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Archive for February, 2007

Anglican Archbishop condemns unification plan

Anglican Archbishop condemns unification plan

Reporter: Kerry O’Brien

KERRY O’BRIEN: The London Times caused a buzz through the Christian world overnight with a story that the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches are close to embracing a proposal for unity. A body called the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, formed more than six years ago, has produced a report encompassing a number of measures being considered right now within the Vatican. According to the Times, the report said, quote, we urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our communions to grow towards full ecclesial communion; in other words, one church, united under the Pope. The Catholic co chair of the commission, Brisbane’s Archbishop John Bathersby, and his Anglican counterpart on the commission, South African Bishop David Beetge, have poured cold water on the Times story, describing it as unfortunate. It seems as if unity, even in terms of its proponents, is some way off. But, according to Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop, Dr Peter Jensen, it’s a case of never, never. Not in this life, anyway. I spoke with Dr Jensen earlier tonight.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Archbishop Jensen, can you imagine a day when Anglicans and Roman Catholics are united as one church?

PETER JENSEN, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY: No, Kerry, not this side of Heaven. In Heaven, we’ll all be one church.

KERRY O’BRIEN: That’s not a bad answer.

PETER JENSEN: But not in this life.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Why?

PETER JENSEN: Because there’s no need for it. The churches are really big institutions, denominations. They have grand histories, that’s fine, but they’re not the real Church. There’s one real Church that all Christians now belong to and although there is some use in, perhaps, denominational mergers from time to time, I don’t really see any need for the churches to unite in that way.

KERRY O’BRIEN: How hard would it be for the Anglican church to accept one central authority, that is, the Pope?

PETER JENSEN: If I said impossible, that’s what’s on my mind. It is impossible. There may be some Anglicans who would, Anglicanism is a very big body of people, but not the Anglican Church that I know, because we deliberately made the decision, hundreds of years ago, that there was one head of the church, Jesus Christ, and not the Pope and that’s why we are not part of the Roman Catholic church.

KERRY O’BRIEN: The world is a bigger place now, it’s a vastly different place in the way it functions as a globe. You don’t think there’s ever room to rethink?

PETER JENSEN: There’s always room to rethink, and one of the things we have rethought is our relationships. I’m glad to say that the old sectarianism has virtually disappeared. I grew up with the last bit of it, it was pretty ugly and we’ve now got rid of it and I’m glad to say that relationships between us here in Australia, for example, are excellent. So that sort of rethink, yes. But the sort of rethink which says that somehow the Pope of Rome is going to be in charge of all Christians, never.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And yet there is this formal body to which your church is a part, which is considering these very questions. Now, if we take your view, that’s a complete waste of time?

PETER JENSEN: Yes, I have to say that part of the story is a little bit misleading. These discussions have been going on for the last 35 years. The famous leaked report from London is, I think, the Times of London getting ahead of itself. The ideas it refers to have been around, as I say, for the last 25 years and they have not met with acceptance around the Anglican world and so the report itself, I have to say, is a little bit of a furphy.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But they do seem to be quoting directly from the document and the joint church commission report, we’re told, now sitting with the Vatican, the report, for consideration, apparently acknowledges the imperfect communion between the two churches but say there is enough common ground to make a call for action about the Pope and other issues. Do you not think that that accurately reflects the mood within the broader Anglican Church community?

PETER JENSEN: No. I think when committees get together, people learn to like each other, get on well together. These committees have been high-powered, I wouldn’t want to put their work aside and say it wasn’t, it was very high-powered stuff, and people made progress together and some issues which we thought we were quite opposed on have turned out to be less of an issue than we thought. So there’s been good process at that point. But when it comes to asking Anglicans to become part of the Roman Catholic communion by accepting the Pope, well, some Anglicans would certainly consider that, but the majority of us would not and as a matter of principle. It’s not a matter of being biased against Roman Catholics, but it is a matter of deep principle with us. We’d prefer to say, you become Anglicans.

KERRY O’BRIEN: The report suggests drawing up special protocols to handle the movement of clergy from one church to the other, common teaching resources for children at Sunday schools and attendances at each other’s services. Do you see any virtue in any of those?

