Archive for May, 2013

UPDATED: Standing up for the Boy Scouts #BSA #boyscouts

May 30, 2013

This is not a point-by-point analysis of the Boy Scouts of America decision to permit membership for those young people who profess a same-gender attraction. Roman Catholic canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters, in his excellent In the Light of the Law blog, has done all the heavy lifting in his essay “Thoughts for Catholics Impacted by the Boy Scouts of America Membership Policies.”

Although he approaches the matter from a Roman Catholic perspective, the principles apply, I think, to all orthodox churches and all thoughtful Christians. It is important to keep in mind that the BSA maintains a position keeping with sexual abstinence for all members. The BSA does not exist to advance particular viewpoints outside the stated goals of the organization which develop well-formed young people. Peters posted a fine follow-up, “A Few Days Into the Boy Scout Membership Controversy.”

I think that there is a good deal of evidence suggesting that abandoning the BSA is a very bad idea. There are some things that need to be said and it is going to demand patience as we go through the steps. Even with the latest adjustment in policy, there are not many large and prominent organizations that maintain what we might call “old fashioned” moral standards. The BSA has not made itself a haven for immorality and is not a mouthpiece for any social movement. Yes, there is reason to speculate about what MIGHT happen someday, but that is someday. Today is today and we are better served by trying to help BSA.
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Collect for Trinity Sunday

May 26, 2013

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

Pope Francis, meet Rob Bell: Pope Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics #universalism

May 23, 2013

Gosh, I love a good old-fashioned stoning, this story from Vatican City has plenty of fuel to make the boulders fly. I have some commentary on the jump, but first, here is the briefest outline of what is going on, and  link to the full story.

Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.

During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.

Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics.

UPDATE: Vatican Radio also carries the story.

National Catholic Register has a very informative and helpful report.

You may also read an excellent discussion on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog.

Note also that Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, in Europe Voice, has posted a more nuanced commentary on the Pope’s sermon. Let me especially direct your attention to the section in which he quotes lengthy sections of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in defining the Church. For example:

162. Where does the one Church of Christ subsist?

The one Church of Christ, as a society constituted and organized in the world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him. Only through this Church can one obtain the fullness of the means of salvation since the Lord has entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone whose head is Peter.

A careful reading will show that those outside the Church of Rome (lowly Anglicans, for example) are not automatically out of the parade. This essay also address the concept of the “anonymous Christian.” I must respectfully observe, at the risk over-emphasizing individual salvation, that this theological approach seems to somewhat devalue God’s free gift of grace.


I am writing this “on the fly,” so I am sure that many better minds will have  comprehensive and thoughtful comments over the next few days. My first reaction is that, despite the current media-driven tendency toward immediate rage, we owe it to Pope Francis to interpret his remarks in the most favorable light and should not do otherwise without the strongest evidence.
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Neglecting the Old Testament – Al Mohler

May 21, 2013

Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is right about 98.94% of the time. His excellent essay on the Old Testament is squarely within the bounds of his typical sound judgment. He also gives me one more opportunity to shamelessly plug my upcoming Old Testament Introduction, for which the syllabus is posted here Syllabus CFM OT. It is a great 12-week discussion and available “live” online.

Mohler observes the causes of Old Testament neglect and several ways in which it is misused by some preachers. You can read it all on the link below.

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus rebuked those who should know, who should see, who should hear, who should believe—and yet, will not. Jesus indicted the people who claimed to be not just the sons of Moses, but also the sons of Abraham—yet would not hear, believe, and be saved.

The Jews said to him,… ”Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him [cf. John 5:37: “His voice you have never heard”]. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:52–58)

But these words also rebuke the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in our own generation for our misuse and neglect of the Old Testament. In our own way, we can commit the same insult to both Christ and the Scriptures. For many, the Old Testament is simply a problem. Throughout the history of the Christian church, there have been those who have struggled to understand what to do with the Old Testament. Some of the sources of the problem are ideological and theological.

Neglecting the Old Testament – Online Bible Study Tools.

Collect for Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday

May 19, 2013

O GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending* to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The 39 Articles of Religion – a bright light in the 21st century

May 16, 2013

Surely somebody must be kidding! Someone understandeth not those things appertaining to modern culture and language.and is plainly repugnant, but not me! The Articles are old-fashioned, clumsy, authoritarian, and bear more than a slight whiff of Anti-Catholicism. Many Anglican seminaries do not teach them, although the Anglican School of Ministry (where with God’s help, I will finish my Master of Ministry this summer) is an exception to the rule. One or two (I am trying to be very diplomatic here) include the Articles in curriculum, but do not actually believe them. The Episcopal Church moved the Articles into a previously nonexistent section of the so-called Book of Common Prayer, 1979 edition known as “Historic Documents.” That is the place of exile where doctrinal standards go to die.

