Archive for July, 2011

One Man, One Woman, and the Common Good: Marriage’s Public Purpose

Sunday, July 31st, 2011


By Austin R Nimocks, Witherspoon Institute

The state should uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, because the state’s interest in marriage is fundamentally about public, not private, purposes for marriage. Adapted from testimony delivered before the United States Senate.
As debates currently rage about budget deficits, debt ceilings, and jobs, I am pleased that the Senate is discussing what are arguably the two most important jobs in our society—the jobs of mothers and fathers. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) gives us a chance to think about the roles of mothers and fathers in our society, and also to consider a question often overlooked in these debates: why is government in the marriage business?
Congress enacted DOMA in 1996 by an 84% margin, demonstrating broad bi-partisan support. When it did so, Congress stated that “at bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.” This statement still holds true. As evidenced by the most extensive national research survey on Americans’ attitudes about marriage, 62% of Americans agree that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.”

“John Stott – a Prince among God’s people” by Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney

Friday, July 29th, 2011

There are a few, a very few, who deserve to be called a Prince amongst the people of God.  John Stott was one such.

We all see other people partially. I am not therefore going to try to give a rounded picture of the man. I am only going to mention briefly the areas in which his impact was strongest in our part of the world. But the source and nature of that impact was at the very heart of his whole ministry. It had to do with his treatment of scripture.

The thing for which we will mainly remember him was as one which expounded the Bible as God’s word.

All preaching worthy of the name Christian starts from the Bible. The Biblical preaching of my youth would start characteristically from a verse, sometimes taken out of context and used as a starting point for an extended Christian homily with exhortation.

Our first hand experience of John Stott was different. He took passages rather than texts and gave rigorous attention to the context and the meaning of the passage taken as a whole. And he spoke with such spiritual vibrancy that you could immediately tell that the biblical text was shaping and informing his faith and his walk with God. Here was a man with something to say, precisely because he took it from scripture.

The effects were profound. Not only did people come to know Christ through his preaching and not only were people built up in Christ. He modelled a preaching style which other could use as well. He was not the great orator who can only be admired but never emulated. He was a servant of the word which showed what can be done by faithful attention to the text of scripture. Obviously few had his intellectual and theological skills; nonetheless we could aspire to use his model.

His ministry had a multiplier effect. Read the rest of this entry »

Soldiers intercept 700 bombs in Abuja

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
15/07/2011

 

Read more: nnamdi azikiwe international airport, federal capital territory, hafiz ringim, boko haram, state security services, explosives in Abuja, Abuja City Gate, Mambilla Barracks,

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A security alert was triggered last night as soldiers intercepted a truck conveying no fewer than 700 explosives in Abuja.
Daily Sun gathered that the vehicle escorted by two unarmed policemen was intercepted at the Abuja City Gate at about 8.00 p.m.
The serving policemen had successfully beaten all security checkpoints at all the entry points into the Federal Capital Territory with their deadly consignment until they got to Lugbe on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, where soldiers on routine duty stopped them.

It was gathered that the soldiers demanded to know what was in the truck and ordered the policemen to alight.
The policemen were said to have refused the order, insisting they were doing the same kind of work with the soldiers.
The soldiers, it was further learnt, insisted on searching the truck and found the explosives packed in 700 cartons.
Commander, Brigade of Guards was promptly alerted to the discovery and he dispatched a team of soldiers to arrest the policemen.

The policemen were whisked to the Mambilla Barracks where, it was gathered, they were being detained.
Daily Sun further gathered that the Brigade Commander informed the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim who rushed to the Barracks and confirmed that the policemen were not fake. He also ordered that they be kept in the custody of the military.

As at the time of filing this report at about midnight, the Director of the State Security Services (SSS) and other top security chiefs had visited the Mambilla Barracks to inspect the explosives.
The arrest immediately sparked a wave of security activities, including the deployment of soldiers in various parts of the Federal Capital Territory as well as government establishments.
It could not be immediately ascertained the source of the explosives and where it was coming from.
Only on Wednesday, the Islamist group, Boko Haram, which had been terrorizing the country revealed that it was planning to attack the Aso Villa, the seat of the Presidency in Abuja.

