Friday, 9 March 2007

Australian Islamic clerics 'in media ban'

Five senior Australian Islamic clerics are reported to have been banned from talking to the media by Muslim leaders.

The clerics have been accused of conveying "un-Australian" messages. Read more

The Place of Dogma and Emotion in Evangelism

More from Towards the Conversion of England, here.

The Part of the Laity in Evangelism

More from Towards the Conversion of England, here.

Also includes The Training of the Laity in Evangelism and The Scope of Lay Evangelism.

Church of Sweden gives gay couples church blessing

Ed: published 6th December 2006

Gays in Sweden will as of January be able to receive religious blessings of their same-sex unions, the Swedish Lutheran Church decided on Wednesday, but stopped short of allowing gay marriages.

"Same-sex couples can now receive an official church blessing in the Swedish Church," the church said. Read more

Porvoo Churches consultation on Same-sex blessings

Ed: apologies for not picking this up earlier! It means the Church of England is currently in Communion with a national church which authorizes and performs same-sex blessings, despite the sanctions hanging over TEC if they do the same. Paradoxical, I think.

Kyrkans Tidning
reports that thirty representatives of churches in the Porvoo (BorgÄ) Agreement will meet Monday [December 18th 2006] in Sigtuna for three days of consultation about the order for blessing homosexual partnerships recently adopted by the Church of Sweden.

There will be no public declarations or decisions emanating from the meeting.

Read the original post here.

The Training of the Clergy in Evangelism

More from Towards the Conversion of England, here.

The Part of the Clergy in Evangelism

More from Towards the Conversion of England, here.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Labour faces fresh battle over gay rights

Labour was braced last night for fresh battles over homosexual rights after pressing ahead with controversial anti-discrimination laws for the whole of the UK. Read more

Draft 'Sexual Orientation' Regulations published

Only target I can see for this is Christians, but there you go. Here.

What puts men off from becoming Ministers?

What puts men off from becoming Ministers?

New research carried out by Generation Next and the Affinity church network sought to answer this question by surveying 400 Christian men, most of whom were aged between 21 and 40. The survey was aimed at people who had recently become Ministers or were currently considering it. The key issues included: the way Ministers were treated by their churches, a lack of good role models, confusion about the nature of the ‘call’ that they should expect to feel, finance, especially to fund training, the availability of preaching opportunities, the lack of clear training and development paths, and the feminisation of the church. Equally, there were other disadvantages of life as a Minister which did not prove to be a barrier such as loneliness and the excessive workload. The full report can be downloaded here.

Canadian Bishop demands a 'better theology' of sex

The Christian church has a deeply flawed understanding of sex that has led to morally groundless objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality, says a leading Canadian Anglican bishop.

In particular, the church has been wrong for centuries on the notion that sex exists only for the purpose of procreation, Right Rev. Michael Ingham, bishop of the Greater Vancouver Diocese of New Westminster, told a conference in Ottawa last night. Read more

Back to the Conversion of England

Ed: Towards the Conversion of England was the report of a 'Commission on Evangelism' appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in response to a resolution of the Church Assembly (forerunner of the General Synod) in 1943. This is from the end of the introduction. Sound familiar ...?

We are called to a far harder task than to evangelise heathen who do worship (however ignorantly) a Power higher than themselves. In England the Church has to present the Christian Gospel to multitudes in every section of society who believe in nothing; who have lost a whole dimension (the spiritual dimension) of life; and for whom life has no ultimate meaning. The paramount spiritual need of the non-worshipping members of the community (as evidenced by this survey) is the recovery of their consciousness of God. Only so can they regain a doctrine of man morally responsible to God, and a philosophy of life that sees the material world as the sacrament of the realities of the Eternal. But the Church is ill-equipped for its unparalleled task and opportunity. The laity complain of a lack of creative leadership among all ranks of the clergy. The spiritual resources of the worshipping community are at a low ebb. Above all, the Church has become confused and uncertain in the proclamation of its message, and its life has ceased to reflect clearly the truth of the Gospel. It is for the Church, in this day of God, by a rededication of itself to its Lord, to receive from Him that baptism of Holy Ghost and of fire which will empower it to sound the call and give the awaited lead. (Towards the Conversion of England, London: Press and Publications Board of the Church Assembly, 1945, para 33, p 16)

Link to more quotes.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam

Once I was held captive in Kabul. I was the bride of a charming, seductive and Westernised Afghan Muslim whom I met at an American college. The purdah I experienced was relatively posh but the sequestered all-female life was not my cup of chai — nor was the male hostility to veiled, partly veiled and unveiled women in public.

