How can we bless what God detests?

“Arguments against the use of Leviticus 18 in any serious discussion in the church about same-sex relationships have become so commonplace as to feature in everything from Radio 4’s The News Quiz to Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing.

If we want to argue that homosexual sexual activity is wrong, the argument goes, we must stop eating prawn sandwiches, put people to death for working on the Sabbath, and get rid of any polycotton garments we might own.

And yet, even a quick glance at the chapter in question will show that none of those things are mentioned. In fact, the list of things prohibited in Leviticus 18 is rather more sinister: various forms of incest, child sacrifice and bestiality. I wonder whether President Bartlet would have been happy to make those things legal. I certainly doubt that Bishop Stephen Croft would want to support them, despite his willingness to use the argument of President Bartlet his recent publication Together in Love and Faith (p31-32).

I suggest that we need to take a clearer look at (i) the place of the Old Testament law in Christian ethics and (ii) the particular context of Leviticus 18, rather than rely on the tired lines of stand-up comedians and political satire. …”

– This was written in December 2022, after the Bishop of Oxford had released his booklet endorsing same-sex marriage. Church Society’s Associate Director, Dr. Ros Clarke addresses the big question behind the call for the church to bless same-sex relationships.

In her conclusion she asks,

“How can we tell people that something God has said will lead to death, will actually lead to life? How could we be so wicked as to lie about something so important? How could we hope to avoid God’s judgment on us for knowingly leading people astray?”

Sydney Church History — repost

We first posted this link in August 2020. As CMS Summer School at Katoomba concludes for 2023, here are even more reasons to give thanks to God:

“In 1965 John Stott, the Rector of All Souls Langham Place in London, visited Sydney to preach on 2 Corinthians at the CMS Summer School.

‘I heard only one of those Bible studies but I was so taken by the way he stuck to the text and stayed with it. He could show you the logic of the argument in the Scriptures, prior to that I had tended to get an idea from the passage and to leap all over the Bible supporting the idea from other parts, so that the people I taught knew the ‘idea’ but not the passage from which it came or how that passage fitted into some overall argument from the Scriptures. It is to John Stott I owe what ability I have to expound the Bible.’

Those were the words of the esteemed Sydney evangelist and preacher, the late John Chapman…”

– David Cook writes to remind us of our history, and how God works. At The Expository Preaching Trust.

(David Cook has served in parish ministry, as the Principal of SMBC, and as the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.)

P&A 2023 annual conference: Lazy Complementarianism

Coming up at the Priscilla & Aquila Centre at Moore College.

Pope Benedict XVI — His Life and Legacy

“According to Benedict, the evangelical understanding of the church is a ‘new concept’ whereby the church is only a community summoned by the Word. Benedict looked at evangelicals with a mixture of spiritual curiosity and Roman perplexity.

Benedict did have a high view of Scripture, and his last books were focused on the life of Jesus according to the historical accounts of the Gospels. Yet we must understand his true position. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition, Leonardo De Chirico reflects on the life of Pope Benedict.

See also:

Remembering Benedict XVI – Carl Trueman at WORLD.

“A deeply learned theologian rather than a philosopher, Benedict made signal contributions to thinking about the nature of the secular world. Indeed, though many of his most significant intellectual contributions predate his papacy (2005-2013), the accuracy of so many of his observations and analyses has given his work a mantic quality.”

The Coming of the Holy Spirit — new book from Phillip Jensen

From Matthias Media:

“When we seek to understand the person and work of God’s Spirit, we are often so concerned with personal theories or current controversies that we fail to listen carefully to what God himself teaches in the Scriptures.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit begins with the very centre of what the Bible teaches about the Spirit: Jesus will fulfil the Old Testament prophecies and pour out the Holy Spirit on his people.

The book explores the five promises of Jesus about the Spirit in John 14-17 and then traces the fulfilment of those promises through the rest of the New Testament—in the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts 2, the progress of the Holy Spirit’s world mission throughout Acts, and the ongoing work of the Spirit in initiating, continuing and completing the Christian life in all its dimensions (personal and corporate).

In this important and unique work, Phillip Jensen draws on a lifetime of biblical exegesis and preaching to unfold not only the depth and richness of the Bible’s teaching about the Spirit, but its centre and emphasis. Having done this important work, he then goes on to deal with many of the secondary issues that have often dominated our discussion of the Spirit.”

