Anglicans, sing for your lives

7.3.2 The singing of the psalms and of the authorized and commended canticles provided in the Book of Common Prayer and in Common Worship has declined rapidly and in many parish churches is unknown, a hymn or song being preferred as a more accessible alternative. There is a considerable challenge to assist congregations to re-engage with these core texts which have been a central part of Christian worship since earliest times and particularly distinctive to worship within the reformed tradition and to Anglican worship since the sixteenth century.

GS 1651 Transforming Worship: Report of the Liturgical Commission

Faith and public square

Pluralism, Politics and God? – An International Symposium on Religion and Public Reason

13-15 September 2007

In his controversial Regensburg lecture of 12 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sought to re-frame the interaction of religious traditions on the principle that ‘not to act reasonably is contrary to the nature of God’. He also called on the universities, and on all partners in the dialogue of cultures, to rediscover this principle by engaging ‘the whole breadth of reason’ – appreciating its grandeur and repudiating reductionist approaches to reason.

This unabashedly hellenistic emphasis raises important questions about the relation between faith and reason, and about the role of religion in the exercise of public reason. Is religion necessary to sustain reason? Do different religions represent competing claims about reason and rationality as well as about revelation? Does religious diversity mean that public decision-making, even as regards moral or ethical matters or human rights, should seek to bracket the God-question? Or is that not possible without undermining the rational basis for deciding and acting?

Scholars from around the world will gather at McGill on the anniversary of the Regensburg lecture to consider such timely questions and to present papers. Debates will be held on ‘Religion, Rights and the State’, ‘Reasonable Accommodation’, ‘Religion, Sex and the City’, ‘Beyond the Clash of Civilizations’ and other topics, with distinguished panelists including Gregory Baum, David Blankenhorn, the Hon. David Brown, the Hon. Michael Ignatieff, the Hon. Jason Kenney, Margaret Somerville, Janice Stein, Katherine Young, and other well-known public intellectuals from inside and outside McGill. John Witte Jr will deliver a Beatty Memorial Lecture and Nicholas Adams a Claude Ryan Memorial Lecture. On the eve of the symposium Fr Raymond DeSouza will speak on the Regensburg theme.

There are more details at the Newman Centre

The project director is Douglas Farrow, editor of Recognizing Religion in a Secular Society: Essays in Pluralism, Religion and Public Policy, who should be well known for the incomparable Ascension and Ecclesia a rich source for PhD theses. Ex-King’s, of course.

Religion, secularism, public square…

The Church as public service
The Christian life in the Church is the form of life in which we can most truly be together. It is life with Christ. The proper identity of Christ is established by the Father, so Christ does not have to establish his own identity, which makes him free to be our servant, and to remain so, forever.

Christian politics rests on this understanding that we are served, by Christ. Christ is not wrestling for power with us as we wrestle with one another. Free from any concern to establish his identity, he endures and will overcome our all power play, against him and one another. The assumption that, if God wields more power or responsibility we are left with less, is entirely untrue of the Christian God. Christ intends us to become like himself, self-controlled, and so free to take our delight in one another and find service of one another its own reward. Christ shares with us the self-control by which he is always free, even whilst being our servant. With Christ fully free, and therefore fully therefore master in all his service of us, we may participate in his self-mastery and freedom. In Christ we participate in the relationships which he shares with all others, and through all these relationships we share in his freedom. Then we are free to receive and pass on the love and care, discipling and mutual correction, which is the form his grace takes.

Members of the church serve one another. The household of mutual service (leitourgia – liturgy) which the Church is, spills out beyond the Church to serve those outside it, so Christians serve whoever is ready to receive their service. The Church serves the world because not to offer guidance, correction or intervention when it seems to be required would be a lack of love. Such love comes as provision of care, protection and order, and explicit teaching about these. Long-term concern for justice, government and education, and public dialogue about them, is an outworking of the gospel, not an addition to it. Through time this outworking does become ossified into the national institutions of justice, law enforcement, education and health services. The service which the Church offers to anyone who will take it, is the extension of the self-government, that is the mutual subordination, of the Church which is the public form of Christ’s service of the world.

Christ, religion and ‘other religions’

With many thanks to the Tyndale Fellowship‘s Ethics & Social Theology group and Jonathan Chaplin of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics

Marriage is not a creation of the state

Marriage is first and foremost a social institution, created and sustained by civil society. Law sometimes creates institutions (the corporation is a prime modern example). But sometimes the law recognizes an institution that it does not and cannot meaningfully create. No laws, and no set of lawyers, legislators, or judges, can summon a social institution like marriage into being merely by legal fiat. Marriage and family therefore can never be reduced to a legal construct, a mere creature of the state.

As scholars in other disciplines come to shed increasing light on the importance of marriage as a key social institution, family law as a discipline is moving in the opposite direction, embracing family diversity as the moral ideal which should undergird family law. Even as American society in general begins to refocus on how marriage can better serve the needs of children, much of family law as a discipline and practice remains preoccupied with the sexual choices and rights of adults.