PETER JENSEN: Yes, all to the good. I think they are the sort of thing we have seen developed, not with just the Roman Catholic Church but other churches as well. This is healthy and good, as long as the lines of real importance are not blurred. Christians are a little bit odd in today’s world. We actually believe in objective truth, which makes us awkward. It makes us awkward with each other, too, but I think that’s a testimony worth fighting for. So there are some of those things for which we would say yes, and they’re happening now. Cardinal Pell and I meet from time to time, we pray together but there are other points at which, no, it’s not possible to make a compromise. Now, what we’ve got to do is speak the truth in love to each other. Speak the truth in love.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Well, there is a suggestion that Anglican bishops could be invited to accompany Catholic bishops to Rome to meet the Pope; would you like to go with Cardinal Pell to Rome?

PETER JENSEN: I believe the Pope’s coming here next year. Rome would be a wonderful place to see and with Cardinal Pell as my guide I would see it as you would see it no other way. So it would be very interesting, indeed. But as a theological point, no, not necessary.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And you don’t think there’s just a little point of historical stubbornness in this; because of that original schism in the Church with Henry VIII, that there’s just no going back?

PETER JENSEN: Stubbornness is a good thing in the right cause. I think we always need to reassess, frankly, and I am impressed with the Roman Catholic Church. It’s like a vast cathedral. It’s got immense intellectual power and aesthetic appeal. I could imagine myself in that company. I’m very impressed with it. And I’ve thought about it. But I trust I’m not being stubborn when I say that the truth bids me to do something else.

KERRY O’BRIEN: So at the same time that there’s talk of a merger between the two churches, your most senior clergy, meeting in Tanzania this week, the Primates, have issued a severe rebuke to the American branch of the Church over gay clergy and gay unions, which could easily lead to a split. I wonder if you can see the irony of the timing in these two stories.

PETER JENSEN: Yes, there is an irony. These conversations I’ve spoken of that have been going on for 35 years have been premised on grounds that Anglicanism does represent a sort of holistic view of truth. Since the crisis has emerged in the American Church in particular, of course, the Roman Catholic Church has begun to query the whole basis for the discussions we’ve been having. Now, they’re very courteous, they haven’t pulled the plug, but they have begun to question the basis and the more that Anglicanism shows its very disparate nature, the less attractive it becomes for Roman Catholics to talk to us. So there is an irony in it.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Perhaps you wouldn’t have this problem if you had a central authority like the Pope?

PETER JENSEN: Well, that would suggest that Rome doesn’t have the problem.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Perhaps not quite to the same overt degree.

PETER JENSEN: We do have one central authority, that’s the Bible. What we have is a lot of people who interpret the Bible, which is perfectly right. Each of us is accountable for interpreting the Bible. That’s our central authority. Now, that is the way that God rules his Church. That leads to all sorts of differences of opinion. It is called Protestantism, and I’m actually in favour of it. I think it’s a good thing in the modern world.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Isn’t the Bible itself an imperfect document?

PETER JENSEN: I would say it isn’t, but that would be a very interesting discussion that you and I could have.

KERRY O’BRIEN: I think that’s possibly for another program. Archbishop Jensen, thanks for talking with us.

PETER JENSEN: Thanks very much, Kerry.

 

Click here to read another interesting article on this from the Daily Telegraph newspaper(United Kingdom)…

Welcome whoever comes here…

This is a trial of podcasts created for Lymington Baptist Church by me… Please start at number 1… Any comments or feedback will be helpful to me, particularly the style, tone and presentation… A new window/tab will open up for each one…

Jesus and beginning the Christian Life.
1. Whats in a name?
2. Just a good moral teacher?
3. Jesus – fully human.
4. Jesus – fully God.
5. Why would God become human?
6. Starting the christian life.
7. Christian assurance
8. Jesus’ relationship with the christian

The God who speaks and the Bible…
9. The God who speaks
10. God has spoken – Revelation
11. God has spoken – Inspiration
12. God has spoken – Illumination
13. Keys to understanding the bible
14. How the Bible helps us – Equipping us
15. How the Bible helps us – Know God more
16. How the Bible helps us – Getting to know God’s programme

Back to the top…

Thank you… Obrigada… Merci… Grazie… Gracias… Danke…

Dave

Christianity in Britain 2007…

God help needy Christian charities

By Charles Moore

Here are a few case studies, with a common thread. In 2005, Pamela Stevens, a single mother with a grown-up son, applied to Kensington and Chelsea Council to become a foster mother for older children. She had considerable experience of looking after teenagers because large numbers of them have lodged in her house over the years as language students.

