Comments: Archbishop Akinola's address in Pittsburgh

I am struck yet again by how much money it must take to sustain Peter Akinola's globetrotting lifestyle.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 11:59pm BST

Notice how grounded in Scripture this talk is. He shows a much deeper understanding of Anglicanism than the vapid pap foisted on us by the TEC clergy. I found this paragraph especially powerful:

"Theology itself defined as the science of God that acknowledges God as the object of theology but not in any sense that God is an object lying around for our investigation. This leaves us with nothing but the Bible—God’s self revelation as the primary and fundamental basis for any meaningful theological enterprise. It is also God’s manual for man’s life. This puts in the right perspective the danger posed to theology by those trying to undermine the authority of the Bible. To deny the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct is to remove the ground from the feet of theology."

Amen. This jibes with Hooker's understanding of the third leg, reason, that is only to be trusted if arising from intense study of scripture.

Posted by robroy at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 2:07am BST

Who is he talking about?

"...in the UK we hear of multi-culturalism. Championed by certain sections of the Church’s leadership who have been conditioned by the clamour for political correctness, both are said to be an attempt to accommodate all shades of opinion and practice in the church.

The consequences are grave. We end up with what looks like Church but in reality is not. The authority of Scripture is put to doubt and denied. The uniqueness and Lordship of Jesus the Christ is jettisoned and our Lord is categorised as no more than one of the great men of his time."

A bit like David Anderson's latest distortion of what was said by Katherine Jefferts Schori.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/05/did-she-say-this.html

As for the Akinola sermon, quite a developed Western style of writing.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 2:34am BST

"The fatherhood of God is questioned and a new vocabulary of father/mother introduced to please those of feminist persuasion." Those liberals...like Isaiah, in the readings for this Sunday from the RCL - "Can a woman forget her nursing child..." Either it's scriptural or it isn't. Holding the mirror to hypocrisy is shamefully simple

Posted by Fr. Shawn+ at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 2:58am BST

The Document Author in the properties is MChambers, presumably Martha Chambers, Director of Publications
Editor, Seed and Harvest.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 3:07am BST

Peter Akinola: "From my little knowledge of scripture, ...."

Now there's an admission from an archbishop! Sadly, it's something he demonstrates quite frequently.

Posted by RPNewark at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 12:54pm BST

The bible points us to God's self-communication and self-revelation, Jesus Christ. The bible is not God's self-communication or self-revelation. To say thus is to worship a book. We do ethics/moral theology in light of Jesus Christ, not simply the bible, which contains a lot of unChristlike behavior and even prescriptions. This is indeed Puritanism that Hooker fought against, to declare the bible our manual for living.

Posted by Christopher at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 2:41pm BST

I think Akinola's graduation speech clearly demonstrates the new Puritan nature of so much of his conservative commitments.

That would be a contextual path which he could walk openly among us, if not for his persistent and unrepentant occasions of bearing really false witness against others - believers, and sometimes unbelievers alike? - who just consistently happen to be non-conservatives.

Examples? Well, let us see.

Modern Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment views on human Equality and Inclusiveness are infections. Do I hear a diagnosis of vile cancer, again pending from the speaker's lips?

The conservative realignment campaign is not about new Anglican powers to police/punish, nor about new positions of authority which would transform, say, the Primates Meeting into being a policing council over big tent Anglican believers. Rather, a special conservative traditional sanctity is the point.

Okay, Senor Patron Pedro, we all must begin by loudly acknowledging yet again how especially holy or sanctified you are - and by implication, how especially unholy or unsanctified anybody else is who just happens not to agree with your conservatisms, jot and tittle?

The scriptures are simply a manual for everyday life, offering clear and simple guidance for any and all occasions across cultures and across global eras of evolutionary change?

Gee, conservative folks, I stand outside this frame, deliberately. I cannot stand inside it without de facto and de jure transforming the scriptures into just that idol against which Jesus and the prophets caution me. I stand with C. above who observes that the scriptures are read by us, just a Hooker opines, in light of reason (informed by all that we know in a given era?) and in light of our following of Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord.

