Posts Tagged ‘Evangelisation’
So opts a rather despondent sounding Fr Ed Bakker:
… We often ask ourselves why we dont make a real in road with Traditional Anglicanism or Anglo Catholism, dont we ? And it clicked. I was on the vestry of this church, I was there every Sunday serving at the altar for nine years, but lived an hour’s drive away.
During that time, no one from Church ever rang me at home in Ringwood, Father Robarts never ever came out to see us , also when my wife had a chronic illness. It took me nine years to organize a servers get to gether in the city, yet we as servers see each other sunday after sunday. I give to God and his Church, but when I need people and help , it is not there. Then I was re-trenched from the Bank at 58 and asked Fr if he knew anyone influential in the congregation who could help with some work … and there were a few people there, all he could do is look above , indicating that God was the only influential person there. You see this is why I get so bitterly disappointed. In the Traditional Anglican Communion , you are also on your own, no collegues to support you , no nothing. A rude and lying Archbishop , who is thank God now almost disappeared from the scene.
Moving to another affiliation, much and much of the sameness, a Bishop who rings you once a year and spends five minutes talking to you.
Having said all, I still strong believe that I have been called to be a Priest , I guess in a very difficult time , but I keep on praying that the door somewhere may be opened.
So many Clergy on the blogs are so good in theory , they are so good with words , but when it comes to compassion and action, is is not to be found. Fathers Robarts, Mitchell all collegues of mine, they leave you in the learch , you never hear from them.
It would be wonderful if all of us in this forthcoming season of Advent could be realled stirred up and jump into action….
Well this certainly is not my experience of how things are… But then again, I’m not Down-Under (although I must add that I have some fantastic interactions with some really good TAC people in Oz, and that, even though I’m some 10 500 km away). One other thing, if I may be so bold as to suggest, Fr Bakker, is that you also look within. We cannot always change other people, the things they do and / or the things that they say. The only thing that we can, in reality, change is ourselves, our attitudes, and the outlook we have on life. As Victor Frankl once pointed out:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Life, and more especially that of the Priest, is just so full of opportunities to make a difference in and to the lives of others. And these are the things that eventually give rise to major changes, differences and results. So get on with the work of the Gospel. Never should we allow for the waste of our precious time by criticising, complaining or even trying to get others to change. Just go and make the difference.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
– St Matt 28:20
UPDATE: Also related, Fr Anthony Chadwick speaks, today, on spiritual loneliness.
Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…
OK, today’s question is this: have you managed to offend someone lately? And if not, why not? No, I am not being a smart-aleck here. These are actually legitimate questions. You see, here is a truism you can bank on: if you proclaim truth in the public arena, you will cause offence. It is that simple.
And if you publicly speak Christian truth in today’s culture, you are guaranteed to offend someone. Indeed, how can you not offend someone? If you stand up and make any Christian truth claim today you will end up offending all sorts of people. Let me make it plain for you:
-If you say marriage should only be between a man and a woman, you will offend homosexuals and their supporters. -If you say killing unborn babies is wrong, you will offend those who are pro-abortion. -If you say harmful drugs should remain illicit, you will offend the pro-drug legalisation crowd. -If you say that God exists, you will offend all sorts of angry atheists. -If you say Jesus is the only way to God, you will offend all sorts of non-Christians – and even some wimpy Christians. -If you say we are all sinners who deserve eternal punishment, you will offend those who don’t believe this way. -If you say the Bible is God’s full written revelation to mankind, you will offend those from other religions or no religion. -If you say there is such a thing as absolute truth, you will offend the relativists.
The list goes on and on. It is impossible not to offend some people if you take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the public square. And there is nothing new about this. It has always been the case. Whenever God’s people have stood up and proclaimed God’s truth, offence has been taken – big time.
In both Testaments we see over and over again how God’s spokesmen were hated, rejected and opposed by others. You see, they took offence at the message being proclaimed. Let me offer just one Old Testament passage here: “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them, they find no pleasure in it” (Jeremiah 6:10).
Anyone not in loving submission to God will of course find his word to be offensive. They will hate it and reject it, and those who proclaim it. It has always been that way. And things are no different in New Testament times. One simply cannot read the Gospels and notice how often Jesus caused offence.
Everywhere he went he got people angry, he offended people, he divided people, and he caused an uproar. Yet today’s evanjellyfish think that all of this is taboo – we must not offend anyone or do or say anything to put people offside. We must just smile a lot and never say anything which might be deemed offensive, intolerant, judgmental or controversial.
Sorry, these guys do not have a clue. They obviously have never read what actually happened when Jesus walked the earth. Let me cite just one passage. Many dozens of others could do, but get a load of this one (as found in John 6:60-66):
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “’Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Did you get that? Jesus offended people. He divided people. He caused many to turn away from him. And yet he was the most loving, gracious, meek and humble man to walk the planet. If such a person could not help but offend many, then how in the world do we think that we can avoid causing offence?
Of course the gospel message is deeply offensive. All those who live for self and sin will be offended by the gospel. That is natural. For example Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 that the gospel message gives offence. As he writes in v 23: “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block [or offence] to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”.
Given all this, it makes perfect sense to hear John writing these words: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Of course it will hate us – how can it do otherwise? To vainly imagine we can live a genuine Christian life and yet never offend anyone or get anyone bent out of shape is a pipedream. It just ain’t gonna happen.
Now, to say all this must not be misconstrued. Am I saying we should go around deliberately seeking to offend people? No. Am I saying we should delight in picking fights and getting people upset? No. Am I saying it is a good thing to be ornery, cantankerous and belligerent? No.