The Unhappy Fate of Optional Evangelicalism – how Fulcrum strengthens the case for the Anglican Mission in England

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

 

Charles Raven

Fulcrum has a new ‘chair’, the Revd Stephen Kuhrt, and in last week’s Church of England Newspaper, he took the opportunity to review Fulcrum’s history and restate its vision in his article ‘Remaining at the Centre of the Church of England’. To readers outside England unfamiliar with its tribes, I should explain that Fulcrum is a grouping of self styled ‘open’ evangelicals which operates under the slogan of ‘renewing the evangelical centre’.

Unfortunately, Fulcrum is open towards just about anyone except those fellow evangelicals who are aligned with Anglican Mainstream, the GAFCON movement and of course the newly formed Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). Kuhrt ascribes Fulcrum’s origins to the ‘reactionary’ nature of the 2003 National Evangelical Anglican Congress (NEAC), but fails to mention that it met against the backdrop of the attempted consecration of gay champion Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading and the actual consecration of the actively homosexual Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire earlier in the year. It has become clear that this group is really energized by what it is against and that opposition not infrequently takes on a visceral quality, such as Bishop Tom Wright’s bizarre attack on the GAFCON leadership in 2008 as false teachers, akin to the ‘super-apostles’ of 2 Corinthians 11:5.

The centre to which Fulcrum is committed is not in fact an evangelical centre at all, but an institutional centre, as the title of Kuhrt’s article suggests. Indeed he sees Fulcrum as ‘a positive and confident evangelicalism remaining right at the centre of the structures of the Church of England’. This does not simply mean being engaged. It is an ecclesiology which works on the naïve assumption that the institutional church is for all practical proposes the ‘body of Christ’ and so Kuhrt writes of his hope for ‘A renewed commitment to ecclesiology as the Body of Christ, including the commitment to remain together with others in the Church of England despite our differences and work through the issues upon which we disagree.’

Read here

John Stott passed to glory.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

July 27th, 2011

Rev Dr John Stott CBE, Chaplain to the Queen, died this afternoon a few weeks after his ninetieth birthday. He was described by David Edwards as “the most influential churchman of our day”.

David Wells reports that his funeral will be in St Paul’s Cathedral, and he will be buried at the Hookses.

JOHN STOTT (1911-2011)

By Ted Schroder
July 27, 2011

I have just received word from England that John Stott died this afternoon. An old friend, George Cassidy, retired bishop of Southwell, emailed that John’s secretary, Frances Whithead, his niece, Caroline Stott, his former study assistant, Matthew Smith and Philip Herbert were with him. They read a few Psalms and his breathing became very shallow and he slipped away. George commented: “End of an era; and gratitude to God for his wonderful life.”

Antoinette and I were hoping to visit him later this year in his nursing home. He celebrated his 90th birthday in April, and was very frail. He was ready and eager to go on to be with the Lord he so loved and served.

In his commentary on 2 Timothy: Guard the Gospel, John wrote these words on chapter 4, verses 6-8:

“The apostle uses two vivid figures of speech to portray his coming death, one taken from the language of sacrifice and the other (probably) of boats. First, ‘I am already on the point of being sacrificed.’ Or ‘Already my life is being poured out on the altar.’ He likens his life to a libation or drink offering. So imminent does he believe his martyrdom to be that he speaks of the sacrifice as having already begun. He goes on: ‘the time of my departure has come’. ‘Departure’ (analysis) seems to have become a regular word for death, but we need not necessarily conclude from this that its metaphorical origin had been entirely forgotten. It means ‘loosing’ and could be used either of striking a tent or of ‘release from shackles’, or of untying a boat from its moorings. The last is certainly the most picturesque of the three possibilities. The two images then to some extent correspond for the end of this life (outpoured as a libation) is the beginning of another (putting out to sea). As the anchor is weighed, the ropes are slipped, and the boat is about to set sail for another shore.” (p.113)

After further exposition of having fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith, John concludes.

