Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christian Apologetics

Christian Apologetics is a genre of publications which explain
and promote the religion of Jesus Christ.  There are so many
as to take up a large section of Christian book catalogs.  A
few have become best-sellers on secular book lists.  Others
have found fertile distribution over the years.

A popular subcategory starts from the premise of what
following God can do for you.  We prefer those which tell
you what you should do for God.  Reading any of the books
listed below will not make you better or happier.  They will
transform you into a servant of God.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
The famous reworking of Lewis's lectures over the BBC
during World War II.   There are hundreds of printings in
various formats and anthologies.  The only surviving tape
of one talk may be found and downloaded from You Tube.

Basic Christianity, John Stott
A primer by the famous Anglican Evangelical, originally
published in 1958, then revised by the author in 2008.
The cover contains a note that 25 million copies have been
sold over the years.

Questions of Life, Nicky Gumbel
A handy manual that reproduces the video sessions that
the author gave in the Alpha Course, which swept churches
in the U.S.

The Reason for God, Timothy Keller
A New York Times best-seller, based on his sermons and
teaching at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
Most suitable for young, educated inquirers, which were
his audience.

Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
This prolific English author's worthy successor to Mere
Christianity, subtitled "Why Christianity Makes Sense."

The Creed,  Luke Timothy Johnson
"What Christians Believe and Why it Matters" is an
approach to understanding the Christian faith by
expanding the Nicene Creed, which worshipers recite
every Sunday in church.

Doctrine, Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
An evangelist and a theologian combine to provide the
more experienced Christian with a deeper understanding
of "What Christians Should Believe."

The Searchers, Joseph Loconte
A charming and poignant story of  those who are
looking for godly love in all the wrong places.
He advocates meeting them where they are and
leading them to see the light that Christ offers.

The Challenge of Jesus, N.T.Wright
Answers definitively who Jesus was and why He did
what He did. The quest for historical Jesus ends at
the Palestinian world of the first century.

Anglican Theology, Mark Chapman
A thorough history of the individuality and
inventiveness that created a workable theology
for Anglicans.

Theology Questions Everyone Asks
Answers by academics in plain terms to
questions about God and what matters most
in life.  When we ask those questions,
we are asking about theology

Becoming a Contagious Christian,
Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg believe that
effectively communicating our faith in Christ
should be the most natural thing in the world.
We just need encouragement and direction.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Death of PECUSA

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.
died a slow death over many years
which would take a team of scholars 
to trace through archives to record.

It will probably never be done
because its successor denomination 
is a failure and is itself suffering
a terminal decline in membership.

No one who participated in the downfall
wishes to take the blame, thus proving
that success has a thousand fathers
whereas failure is an orphan.

It is all too easy to blame acceptance
of homosexual clergy and women's
ordination as sole factors, but dry
rot preceded these developments.

The trigger event was an attempt
by the church leaders to seek a 
rapprochement with the Vatican
by becoming catholic in practice.

The tradition of morning prayer
as the principal Sunday service
was replaced by a mandate to 
schedule only Holy Eucharist.

Instead of calling the clergy,
ministers, and Mr. So and So,
they were now to be priests
and referred to as Father.

The familiar costume of cassock,
surplice, and academic hood,
was universally replaced with
the alb, stole, or vestment.

Totally lost in outward change
was the reform strain of Anglicanism.
The moral code was no longer 
preached nor taught in church school.

Eventually, Episcopal church services 
became therapeutic sessions 
emphasizing God's love 
with no price to pay in return.

One need not go to church 
to feel good about oneself,
which makes attending and
joining a church irrelevant.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Church Marketing

To some, the idea of church marketing
is a dirty concept, rooted in secularism.
To St.Paul, it was a necessity to market
the gospel to the heathen and all.

He did it by going into the streets
like a town crier announcing the news,
by making converts among the rich
who had influence in their communities.

Rick Warren started his Saddleback church
by knocking on the doors in his locale.
You can't just open the doors and 
expect people to find you, he said.

You have to emphasize community;
communal worship is the backbone
of every organized religion, because
it gives people another home.

They don't much care about theology
or whether your denomination is for
or against some social issue, they
just want to belong to a group.

They want to be told how to behave,
they want to be assured of God's love,
they want the strength to cope with
the vicissitudes of living.