Otherwise, as the scriptures themselves report, no gospel could or would or should ever have been carried to the Gentiles without at least requiring them to become good ersatz Jews and follow all the laws of Moses, which after all were just that earlier covenant relationship of which the grand bishop speaks.

The terrible false witness? That any nonconservative believers in big tent Anglicanism simply by definition have no real relationship with Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord. This is a mistaken and embarrassing false witness. Repent, Akinola, for goodness sake.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 5:35pm BST

Archbishop Akinola talks of the historic Church... I am sorry but the lay presidency of Sydney is not the historic Church!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 7:41pm BST

"This leaves us with nothing but the Bible—God’s self revelation"

With these words, Peter Jasper Akinola convicts himself of heresy.

God's self-revelation is in the person of Jesus Christ. If Peter Jasper Akinola does not know this, he has no business being an archbishop. If he denies it (as he expressly appears to do) he is nothing less than an arch-heretic.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 11:54pm BST

Malcolm, you beat me to it, but that won't stop me! Evangelicals have accepted the Reformation error that only Scripture reveals God to us. They have deluded themselves that this has been Christian practice for the past 2000 years. It came out of the power vacuum that resulted 500 years ago when people knocked the Church off its pedestal of authority. It is nurtured by a profound mistrust of change, and the idea that, even if we think we are discerning the guidance of the Spirit, we cannot be trusted. There is a point to this, of course, and the Church for 2000 years has struggled with it. The Bible doesn't, cannot, contain the answer to everything, at some point we have to look beyond Scripture, and it is there that we trust the guidance of the Spirit. But how do we discern that guidance? Some people simply cannot trust. They need a Law to obey. In this they're very Roman, since the Roman answer to the question is that the guidance of the Spirit is found in the infallible statements of the Pope. Either side thus gives authority to a specific defined entity. Traditional Christianity is far too vague for them, and those who accept that Tradition must actually believe nothing, an attitude fed by the reluctance of these traditionalists to actually refer to Scripture in their arguments. Also, 1500 years of Christian history were a mistake and for that period of time, God allowed us to wander astray, only to be brought back by the enlightened literalists of the Reformation. Some Evangelicals actually say this, BTW. What I find most funny, yet food for much thought, is that they call themselves "orthodox", yet this idea of the exclusivity of Scripture as the only place where we find God's revelation to us is anathema (figuratively at least) to those who have always called themselves Orthodox. Indeed, the Orthodox depend on the very thing these Pseudorthodox most mistrust, the judgement of the faithful. In Orthodoxy, something can only be called Orthodox if the community of faith accepts it. That's why, while there have been numerous Church Councils, only seven are considered Ecumenical. It isn't the only heterodox belief being dressed up as orthodoxy by the conservatives, though it probably isn't as big an error as some of the other things they believe.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 26 May 2008 at 1:37pm BST

Normal, mainstream Episcopalians don't care what Jimmy Swaggart says, what Pat Robertson says, or what Oral Roberts says. And neither do they care what Bishop Akinola says. The only reason we have any interest at all here is because Bishop Akinola has involved himself with those who are trying to harm our Church and steal its assets. Bishop Akinola and the leaders of the Network are just another garden variety set of fundamentalist extremists who embarrass themselves every day(and unfortunately us by association). Yawn.

Posted by Dallas Bob at Monday, 26 May 2008 at 3:42pm BST

"Notice how grounded in Scripture this talk is. He shows a much deeper understanding of Anglicanism than the vapid pap foisted on us by the TEC clergy."