When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly confiscated my US passport. “Don’t worry, it’s just a formality,” my husband assured me. I never saw that passport again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to foreign wives — perhaps to make it impossible for them to leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the same way his father and elder brother treated their wives: distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment. Read more

"Mummy, I don't want to die": how the British middle-class deals with children's fears

Dora had her sixth birthday last week. Even if I say so myself, we gave her a jolly day - pink as far as the eye could see, a pair of ruby slippers like Dorothy's, a cake covered in Fruit Pastilles, and no bedtime teeth-cleaning, to boot. That night, when I put her to bed, I was fairly confident of a cheerful smile and a "Thanks for all the sucrose, Ma."

Instead, I got: "Mummy." Pause. "I don't want to die." Read more

New Jersey Diocese Expresses Regret for 'Pain Suffered' by Homosexuals

The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey approved a resolution expressing "its deepest regret for the pain and anguish suffered by our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, their families, and friends, due to the adoption of Resolution B033."

Resolution B033 was adopted at the Episcopal Church's 2006 General Convention which resolved to "exercise restraint" by not consecrating candidates whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church. Read more

Close to breakup: Behind the scenes in Dar es Salaam

The Anglican Communion teetered on the brink of collapse throughout the final day of the primates’ meeting, Feb. 15-19 in Tanzania, with conflicting theological and philosophical views jousting for control of the future of Anglicanism. Read more

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

MP: Archbishops 'sided with fundamentalist bigots'

Questions to Stuart Bell, the MP for Middlesbrough who represents the church commissioners in parliament, come round every month. The atmosphere in the chamber subtly changes. There is a hush. The sunlight splashes into the chamber and onto the woodwork as if through stained glass. It takes little imagination to hear the faint sound of organ music, to see the floral offerings on the despatch box. Read more

Traditionalists 'outmanouevered' in Tanzania

[...] We must sadly conclude that in Zanzibar the traditionalist primates were skilfully out-manoeuvred. They conceded the very principles for which they stand; and did so in exchange for assurances which they will probably not get, and which, should they be forthcoming, will be half-hearted and of little effect. All this came about not because those primates are weak or foolish, but because the Communion itself, of which they are an intrinsic part, is structured on principles of democracy and mutual accountability. Read more

CofE must leave Communion to remain 'Church of the Nation'

[...] The Church of England's attempt to reinvent itself as an international communion has failed. It has led not to the renewal of Anglicanism in Britain, but to a whole new level of failure; indeed dramatic collapse looks likely. The illusion that Anglicanism has become essentially international has distracted English bishops from their primary duty: to minister to the nation. For centuries, the church knew that it existed to serve the particular religious needs of the English people. It knew that this people combined liberalism with respect for tradition, and for Christianity. If the needs of the nation had been put before the ideology of international Anglicanism, the Church of England would not have been thrown by the issue of homosexuality. It would be pursuing a gently reforming course. By getting ideas above its station, and trying to rival Rome's internationalism, the Church of England has undone itself. Read more

Church of England Announces New Dean of Southwell Minster

Ed: Learn all about "Ven John Guille" from Google by clicking the link.

The new Dean of Southwell Minster has been announced as the Ven John Guille, The Church of England Newspaper reports. Read more

Christian Lawyers Alarmed at Threat to Religious Liberty Under SORs

The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF) has expressed alarm following a recent report on the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) which indicated that Christian schools may no longer be allowed to teach children that the Christian view on human sexuality is "objectively true".

The LCF said last week’s report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) on the Northern Ireland SORs and proposed England, Wales and Scotland SORs was “highly concerning”, as it warned that the “thrust of the secularist agenda cannot be underestimated”. Read more

Gospel of gay acceptance outweighs Anglican unity

[...] I believe the Episcopal Church is playing a prophetic role in its movement to full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. For many Episcopalians, this is an issue of both love and justice.

There are those who say the Episcopal Church is disregarding the authority of Scripture. I respond that we are being led by the Holy Spirit into a fuller understanding of the Gospel. Read more

A return to Lambeth 1.10? Prof Stephen Noll

[...] The up-or-down question which TEC must answer is: “Do you affirm the moral teaching about homosexuality in Resolution 1.10, or do you deny it? Will you conform your practice to the traditional teaching of the Christian Church that the two moral alternatives for human sexuality are faithfulness in marriage and abstinence outside it? Or do you conform to another norm of “justice” for practicing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons?

For those of us who have been involved in the various “dialogues” and political machinations of the past 15 years and who actually observe what is happening on the ground, the answer to this is up-or-down question has already been given in the negative: the majority leadership of TEC denies Lambeth 1.10 in principle and in practice and has instituted its own alternative norm which will eventually become mandatory throughout the church. Read more

Nineteen new missionary bishops for Nigeria

Ed: What is the difference between a 'missionary bishop 'in Nigeria and a 'bishop in mission' in England?

The mission agenda of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to make every Anglican an evangelist and double its size will receive a firm boost on Sunday when 20 Bishops will be consecrated at one single service. Read more

Challenges for new missionary dioceses in Nigeria

Read here.

