops decided to begin with a study of Scripture and church traditions and them move to the creation of church policies. One bishops told The Church of England Newspaper the ACNA bishops wanted to ground their actions in doctrine, rather than find a doctrine to support their actions.
The election and translation of five bishops were approved by the College of Bishops, while time was also spent seeking to heal the hurts caused by the break-up of the Anglican Mission in America last year.
The ACNA currently permits dioceses to ordain women to the diaconate and priesthood, but not to the episcopate. However, Forward in Faith and the Anglo-Catholic Diocese of San Joaquin have urged the province to review its “two integrities” structure.
The bishops announced they had appointed a task force to study the doctrine of Holy Orders – not limiting their work to the question of women clergy – and would begin by with the Bible and then move to a study of doctrine and tradition.
At Phase 4 “the Task Force will discuss the arguments, pro and con, related to the ordination of women, considering the relevant Scriptural texts and historical arguments, and reviewing studies conducted within and without the Anglican tradition.”
The College of Bishops said that before final action is taken, their recommendations will be passed to the theological commission of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. The conservative reform movement within the Anglican Communion is divided on the question of women clergy with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda strongly in favor, while Singapore, Sydney and the Anglo-Catholic provinces of Africa are opposed.
A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College. A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”
The bishops received a map showing the location of each of the their 951 congregations, which enabled the bishops to identify “11 regions of overlapping mission work among the various jurisdictions of the Province.”
While no diocese or group was slated for elimination, the bishops’ communique stated the challenge of overlapping jurisdictions “will result in enhanced collaboration, responsive structures and ministry oversight, with better sharing of resources, clearer communication and more profound unity in the mission that we share.”