Thinking Anglicans

Advent opinions

Gary Anderson writes in The Times that If sin creates a debt, almsgiving creates a heavenly credit.

Stephen Wang writes there also. He argues that Religious education is not brainwashing.

Mark Vernon writes in the Guardian about Galileo’s dependence on John Philoponus. Read Face to Faith.

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief Who are the creationists?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that [Parkour is] No way to overcome urban ennui.

Last week, Chris Chivers wrote in the Church Times about multiculturalism. See No model and no checks.

And Richard Parrish wrote about church schools. See Call us what we are: of the Church.


  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “If sin creates a “debt” that must be repaid, then it is altogether logical that an act of moral virtue – such as the giving of alms to the poor – would create a “credit”
    – Gary Anderson, The Times –

    This was the theory of the RCC in Luther’s day. In John Osborne’s marvellous play ‘Luther” the author has a scene where Bishop Cajetan was in the market-place, supervising the infamous “Sale of Indulgences”. This was seen, in the play, to be one of the important reasons for Luther giving up on the Roman Catholic Church.

    The only problem with this ‘Sale of Indulgences’ was that the sinner was expected to pay a certain amount of money to the Church coffers in exchange for a remissiion of time in purgatory. Different sins attracted different penalties. No wonder the Continental Reform Movement took off!

  • Charlie says:

    Can anyone help me find the Daniel quote in the same article?

    “Pay off your sins by almsgiving and your iniquities by deeds of mercy toward the poor.” -Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar in the Gary Anderson article.

    I have basic bible search software and can’t find it in Daniel anywhere. Including in apocryphal Daniel.

    Am I being dense?

  • BillyD says:

    “Can anyone help me find the Daniel quote in the same article?”

    Daniel 4:27

    The word “tzedakah” literally means “righteousness” or “justice,” but is also the Hebrew term for what Christians call “almsgiving” or “charity.” The JPS version and, I think the Douay-Rheims translate the word as pertaining to alms, whereas a lot of Protestanty versions seem to translate it as “righteousness.”

  • Christopher (P.) says:


    Try Daniel 4:27, although the NRSV has

    Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged.

    Christopher (P.)

  • Charlie says:

    Thank you. I see it now, though the translation seems to make quite a bit of difference.

    Interestingly the New Jerusalem Version (where it is v24)reads to me as if it has gone in a more “Protestant” direction. It looks like the meaning of the verb is what makes an even bigger difference than alms/righteousness.

    ‘May it please the king to accept my advice: by upright actions break with your sins, break with your crimes by showing mercy to the poor, and so live long and peacefully.’

    Thank you for the swift help,

  • ordinary vicar says:

    Fr Ron – you seem to have bent the point somewhat to make a comment about the Roman Catholic church. Again. I’m not making a judgement, just puzzled; you clearly have left it but you don’t seem quite free of it …

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Fr Ron – you seem to have bent the point somewhat to make a comment about the Roman Catholic church. Again. I’m not making a judgement, just puzzled; you clearly have left it but you don’t seem quite free of it … “
    – Ordinary Vicar –

    Actually, NO. I never was part of the Roman Catholic Church – not have I ever considered joining it’s ranks. I, like you, am just an ‘ordinary vicar’ – retired, but not inactive.
    My ‘catholicity’ stems from my Baptism in the Church of England, worship in many countries of the world, and ultimately, ordination in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

    The point I was trying to make in my post is that the concept of ‘paying for one’s sins’ had long been a practice of the RCC – through the Sale of Indulgences – which practice, I believe, has since been discontinued.

  • Christopher (P.) says:

    The sale of indulgences may have been discontinued, but the theology is very much alive, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church shows–and I guess, Anderson’s article.

  • drdanfee says:

    Fr Wang is being simplistic. He completely breezes past how frequently sectarian educations encourage children – who already have developmental tilts going – to consolidate their own sense of worth and autonomy (I am special to God, to my parents, to my gang, and to myself?) by dissing and bullying other kids who are defined as Outs And Downs by some particular religion dogma and/or social pecking order.

    He also might do well, if he is going to opine so loftily about religious schools and education and children, to go back and re-read Piaget and Kohlberg and related developmental psychology literatures? Fr W might also do well to stop setting up fake contests between empty modern non-deistic values, and lauded faith based values. Either may be hearty and substantial; or empty as any cold wind ever was on a freezing day?

    He caves in, then: Children must be raised in closed religious containers. Later, open up to neighbors?

    Kudos to Fr Wang for taking a high road in caving in; instead of reading as a frank welcome to prejudice and mistreatment (religiously based, above all?), he simply reads as if such prejudice and discrimination did not happen at all, religiously based. This is neat, pat. A very fine spin; misleading us at best, lying to us at worst.

    Above all, Fr W reads as if he is blissfully ignorant and happy to be so, about how notions of one’s own worth and personal power and autonomy get tested and behaved by real world children. The first thing a kid who feels powerful will do is act to test this new idea of self – and only very astute teaching and parenting indeed, will help such children distinguish between testing via bullying and ranking against others, versus, say, testing via giving, empathy, and service.

    Clearly, conservative religious schools are heavily leaning towards lip service to service, and heartfelt reliance on holier than thou bullying, subtle forms and crass obvious forms. Just look at the evangelical theology colleges, let alone track it down into the earliest grades.

    Indeed, I am still waiting for some conservative religious thinking which does not rely on bullying. Can it actually exist, so long as its core idea of deity is A Great And Terrible Schoolyard Bully who has every right to take your pittance lunch money right out of your pockets?

  • drdanfee says:

    The varieties of creationism are all about a certain constrained and uncritical confidence in how revelation and holy texts are. Deeply, are. If God has not spoken simply and plainly, zero risk; then according to this forced either/or, one can have no trust in God, or in holy texts, at all. One might as well eat, drink, and be merry before dying sooner or later. No believer I’ve ever really met will live that way; but they always think that they are at some profound risk of coming to live so mindlessly?

    The gap or lacunae of self and self-scrutiny is odd, and oddly threaded across many, many other creationist-believer differences.

    The more interesting human-empirical question is: What does this core presuppositional strategy or hermeneutic which gets posited as supernaturally objective to self outside of any critical observation or scrutiny – serve, protect, and do? Whatever that all is, it is more basic and more comprehensive than claims about the clock age of earth and evolution as such. I guess that we still are digesting the Solar System schock? Let alone Harvey’s discovery of blood circulating, let alone Newton, let alone Einstein, let alone String Theory or Black Holes or Singularities? Let alone DNA?

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “By Michael Heidt and David W. Virtue Forward in Christ Magazine
    November 30, 2009

    VOL: Would the Diocese of Fort Worth be forced to leave ACNA if Archbishop Duncan ordained women?

    Iker: Archbishop Duncan does ordain women to the priesthood (and always has), and this places us in an impaired relationship. From this time on, it would be immensely helpful if he were to delegate such ordinations to other ACNA bishops. If at some time in the future ACNA authorizes the ordination of women bishops, Fort Worth would withdraw.”

    This Advent Statement, made by the renegade Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker, in response to David Virtue’s question about his attitude to women’s ordination (should ACNA continue with the process) is enlightening. This tells us that ACNA’s position on the ordination of women is not only a problem in the C.of E. It will also have similar repercussions in ACNA. So much for the assumed ‘solidarity’ within ACNA’s schismatic *Church* in North America.

  • ordinary vicar says:

    Fr Ron – apologies. I had you confused with another posster.


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