There's only one sexual orientation

According to those advising the UK government on its proposed ‘Sexual Orientation Regulations’, there are a variety of sexual orientations (Joint Committee on Human Rights, Legislative Scrutiny: Sexual Orientation Regulations, 2007, p15, para 44), which are an inherent characteristic of human beings, comparable to race or gender. This, moreover, must be regarded as the objective basis of moral teaching (contra the advice on religious education on p25).

What this advice overlooks, however, is that there is really only one sexual orientation as such, and that is the one which produces offspring via the process of sexual reproduction. This is as true for toadstools as it is for human beings, and is not a matter of personal or religious belief, but an objective fact. Read more

Monday, 5 March 2007

George Carey for Primatial Vicar?

Ed: This is apparently lifted from the Church of England Newspaper. The article is interesting, though sadly Stephen Bates only has an inkwell of poison when he writes about evangelicals.

[...] Clearly, whoever it is will have an enormous task on his hands (I presume it will be a he, since some of the dioceses wouldn’t accept him if he wasn’t). It is a job that will call for enormous energy and charm, deep reservoirs of tact and discernment, astute diplomacy, collegiality, a powerful intellect and the ability to reach out to those who disagree with him.

There seemed only one candidate who could amply fulfil all these requirements – and, remember, there were Americans present. Step forward, we decided, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable George Leonard Carey, late of this parish. Read more

Williams' letter to Primates calls TEC to abide by Lambeth 1.10

Ed: Liberal response to this (howling rage) is worth reading on Thinking Anglicans. (Though who can blame them?)

[...] There was no questioning at our meeting of the fact that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 remains the standard of teaching on matters of sexual morality for the Communion. The Windsor Report requested certain assurances from The Episcopal Church with respect to the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions and the admittance of a candidate living in a sexual relationship outside marriage. It was our discernment at the meeting in Dar es Salaam that those assurances had not been as clearly given in the deliberations of General Convention as they might have been, and therefore we have asked the House of Bishops to clarify the response of The Episcopal Church in their two meetings in March and September this year. To address these requests to the American House of Bishops is not to ignore the polity of The Episcopal Church, but to acknowledge that the bishops have a key role, acknowledged in the Constitution of that church, in authorising liturgies within their dioceses and in giving consent to the election of candidates for episcopal order. A clear response on these questions is also needed in the near future: we cannot wait for another General Convention for further clarification. A readiness by the leadership of The Episcopal Church to live by that same formal standard of teaching on these matters which applies elsewhere in the Communion is perhaps the first and most important step in the way forward. Read more

Anglican Women reject Primates' 'male power plays'

[...] In the view of the Anglican women, the Primates' warning is inconsistent with the Christian mission of reconciliation and compassionate ministry, and a decidedly male approach to struggling with difference. All of the Primates are men of power, they note, except for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

"The women of the Communion have, I believe, moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well," said Jenny Te Paa, an Anglican UNCSW delegate and ahorangi, or dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand. Read more

The God Gap? Faith of Republicans and Democrats not so different

Whose side will "God" be on in the 2008 presidential election? Recent elections have emphasized the importance of Christian voters to American electoral outcomes. How is this element of private spiritual life likely to influence party politics leading up to 2008?

A new survey from The Barna Group explores the so-called "God gap" between Republicans and Democrats, examining 32 measures of religious commitment, belief and activity. The study shows that while Republicans continue to hold advantage in attracting born again Christian voters, Democrats are not as far behind on measures of Christian commitment as might be assumed. Read more

Labour 'can relax over marriage'

David Cameron has put the wind up Labour by saying something very simple and highly conservative: marriage is a good thing. He is in favour of traditional family life, would support it even above economic growth, and will not apologise for favouring marriage. If you want a measure of how much Britain has changed, consider that it is now thought to be news, even a bold and dangerous thing, for a Tory leader to back the traditional family.

Why has it shaken Labour? First, because it seems to be a popular thing to say, and second because the government cannot quite echo Cameron. It can't because it is divided. There are some, like Tony Blair and John Hutton, who are unequivocally in favour of sticking up for marriage; and others, like Alan Johnson, who are equally determined that lone parents should not be demonised. At first sight, it looks a bit of a political disaster for Labour. Just as the Tories get into a poll lead, they have a popular message that Labour cannot mimic. Read more

Dust settling on the Synod

[...] What really angered conservative evangelicals was the way that openly gay clergy, whose behaviour appears to be in blatant breach of official Church policy, felt able to stand up in the Synod and talk publicly and unapologetically about their physical relationships with no fear of retribution. To the conservatives, no clearer indication of the bishops inability or unwillingness to act could be imagined. Read more

Executive Council of TEC will resist Tanzania

[...] The Executive Council is speaking up on behalf of our GLBT members. They won't let us sell them out to neo-papal demands. Here's the reminder of what we stand for, from the Executive Council's letter to the church:

We wish clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons, particularly those perceived to be the least among us. We wish to reaffirm to our lesbian and gay members that they remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church.