It is a healthy thing for doctrine hawks such as myself to remember that what we do about the gospel of Jesus Christ is a lot more important than how we work out the official belief of divine inspiration or the attributes of God. It is very important for modern Christians to face down attacks on the faith with a clear and articulate understanding of official teachings. This takes a lot of work, and we are busy people. The problem is that, in some of his last public teachings before being taken bodily into heaven, Jesus unequivocally commanded his followers (us!) to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). And how exactly would one do that? Yes, Jesus often taught by example and through signs. He often resorted to teaching, a transaction in which information is passed from one person to another. The person receiving the information is expected to retain and use it. Jesus is very specific about “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (v. 19). If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus, you are an instructor. There is no place for freeloaders.Jesus has set the curriculum to include “all that I commanded you.” The material is to be found in the four gospel accounts and the other divinely inspired texts which are the source of church teaching, including our Anglican Articles.
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Collect for the Sunday after Ascension Day

May 12, 2013

O GOD, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Collect for The Ascension Day

May 9, 2013

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Who stole Ascension Thursday?

May 8, 2013

In fairness, one probably cannot lay blame for the liturgical neglect of Holy Thursday at the grave of Gregory Dix. Modern “reformers” have, however, done much harm. Those of us who worship in the tradition of the church understand that belief  is molded by prayer; lex orandi, lex credendi. Modern revisionists have been hard at work reshaping the minds of unsuspecting lay people.

The old practice of the church locates the observance in accord with the biblical text, 40 days after the resurrection. This is a Thursday. It is a central feast of the church that brings completion to the Easter cycle. Jesus is crucified and laid in a tomb, from which he is raised incorruptible and the first of a new kind of humanity. This talk about a literal bodily resurrection is most obnoxious to the supposedly enlightened mind.  The notion that the glorified body of the Savior is taken into the heavenly realms brings the Easter narrative to fulfillment. It is a period at the end of a theological sentence. Full stop.

The Lord has risen indeed and is now enthroned on high and ever intercedes for his people. As a Thursday observance, the Ascension stands on its own in the church’s timekeeping. Moved to Sunday, it is just another weekly observance, and much less troubling to those who doubt the salvation of the cross, the actual resurrection, and the Ascension into heavenly glory.Well I mean, who would believe such a story anyway?

The traditional collect for Ascension Thursday also contains one of the coolest words  in the Book of Common Prayer.  How many times in your life will  you get to use the word “thither?” The collect is a wonderful snap shot of our own union with  the ascended Christ. Don’t forget Ascension Thursday.

Great close-out price on WORDsearch Bible study software! UPDATE: SOLD!

May 7, 2013

Dear friends,

This is a follow-up note concerning some excellent Bible software packages from Word Search, which I have available new “in the box” on CD ROM at a great price. This software is used in the Master of Ministry courses at the Anglican School of Ministry. It is affordable and I can personally attest that it is very useful. I am selling licensed copies of the Word Search 9 Teaching Library for a real saving; $75.00 (plus shipping). The downloaded Teaching Library version for Mac is listed at $129. You save $54.00. (Note: when you see Word Search 10 offered for sale on the web site, the $29.00 price is an UPGRADE for customers upgrading an existing package in version 9 to Word Search 10).

The teaching library is quite comprehensive. Here is a bit of what you get.

• 14 Bibles (the ability to view parallel translations is one of the best parts of this package).
• several commentaries
• a good set of maps
• Calvin’s Institutes, Hodges Systematic Theology, Finey’s Systematic Theology
• Josephus
• Strong’s Concordance
• Strong’s Talking Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
• Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (good resource!)
• Teacher’s commentary

Here is the link. See for yourself.

If you want better bible study software, go price Logos. The great thing about Word Search is that the basic cost is low and you can buy other books that are frequently packaged in economical and practical bundles – meaning you save a ton of money on excellent ebooks. Those “extras” include a number from the Reformed perspective. In fact, I just happen to have inherited the IVP (InterVarsity Press) 5 volume New Testament Dictionary bundle. Right now, Word Search is selling this set for $149.00 (which is a fine value!), I will sell it for $100.00. What’s in it? Here is the link. This is top of the line material! See for yourself.

PC users will need Microsoft Windows XP. Vista or Windows 7, The program requires 600 MB of hard drive space available and a DVD-ROM drive. Mac folks (like me) must be running 10.5 or later with an Intel processor. You will likewise need at least 600 MB of hard drive space along with the DVD-ROM. The specs say that audio features are not supported on Macs, but I think they have fixed that in WS 10.

Interested? Drop me a note or call at the number below. I would be delighted to help you out!