What’s Your Theological Worldview?

You can find out, here. I would tell you my results… But rather not.

HTJoel

 

Parish Makes A Stand Against Church of England Leaders

On same sex blessings:

Times Series: Church rector James Mustard said he expects his parish to release a statement opposing the House of Bishops in the coming weeks

 An East Barnet vicar says his parish is preparing to challenge Church of England leaders after they reiterated their ban on blessing same-sex couples.

The House of Bishops, which governs practice in Anglican churches across England, earlier this month rejected recommendations that it lifts its ban on blessing gay couples.

But the parish of St Mary’s Church in East Barnet says it plans to lodge a protest against the decision and write a formal letter once its members have met later this month.

The parish is a supporting member of Inclusive Church, an organisation campaigning for the acceptance of minorities including lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender couples and individuals.

Same-sex marriages are currently banned inside the Church of England, which is governed by its own historic laws, but some believe it should go some way towards lessening its discrimination by allowing the blessing of gay couples in churches.

Members of the St Mary’s Church council now plan to meet and formulate a statement in response to the House of Bishop’s latest refusal to be moved on the subject.

Church rector James Mustard said he expects his parish to release the statement in the coming weeks and says it is an important subject for the image and ministry of his church in the area.

He said: “The feeling is that this ongoing prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is harmful to our relationship with the community, whether they come to the church or not.

“I think it is important that churches in favour of supporting same-sex couples with blessings should speak out, and we’re preparing to issue a statement opposing the House of Bishops’ decision.”

 

Snake Kills Snake-Handler Pastor

The Guardian:

Preachers who practice handle poisonous snakes during church services vow to continue tradition despite deaths and illegality.

Jamie Coots, a pastor in Middlesboro, Kentucky. snake preacher

A pentecostal preacher in Kentucky who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake is being hailed as a martyr by his colleagues, who will continue breaking the law by handling poisonous reptiles during their church services, according to friends.

Jamie Coots “lived and died consistent with his faith” and his death will only inspire more people to obey an instruction from God in the Gospel of Mark that “they shall take up serpents,” said Professor Ralph Hood, of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“This won’t stop them: just the opposite,” said Hood, a friend of Coots and the most noted expert on the Appalachian serpent-handling tradition. “They will continue, and praise Jamie Coots as a martyr who died for his faith.”

Coots died on Saturday night after being bitten on the right hand during a service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church. The 42-year-old, who featured prominently in the National Geographic series Snake Salvation, refused medical attention on religious grounds.

His funeral is due to be held in his hometown of Middlesboro on Tuesday evening.

Coots’s son, Cody, said his family had expected him to survive because he had been bitten eight times before. “Everybody was getting in, shouting, taking up serpents, speaking in tongues, handling fire,” he told Kentucky’s WKYT-TV. “You could just feel the power of God.”

Coots had continued flouting a 74-year-old Kentucky law banning the use of poisonous snakes in religious services, even after a woman died from a bite during a ceremony he conducted in 1995. Coots was charged, but avoided prosecution after a judge declined to proceed with the case. He was also fined $6,400 in 2008 after being convicted of illegally trading in poisonous snakes.

Andrew Hamblin, a pastor in neighbouring Tennessee who was mentored by Coots and co-starred with him in the National Geographic series, is understood to have been devastated by the death. The Guardian has been told that he intends to continue his snake-handling services at Tabernacle Church of God…

Rest here.

Junior McCormick handling a rattlesnake as Homer Browing looks on during services at the Church of the Lord Jesus in Kingston, Georgia, in 1995.

 

Methodists In Crisis Over Gay Marriage, Church Law

 

Main Entry Image

The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

Since 2011, Methodist advocates for gay marriage have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies in protest of church policy. In response, theological conservatives have sought formal complaints against the defiant clergy, which could lead to church trials. One scholar has warned that Methodists are “retreating into our various camps” instead of seeking a resolution over an issue the church has formally debated since the 1970s.

“At this point, we have kind of come to the place where we know what the brute facts are,” said Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists. “Most folks, after 40 years of trying legislative solutions, realize they won’t work. The way forward is to claim what we know to be true. And we’re going to continue doing it in an aggressive way.”

