Catholic Bishop: The ‘Twilight of Christian England’ Demands that Faithful Speak Out

In the Catholic Herald:

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said the “twilight of Christian England” is not “entirely negative” as it puts demands on Christians to be clearer about what their faith is and how they should stand up for it.

In a homily at the Northern Catholic Conference at Liverpool Hope University on Sunday the bishop said that in a decade Christianity will be the faith of a “significant minority” in Britain.

This momentous change, he said, “may not be an entirely negative development as it dispels any ambiguity and requires of Christians a greater clarity in both teaching and witness”.

He pointed out that debates about marriage showed an “incomprehension” about the Christian foundations of society and urged Christians to challenge the social consensus.

The bishop said: “I know many voices may urge us to leave well alone, not to disturb what appears dead in our society. Should we not be realistic and concede that the defence of human life, the identity of marriage and the integrity of the family is all but lost? Should we best remain silent so as not to weaken the Church’s increasingly, precarious standing in society?

“We might, indeed, be tempted to speak only of those concerns which accord with the social consensus around us. Pope Francis, however, shows us a different approach by his startlingly, direct way of speaking and the clear witness of his actions. In the North of England we certainly understand plain speaking!

“The contemporary world, Pope Francis has shown us, is often more ready to listen and take notice than we as Christians are ready to speak or give witness. Amid the twilight of a Christian England this witness will shine out more clearly.”



Church of Scotland Shreds Bible, Canonizes Palestinian ‘Scripture’

Over at the Gatestone Institute:

The Kirk has committed theological suicide in order to promote political inanities. The former Church of Scotland is defunct; the Church of Latter Day Scots has taken over the premises.

At its recent General Assembly (May 18-24, 2013), the Church of Scotland adopted a pro-Palestinian tract entitled The Inheritance of Abraham? Its Preface admits that a previous version “caused worry and concern in parts of the Jewish Community in Israel and beyond” and offers “clarification.” The clarification is mere window-dressing, but that is beside the point. It is rather “parts of the Christian Community in Scotland and beyond” that should be worried and concerned. To judge from the amateurish theological absurdities in this document, which passed through all the relevant levels of the bureaucracy up to the General Assembly, the whole Kirk is adrift. It has abandoned a glorious past for a dubious future.

We shall look at those absurdities in a moment, but first consider the dire situation of the Kirk…

It’s long but well worth a read! To do so, click here.




Why Did Protestants Stop Reading the Apocrypha?

Because they wanted cheaper Bibles.

In 2011 Ashland Seminary hosted a series of events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Part of that celebration included setting up a museum in which we displayed various manuscripts and Bibles dating back over 2,000 years. Included among the items on display was a page from a 1611 King James Bible. But the page was not from an Old or New Testament book, but was from 1 Maccabees, one of the books contained in the Apocrypha. When people touring the museum saw this they were usually quite surprised. They didn’t realize that the Apocrypha was part of that Bible.  Today, most protestant Bibles do not include the Apocrypha and few have ever read the Apocrypha. But history reveals that the Apocrypha has been a part of what we call the “Bible” longer than it has not. For example, the earliest most complete Bible discovered at the monastery on Mount Sinai (Codex Sinaiticus) contained the Apocrypha as well as a number of other books that were and are, in general, not considered canonical. The evidence of the 1611 King James shows that while the Bible has expanded and shrunk over history, what we commonly call the Apocrypha was usually a part of the Bible.

Yet, the situation today is such that finding an English language Bible with the Apocrypha is the exception to the rule. But why is that? Was it because Protestants finally got their theological house in order and excised the spurious books? Nope! It appears that the decision was influenced more by economics than theology. Over at the Anxious Bench Blog Philip Jenkins has a good post on the history of the Apocrypha and how it was eventually removed from most Protestant English Bibles.

English-speaking Protestants lost the Deuterocanon not through any calculated theological decision, but through publishing accident, and at quite a recent date. Prior to the early nineteenth century, Anglo-American Bibles included the apocryphal section, but this dropped out as printers sought to produce more and cheaper editions. Increasingly too, during the nineteenth century, anti-Catholic sentiment encouraged Protestants to draw a sharp line between the two variant Bibles. If Catholics esteemed books like Maccabees and Wisdom, there must be something terribly wrong with them.

You can read the full post here.



Jewish-Christian Relations in Light of the Church

In The Jerusalem Post:

As someone who works in the field of Jewish- Christian relations I recently  found myself with a meeting scheduled at a monastery in the Galilee. This  meeting just happened to come along at a time when my father was visiting from  Canada, so I urged him to come along, to see the extraordinary design and  architecture of the building and learn something about Christian life in Israel.  My father was unsure, as a man with a healthy degree of skepticism toward  religion generally, and some settled ideas about the Roman Catholic Church and  the Jews.

Some of this is my own fault. Because of my own years of  research and work, my father has become wellacquainted with evangelical- Jewish  relations and Christian Zionism, and the efforts underway in that corner of the  Christian world to develop better Jewish-Christian relations. As with my father,  I find many Jews today to be surprised and deeply skeptical of about relations  between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews.

Increasingly there’s a  tendency, particularly in Israel, to see Christian support for Israel, Christian  efforts to combat anti-Semitism and Christian love for the Jews primarily  through an evangelical, Christian Zionist lens. For many Jews, Roman Catholic  priests taking Judaism seriously, celebrating Jewish holidays, honoring Torah  and learning Hebrew is a shock.

I do not mean in any way to minimize the  importance (and complexity) of evangelical Christian support for Israel and  efforts in building better relations between Christians and Jews. But it would  be a tragic mistake to forget the work underway in other expressions of  Christianity.

There are lovers of Israel and the Jews to be found among  all denominations, just as there are evangelical anti- Semites. It’s a mistake  for Jews in Israel and abroad to narrow our Christian conversation partners,  challengers and allies down to a single branch of Christianity…

Read on here.