Miss Stevens’s application was turned down.

Cherie Colman is also a single mother. Some time after her divorce 17 years ago, she set up a charity called Cheer (Comfort, Hope, Empathy, Encouragement, Rebuilding) to help single mothers. Cheer applied for a grant from a Department for Education programme, administered through the Peabody Trust, for its holiday activities for the children of the mothers on a south London council estate. This was turned down.

For 40 years now, the Spitalfields Crypt Trust has ministered to homeless alcoholics. It has two “second stage” houses where they can live under supervision while they are recovering. One of these houses is part-funded by Tower Hamlets Council, but now the council is threatening to take the grant away.

The common thread is that all these people and organisations were objected to on the grounds that they were Christian.

Miss Stevens was told that she would not be suitable as a foster mother because her beliefs, in the words of the letter of rejection, “prevent you from fully accepting a child’s sexuality if he or she were lesbian or gay”, and because “your beliefs do not allow you to actively promote another religion for a child”.

Cheer was told by the grant officer that it would not get the funding for its holiday activities (which until then had been looking promising) because she had looked at its website, and it proclaimed that it was Christian. She said that this meant Cheer was not open to everybody, although in fact Cheer ministers to all single mothers, regardless of faith. Her letter of rejection identified Cheer’s crime: its website showed “that your assistance for single parents includes extending Christian comfort and offering prayer”.

Spitalfields Crypt Trust, responding to the endless directives that ask for statements of Equal Opportunities Policy, “Ethos” etc, drafted a document called Our Beliefs and Aspirations. Tower Hamlets Council wanted it to say: “We will do nothing to promote our faith”.

The current draft, which the trust refuses to dilute, says: “It is our firm belief that a personal Christian faith offers the greatest hope, most effective dynamic and surest foundation for sustainable recovery and personal development. We want to make this faith accessible to our service-users while at the same time offering our services to people of any faith or none without obligation to engage in any exploration, observance or instruction of a specifically Christian nature.”

Tower Hamlets also objects that the staff of the trust do not exhibit enough “diversity”. Since the trust has only one man working in Tower Hamlets, and half of his work ministers to people outside the borough, this means that half of one man is being attacked for not being diverse enough.

One of the things that makes these rejections so strange is that the Government actually has a policy of encouraging community work by what the jargon calls “faith groups”. A fifth of all charities in what the same jargon describes as “the Third Sector” – ie neither state nor commercial work in the community – are religious, the great majority of these being Christian. And the Third Sector even has its own government minister to encourage it, one of the many bright young men in New Labour called Miliband.

It is quite a Blairy idea that faith groups can provide his famous Third Way between market forces and government control.

But it turns out that, while the works of faith groups are sometimes welcomed – and almost always needed – the faith of faith groups is too much for the authorities. Thus if a Christian group prefers to employ Christians to do its work, that is discriminatory. If it offers prayer as one of the activities available to its clients, that is anti-diversity.

Another charity, which wishes to remain anonymous as it tries to rebuild itself after the loss of council funds, helped get disaffected black youths out of gun and drug crime. A council officer accused it of “brainwashing” and “being a cult”. When asked why, he said that no other course in the field had been nearly so successful, so there must be something funny about it. He did not like the charity’s video projector used in its courses, which showed a logo saying “We empower youth”.

But of course, for a Christian, faith and works go together, the latter flowing from the former. Works without faith would be like a body with limbs, but no heart.

The faith is why the works are necessary. As Ian McColl, of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust, puts it: “We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t believe it.”

And if you believe something, you cannot just abandon it at convenient moments. All the mainstream Christian Churches teach that homosexual acts are not the moral equivalent of heterosexual acts within marriage (though a good many individual Christians disagree with this view).

Almost all Christians, though most nowadays are ecumenically open to the idea that other faiths contain important truths, believe that Christianity is true in a sense in which Islam or Judaism or Hinduism is not.

None of this means that Christians cannot serve people of other beliefs, or people whose actions they think are sinful. In fact, the whole of Christian charity is based on the idea that we are all sinful and that you should show particular consideration to those – prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, prisoners etc – broken down by a sinful world. But it does mean that if the public authorities start demanding Christians’ assent to anti-religious doctrines, they cannot give it.