The intensity of the conflict was laid bare over the last several months, when the church tried, convicted and defrocked Frank Schaefer, a Pennsylvania pastor who presided at the wedding of his son to another man. Berryman said the case galvanized Methodists advocating for recognition of gay marriage, increasing donations to the group and traffic on Reconciling Ministries’ online sites. Schaefer has since been traveling the country giving talks and sermons on gay acceptance.

Opponents have also stepped up their organizing. Through statements, videos and conference calls, a theologically conservative Methodist movement called Good News has been pressing church leaders to act when church law, contained in the Methodist Book of Discipline, is violated. “When people choose to break the covenant that holds us together, there has to be some accountability,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, Good News’ president.

Last month, a new Methodist group formed called the Wesleyan Covenant Network to support theologically conservative Methodists and keep them from leaving the denomination…

Read on here.

 

To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism

Which has been produced by The Anglican Communion of North America:The Anglican Church in North America

The Catechesis Task Force is pleased to announce that To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism is now available in PDF and Microsoft Word format.

The Catechism was unanimously approved for use by the College of Bishops on January 8th, 2014.

This catechism (a text used for instruction of Christian disciples) is designed as a resource manual for the renewal of Anglican catechetical practice. It presents the essential building blocks of classic catechetical instruction: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue). To these is added an initial section especially intended for those with no prior knowledge of the Gospel. Each section is presented in the question-and-answer form that became standard in the sixteenth-century because of its proven effectiveness. Each section is also set out with its practical implications, together with biblical references.

Access the Catechism here.

I see Dr J.I. Packer was involved. Worth checking out.

 

Church Leader Decries Spread of Prosperity Gospel in South Africa

 

In the Christian Post:

While South Africa can be called a “churched nation” demographically, prosperity gospel, or a “parallel, post-biblical Christianity,” is spreading throughout the country, warns the rector of a reformed evangelical Anglican church who has ministered in Durban City for 17 years.

A churched nation is not the same thing as a “gospeled” nation, writes Grant Retief, the rector of Christ Church Umhlanga just outside of Durbin, in a blog post. Eighty percent of South Africa is Christian, according to the 2001 census.

When people from well-known bigger churches attend his church for a little while, the rector says, “they tell us they are surprised to regularly hear in the preaching and the liturgy that they are sinners.”

That is because of the prosperity gospel phenomenon, of what Retief calls a “parallel, post-biblical Christianity.” “When you stop to look inside these churches, you hear Christian-like things and you see Christian-like activities … Sermons aren’t built on biblical theology, but employ an occasional verse to springboard toward the preacher’s pre-chosen point,” he laments.

Their meanings of biblical terms are vaguely assumed, or are informed not by theology but psychology, he adds. For example, “sin” might be described as the failure to achieve your goals, not as rebellion against an Almighty God.

“All this produces nice people instead of godly people,” Retief argues.

Of course, prosperity gospel churches vary considerably along the theological and socio-economic spectrum, he says. But the various versions of this kind of Christianity are spreading throughout South Africa. “Superficially, it looks alive because it’s vibrant and growing … The gospel is assumed, personal godliness is optional, and theological education is held in suspicion.”

In middle class suburbs, people are generally suspicious of authority, establishment and tradition, he points out. Formal theological education is seen as unnecessary, even harmful by some.

Therefore, there’s a churchscape dominated by independent charismatic churches, Retief writes. “Their leaders are exceptionally gifted, invariably young and powerful motivators and predictably trendy. Yet I cannot think of one that I know of who has had any formal theological training.”

The rector adds: “It is my conviction that the greatest danger posed by these prosperity gospel churches is not only that they get the doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit wrong, which they almost always do; they get the doctrine of the work of the Son wrong.”

As he concludes the blog post, Retief offers a solution. It’s found in the New Testament, he says. “It is not macro-organizations or reformed evangelical denominations, as helpful as those may be. It is gospel-preaching local churches.”

Prayers are needed that God would raise up more churches “where the clear gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ remains front and center – come what may!”

HT:  Fr David MacGregor

 

Who Are the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem?

