When the apostle Paul warned us to “keep [ourselves] unspotted from the the world” he was not talking about some abstraction. If the Christian is to apply this injunction to himself, he must understand what confronts him antagonistically in his own moment of history. Otherwise he simply becomes a useless museum piece and not a living warrior for Jesus Christ.
The BBC has a report called Christmas squatter is jailed for six months. A homeless man, who had this year lost his job and home, had stolen some keys to an apartment. On Christmas Eve in order to be out of the cold and knowing that the lady who lived there had gone away for the holidays, he let himself in. He watched TV, cooked food and then cleaned up after himself. The outside temp on Christmas Eve was -10 degrees. When the lady returned the man did not try and escape. He apologized and quietly went with police. He has now been jailed for 6 months. Is this fair? Is this justice?
The London Times has an article this morning which is titled It’s Time For Society To grow Up And Accept Licensed Brothels. He goes on to say that society must offer “genuine and acceptable alternatives for men who want to pay for sex.” The writer is a former detective chief superintendent who led West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major inquiry team. He writes from his experience at seeing women who are beaten and raped on the streets by ‘clients’ and so his intentions are good, but his solution is terrible. In fact it’s advocating immorality. The issue has now become “How can we make sure prostitutes are safe from men who will beat and rape them” rather than “how can we champion that good and healthy sex is found within marriage.” I know that this for many is simple idealism. And one of the problems is that too many Christian married couples are not having good sex! If Christian married couples talked a little more about the incredible blessings and enjoyment that sex can be within marriage and with one partner then maybe people would take notice. Too often people look at married Christians and are not inspired to get married!!!
What we are seeing within society and especially the UK is exactly what Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the prophets experienced within Israel; immorality being accepted as the norm. And this is no longer being championed by the immoral, or those who want to profit from it, but by men who have given their life to public service; who have seen the pain and devastation of prostitution and yet their solution is “Let’s make it legal.”
That is sad.
It’s Christmas Day! We are waiting to eat dinner. It’s been a crazy 24 hrs. We have three services Christmas Eve – 5pm with kids pageant; 7:30pm and 11:30pm eucharists. I got home last night at 1:22am. Here are some pics of the pageant service from one of the parishioners. If you look carefully you can see me in the background.
Todd Hunter has been on an unlikely journey. From being an apprentice of John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement to heading up USA Alpha, it would appear somewhat strange that Todd is now an Anglican Bishop. This book is how that journey happened. I resonated with Todd Hunter’s journey into Anglicanism and ordained ministry. While I am not a bishop, I come from a free evangelical charismatic church background and now I am an ordained Anglican Priest in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
Todd shares how he began to move into a more liturgical setting and the process by which he came to be ‘ordained’ within the anglican episcopacy. He writes in an easy, relaxed, humorous and honest manner. He shares about those anglicans who have impacted and shaped him such as J I Packer, John Stott and Tom Wright as well as sharing what he likes about anglicanism .
At a 140 pages this is a short book, and to be honest I pondered what purpose it might have other than being a very short biographical snap shot of Todd’s life. However, as I thought about it I came to realize that this book serves as a valuable introduction to Anglicanism for those from strong ‘non’ liturgical backgrounds. Todd has not become ‘Anglican’ or left behind his roots, or repudiated his past – he is who God has matured him to be and as a servant of God, God has led him into a place of ministry with anglicanism and this has grown in him an appreciation of the anglican tradition.
This will give many who are unfamiliar with the anglican church a wonderful and accessible introduction.
The past eight months in our Men’s Bible Study group has been spent in the book of Romans. Tomorrow we tackle chp 16 and we will then move onto 1 Corinthians. There are countless commentaries on Romans. In the process of preparing I have found Douglas Moo’s book Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey so helpful. While this is not a verse by verse commentary on the epistle it is as good as a lot of commentaries out there. Of course Moo has written one of the best commentaries on Roman’s in the New International Commentary series. However, while Moo’s commentary may be too technical for some, this book (still weighing in at 214 pages) is a fine and accessible treatment of this epistle. It balances textual information with cultural historical background all in an easy and straight forward way.