Use the media to tell people that your 
church exists, that's all it's good for.
Most of it is free and responsive to
any kind of a good story.

Don't smother the furtive newcomers.
Greet them at the door, but give them
a chance to experience the services
for a while before signing them up.

The relationship will be cemented
when the newcomers find activities
that they feel comfortable with 
and enjoy doing in small groups.

They they become what we used
to call pillars of the church, and 
take part in the running and the
ownership of what is "their" church. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Womens' Ordination

In an exchange of messages on the Facebook group, 
"Anglican Evangelicals," I was shocked to discover 
that refusal to ordain female clergy was still practiced 
by some Anglican quasi-denominations.

The antediluvian troglodytes of these sects
seem to enjoy dressing up in colorful vestments
and consecrating one another as bishops, but
they run what are strictly "boys' clubs."

There is nothing in scripture that forbids
women's ordination, setting aside Paul's 
admonitions to women to veil their heads
and keep their mouths shut while in church.

I wholeheartedly support the ordination
of women priests.  Especially, I admire
those brave women who left The Episcopal Church
to join the forces who follow the orthodox faith.

Therefore, I do not wish to have members
of our Facebook group whose identity is
primarily dependent upon keeping women
from their rightful place at the altar.

Where such is a matter of custom, I urge
them to change as soon as possible.  I also
suggest that Anglican catholics, pentecostals,
and fundamentalists find more compatible groups.

The Facebook group, "Anglican Evangelicals,"
is focussed on the Great Commission.
We are pleased to publish the news and events
of Anglicans who are in the front lines of evangelism.

Whether or not The Episcopal Church will be
replaced as the authentic voice of Anglicanism
in the U.S.A. depends upon the willingness 
of the orthodox faithful to present a united front.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Same-sex marriage

A fractious Supreme Court has discovered
a constitutional right no one knew existed
that permits two adult persons of the same sex
to be joined legally in the state of marriage.

This pronouncement overturns the will of the people
as expressed in referenda in various states,
thus clearly violating the tenth amendment and
launching a continuing controversy over 
  a contentious issue.

The difficulty facing same-sex recipients
of a legal wedding is that the word, "marriage,"
cannot be used to describe a condition
that is biologically impossible, namely procreation.

Despite how one may feel about the joy experienced
by those who are united in the eyes of the law,
there is only one way to adequately describe
their "marriage" ... it is absurd.

Society in general, and legislatures in particular
may be willing to give same-sex partners
the privileges afforded conventional couples,
and certainly can impose the same requirements.

But legal "marriage" of same-sex persons
can never earn the blessing of God.
The theological arguments are so comprehensive
that they cannot be summarized succinctly.

Adding insult to incompetence, the dear old
Episcopal Church, in its triennial convention,
decided to ignore all hazards, and authorize
the performance of same-sex weddings in its churches.

Considering that previous "progressive" moves
by The Episcopal Church have failed to arrest
the 18 percent decline of membership in the past decade,
further digging while in a hole commences.

Friday, May 29, 2015

God in Three Persons

We tend to anthropomorphize God,
that is, to ascribe human qualities to
  a supernatural being,
when in fact what we think of as God
has unknown and indefinible characteristics.

At the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.,
the church fathers compounded the confusion
by referring to a Holy Trinity as three persons:
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Later, the Eastern churches rejected the
ascription of Jesus as the son of God,
maintaining that the spirit of Jesus
already existed before He took human form.

At the same council, Jesus was recognized
as truly God in his ministry and resurrection.
I was taught by Catholic nuns that
Jesus lived on and acted as the Holy Spirit.

That was clearly erroneous because the
Spirit of God is repeatedly referred to
  in the Hebrew Bible.
Thus we conclude that God has always
been manifest in different attitudes and actions.

This becomes important in our attempts
to resolve the age-old conundrum of why
an omnipotent and yet merciful God allows
"bad things to happen to good people."

Either God is all-powerful and permits evil
or he is all-merciful but unable to prevent evil.
Perhaps the answer is both of the above,
that God acts simultaneously in different ways.

Perhaps He took human form in Jesus to show
his love and concern for his highest creations.
Perhaps He is always with us in spirit to give us
the strength to cope with the vicissitudes of life.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What's In It for Me?

February 7, 2015

What's In It for Me.

In his book, "The Unbelievable Gospel,"
Jonathan Dodson maintains that modern
evangelism begins by establishing a personal
relationship with a prospective convert.