A great post over at Gatestone Institute:

There is no individual or group that is empowered to act as “the voice of Palestinian Christians.” It is not “the Palestinian Christians” but just one or two individuals who pen those public statements, even if these appear under a title that can vary from the respectable (“Heads of Churches”) to the preposterous (“Kairos Palestine”). The only worthwhile question is whether the message is composed in a truly Christian spirit or is merely political agitation clothed in theological verbiage.

Something was written by somebody and sent to various people, then put out in the name of “the churches in Jerusalem,” whether or not the people contacted had even reacted to it.

Christmas 2013 has been marred, once again, by petty Jew-haters in churches who pose as champions of the Palestinians. The details have been faithfully collected here. Often they claim to be acting on behalf of “the Palestinian Christians.” But the Palestinian Christians whom they evoke as witnesses may be merely some clique that has no authority to speak in the name of “Palestinian Christianity,” such as the handful of has-beens and wannabes who authored the so-called Kairos Palestine Document. Arguably, the “Heads of Churches in Jerusalem” is the only body that expresses the authentic opinion of Palestinian Christians. But even that assumption lacks a foundation, as we shall see.

The 2013 Christmas message of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem is, for sure, an admirable and exemplary statement of Christian theology that could guide all people of good will. It consoles the Christian victims of the contemporary Middle East without picking out anyone for blame or descending into partisan politics. Only fanatics, of whatever persuasion, could disagree with such expressions as: “Violence is seen as the only way to impose order and achieve security by some or as the only way to resist oppression and injustice by others. We firmly believe that violence is not the way and that the Jesus as the Prince of Peace came to show us not only how to be reconciled to God, but how to be reconciled to one another. Peace has to begin in the human heart as we recognize the common humanity which we share with every single person who has been created in God’s image.”

Clergy from various churches at a Christmas reception in Jerusalem. (Image source: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Who is the message talking about? As much about Syrians and Egyptians as about Israelis and Palestinians, as other parts of the message make clear, though without naming and shaming anyone. Just a few years ago, however, there was a marked bias toward the Palestinians in repeated messages issued in the name of the Heads of Churches, whether the regular messages every Christmas and Easter or ones responding to particular events. Sometimes the messages were stuffed with political demands upon Israeli governments and the various Palestinian factions…

Read on here.

There is plenty more, and it is spot on. Well done!!!

HT goes to Virtue Online.

 

Inter-Religious Dialogue

HT

 

Exorcisms Via Skype?

So it would seem:

The age-old practice of exorcism is getting updated thanks to the use of modern technology by a reverend in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reverend Bob Larson claims he has performed more than 20,000 exorcisms in the past four decades.

Now he is giving possessed people the option of having their demons banished from their bodies via Skype.

A 60-minute Skype exorcism costs $295, and is considered a tax-deductible donation to the International Missions Program.

Skype’s cheap rates allow Larson to connect with allegedly possessed people from all over the world, including one of his most recent clients, a Norwegian man named David, who supposedly had four demons inside him.

During one encounter filmed by ABC15.com, one of the demons mocked Larson by asking, “Are you Bob the Builder,” followed by a maniacal cackle straight out of the “Tales From The Crypt” TV show.

Larson has numerous exorcism videos on YouTube, including this one where he claims to exorcise a gay demon.

Some skeptics think the over-the-top antics by the allegedly possessed souls are a sign that it’s all just a show, but Larson denies those allegations.

“It’s real,” Larson told the station. “There would be no reason to theatrically stage this for any reason. Why would anybody do that? I have no idea.”

However, Larson’s Skype exorcisms are making other religious leaders cross.

Reverend Isaac Kramer, the director of the International Catholic Association of Exorcists, an organization that trains and ordains new exorcists, says exorcisms can’t be done over the Internet.

“If a person is fully possessed, the demon inside of them will not let them sit in front of the computer screen to be exorcised,” Kramer told Vocativ.com. “Chances are, they’re going to throw the computer screen across the room and destroy everything.”

Crazy stuff.

 

What Presidents Really Believe About God

American Presidents, that is:

Historian Michael Beschloss explores the differences between what presidents say about religion and what they actually believe.

Find out more here.

 

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