Well, it might appear to be grounded in Scripture, but can anything that bears such blatant false witness be said to be Scripturally grounded? Just the small portion you quoted not only commits that very sin, but also reveals the heresy already decried in other posts. Sorry, but the God we Christians worship is a Trinity, not an Anthology, he reveals Himself most perfectly in Christ, and the Bible, far from being a manual for man's life, explains how that Divine seflrevelation is to be understood. We Christians are not ruled by laws, Scripture is pretty clear on that, the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. You don't think that what's being referred to there is the Mosaic Law, and Jesus came to give us a more perfect Law, do you? I might have difficulty with liberal theology at times, and the Left's reluctance to reference Scripture is frustrating, but these pale into insignificance in the face of heresy and the bearing of false witness. Why should I have any regard for the teachings of a man who speaks in such alarmist tones, bears false witness against his opponents, preaches the heresy of Bibliolatry, and doesn't even bother to understand people, but judges them based on his own ignorant stereotypes? I could give a lot more weight to his arguments if he wasn't so obviously filled with hatred of people like me. And, no, you know darned well it isn't his "The Bible calls homosexuality a sin" on which I base that. He is proud of having drawn back from the touch of a gay man. He wants to jail us. His invective against us proves his hatred. OK, so he didn't call us animals, as you pointed out, he called us insane, do you honestly think that's better? What part of heresy, false witness, and unbridled hatred and revulsion for certain human beings is consistent with the Gospel?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 26 May 2008 at 8:11pm BST

I do tire of the bearing false witness (BFW) charge. Bearing false witness is a public statement known to be false. I am glad that you have admitted to BFW with your "less than animals" statement. Now, reaffirming 4000 years of Judaeo-Christian thought on a particular activity is not bearing false witness.

An example of BFW: accusations of "hatred" let alone "unbridled hatred and revulsion." What ABp Akinola says, "We are not being responsible or faithful if we say, ‘Let us bless your stealing. Let us bless your adultery.’ When the church in the West says, ‘We bless your homosexual union,’ they have failed people. We should LOVE THEM BETTER than that."

Another example of BFW: "He called us insane." Well, we all know the political manipulation was used to remove homosexuality from the DSM such as using the long discredited Kinsey report. But leaving that aside, we have ABp Akinola's true words: "I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man." To twist that into "homosexuals are insane" is...BFW.

Another: "He wants to jail us." No, he supports a compromise that might prevent the stoning of homosexuals. A good thing, no?

Thinking Anglicans has a posting on "What ABp Akinola Said" found here,

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/000985.html

Posted by robroy at Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 10:48am BST

"reaffirming 4000 years of Judaeo-Christian thought on a particular activity is not bearing false witness."

I didn't say it was, and you know it. I have been quite clear, repeatedly, that I do not find mere statement of belief to be offensive in any way. You know the things in that piece that are false, stop pretending to be all offended by something you know darned well I didn't say.


"We all know the political manipulation was used to remove homosexuality from the DSM"

This is not true, and just because conservatives need to believe this doesn't make it true. Is it that you don't understand science, or is your persecution complex this strong?

"No, he supports a compromise that might prevent the stoning of homosexuals. A good thing, no?"

Are you serious?!?!? It is not a sufficient response to the call of the Gospel to oppress people slightly less than others do. Do you seriously think I should be grateful for this? Let me offer you the same choice. What is so wrong with saying "We believe homosexuality is a sin, and God calls them to celebacy. We do not believe it is just to persecute them, jail them, or kill them for this sin."? It IS what successive Lambeth Conferences have called for. Now, why is it such a sin for TEC to "disobey" Lambeth in consecrating a gay man, but OK for him to do so in this? What other group of human beings do you believe should feel grateful for the great gift of unjust imprisonment that might well lead to death, since it's better than out and out death? I can't believe you even think this. "Well, jail isn't fair, but at least the threat of being murdered is somewhat less." And you wonder why gay people have no respect for the Christian Right? And, re: the link, it is dissembling to protest "I didn't say you were dirty, I said you were far from clean." Again, the idea that slightly less venomous statements are somehow appropriate for a bishop. Do you not think it shows revulsion to draw back from the touch of another human being and be proud of that?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 3:52pm BST

"he supports a compromise that might prevent the stoning of homosexuals."


That, Robroy, is simply a lie.

He doesn't just want to jail homosexuals. He wants to jail anyoe who proposes that homosexuals shouldn't be jailed.

There are no Muslims in Nigeria proposing that people who are nice to gays should be stoned to death.