Read more here.

Totalitarianism vs. Human Dignity

In his The Briefing for Thursday 1st December 2022, Dr Albert Mohler looks at current examples of Totalitarianism. What do they have in common?

And he explores what makes modern totalitarian states more totalitarian than their predecessors.

Listen or read here.

Baptists haven’t sold their soul, they are following God’s heart

“No, Baptists have not sold their soul over same-sex marriage. What they have chosen is faithfulness to God and upholding gospel unity.

New South Wales Baptists have reaffirmed the Bible’s teaching on marriage and are following Jesus’ teaching on human sexuality. They have also reaffirmed the importance of the Baptist doctrine basis by requiring accredited pastors and churches to affirm these statements. …”

– At the time, we missed this development from the week before last. Murray Campbell in Melbourne looks at news from NSW.

Expect the Unexpected

“We should not be taken by surprise by the rise and fall of nations as well as seismic and climatic events.

As Paul the Apostle writes in Romans chapter 8, verses 21 and 22, the present creation is subject to decay and groans in travail awaiting the day when we will enjoy the perfect fulfilment of all God’s promises.

Why is it that we live with our eyes so focused on life now that we fail to walk in the light and wisdom of the Lord?…”

In his Word on Wednesday devotion for today, John Mason may or may not have had the US mid-term elections at the back of his mind. Either way, what he writes at Anglican Connection is relevamt for all.

Together in Love & Faith? Should the Church Bless Same-Sex Partnerships? A Response to the Bishop of Oxford

From The Latimer Trust in the UK, here’s a very helpful response from Vaughan Roberts to the announcement from the Bishop of Oxford that he now supports the blessing of same-sex relationships.

The Latimer Trust:

“Writing from his own experience of same-sex attraction, Vaughan Roberts responds to the Bishop of Oxford’s argument that the Church of England should change its doctrine and practice in relation to same-sex relationships. Read more

‘Sexuality and holiness’ – a review

“An excellent new resource on a faithful Christian response to sexuality and gender controversies courageously goes further than many standard evangelical treatments of this challenging topic.

Sexuality and holiness: Remaining loving and biblically grounded in a rapidly shifting culture’ is written by Mike Williams, the senior minister of Reigate Baptist church, and it is rooted in a pastoral heart, as well as clear biblical understanding and also unusual spiritual and prophetic insight. …”

– At Anglican Mainstream in the UK, Andrew Symes reviews a new and very topical book.

In his review, Symes writes,

“There is a need for widespread repentance – again, for all sin not just homosexuality – as we recognise the right of God to send tribulation. Will faithful women and men stand in the gap, in intercession, pleading for God’s mercy on the nation and the church, hoping for revival?”

Image: Christian Concern.

Marcus Loane on The English Reformation

Archbishop Sir Marcus LoaneIn 1954, Marcus Loane – later Archbishop of Sydney and Sir Marcus – published his landmark “Masters of The English Reformation”.

It was republished in 2005 by Banner of Truth. If you haven’t read it, you ought to. (Availability.)

Here’s the Introduction —

“It was Martin Luther who declared that the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only is the article of a standing or falling church. The recovery of this doctrine was the key to the Reformation in Europe. It was the corollary of the translation of the Bible into the language of everyday life and its circulation in the homes and hands of ordinary people. These two momentous factors were to penetrate the Realm of England during the reign of Henry VIII and will forever be associated in a special sense with the names of Thomas Bilney and William Tyndale. These two, and many others as well, were to die at the stake as a result of their unswerving loyalty to the doctrines of Grace as made known in the Word of God. Nor did they die in vain. The supreme authority of Holy Scripture in all matters of faith and conduct was written into the sixth of the Articles of Religion; and the doctrine of Justification by Faith Only was summed up in unforgettable language in the Eleventh Article. Those two “Articles of the Christian Faith” are the bedrock on whIch the history of the Church of England since the Reformation must stand or fall.