But we are to contend for the gospel, without seeking to be contentious. We are to fight for the faith, without seeking to be pugilistic. We are to argue our case, without seeking to be argumentative. But remember how the most graceful and loving man to ever live fared as he sought to proclaim truth. People hated him for it, and they eventually crucified him.
So if Jesus received such a response, why do we think we are going to get off without any opposition or enmity? As J. Gresham Machen wrote way back in 1923, ”Few desires on the part of religious teachers have been more harmfully exaggerated than the desire to ‘avoid giving offense’” (Christianity and Liberalism). Indeed, all the great preachers have always known this:
-“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” George Whitefield
-“A sermon often does a man most good when it makes him most angry. Those people who walk down the aisles and say, ‘I will never hear that man again,’ very often have an arrow rankling in their breast.” C.H. Spurgeon
-“You can really test what is being preached by one particular criterion, and it is this: the gospel of Jesus Christ is always offensive to the natural man. . . . If you find the natural, unregenerate man praising either the preacher or his message then, I say, you had better examine that preaching and that preacher very carefully.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
-“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” Leonard Ravenhill
-“The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” A.W. Tozer
Amen and amen. So I ask you again: Have you offended anyone lately?
Some population dynamics in Cape Town (where I stay) via The Southern Cross.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town occupies an area of 30 842 square kms, but almost 90% of the population in this area live in the Cape Metropolitan Area (CMA), 2 159 square kms, or 7% of the geographic area. There is much diversity in population density. The average population density in the diocese is 1 460 people per square km, rising to 7 000/sq. km in townships and even to over 10 000/sq. km in the informal settlements.
Of the CMA population of 2.9 million in 2001, 1.39m (48%) were people of colour, 0.9m blacks (31%), 0.54m whites (19%) and 0.06m Asian (1%) (SA national census figures). Population growth is high, because there is steady immigration, especially from the Eastern Cape, which is very poor.
The side of Cape Town the tourists know. Look behind it for different realities. (Photo: Günther Simmermacher)
Cape Town is experiencing the full effects of urbanization, a universal phenomenon which has gained momentum in Africa and South America, where the bulk of the population still live in the rural areas. Before the Industrial Revolution inEurope, it took 8 out of 10 people to produce enough food for society, now it tales less than 2. Small farmers cannot compete with the large commercial farms and tend to sell up or just leave and go to the cities. Even if a person ends up in a shack in the CMA, if they can get a job for 2 or 3 days a week, they are better off.
The CMA, part of theWestern Cape Province, is far more attractive in terms of a richer economy, better schools, better hospitals, more infrastructure, more jobs, and so on. Hence the huge inflow, especially from blacks from the Eastern Cape, which together with people of colour also coming in from the country areas, and whites from Gauteng, has now put unbearable strains on the Western Province, especially the CMA, in terms of competition for jobs, housing, schooling and general utilities. This is mirrored in many other African cities and South American cities.Lima, inPeru, for example, has people flowing into the city, there are land invasions, mini-bus taxis, serious unemployment, gangs, drug problems…sounds familiar? It is economic forces that have caused huge strains on all cities.
In the once fairestCape, however the situation is aggravated by political factors. In 2001 the Catholic population by the old population definitions was as follows: black 30 000 (2012 40 000), coloured 114 000 (now 150 000), white 50 000 (now 60 000), Asian 1 233 (now 1 635). Thus the 2012 Catholic population, in the Archdiocese, is now about 250 000 (195 200 in2001) and about 45 000 actually attend Mass on Sundays.
It seems that under apartheid, the people of colour were taught to be wary of blacks, and feel that they were in the Cape first, so that they should be in the front of the queue in terms of housing, jobs, schools, general amenities. People who fall into the Western category, tend to favour the DA political party, and the blacks the ANC, so there is further cause for tensions. In Grabouw, outside of the CMA, where there has also been a large influx from the Eastern Cape, the newer school, attended mainly by blacks, became over-crowded and this led to civil unrest and protests.
It is important to realize that the unemployment, crowded conditions, competition for scarce necessities, is primarily a problem of economics and the current recession. But there are political and historic complications in theCape, as we can see. It is maintained by some that the ANC is encouraging blacks to migrate to the Western Cape, with the promises of houses. This may be the case, but in my opinion the main reason for migration is financial/economic. Many of the blacks set up permanent residence in the CMA (and in outlying areas such as Grabouw), and the evidence is that the children of the migrants prefer to stay in the city. The persistent delivery protests are evidence of cities taking strain, of people struggling in an economic system which must seem to be quite inequitable towards those trying to obtain the basic necessities of life.
There is a need in the Archdiocese for the former groupings to do their best to live in harmony, to share, to cooperate, to use the graces of the Eucharist in terms of which we can live in Christian unity. There is, it seems, to be too little mixing at Archdiocesan functions, too much separation, and too many of the old tensions, to a large extent, a legacy of the past. This is part of our reality, and we need to think of means of fostering genuine unity and a healthy appreciation of our differences as well as our commonality, especially as children of our Father, who cares for all. For example, the Eastern Deanery held a reconciliation service a few years ago, in which parishioners from other parishes came for the first time to a black township, namely Gugulethu.
I am not convinced that the newer generations have lost entirely the biases learned by the older generation, and there is some evidence that parents are handing down negative attitudes to their children. When we think of the very diverse personalities of the first Apostles, it seems clear that the constant presence of Jesus enabled them to live in harmony. We, hopefully, can do the same.