This "compromise" BS is a phoney excuse for an extremist agenda.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 5:29pm BST

"He is proud of having drawn back from the touch of a gay man." I had heard the "drawn back" but I had never heard your adornment to the story of ABp Akinola "being PROUD of having done so." So I investigated. The gay man was apparently Louie Crew, himself. (See comment #9 here: tinyurl.com/3tmkga.) And here is the story in Louie's own words:

"In July 2002, I was a lector at the Enthronment of Peter Akinola (Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Nigeria)at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Mark Sisk (Bishop of New York) invited Ernest and me, among many others, to his home to meet the archbishop at a reception afterward. The archbishop dashed to the other side of the room when I introduced him to Ernest at the punch bowl. Later in the reception Cathy Roskam (Bishop Suffragan of New York) called me over to engage the archbishop in conversation with me. Looking like a deer in headlights, he summoned an aide across the room and abruptly ended the conversation. Ernest had watched the latter scene from the doorway. "What did you say to him that put him into a panic?" he asked. "Nothing. He does not know you and me and he wants to keep it that way." tinyurl.com/3su2w5

Now, having a deer-in-the-headlight-look certainly does not constitute being physically repulsed. Perhaps, Louie Crew is a terrible boor at parties? Perhaps he had indigestion and feared social embarassment? Certainly nothing justifying your embellishment about "being proud."

I have to admit that I am confused about your assertion about ABp Akinola ever bearing false witness. Specifics? But I have pointed out four instances of your BFW: 1) "being less than animals" (which, by the way, was said by the reprehensible Mugabe), 2) "unbridled hatred and revulsion", 3) "He called us insane", and 4) "...proud of having drawn back from the touch of a gay man." Now, I need not remind you that BFW is in the top 10. You have recanted #1 (but repented?).

Posted by robroy at Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 4:48am BST

Do you not think it false witness to claim that the Church is under attack from faithless liberals attempting to destroy Her, and undermining the authority of Scripture, especially when his tradition gives to Scripture an authority it was never meant to have? Or to claim that unwillingness to insult people of rich religious traditions by openly condemning them to Hell is "denying the uniqueness of Christ"? In short, his obvious lack of respect for the faith of Westerners, and his claims that they have no faith at all certainly are false witness. That's the persecution myth, and it is fearmongering, albeit very successful. Unbridled hatred and revulsion are clearly evident in his words and the things he supports. If you can't see that, I have no idea how to explain it to you other than what I already have done. The difference between "I don't see how someone in his senses...." and "such a person is not in his senses, ie insane..." is very slight, surely you can see that. His pride at having drawn back from Louie's touch does not come from the article you quote, but from an interview by, I believe, Ruth Gledhill, though I may be wrong. I don't have time to find it right now, but the thread should be in the archives of this list. But, as I say, I am not sure how I can express clearly the fear that his behaviour creates in me. I can imagine some poor gay person in Nigeria being thrown in jail, perhaps to be beaten to death, and you and +Peter telling him he should be grateful since the options are much worse. I think "There but for the grace of God go I". Of course, it is the behaviour of people like +Akinola that have resulted in said gay person having no options, but you won't admit it. I really have no idea how to explain to you my horror and fear at the idea that a Christian bishop should countenance, let alone support, the jailing of gay people. You believe such a move shows some sort of restraint, which suggests you actually believe we deserve far worse.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 7:41pm BST

Robroy,
The quote referencing animals is:

“I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don’t hear of such things.”

Granted, he doesn't actually say gay people are less than animals. He does not however speak the truth. We know very well "of such things" in animals, first of all, so to suggest it does not occur outside of humanity is simply wrong, though his admittedly high level of education likely did not include much biological science. He can't possibly have studied everything. But what can he mean by "EVEN in the world of animals we don't hear of such things." Why 'even'? The implication certainly is that "even" the animals are better than us, would you not agree? I guess not. Such an interpretation is hardly false witness, robroy. But, as I said, if you believe unjust imprisonment that might well lead to violent death is an acceptable "compromise" you probably don't agree with this either. Let me ask you, how much injustice would you be willing to endure before it became an "unacceptable" compromise to treat you unjustly? And, again, given that you think unjust imprisonment is an acceptable compromise, what punishment do you think we actually deserve for being gay?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 30 May 2008 at 6:30pm BST

"...is very slight, surely you can see that." The best lies have some truth in them. I see that you deliberately distort his words into something that they clearly are not, "He calls us insane" which is most certainly what the bearer of false witness does. I hear no remorse for clear and repeated violations of one of the 10 commandments.

