By now you all know about the little North Carolina church that plans to have a bonfire next Saturday night. Even though Baptists haven’t been around for more than a couple hundred years, the pastor thinks his word is the be-all and end-all of religion because they don’t have a central authority. Interestingly, Baptists claim to have been around since before Catholics and disclaim the idea that they’re Protestants. Yet, what Bible does this minister prefer?
Contrary to the popular belief that Christmas was set on Dec. 25 simply to rival a pagan feast, there are at least 4 theories explaining the date from a Christian perspective. All of them may be true.
Theory 1: Day of Creation and the Conception of Jesus.
David Bennett at Per Christum has an excellent article beginning with this explanation:
The main reason early Christians chose December 25th for the date of Christmas relates to the date of the creation of the world. Jewish thought had placed the date of creation on March 25th, and it was early Christian writer Sextus Julius Africanus who suggested that Christ became incarnate on that date (it makes great symbolic sense!).
According to Sextus Julius, since Christ became incarnate from the moment of his conception, this means that, after 9 months in the Virgin Mary’s womb, Jesus was born on December 25. While the scope of Julius’ influence is unknown, nonetheless, we encounter a Jewish reason why the date of December 25th was chosen for the birth date of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think it is up for each one of us to interpret what God wants.”
Post modernism is the direct fruit of Sola Scriptura, by which everyone can just come up with their own interpretation of revelation.
Having been to two WYD’s (Toronto and Cologne) I can attest that they are supremely powerful experiences. To have the gospel sifted for its specific message for today’s youth by the greatest spiritual authorities on earth is just impossible to express. It is overwhelming.
But, it can be hard to convey that experience to those who were not there.
However, Benedict’s words in themselves, even without all the experiencial props to heighten the experience, have a power to clear ones thinking and set ones heart aright. He seamlessly weaves together concerns for the environment, sexual exploitation, materialism and secularism all in light of the universal spiritual hunger for the Gospel. Powerful!
Here are some of his words at Sydney Harbor on Thursday:
“…Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth. Read the rest of this entry »
The Protest of a Protestant Minister Against Birth Control
by Rev. Matthew Trewhella
Sunlight was just beginning to break over the darkness of the morning as my wife and I headed toward the entrance of the cold brick-faced building. Fear and apprehension gripped me each step of the way. A thousand questions and thoughts raced through my mind. “How much pain will there be? Why the heck did I ever do this in the first place? Maybe I should just leave.” Read the rest of this entry »
I am the most casual of amateur “Anglican watchers”… As a Catholic, looking at what is going on over in TEC causes me no glee, but honestly I see the writing on the wall. (Feel free to weigh in with disagreement – that is what comboxes are for!)
A Lutheran watcher, I am not at any level – amateur or otherwise. Recently, however, I am having a spell of being, I dunno “Lutheran Curious” as I see snippets here and there of things coming out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – America’s largest Lutheran body of just under 4.77M members, formed in 1988 with the merging of three Lutheran bodies, they are in full communion with the Episcopal Church.
Again, as a rank amature with no vested interest in the internal politics of this community myself (save a desire/fantasy – I admit – to see an end to the divisions and a return to Catholic unity on the part of all baptized).
But in the past few weeks of looking at some things that are coming out of some blogs and news sources here and there about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have come up with the following questions:
- What trajectory has the ELCA taken on the GLBT issue? Today it appears they are about three to five years behind the Episcopal Church on the matter, with affirming clergy being lined up to shore up support of what seems to be an affirming stance that is coming…
- TEC and ELCA have an inter-communion and pulpit sharing arrangement… What influence has this had? Some speculate that this re-enforces and re-affirms the influences of pro-GLBT parties within the ELCA… The TEC and ELCA in 2008 both have more clergy than ever, as their memberships both decline. An observation that has been made by some is that in some diocese the TEC has rostered a good number of clergy who are not needed or used for parochial assignments, but serve – in effect – to “weight the strength of certain ideological agendas”… The ordinands have no or little parochial responsibility… but when it comes time to gather the rostered clergy to vote, they are votes that can be counted on. “Stacking the deck” so to speak. Is this a trend we have seen in the ELCA?
- Has clergy sharing had this influence or allowed for re-enforcements to be sent into ELCA synods from TEC for similar stacking?
- What trends have we seen with ELCA congregations re-aligning in other synods? (The number of re-aligning congregations seems to have increased each year since 2002.)
- Has the divisions between Lutheran bodies like WELS, Missouri Synod and the ELCA had an effect on how the situation in the ELCA has played out in these last ten years? That is to say at the time of formation of the ELCA, WELS & the Missouri Synod did not opt to join back in 1988… That being the case, is it already a de factosituation that folks who self-describe as conservative Lutherans are already pre-divided into other non-ELCA bodies allowing for smooth transitions into a female-minister dominated body that is traveling in a trajectory to be widely and openly affirming of pro-GLBT (Affirming of homogenital sex acts)?
