Friday, 30 April 2010

CHRISTIANS MUST NOT BE GUILTY OF CIVIL UNREST

If former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey proves right that judicial decisions against religious believers could lead to 'civil unrest', Christian believers must not be guilty of it.

Dr Carey made his comment in his witness statement to the High Court in support of the Evangelical Christian marriage guidance counsellor, Gary McFarlane, who was appealing against his sacking by Relate for his biblical principles:
The fact that senior clerics of the Church of England and other faiths feel compelled to intervene directly in judicial decisions and cases is illuminative of a future civil unrest. I am concerned that judges are unaware of these basic issues on the Christian faith; further it is difficult to see how it is appropriate for other religions to be considered by the Judiciary where the practices are further removed from our traditions.


Lord Justice Laws this week dismissed Mr McFarlane's application to appeal against his sacking.

Whatever the outcome of Thursday's General Election, a combination of an increasingly oppressive culture of political correctness, compounded by the spending cuts needed to save Britain from a Greek-style 'junk status' credit rating, could lead to civil disorder on the British Isles. But Christians must not be in any way associated with any form of civil disorder or misbehaviour.

Our civil marching orders as Christ's soldiers and servants are clear in the New Testament, for example 1 Peter 2:
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king (vv11-17 - NIV).

Friday, 23 April 2010

THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST DETERMINES BAPTISM POLICY

The most basic Christian credal confession – Jesus Christ is Lord - is the reason why the children of couples who are not heterosexually married should be refused baptism in church.

The issue has reared its head because of the allegation that the Revd Peter Nunn, Priest-in-Charge of The Risen Lord, Preston, ‘discriminated’ against a lesbian couple in a civil partnership who wanted a baby girl baptised.

The facts of this particular case are somewhat hazy. According to a letter in this morning’s Church Times (April 23) from a Reader in the Diocese of Blackburn, Michael Speight of Fulwood, Preston, the church at which the couple wanted the baptism was not in fact their nearest Anglican parish church:
According to Google maps, it is more than eight miles between the family home and the church the couple chose for their child’s baptism. That is the flawed decision. There was not a breach of canon law.


Mr Speight was answering a disgraceful letter by Christopher Haffner in the April 16 edition in which he alleged:
It appears the Priest-in-Charge has failed in his duty, and the diocese has supported his failure. It is to be hoped that the lesbian couple are able to find a more welcoming and law-abiding priest down the road.


There are likely to be many more of these allegations of baptismal discrimination by homosexual couples and politically-correct collaborationists in the institutional Church. The practical reality is that couples in civil partnerships are much harder to handle than heterosexual cohabiting couples who are usually willing to accept a service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child.

In the current cultural climate, a homosexual couple refused baptism are likely to be quick to contact the media with an allegation of ‘discrimination’ and even in some cases go to the police.

The basic reason why no orthodox minister could hold a baptism for the child of a cohabiting or homosexual couple is because of the baptismal vows. Parents bringing children for baptism who are too young to profess the Christian faith for themselves are asked whether they 'submit to Christ as Lord'.

It is a charade for a Christian minister to be involved in a public church service where the Lordship of Christ is being so brazenly denied by a relationship that goes against His biblical will. It is certainly not serving the child to involve him or her in a Christian service stripped of basic integrity.

Ministers will be under growing pressure over this. The situation is likely to get significantly worse due to politically-correct moves to give homosexual couples the right to sue over refusals of baptism.

Thankfully, because Jesus Christ is Lord He can give us the strength to stand up to this and endure hardship for His Name’s sake. We need humbly to cast ourselves on His mercy.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

THE CONTROL OF ANGER IN PASTORAL MINISTRY

This YouTube video shows the pastor of the Mars Hill mega-church in Seattle, Mark Driscoll, screaming during a sermon. What had aroused his anger was the fact that some of the men in his congregation, who had been 'coming here for years', were having pre-marital sex with their girlfriends and some of the married men were not praying with their wives.

Mr Driscoll has become a hugely influential figure in Reformed Evangelical circles in the English-speaking world. Both of the above concerns regarding the treatment of women by church-going men strike Cranmer's Curate as matters that should arouse the anger of a godly pastor. The youth group must judge for themselves whether on this occasion Mr Driscoll is in control of his anger or whether it is in control of him.

The Apostle Paul's definitive statement on anger in Ephesians 4 is absolutely clear that the Christian must be in control of his anger: 'Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil' (Ephesians 4v26-27 - RSV).

Anger is surely an important emotion in ministry. If we are passionate for the honour of God and of His Christ, that surely must produce anger in us when we see our Lord being dishonoured, especially by professing, communicant Christians.

But the problem that can arise around anger is that a righteous reaction against bad behaviour in the congregation can get tangled up with other issues and frustrations in our lives as pastors. So, when we do get angry, don't we need to be very careful that there is no element of emotional transference onto our congregations in our reaction?

Cranmer's Curate once heard the very wise David Jackman, formerly director of the Proclamation Trust, issue an important warning to pastors that cc prays he is careful to put into practice: 'Watch your emotional levels.'

The other, in a sense more sinister, problem around anger in pastoral ministry is that it can be used as a tool of domination over a congregation.

Your curate is off on his post-Easter break. He leaves the youth group with the BCP Collect for Easter 1:
Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

TRUE ANGLICANS PRAY FOR THE CONVERSION OF MUSLIMS ON GOOD FRIDAY

Unlike last year's edition, the Canterbury Church Book and Desk Diary for 2010 includes a politically incorrect collect for Good Friday:

O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon thine ancient people the Jews, and upon all who have not known thee, or who deny the faith of Christ crucified; take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
That is taken from the 1928 revised version of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Collect for Good Friday in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which remains the permanently authorised liturgy of the Church of the nation, is even more politically incorrect. It begins with the same affirmation of God's gracious love for mankind and His desire for the conversion of sinners, but the intercession at the heart of it is different:

Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord

For 'Turks', read Muslims and for 'true Israelites' read the spiritual descendants of Abraham, namely believers in his promised Offspring, Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3v15-29). The authorised BCP Collect thus includes a specific prayer for the conversion of Muslims to Christ and by its imprecation that converted Muslims, together with Jews, atheists and errant Christians, may be numbered among the 'true Israelites' it denies that Islam is an 'Abrahamic' faith.

How long before this authentically Anglican prayer is banned as 'Islamophobic' under European 'hate speech' legislation?