"Do you not think it false witness..." Taking a position in public discourse that is both biblically and factually well grounded is not "false witness."

His views are biblical to the core: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." and "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves."

Swift destruction indeed. We have already discussed how countries like Sweden that have embraced the liberal lies resulting in taking once Christian countries to ones where only 1% of the population attends Church. This 1% is probably the little old ladies meaning whole generations are lost to the Lord. Now, we are to repeat this in England, Canada and the U.S.?

There was a posting at Standfirm of the treasurer's report of the Diocese of Newark detailing the financial bankruptcy that follows the moral bankruptcy. A continuing legacy of Spong who caused unfathomable free fall of the diocese especially in his last years.

Hatred? No. Revulsion? Absolutely. How can any Christian not be sickened by the irreparable harm that Spong did to the Church in the diocese of Newark and Robinson is doing in New Hampshire?

Posted by robroy at Friday, 30 May 2008 at 6:33pm BST

robroy: will you stop going on about Sweden! The biggest falls in church attendance in Europe are in Catholic countries at the moment: and the (morally hard-line) RC Church in the UK is declining even faster than the (morally liberal) C of E. Or do you think the problem is that banning divorce and contraception isn't morally hard-line enough?

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 3:16pm BST

"Taking a position in public discourse that is both biblically and factually well grounded is not "false witness." "

Claiming TEC is in the control of faithless people who are trying to destroy the Gospel, who don't even believe it, and who are persecuting the remnants of the faithfull still in TEC constitutes something "biblically and factually well grounded"? Compassion for people who have been treated abominably by the Church and who, as a result of that treatment are sensitized to the hate that can easily be concealed in honeyed words is somehow wrong? Stopping to think that one's beliefs about such people must be expressed carefully so that they will not be put off but hear the message is wrong? Listening to them so as to understand how one's words will sound hateful to them, thereby learning how to put the message to them effectively is wrong? It seems to me that if one is actually concerned about the salvation of another, one will try to find a way to preach that message to the other in an effective manner. His claim is that "we should love them better than that." So start doing it. Stop trying to defend the ways he shows clearly that he doesn't actually even try to "love them better than that". And you still haven't answered my question, if you think 5 years of jail for gay people is a good compromise, what punishment do you think we actually deserve for being gay?

"Hatred? No"

And you are still more interested in defending your right to say things others find hateful than you are in finding out why they think that way and how better to say what you believe. This suggests that it is more important to you to defend yourself than find ways to save gay people, or anyone else. Rather than evangelize the Europe you believe is being "lost" you are more interested in blaming the situation on those you see as the enemy.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 5:00pm BST

Amazing...A country that robroy claims has only 1% weekly attendance at church acts so Christian in taking in all those Iraqi refugees that were displaced by another country's leader claiming to be "Christian".

Either the church in Sweden is truly successful at implementing the Gospel into the laity's daily lives or christianity is truly far from Christ.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 5:21pm BST

"The biggest falls in church attendance in Europe are in Catholic countries at the moment" It is certainly hard to fall much further than a 1% average Sunday attendance.

"the (morally hard-line) RC Church in the UK is declining even faster than the (morally liberal) C of E." This is is not so clear. There is the influx of eastern Europeans. Sunday attendance is and has been much higher in Catholics but mass attendance is falling but not necessarily membership. Does this represent in Catholics viewing Sunday attendance as non-obligatory like their Anglican brethren? Baptisms in the CoE have halved in the past 15 years. "Fewer than one in six of all infants is now baptised and in major cities the number has fallen to one in ten."