- Continental Lutheranism (Germany and Scandinavia) has already gone the direction of the “mainline moderns”… African Lutheranism – like African Anglicanism – seems to be more rooted in concepts of “Protestant Orthodoxy” with the eschewing of women’s ordination and pro-homosexual theologies. Yet being that there is no “big tent Lutheran communion” analogous to what we see in Anglicanism with the world-wide communion and Lambeth, it would seem that neither Continental nor African bodies are in a position to exert pressures on the ELCA one way or another in the dramatic fashion that a global confrontation in The Anglican Communion has forced the hand of the TEC (in a fashion) to take a definative stand that (supposedly) will have an influence on TEC membership in the Anglican Communion. As of 2008, I am sceptical this is going to happen in a fashion as dramatic as some predict – 11th hour comprimises seem to be the standard in the history of confrontations that liberal and affirming clergy and communities always recieve in a slow – if somewhat recently accelerated – war of attrition. They always win.) Has this lack of a sense of world communion been a factor in the directions the ELCA has taken and will take?
- In the past few years we have seen well over 25 clergy and notable theologians from American Lutheranism embrace the Catholic Faith. Has this exodus hindered movements within the ELCA to ?
Worth looking at:
LUTHERAN CHURCH MISSOURI SYNOD BLASTS ELCA OVER GAY STANCE
Statement regarding 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action
by Gerald B. Kieschnick Read the rest of this entry »
…well next to nothing. Status of conservative Anglicans prior to GAFCON:
- problematic membership in the AC which de facto now ordains gay bishops.
- odd structures not recognized by Canterbury (bishops of some provinces exercising authority in the territory of other provinces)
- inability to force the ABC to enforce church discipline
- a unity of agreement on gay issues between Anglocatholics and evangelical Anglicans
- status a party within Anglicanism rather than defining Anglicanism
So, what is the status of conservative Anglicans post GAFCON? Exactly the same with some minor differences: Read the rest of this entry »
This past weekend at the parish where I help out we had a visiting priest make an appeal for a development organization, Cross International. It raised some red flags:
- To Catholic audiences, Cross International presents itself as a Catholic ministry. The term “Catholic Outreach” is all over their literature complete with pictures of the pope, religious sisters, priests and bishop. But, I suspect that “Catholic Outreach” does not refer to Catholics reaching out to the poor as it may appear, but refers to that organization’s outreach to Catholics to fund their ministries. On the phone, once I had identified myself as a Catholic priest, the spokeswoman claimed that the organization was founded by Catholic lay people some 8 years ago.
- Their website indicates that they are a ministry of the Kielar Family Foundation. Some further research online revealed that the organization is, in fact, a Baptist organization. See this web link: http://www.crosstv.com/crossint.htm and then click on the “Statement of Faith” link. Read the rest of this entry »
In the past 5 years two bitterly opposed camps on issues like scripture and sexuality have rent the fabric of the Episcopal Church (TEC) into two very unequal parts–the liberals having almost complete say and the power of the courts to crush the self proclaimed “orthodox.” At least this is the point of view of the so called “orthodox” Episcopalians/Anglicans, who bleat on and on about their victim status in TEC and in the Anglican Communion. Theologically, as a Catholic, I am on the side of the “orthodox.” Their moral position on homosexuality is the right one. But, I don’t agree entirely that they are either victims or orthodox.
What has happened to TEC since the 2003 ordination of practicing gay bishop is clearly the fault of the “orthodox” who have stood by with hands on hips for decades while their church has been swirling down the toilet. Read the rest of this entry »
Dennis Prager has written the best explanation of the essential theological-sociological nature of Catholic-Jewish teachings on human sexuality. Starting with a description of male sexuality and implicitly the necessity of social mores/boundaries on the male, he demonstrates the connections between the dignity of the human person, particularly women and children, and the sublimation of male sexuality into exclusively heterosexual outlets. In Catholic terms there is a continuum between the consistent ethic of life and heterosexual family building. It’s an absolute must read!
To a world which divided human sexuality between penetrator and penetrated, Judaism said, “You are wrong — sexuality is to be divided between male and female.” To a world which saw women as baby producers unworthy of romantic and sexual attention, Judaism said “You are wrong — women must be the sole focus of men’s erotic love.” To a world which said that sensual feelings and physical beauty were life’s supreme goods, Judaism said, “You are wrong — ethics and holiness are the supreme goods.” A thousand years before Roman emperors kept naked boys, Jewish kings were commanded to write and keep a sefer torah, a book of the Torah.
While studying at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley much was made of a Wesleyan Quadrilateral theory of sources for theology. The theory, utterly unsupported by scripture or tradition, goes that there are four sources, particularly in moral theology:
William Witt, a lay Anglican theologian, has a PhD from Notre Dame and now currently is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. His comment is found here:
Yesterday my students and I finished an entire semester of studying Contemporary Theology. We began with Schleiermacher and Barth, then covered everyone from Brunner, Bonhoeffer, the Niebuhrs, the Catholic Resourcement movement (DeLubac, Congar, Danielou), Orthodoxy (Bulgakof, Schmemann, Lossky), post-Vatican II theology (Rahner, Lonergan, von Balthasar), theology of hope/revelation history (Moltmann, Pannenberg) post-Liberalism (Lindbeck, Hauerwas), Evangelicals (Packer, Henry),(post-conservative)Evangelicals (N.T. Wright, Vanhoozer), “Scientific” theology (T. F. Torrance, Alister McGrath). We finished with Anglican theology–Ramsey and Sykes. All of these fairly clearly lined up with Barth.