“This then is ‘Paul the aged’…His little boat is about to set sail. He is eagerly awaiting his crown….Our God is the God of history….He buries his workmen, but carries on his work. The torch of the gospel is handed down by each generation to the next. As the leaders of the former generation die, it is all the more urgent for those of the next generation to step forward bravely to take their place….We cannot rest forever on the leadership of the preceding generation. The day comes when we must step into their shoes and ourselves take the lead. That day had come for Timothy. It comes to us all in time.” (p.116)

I owe more than I can tell to John Stott. He took a callow youth as his assistant and mentored him, then launched me into ministry. Over the years he kept in touch by letters and visits. His books have been a constant inspiration. My testimony can be echoed by hundreds or thousands of others all over the world.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of knowing him personally and for being recipient of his brotherly affection and fatherly care. May his legacy continue to bear fruit. May his influence grow. May he ever be remembered as the Prince of Preachers of his day, and the friend of believers of all races throughout the world.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor.2:5)

Ted Schroder
Amelia Island, Florida

On Christian fundamentalism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

With thanks to Archbishop Cranmer

We are told that Anders Behring Breivik, the man who bombed Norway’s government buildings and then went on to slaughter 92 of Norway’s youth while they were on a summer camp, is a Freemason. Here he is in his regalia. His Lodge must be appalled by the association. Breivik has been variously described as a ‘Christian fundamentalist’, a ‘neo-Nazi’, and a ‘Right-wing extremist’. His Grace has written before on the disconnect between left-right political philosophy and vernacular terminology, and the pervasive demonisation of the Right: how National Socialism is an expression of the political Right is an interesting discussion, but today His Grace would like to focus on the reported ‘Christian fundamentalist’ who is also a mass murderer.

Religious fundamentalism is not a new phenomenon: indeed, it is as old as religion itself, and is concerned with the believer’s adherence to foundational precepts. There is no one school of thought even within one religion: one Muslim fundamentalist may pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan, and adhere to the Five Pillars; another will seek to wage war against the values of liberal democracy, blowing us all to smithereens and martyring himself in the process. The former is ‘devout’ while the latter has become an ‘Islamist’: the one who follows literally the example of Mohammed in bringing the sword to unbelief in order to establish the Caliphate. There are also Sikh fundamentalists and Hindu fundamentalists; indeed, all religions will have those whose belief is concentrated upon the fundamentals of their faith.

Like Christianity itself, Christian fundamentalism is expressed differently within each nation state and community. In South America, adherents of Liberation Theology who seeks social justice for the oppressed are widely considered to be dangerous political subversives and so fundamentalist. In the US, fundamentalism arose as a reaction to religious liberalism and tends towards literalism: that is, every word in the Bible means exactly what it says. For ‘creationists’, this means the world was created in six days. For others, the focus is on issues of morality like abortion and homosexuality: the ‘Religious Right’ are considered fundamentalists simply by virtue of their conservative views on family values. But if such views render Evangelical Protestants fundamentalist, a fortiori must they make Pope Benedict XVI fundamentalist, as many readers of The Tablet may attest. And if he be so, then so are all Roman Catholics who adhere to the traditions and obey literally all the teachings of the Magisterium. In the UK, the socially-conservative, ecumenical parliamentary group Cornerstone is considered somewhat fundamentalist; indeed, Alan Duncan once referred to them as the ‘Tory Taliban’. ‘Fundamentalism’ is a slippery term when applied to Christianity.