To Ford: I don't view homosexuality as different than cohabitation. Both are condemned by the bible. Both are sexual sins. Both go against the theme woven from Genesis to Revelation: Marriage is a God-ordained state between a man and a woman and sexual relations are reserved for marriage. And I know first hand that unrepentant sin separates us from God (such as your bearing false witness against ABp Akinola). We are called to preach REPENTANCE and forgiveness of sins. This is not hateful.

As to specifics of the Nigerian legal system, I would say that you (and I) are clueless about what their situation is. I suggest you read this article http://europenews.dk/en/node/10263 to get a glimpse of their realities.

Posted by robroy at Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 7:06am BST

Article XXV for your elementary sacrament review today robroy.

So we repent of our sins, some of us regularly, who is to judge? Certainly not you.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 12:50pm BST

robroy: a friend who is a RC priest in England was somewhat surprised to hear his bishop tell the diocesan clergy recently that they should prepare for their diocese to cease to exist within 15 years, given its current rate of decline. Reports in the press last week covered the planned mass closure of church buildings in England: a surprisingly large number of them are RC churches. Robroy, hard-line does not equal success when it comes to religion in Europe: you need to understand this. There is simply not a large constituency of moral hard-liners in Europe for twisted churchmen to appeal to in the same way that they appear to be able to do in some areas across the Atlantic. We are an increasingly socially liberal continent, with little nostalgia for social control by clerics.

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 3:13pm BST

robroy, I am not talking about cohabitation. Stop avoiding the issue. There is no need to alter in the slightest your message concerning homosexuality as you understand the Scriptures to teach it. The issue is not that you say "Scripture says homosexuality is a sin" THAT IS NOT HATEFUL!!! It's the fact that you all then must follow that up with condemnations of gay people, lies, half truths, slanders, all meant to paint us out as evil and, frankly, the enemy. How many times do we still get the accusation that we are pedophiles? It has even been made here! Evangelicals on this very site have defended the most egregious lies and propaganda as science! You yourself seem to think that I should accept the "kindness" of "only" jailing me for 5 years! And you STILL haven't answered me: how much punishment do you think gay people deserve, if you think 5 years jail is a "good compromise"? I've already discussed my "false witness" about +Akinola. If you want to argue nuances, go elsewhere. But I would still like to know why you think it is Scripturally based to falsely claim that one's opponents in TEC are faithless. Also, how does one have the audacity to refer to a radical innovation in the understanding of practically all aspects of the faith as "orthodox"? If you want to surprise me and try to find out how you can preach your message better to gay people, we can go on. I doubt you will, since the salvation of gay people, or anyone else, is obviously less important to you than blaming the evil liberals for what you see as decline. The most humourous thing about all this is that in every post you prove my point. You know, if you don't want to know how to preach your message, that's fine by me. I have no desire to see Evangelicalism become any stronger. Just don't be surprised when you stand before the Throne and God asks you why you drove gay people away from the Gospel. I'm telling you how you are doing this, if you don't want to change your behaviour, it's on your soul. And why do I still have the feeling that you think I am telling you you have to accept non-celibate gay people in your parish?

Posted by Ford Elms at Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 9:44pm BST

Father Mark, though I seem fixated on numbers, I would be much more happy with one Christian firmly rooted than 20 rooted in superficial soil. I don't think the answer is to dilute or compromise the faith. A church that says, you can keep your adultery, your gambling, your homosexual relationship or your pornography but come and help us in this soup kitchen will fail. Jesus told the young, rich man to sell all that he had and follow. We need high commitment Christianity. Perhaps, the numbers will actually be lower. Uncle Screwtape complained about the batch of souls that they were getting, increased in numbers but decreased in "quality." Only tepidly bad. Not blatantly evil. Not brigands and robbers, just people who fudged on their taxes.

I think that one important the church needs is to control influence of the media which I see as pervasive evil influence. I found this:

Ted Baehr, author of The Media Wise Family, reports, "Extensive research indicates that most Christians have the same media diet as non-Christians, though many Christians complain about the entertainment media. The same percentage of Christian teenagers as 'non-Christian' watch R-rated movies with the same frequency." Researcher George Barna has also documented the increasing role of popular culture as an influencer in the life of evangelicals; he reports that born-again adults spend "an average of seven times more hours each week watching television than they do participating in spiritual pursuits such as Bible reading, prayer, and worship. … They spend roughly twice as much money on entertainment as they donate to their church. And they spend more time surfing the net than they do conversing with God in prayer."

