NT Wright on gay marriage.

“In the same way, there was a letter in the Times Literary Supplement just a few weeks ago saying that when we’re talking about assisted suicide, we shouldn’t actually use words like “suicide,” “killing,” and those sort of words because those imply that you shouldn’t do it. Whereas now our civilization is saying that maybe there are reasons for that. I find that sort of stuff chilling, the attempt to change an ideology within a culture by changing the language. 

Now, the word “marriage,” for thousands of years and cross-culturally has meant man and woman. Sometimes it’s been one man and more than one woman. Occasionally it’s been one woman and more than one man. There is polyandry as well as polygamy in some societies in some parts of history, but it’s always been male plus female. Simply to say that you can have a woman-plus-woman marriage or a man-plus-man marriage is radically to change that because of the givenness of maleness and femaleness. I would say that without any particular Christian presuppositions at all, just cross-culturally, that’s so.

First Things; emphasis mine

What’s Up With That?

From an interview with DG Hart, conducted by David Strain on his blog:

1.      Is there a connection between 19thcentury revival/revivalism and the kind of socio-political agendas often advocated by both the Christian Right and Left today?

Definitely.  Many evangelicals and Reformed do not understand that the kind of evangelical activism they now promote or perform was first part of the Second Great Awakening – the bad one.  Not only was Finney interested in converting people, but he also wanted a righteous and just society.  Evangelicals responded by forming a ton of voluntary societies that did in many respects transform American society (if you were not a member of the Whig or Republican parties, you may not have appreciated all of these reforms.)

So the Second no-so-great Awakening drove a wedge between Protestants, those with a high view of the church (Episcopalians, Lutherans, and some Old School Presbyterians) and those with a low view of the church and a high view of America.  The ethno-cultural school of political historians has produced a body of literature on these ecclesial differences, and this work has actually informed my own writing on confessional Protestantism.  The term “confessional” itself comes from political history and it stands for high church Protestants who are less concerned about social and political matters compared to the eternal realities of the gospel.

One other historical reference worthy of comment here is that the Second not-so-great Awakening was really the soil from which the Social Gospel sprung.  I sometimes wonder why today’s “conservative” evangelicals are so willing to repeat the efforts and arguments that “liberal” Protestants were making a hundred years ago.  Also, if you look at the books written by leaders of the religious right, people like Falwell and Ralph Reed, you see the Second not-so-great Awakening cited as a model or inspiration for contemporary political activism.

As the kids used to say, “What’s up with that?”

A comedy of errors

Consider first these two links regarding the Church of England and the movie “Son of God.”

And now my attempt at ecclesial internet humor.  Or humour, as the Archbishop of Canterbury would say.

If the Church of England keeps removing references to Satan, they’ll have to change their name to “Son of God.”

*rimshot on an overturned collection plate*

2/20/14: title updated, changed from “Church of England joke”

Organic, everyday substance

Every now and then, an article like this one in the American Conservative will come out.  William Brafford of First Things brings up an important factor that may be overlooked:

I have many other thoughts on the search for what may ultimately be considered “sensuality” in worship, but I found this paragraph to be rather notable, emphasis mine:

For high-school English teacher Jesse Cone, joining the Orthodox Church fulfilled a deep yearning for community and sacramental reality. Cone grew up in the Presbyterian Church of America, heavily involved in youth group and church activities. While attending Biola University, an evangelical school in southern California, Cone returned home over the summers to help lead youth-group activities. He was hired as a youth pastor and “even preached a sermon.” But at Biola, Cone struggled to find a home church. There were many megachurches in the area that didn’t have the “organic, everyday substance” Cone was seeking.

I identify strongly with the repulsion from megachurch Christianity as found in Orange County in California, but the second half of the sentence seems a bit off.

Surely the ordinary means of grace as administered in the Reformation (see: Presbyterian) tradition represent a more earthy, everyday substance than the ornate, gilded and embroidered practice of the Eastern Orthodox.

For the Reformed & Presbyterian, a tradition which emphasizes salvation on the basis of free grace through Christ’s work, a righteousness imputed by faith on the authority of Scripture as God’s inspired Word, sufficient for all of faith and practice.  A tradition which allows the farmer to worship at the plow, doing all to the glory of God, knowing that his vocation and faith make him no less a man of faith than the pastor in the pulpit.  A tradition which brings faith into the every day, into the ordinary.

There is a reason the table bearing the Supper looks like the one you see in your home every day.

…but a person you can know.

When asked what he would write to his 14 year-old self, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gives his response.

Dear Justin,You are rarely good at anything, a fact you know well and worry about. But don’t worry — it does not measure who you are. Keep on dreaming of great things, but learn to live in the present, so that you take steps to accomplish them. Above all, more important than anything, don’t wait until you are older to find out about Jesus Christ and his love for you. He is not just a name at Chapel, but a person you can know. Christmas is not a fairy story, but the compelling opening of the greatest drama in history, with you as one of millions of players. Life will often be tough, but you will find more love than you can imagine now.With my love to you, Justin

HT: Dr. Albert Mohler, @albertmohler

1-6-14 update: removed image due to broken link

The week in review.

You’ll have to bear with me, I am still doing my best to work out what type of format I’d like to take moving forward.  I do enjoy a good rundown, so here’s mine:
Beautiful Eulogy – “Beautiful Eulogy
I’ve been listening to this album since their album was released in 2012, but you’d still be hard pressed to find a clearer presentation of the Gospel in hip-hop than Beautiful Eulogy, namely in the song bearing the name of the group.  
My favorite line: “How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine, well acquainted with pain and strained relationships.”

From The Aquila Report, an article entitled

My Story: From Reformed Worship to Anglicanism and Back Again

My wife and I recently transitioned from an Acts 29 church to a PCA congregation, having been convicted of having our son baptized and the importance of liturgical, simple worship.  I do hope to write at length on the topic soon, but haven’t found the time.  Aside from the anecdotal side note, I found the above article to be illuminating and profitable to show how important corporate worship has been from the New Testament to the Reformation to today.
And now… another response to Rachel Held Evans…
Just kidding.
PS: I do have the ambition to write about my recent trip with my pastor to our presbytery meeting and a few other topics.  With a week off looming in the near future it just may happen!