But the pivot of the Reformation in England during the reign of Edward VI was the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Ridley’s discovery of the work of Ratramnus led him to reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass as totally foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Ridley was able to convince Cranmer that Ratramnus was right; they came to believe that the bread and wine are “the pledges” of God’s redeeming love and that the presence of the Lord Jesus is not to be found in an earthly altar, but in the hearts of those who feed on Him by faith with thanksgiving. Ridley was to expound this doctrine with clarity and dignity in his Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, and Cranmer was to defend it with great learning in his controversy with Gardiner. This was the doctrine enshrined in the Source of the Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer in 1552.

When Queen Mary came to the throne, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were the outstanding Reformers who were thrown into prison. In all the debates which ensued, in their trial and condemnation for heresy, and in the sentence of death which consigned them to death by fire, the one basic issue was their doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as opposed to the dogmas of the church with regard to Transubstantiation and the Mass. If the Church were right and they were wrong, they were not only condemned to a terrible form of death as heretics but were doomed to a lost eternity. Their real greatness was seen in the fact that they dared to stand by their convictions, formed as a result of intensive study of the Scriptures, and to die at the stake rather than yield to the pressures that were brought to bear on mind and feeling. And the candle they lit is one which by the grace of God will never go out.

What happened more than four hundred years ago is still vitally relevant. The integrity and authority of the Bible have been under constant assault from many quarters and it is no longer the one Book in the homes and hands of all. Many people today think that a good life, a good name, and a good reputation will somehow make them acceptable to God. And the reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper has been obscured by an emphasis on the Real Presence which approximates more and more towards medieval teaching and practice. Let Bilney and Tyndale speak again; let Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer be heard afresh. They witnessed “a good confession” for their heavenly Master and sealed it with their lives.

May this book renew the impact of their life and death on another generation “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” [1 Cor. 6:11].”

Photo: Ramon Williams. (This is a repost from 2014 in remembrance of the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer on 21 March 1556.)

Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer

In 2001 we spoke with Dr Ashley Null about Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and primary author of the Book of Common Prayer.

“Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489 and baptised into the medieval catholic church. He studied at Cambridge, receiving a Doctorate of Divinity in 1526, and served there as a don.

As a theologian, Cranmer was very much influenced by Erasmus’ emphasis on going back to the original sources for the Christian faith, in particular, of course, the Bible.

In the late 1520s, the authority of Scripture was at the centre of the most pressing English political issue of the day – Henry VIII’s divorce case. …”

– In this interview Dr. Null speaks about why it is important for Anglicans to know about Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Reformation Sunday & Slogans

“Friends in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate Reformation Sunday (including Bach’s cantata 79, written for the occasion, as part of the 10:30am service).

The Reformation began as a series of protests (hence ‘Protestant’) against abuses of the mediaeval Roman Catholic Church, perhaps most notably the sale of indulgences. By the way, in this context, an indulgence is not something to do with giving into luxury, one too many chocolates or wines. Nor is it the collective noun for grandparents, as in an ‘indulgence of grandparents’!

The word had and still has a special meaning for Roman Catholics. That Church taught that God forgives believers the eternal punishment for our sins. But we must also purify ourselves from the ‘temporal punishment’ due to every sin, either in this life, or after death in Purgatory. Purification takes place through prayer, acts of charity, patiently bearing suffering, and so on – or via gaining an indulgence. …”

– At the Cathedral website, Dean of Sydney Sandy Grant explains why Reformation Sunday is worth celebrating.

The Greater Love Declaration

From the UK:

“The Greater Love Declaration is a statement by Ministers and Pastoral Workers from across the different Christian Denominations as a statement of classic, orthodox Christian teaching on marriage, sex and identity.

In it we affirm the essential and unchangeable place of this teaching in Christian theology, its foundation in Christ’s own example of self-giving love, and our duty and commitment as ministers of the gospel to uphold, teach and proclaim it.”

‘The Greater Love Declaration’ was launched last week by ministers from several denominations. The website states,

“It is our hope that this will be of use to Ministers, who wish to declare their loyalty to Biblical, and historic Christian teaching; to all Christians, who wish to understand their own beliefs better; and to anyone else who wants to understand standard, orthodox Christian teaching on Marriage, Sex and Identity.”

The initiative has been commended by a range of Christian leaders.

Are There Many Ways to God? Most “Evangelicals” Say Yes.

This 3 and a half minute video from Ligonier Ministries in the US shares one key finding from the latest ‘State of Theology’ survey. (Link via Tim Challies.)

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