Impossible to Believe — Preaching in a Secular Culture

“When people identify as believers in Jesus Christ they are making a far more individualistic statement than was possible in years past. Furthermore, they are doing so in the face of alternative worldview options that were simply unavailable until very recently.

In fact, as I was doing research for my book on atheism I learned that the very first use of ‘atheist’ in English came from Miles Coverdale who invented the word during his time translating Scripture.

The remarkable thing to notice is that Coverdale had to invent a term for someone who did not believe in God because he did not know anyone who actually held that conviction. No one in the Elizabethan age would have denied God’s existence.…”

– In his second article in a series on Preaching in a Secular Age, Albert Mohler makes some very worthwhile observations. Read it here.

Dying with dignity

Recently, the South Australian Parliament debated and rejected the Death with Dignity Bill, which proposed to legalise euthanasia. It was the 15th time a euthanasia bill had been rejected by the house.

The bill’s proposer predicts that this is not the end of the debate, referring to the overwhelming public support for “the right to choose and have a dignified death”. With Andrew Denton regularly advertising his desire for legal euthanasia with evangelistic fervour, I agree that we have not seen the end of the debate. But I still hope for a more honest one. …”

– This is an important article by Dr. Megan Best, bioethicist and palliative care doctor who works for HammondCare. She serves on the Social Issues Committee of the Diocese of Sydney.

From SydneyAnglicans.net.

(Dr. Best is also the author of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, from Matthia Media.)

Secularism, Preaching, and the Challenges of Modernity

Dr Albert Mohler“I began my chapter on preaching and postmodernism in We Cannot Be Silent with these words, “A common concern seems to emerge now wherever Christians gather: The task of truth-telling is stranger than it used to be. In this age, telling the truth is tough business and not for the faint-hearted. The times are increasingly strange.”

As preachers we recognize how strange the times have become. Almost anyone seeking to carry out a faithful pulpit ministry recognizes that preachers must now ask questions we have not had to consider in the past. We recognize that preaching has been displaced from its once prominent position in the culture.

Many of us are wondering, why is preaching more challenging in our cultural moment than it has been in other times? …”

– Albert Mohler begins a three-part series on Preaching in a Secular Age.

Religious Freedom, transgender issues and abortion – overruling the US Health Department

Assoc Prof Neil Foster“The recent (31 Dec 2016) decision of US Federal District Court Judge O’Connor in Franciscan Alliance Inc v Burwell (ND TX, Case 7:16-cv-00108-O; Dec. 31, 2016) (thanks to “Religion Clause” for the report and information) is a significant one.

In short, the Obama administration had used the prohibition on ‘sex discrimination’ in US Federal law to enact an administrative regulation requiring Christian health care providers (and some State governments) to provide transgender ‘transition’ procedures, and abortions, to all patients, arguing that denying this coverage amounted to sex discrimination.

This highly questionable interpretation has now been overturned by this very significant decision…”

– Neil Foster, at Law and Religion Australia, reports on developments in the United States.

Update on 2016 Law and Religion issues and preview for 2017

Assoc Prof Neil FosterIt seems a good time of the year to take stock of the current status of some important Law and Religion issues discussed this year, and to flag some upcoming issues for the New Year.”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster provides a concise summary of some of the key issues in 2016, plus a heads-up on another Parliamentary Inquiry, this one into “the status of the human right to freedom of religion or belief“.

Putting the ‘Christmas’ back into ‘Merry Christmas’ – Archbishop Davies on 2GB

Archbishop Glenn DaviesAnglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, joins Chris Smith about the lack of the phrase “Merry Christmas” around this Christmas – interviewed this morning (23 December 2016) on Sydney radio 2GB.

Listen here. A great interview.

Related: Archbishop has blasted inner city grinchesDaily Telegraph (subscription)

Where next on same-sex marriage?

Lee Gatiss, Church SocietyChurch Society has published online an article by Director, Lee Gatiss. It will be printed in the Winter 2017 edition of Crossway.

Entitled “Where next on same-sex marriage?”, it focusses on the situation in the Church of England, though with reference to the wider Anglican Communion

So, we have completed more than two years of ‘facilitated’ or ‘shared conversations’ about sexuality issues in the Church of England. This was encouraged by the Pilling Report a few years ago, as the way forward on this issue. But what happens now that the conversations have ended? And what, if anything, should be done?