That last one hits home!

Posted by robroy at Monday, 2 June 2008 at 3:52am BST

"I think that one important the church needs is to control influence of the media which I see as pervasive evil influence."

Why do you think the Church has the right to "control" anything? Whether or not there is a "pervasive evil influence" from the media, and I agree, though I suspect for very different reasons, is by the way. My suspicion that conservative religion is all about control is growing daily.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 2 June 2008 at 7:32pm BST

"And they spend more time surfing the net than they do conversing with God in prayer."

And here I thought it was possible to do these things simultaneously...or that prayer didn't require a specific time or place.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 3 June 2008 at 11:20am BST

I think that some here in their continual quest of control and eternal purification on this site misspell praying as "preying". Their frustration is evident through their number manipulation; their arrogance breathtaking. It would seem that what "family" they had was never a happy one.

THAT REALLY HITS HOME!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 11:28am BST

choirboy, I'm of the vintage that was young enough to take seriously those "Jesus of Nazareth invites you to a banquet to be given in His honour" posters that used to hang in the church porch. And I remember the growing realization that the Church no longer possessed the power over society She once had, and that this, while painful, would probably be a good thing, since going to Church for the respectability of it makes for pretty insincere Christians. I bought into all that. Conservatives, I suspect, didn't. Declining attendance is a BAD THING, because those who don't go to Church go to Hell, and there is sincere concern for that. There's also the consequences of not having control over society. The only period when that happened was in the early days, and we were severely persecuted then. The modern persecutions that have in some places accompanied our modern loss of power, though at times being simply revenge for our own past oppressive behaviour, point out the real possibility that it might happen again. The public stereotype of Christianity, fed largely by conservative, Evangelical and Roman mostly, anger and resentment at being knocked off the pedestal, is of a judgemental faith that demands mindless obediance from people manipulated by fear of damnation. And who is it that is loudest in warning of the threat to the Church? Fear is a huge motivator for some: fear of the world, fear of loss of power, fear of change, fear of God, and not the Holy Fear we refer to, either. Thus, the Gospel of God's liberation of His Creation is turned into a source of crowd controlling threats. The reaction of the Right underscores this, look at robroy's unquestioned assumption that the Church has the right to control the media, look at the dire warnings of the loss not only of Christian Western society, but of the Gospel itself. God will let the Gospel die if the evil Liberal heathen have their way! Fear that that could happen is greater than the faith that says it isn't possible. The preference of the Left for the language of worldly politics just makes the Left look hopelessly trendy, while the Gospel is far more radical than even the Left can fathom. I always find it funny when Lefties try to come to terms with the Parable of the Labourers in the Vinyard.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 1:54pm BST

You're absolutely right Ford, the key words are indeed "fear" and "control". We're all susceptible to this (those who know me how abhorrent I am to any new liturgy), but if we don't realize this in ourselves, how could we ever pretend to lead others in the name of Christ?

But beyond this are all the talkers that put on airs of theological superiority in their attempts to belittle anybody who is trying to work their issues in a Christ-like manner. I think this morning's gospel of Matthew 7, 21-23 says something about the talkers and doers.

Someday I'd like to get up to New-fy-land and buy you an Alexander Keith's. Go have one for me.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 6:51pm BST

Keith's?!?! Ick. Mine's a Black horse or an India! But, if you ever do get here, come to St. Mike's where we have some pretty catholic beliefs, some relatively Protestant attitudes to liturgy (though we DO try, the usual Anglican complaints about the incense and all that), and a liturgy that is the Book of Abysmal Services rite in "traditional language". There's usually enough goes wrong that it's not offputtingly formal, and there's something odd about the place that just makes all of that endearing. Where are you? Current gas prices are probably keeping you close to home.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 7:25pm BST
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