The basic understanding of marriage underlying much of the current same-sex marriage discourse is seriously flawed, reflecting all the worst trends in marriage and family law generally. It is adult-centric, turning on the rights of adults to make choices. It does not take institutional effects of law seriously, failing to treat with intellectual seriousness any potential consequences that changing the basic legal definition of marriage may have for the children of society. Sadly, an attack on the idea that family structure matters now forms a part of some advocatesâ?? case for same-sex marriage in both the courts and the public square.

A legal or policy reform strengthens marriage as a social institution when it:

Protects the boundaries of marriage, clearly distinguishing marriedcouples from other personal relations, so that people and communities can tell who is married, and who is not. The harder it is to distinguish married couples from other kinds of unions, the harder it is for communities to reinforce norms of marital behavior and the more difficult it is for marriage to fulfill its function as a social institution.

Treats the married couple as a social, legal, and financial unit. When the law, through the tax code or other means, disaggregates the family and treats married men and women as if they were single, this does not represent â??neutrality.â?? Because marriage is in fact a real economic, emotional, social, parenting, and sexual union, the law must in justice treat married couples as a unit, rather than as unrelated individuals.

Marriage and the Law: A Statement of Principles

The fullness of the apostolic witness

Leander Harding. Unbeatable.

I am going to take it as established that the historic episcopacy is a continuation of the apostolic ministry which has evolved in the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that therefore an episcopacy which has integrity and authenticity will be self-consciously seeking an ever greater conformity with the ministry of the first Apostles. One way of speaking about godliness in the episcopacy would to enumerate all the virtues that would go into a truly consecrated character. So we would speak of prayerfulness, learning, humility, the spirit of service, zeal for souls and so on. But how might a bishop find a way into these virtues? How can the motivation to grow in real godliness be sustained? I think by dwelling on the originating encounter with the crucified and risen Lord which propels the Apostles into their ministry. Essential to the ministry of the first Apostles is that they are witnesses to the resurrection and it is in the resurrection encounters that we should expect to find the distinctive shape and power of the apostolic ministry

Godly Bishops

The great book about all of this is Michael Ramsey’s The Gospel and the Catholic Church. Ramsey’s argument fits perhaps best into the category of plene esse (fullness of being). Churches without bishops are certainly valid members of the body of Christ, but there is something about the fullness of the apostolic witness and unity that is lacking and toward which the churches should press with full vigor for the sake of a fuller and more adequate witness to the crucified and risen Lord. Ramsey’s book convinced the Reformed pastor and missionary in India, Lesslie Newbigin, of the significance of the catholic order of the church for the sake of Gospel mission, and made it possible for Newbigin to embrace a call to be one of the first bishops of the Church of South India. Ramsey’s book remains a classic and breaks open stale arguments by arguing for the evangelical and missionary significance of the catholic order of the church. It is a travesty that the book is out of print.

The Esse of Episcopacy

Hallo Wipf & Stock?

Bishops lead the liturgy

5.1.7 Bishops cannot exercise their responsibility for liturgical leadership effectively without support and advice. We recommend that every diocese should have a Diocesan Liturgical Committee or equivalent group, which should relate directly to the Bishop. Its task is to hold an overview of the liturgical life of the diocese, to offer advice to the Bishop and others on liturgical matters when needed, and to work closely with diocesan CME departments in providing training opportunities for clergy, Readers, and other ministers. It may be asked to help the Bishop in his oversight of Fresh Expressions of church within the diocese (cf. para. 6.5.1 below). It may also be tasked with planning special diocesan services (e.g. for diocesan conferences), but its role is more strategic than tactical. In general, it should seek out good practice, inside and outside the diocese, and help it to be followed more widely. Within the DLC, it may be helpful to have an individual who is identified as the Bishop’s Adviser for Liturgy, or as Diocesan Worship Development Officer.

Transforming Liturgy – report to the General Synod of the Church of England

We must not let our poor beleagured bishops feel that they are on their own, so they must have good advisors and teachers. But equally, something as central to the office of bishop as the liturgy cannot be delegated

Modernity and the witness of Israel and the Church

The Eschatological Economy

God’s elect people, Israel, demonstrated in the public drama of sacrifice to the watching world that Israel’s God is the one true God. But when later Christians ceased to read the Old Testament as God’s witness to the world of the Gentiles, Israel came to be understood instead as just an example of primitive society, and Israel’s sacrifice was understood as just another form of primitive violence.

The result of this was first a smug account of the superiority of the Church over Israel, then (in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) a story about how far we have come since we were primitive, and then (in the twentieth century) a merely secular notion of historical change and cultural relativism. The result of this belief that ancient people sacrificed animals (and we don’t), and that the particular people of Israel are forever associated with this, means that Jews became identified as non-modern. Some of the best known champions of modernity, amongst them Kant and Hegel, wondered whether the particularity of the Jewish people was an obstacle to the unity and maturity of nations.

So the issue of sacrifice is linked to that of supersessionism (‘replacement theology’), and it has significant political consequences. To look ahead for a moment – is modernity is intrinsically supersessionist? Does modernity have a prejudice against the particularity of individual peoples? Does modernity mean simply homogenisation? These were some of the questions that needed to be asked.

You can find out more about The Eschatological Economy at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk or at Eerdmans