There are various potential options for the future of the Church on this subject. Some have listed only the different ways in which so-called ‘traditionalists’ might be hived off into a ‘safe space’, or leave the Church altogether once the liberal triumph is complete. But it is far from inevitable or desirable for that to be the outcome.

Others have seen the options as merely extremes: adopt gay marriage or stay as we are; with a third way (’pastoral accommodation’ of prayers for same-sex couples, but no change in doctrine) seen as a nice compromise in the middle. But this is tendentious: there are far more options than merely these three, and no-one is happy with the status quo.

In the article linked to below, from the forthcoming issue off our magazine Crossway, I explore in more detail 6 possible ways forward. So explore with me what those might be …”

Read it all here.

Sexual Revolution, Same Old Revolution

rebellionThe sexual revolution here in the twenty-first century is not a new revolution, but a continuation of the one that has dominated humanity since our earliest days.

This revolution began when a man made a choice to declare independence from God. He wanted to be autonomous, he wanted to make his own way in the world, to answer only to himself, to shake himself free from the oversight and accountability of his Creator.

But more than that, he wanted to destroy that Creator, to escape his watchful eye, to stamp out the imprint of himself this Creator left on every human soul. For man knows he is guilty before this Creator. He can doubt it or deny it, but he can never fully shake it. To get out from under his guilt he must get out from under his Creator. To kill his guilt he must kill his Creator.”

– Read the full post from Tim Challies. (Image: Tim Challies.)

Also see:

Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge in Pornography – Andy Naselli.

Pornography: still an issue? – Meagan Bartlett, Australian Church Record.

Three controversial Victorian bills defeated

victoria-mapFrom Neil Foster at Law and Religion Australia:

A brief update on the status of some proposed Victorian legislation I have previously mentioned as being a bad idea. It is good to see that all three bills have been defeated in the Victorian Parliament.

Two of them would have interfered with the running of religious schools, as well as other religious organisations. The third would have created a range of problems in its interaction with Federal marriage law.”

Read the full post here.

Related: Freedom of association: sanity succeeds on Spring Street – Spectator.

Peter Jensen — Against the charge of Homophobia

Abp Peter JensenIt’s a pretty heavy thing to be accused of homophobia. The word is not an intellectual judgement but a more damning moral one.

There have always been examples of unkind attitudes, bullying and discrimination towards people who appear to be, or who identify as, homosexual, just as there has always been racism, snobbery and other ugly traits. Sadly, Christians have sometimes been guilty of this, and in doing so we are failing to follow the way of Christ.

However, in recent years the accusation of ‘homophobia’ has been levelled not just at these unkind attitudes towards gay people, but also reasoned biblical convictions about problems associated with homosexual practice, and any expression of concern about the power and intolerance of pressure groups.…”

– GAFCON General Secretary, Peter Jensen, writes to encourage Christian people to speak the truth in love.

Related:

The perversion of Lambeth 1.10

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of GloucesterThe Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt. Rev. Rachel Treweek, will preside at an ‘LGBTI Eucharist’ on 15 Jan 2017, the diocesan chapter of Inclusive Church reports. …

Will this be a violation of Lambeth 1.10? A plain reading of the document coupled with the original intention of the authors would say ‘yes’.

The presence of the Bishop of Chichester at a Brighton Gay Pride march and the Bishop of Salisbury at a similar affair, was raised in GAFCON-UK’s paper, ‘The Church of England and Lambeth 1.10’, released last week. They were cited as examples of the problematic stance of the church hierarchy on issues surrounding human sexuality — and as a violation of Lambeth 1.10.

The Bishop of Salisbury denounced GAFCON-UK’s criticism as “outrageous” and a perversion of the spirit of Lambeth 1.10. In a letter to the Church Times the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam said he too had offered prayers at a Gay Pride parade, explaining: ‘The blessing of Gay Pride in Salisbury was a joyful celebration of a people who are part of our community and among the rich diversity of all God’s children. This is in keeping with Lambeth I.10, which calls us ‘to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals’…”

– At Anglican Ink, George Conger provides some personal perspective on Lambeth 1.10. It’s clear that Lambeth 1.10 can’t mean whatever you want it to mean.

Photo: Bishop Rachel Treweek, Diocese of Gloucester.

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