And this part means they're going to mull over how to respond to the primates' requests (and also how to juggle power with the House of Bishops) Read more

Global South needs 'more radical submission to Scripture'

[...] To obey Christ today, Global South churches need to submit themselves to the Scripture in a more radical manner. It takes more than merely having orthodox upbringing and evangelical friends for a person to be an orthodox today. The crisis is not out there in the West, but at the home front. The challenge before the churches is in translating their formal confession of the authority of the Scripture into practice: what does it mean in concrete terms for Christian communities to live under the authority of God’s Word? Read more

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Government's proposals on Sexual Orientation Regulations for GB published

Learn how and why you're going to be in trouble. Just published here.

Letter: 'No shame' in Synod

Sir - For me, Wednesday in the General Synod was a grim day for the Church of England (report, March 1). Some of the speeches on civil partnerships that were made, particularly by members of the clergy, were truly shocking.

No longer is there any shame about anything. Descriptions of "loving partnerships", including the mention of sex, were par for the course. The bishops sat there unmoved. Read more

Incestuous German pair fight case

A German brother and sister who live as a couple and have four children are going to Germany's highest court to try to legalise their relationship.

The 29-year-old brother has already spent more than two years in prison for sleeping with his sister, and could be incarcerated again, his lawyer said. Read more

Hardcore of child offenders still rising

THE number of hardcore young offenders is growing in many parts of Scotland, according to new figures.

The Scottish Children's Reporters Administration (SCRA) yesterday revealed that 1,177 youngsters were classed as persistent offenders in the first three-quarters of 2006/07 - 72, or 6 per cent, up on the same period in 2005/06. Read more

Children's prints to be held on database

CHILDREN as young as 11 are to have their fingerprints taken and stored on a secret government database, it was claimed last night.

The Home Office is understood to be planning to take as many as half-a-million prints from children aged 11 to 16 from 2010 onwards. Read more

Scandal of child heroin dealers

CHILD dealers of heroin, cocaine and other banned substances are being arrested at the rate of one every four days in the latest sign that Scotland is in the grip of a drugs epidemic. Read more

Law chief wanted secret gag on BBC

Tony Blair's most senior law adviser tried to impose a draconian ban to prevent the public learning about the gagging order that stopped the BBC revealing a major police breakthrough in the loans-for-peerages scandal. Read more

BNP seeks anti-abortion Catholic votes

The British National Party is building an alliance with radical anti-abortion activists in an attempt to reach out to Catholics and secure their votes in future elections. Read more

'Outlaw' inspired by breakdown of British society

Nick Love's new film has been criticised for depicting vigilantes striking back against the criminals on Britain's streets. Here, the director reveals he was inspired by the breakdown of our society and a failing justice system. Read more

Is Britain splitting up over marriage?

After nearly a decade of neglect, the family is emerging as the new political battleground. Experts agree two parents are better than one but is the answer to promote marriage? Richard Woods and David Smithreport. Read more

'Minister for lone parents driven by father's abuse'

The full story of Alan Johnson's impoverished childhood is told for the first time today, offering a fascinating insight into what motivates the front-runner for the Labour deputy leadership.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday, his sister, Linda Edwards provides a moving explanation for Mr Johnson's impassioned defence of non-traditional families. Read more

New Jersey civil-unions law presents challenge for state's Episcopal bishops

After more than five years of debate, a bill offering same-gender couples the right to enter into "civil unions" in the state of New Jersey went into effect at midnight February 19. New Jersey is the third U.S. state to offer civil unions, after Connecticut and Vermont. Massachusetts permits same-gender marriage. Read more

ABp of Wales sides with TEC

[...] The archbishop said it was shocking to see people from the traditional wing of the American Anglican Church ‘‘blatantly influencing the more conservative primates of provinces [and] making an inflammatory situation potentially explosive’’.

‘‘Primates have briefed against one another and some primates have refused to receive communion from the same altar as other primates,” he said.

The archbishop said Anglicanism was about diversity in unity. ‘‘Not only do we have to respect one another’s geographical integrity, but also one another’s moral and theological integrity,” he said. Read more

Nazir-Ali: I believe in Trident

Once again the General Synod of the Church of England has been wrong-footed by passing a last-minute motion declaring the renewal of Trident to be unethical. The original motion had been carefully thought-out and was supported by documents setting out the situation facing the United Kingdom and asking probing and intelligent questions about the Government's intentions. Instead, the Church has now been left in a position which can be seen as mere moralising and trying to dictate defence policy. Read more