I just read an article by James Allen about Church Planting. It begins…
The time has come for ministerial jealousy to cease. There should be no spirit of competition
between denominations and certainly not between churches of similar doctrinal persuasions. In
1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 people in America, but today there are less than
11 churches for every 10,000 people. The only hope for America is for us to plant new churches
within every neighborhood and every sub culture.
Read it all HERE
Constantine, his ‘alleged’ conversion to Christianity and his rule as a Christian, or at least pro-Christian emperor has been a source of debate for a long time. There are many who see Constantine as a shrewd political operator who used Christianity as a way of solidifying his support and rule of the empire. There are others who think that he had a real experience of God and that he straddled the Christian faith, holding onto much of his paganism but also adopting some Christian practices. Still others (of which I am one) see the question of whether Constantine was a convert to Christianity as up for debate, but that the effects of Constantine’s rule – the legalization of Christianity, and it’s elevation to the State religion of Rome as having a negative effect on the Church both in the 4th century and continuing to today.
Peter Leithart’s book Defending Constantine is a superb addition to this debate. Leithart vigorously defends (maybe too much) Constantine, answering the critics and at the same time seeking to show that Constantine was a positive and indeed vital addition to the history and development of the Church. Leithart reminds the critics of Constantine that they must assess him in light of the fact that lived in the fourth century and the decisions and actions he took have to be seen in light of that context. The bottom line is that for Leithart, the Church fared well under Constantine and that those critics who have attacked Constantine have simply got it wrong and have misread major church figures like Eusebius and Augustine.
Leithart does not engage with some important scholars, such as Alistair Kee (Constantine Verses Christ) who argues that Constantine’s intervention in the church was not because of his Christian commitment but because the unity of the empire was at risk and John Eadie (The Conversion of Constantine), who argues that Constantine was trying to appease the Christian God and not necessarily worship him, which can be seen in the dualism that Constantine showed by banning private divination (punishable by death) and yet public divination was encouraged in the temples.
However, this book is a wonderful read – informative, challenging, well argued and very enjoyable.
Back in May i wrote a post expressing my concern for the Liberal Democrats if they decided to join a coalition with the Conservatives (Here).
The BBC has a piece on their website quoting Chris Huhne, the Energy Minister:
Chris Huhne said a period of “immense unpopularity” was inevitable, but they would emerge stronger for it.
The Energy Secretary told BBC One’s Politics Show: “It’s human nature to say yes, we have to tackle the deficit but no, we don’t like any of the individual things that the people are doing to tackle the deficit.
“We are going to go through a period of immense unpopularity… but we will come out of it. We will be stronger at the next election and people will see that we’ve done the right thing.”
One of the major gifts a politician needs is optimism. Or at least, the ability to never be able to admit publicly how bad it is privately. The fact that senior Lib Dems are now saying that they will go through a period of ‘immense unpopularity’ is not good, even with the caveat that “we will come out of it” and “We will be stronger at the next election.” The Lib Dems have been forced to go with higher tuition fees for students – a policy that they pledged against doing. I fear the electorate has a long memory – and the election is over 4 years away, which may not be long enough away!
Another week seems to have flown by. It began last weekend with Bishop Mark Lawrence doing confirmations at our church. I count it a privilege to have been ordained by Bishop Lawrence and to serve in the Diocese of South Carolina. As usual the Bishops visit, his sermon, his praying were anointed.
Here is the sermon from one of the services – Sunday Sermon 5 December 2010 I recommend you listen to it.
Monday I drove to Charleston to tutor Doctrine and Biblical Studies for the Apprenticeship Course. Then on Tuesday I drove to Summerville for a meeting of the Anglican Communion Development Committee which I have just joined and from there I went to the Immigration Offices regarding our Green Card applications. Then I was at the Hospital in Charleston to pray with a Parishioner before surgery and then Friday was the Bishops Christmas Party in Charleston.
Lots of time in the car this week listening to lectures and sermons. More normal and regular blogging to come.
Irish Financial Bailout
It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.