But never over recent centuries has ‘Christian fundamentalism’ been used to justify mass murder. We are not talking about bombing Dresden or sinking the Belgrano or any appalling loss of life within a context of war: we are talking about a professing Christian who decides to take the law into his own hands and act unilaterally. Anders Behring Breivik shows a remarkable ignorance of the teachings of Jesus, who exhorted Peter to put away his sword. To be a fundamentalist follower of Jesus would be to dedicate one’s life to celibate pacifism. And not only that, it would be to give away all that one has to the poor and live in a commune where everyone shares everything and all possessions are in common. Socialists often claim their political inspiration from such teachings, ergo the ‘fundamentalist Christian’ would be a ‘Left-wing extremist’ rather than one of the Right. The Christian is concerned with Scripture, tradition, and reason. And there are those who would add experience. But no Christian tradition at all, from the era of the New Testament and the Church Fathers through the Middle Ages, Reformation, Enlightenment, and on to modernity and postmodernity, could possibly, reasonably or scripturally be used to justify the shooting of 92 teenagers enjoying their summer holiday.

The Christian fundamentalist who advocates that such an atrocity may be justified as a reactiontion to multiculturalism is certainly no type of Christian. They may be fundamentalist, but their fundamentals are not founded upon New Testament principles, where we read that we must submit to the ruling authorities, love our neighbours and our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. The foundation, the crucial things in Christianity, were articulated by Hooker for the Church of England:

This is then the foundation, whereupon the frame of the gospel is erected: that very Jesus whom the Virgin conceived of the Holy Ghost, whom Simeon embraced in his arms, whom Pilate condemned, whom the Jews crucified, whom the Apostles preached, he is Christ, the only Saviour of the world: ‘other foundation can no man lay’.

To believe this is to be a ‘Christian fundamentalist’, and His Grace is proud to be so. Individual believers may hold some things ‘weakly’, but those who deny them absolutely are in certain error. No Christian church can directly deny this foundation without ceasing to be such. Everything else – absolutely everything – is secondary, tertiary, or utterly peripheral.

The demonisation of the Right

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Just a day after a ‘right-wing extremist’ systematically slaughtered around 100 Norwegian teenagers, Vince Cable goes on national television and denounces the ‘right-wing nutters’ in the US who don’t want to raise the debt ceiling. The ‘Tea Party’ Republicans, he says, pose a bigger threat to the world economy than any problems in the eurozone.

Just a few months ago the right-wing Freedom Association and Norris McWhirter were caricatured by the BBC as fascists and neo-Nazis, and even Margaret Thatcher’s official biographer Charles Moore now asserts that Right is wrong. International Development Minister Alan Duncan equates socially-conservative, right-wing Tories with the Taliban; the co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi has had a swipe at the Right; and David Cameron isn’t averse to talking about ‘right-wing extremists’; a ‘right-wing fascist party’; ‘far right groups’ and ‘the hard right’.

The subliminal message is inescapable: ‘Left is good; Right is bad’, because right-wing beliefs breed right-wing philosophy which spawns right-wing extremism which is malignant. Ergo, those who tend towards the political Right must be subject to state surveillance.

And so we arrive at the unquestionable BBC state orthodoxy and narrative of enlightenment. It is ‘spin’, but of such an Orwellian subliminal manipulation of the vernacular that any contrary utterance strikes a chord of jarring dissonance, and the speaker or writer is cast into political, social or spiritual oblivion. Norman Tebbit, Simon Heffer, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Daniel Hannan, Peter Hitchens, John Redwood, Melanie Phillips, The Freedom Association… These are the new ‘fascists’ of the Right; they exist at the periphery of social acceptability, while the fascistic tendencies of those left-wing groups which seek to intimidate and silence any reasoned protest against socially-liberal, ecumenical, europhiliac multiculturalism are completely ignored.

It appears now that if you believe in small state, low tax policies; are fiscally conservative; oppose on-tap abortion; support the traditional, nuclear family; seek to limit immigration; support withdrawal from the EU; advocate freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of belief, you are without doubt a racist, bigoted zealot, and almost certainly a ‘right-wing extremist’ or a ‘right-wing nutter’.

And if it is ‘fascist’ or ‘extremist’ or ‘right-wing’ to say this, then it would appear that His Grace also needs watching. But so do the vast majority of Britons who are proud to stand up for such beliefs and advocate such policies, for there beats yet the Conservative heart of the nation.

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