In my words, the evangelist must be prepared
to answer the question from the prospect,
"What's in it for me?", because that is
the modern key to accepting the gospel.

"Will I be a success if I become a Christian?"
Well, maybe, if your objectives are
to do things that benefit mankind, rather
than aggrandizing your position in the world.

"Will my personal problems be solved?"
Yes, if you concentrate your attitude
toward forgiving the shortcomings of others,
and becoming concerned for their well-being.

"Will I be happier than I am now?"
That depends on how you define happiness.
Yes, if it means you will be at peace with
yourself and those who are important to you.

"Will I be free from troubles and tragedy?"
No, that is the human condition.
You will be inspired to pray for
the strength to manage whatever befalls.

"Will I become a better person?"
Absolutely, you will be free of the
chains that the modern culture imposes
and follow a higher standard of behavior.

"Will my family and friends still like me?"
They certainly will respect you
even if they do not agree with you.
Fellow Christians will open their hearts to you.

"Will I be challenged, as a Christian?"
More and more, you will find yourself
doing tasks you never expected to perform
and thus becoming a servant of the Lord.

You will no longer fear death,
because you are assured of eternal life
in the company of saints like you
and the persons you loved in this world.


Monday, January 19, 2015

A Church Downsized

"No, our church didn't go bust,"
said the churchwarden of St. XXXXXX.
"We were slaves to our buildings,
we couldn't afford the upkeep anymore.

"So we decided to sell the property,
and move to rented quarters.
The move worked out pretty well,
but we're having problems with the sale."

"The Episcopal diocese claims the proceeds,
under a church law called the Dennis canon.
They say the diocese has an 'implied trust'
over the property of its member parishes."

"We don't know how that will work out, 
neither does the lawyer we hired.
She does believe our liquid assets are safe,
although the diocese is trying to seize them."

"St. XXXXX is a functioning corporation, 
which has moved to another location.
Whether we own or rent is irrelevant;
we have not missed a Sunday of services."

"Our focus is on our main objectives:
bringing the saving grace to all who worship
with us, and engaging in charitable outreach
to the community around us."

"We employ a full-time pastor, paying her
the prescribed salary and allowances.
We pay the diocesan assessment on time,
which will have to be reduced."

"Our church has had to give up sponsoring
activities that used our former property/
AA groups and the thrift shop are gone.
The daycare operation moved elsewhere."

"We have an active network of 
church groups meeting in homes,
for education, moral support, and
simple fellowship and hospitality."

"All in all, our church regulars
are pleased with the new arrangement,
finding it much easier to invite
new people to meet with us."

"Our expenses are modest, operating
on sort of a pay-as-you-go system.
We don't worry anymore about 
what we can afford doing."

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Church for Sale

"Both the land and the buildings 
are for sale," said the agent.
"The property just came on the market,
so they're all in pretty good shape."

"The old building in front has some
kind of historical protection, so it
can't be torn down.  If you use it,
it may need some upgrading."

"The church complex is from the
seventies.  They took real good 
care of it.  Put in two ACs to 
protect the organ and cool the crowd!"

"The big building in back is what
they called a parish hall.  It has
a commercial kitchen and storage.
Would be fine for parties and receptions."

"No, the day care outfit has no 
lease on the space they use.
The church didn't charge them
anything; it was all on charity."

"I don't know why the church went bust.
I work for the seller, what they 
call a diocese.  The woman who hired
us is a lawyer for the seller."

"This is not a great location for business,
so we told them to set a realistic price.
You would have to advertise a lot 
to build a clientele here."

"On the other hand, this is a great
place for something that blends
into a historic neighborhood.
Just don't plan on much signage."

"Yes, that is a landscaper next door.
They are grandfathered into the site.
You may have to initiate some legal 
action to get them to remove the pile of dirt."

"The parking lot needs regrading,
better yet, paved with asphalt.
It is plenty big enough to host
capacity crowds for local events."

"Yes, that is a memorial garden.
No one is buried there, in a casket, that is.  
What you see are places where the 
ashes of people are stuck in the ground."

"The seller hasn't said what should
happen to the memorial garden.
Maybe they will just ask people to
remove the ashes, if they want."

"So let me know it you're interested.
I may be able to get someone who
used to go to this church to tell you
a little more about its history."