And that means that such catechising, if rigorously applied, will prevent Christians from doing the benevolent public work that the Government itself welcomes.

It is perfectly reasonable for the public authorities to say that they do not want to spend taxpayers’ money on the work of conversion.

But it is another matter to attack religious beliefs, and to try to keep the people who hold them away from all public money, and from the drunk and homeless and poor and handicapped and old, and from children, all of whom need so much more help than a society without belief can give them.

This is an attack on the people in our society most motivated to help the unfortunate. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of our country.

Another oddity is that “faith groups” of other religions – most notably Islam – seem to attract much less persecution from government and local councils than does Christianity. This is because such groups have been encouraged under the banner of helping ethnic minorities, whereas Christians in Britain, at least outside London, are predominantly white and Anglo-Saxon. Ethnicity gives you a free pass.

Many of these charities of other faiths are excellent, but few cater for the general population in the way that Christian ones do. In that sense, they are less “diverse” than Christian charities. (And I bet there are no Muslim charities where homosexuality is an approved “lifestyle choice”.)

When people prevented children from coming to Jesus, he said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” How would he have fared in 21st-century Britain? He was clearly promoting his faith, and so, obviously, behaving “inappropriately”.

Christianity in Britain 2007

God help needy Christian charities

By Charles Moore

Here are a few case studies, with a common thread. In 2005, Pamela Stevens, a single mother with a grown-up son, applied to Kensington and Chelsea Council to become a foster mother for older children. She had considerable experience of looking after teenagers because large numbers of them have lodged in her house over the years as language students.

Miss Stevens’s application was turned down.

Cherie Colman is also a single mother. Some time after her divorce 17 years ago, she set up a charity called Cheer (Comfort, Hope, Empathy, Encouragement, Rebuilding) to help single mothers. Cheer applied for a grant from a Department for Education programme, administered through the Peabody Trust, for its holiday activities for the children of the mothers on a south London council estate. This was turned down.

For 40 years now, the Spitalfields Crypt Trust has ministered to homeless alcoholics. It has two “second stage” houses where they can live under supervision while they are recovering. One of these houses is part-funded by Tower Hamlets Council, but now the council is threatening to take the grant away.

The common thread is that all these people and organisations were objected to on the grounds that they were Christian.

Miss Stevens was told that she would not be suitable as a foster mother because her beliefs, in the words of the letter of rejection, “prevent you from fully accepting a child’s sexuality if he or she were lesbian or gay”, and because “your beliefs do not allow you to actively promote another religion for a child”.

Cheer was told by the grant officer that it would not get the funding for its holiday activities (which until then had been looking promising) because she had looked at its website, and it proclaimed that it was Christian. She said that this meant Cheer was not open to everybody, although in fact Cheer ministers to all single mothers, regardless of faith. Her letter of rejection identified Cheer’s crime: its website showed “that your assistance for single parents includes extending Christian comfort and offering prayer”.

Spitalfields Crypt Trust, responding to the endless directives that ask for statements of Equal Opportunities Policy, “Ethos” etc, drafted a document called Our Beliefs and Aspirations. Tower Hamlets Council wanted it to say: “We will do nothing to promote our faith”.

The current draft, which the trust refuses to dilute, says: “It is our firm belief that a personal Christian faith offers the greatest hope, most effective dynamic and surest foundation for sustainable recovery and personal development. We want to make this faith accessible to our service-users while at the same time offering our services to people of any faith or none without obligation to engage in any exploration, observance or instruction of a specifically Christian nature.”

Tower Hamlets also objects that the staff of the trust do not exhibit enough “diversity”. Since the trust has only one man working in Tower Hamlets, and half of his work ministers to people outside the borough, this means that half of one man is being attacked for not being diverse enough.

One of the things that makes these rejections so strange is that the Government actually has a policy of encouraging community work by what the jargon calls “faith groups”. A fifth of all charities in what the same jargon describes as “the Third Sector” – ie neither state nor commercial work in the community – are religious, the great majority of these being Christian. And the Third Sector even has its own government minister to encourage it, one of the many bright young men in New Labour called Miliband.

It is quite a Blairy idea that faith groups can provide his famous Third Way between market forces and government control.

But it turns out that, while the works of faith groups are sometimes welcomed – and almost always needed – the faith of faith groups is too much for the authorities. Thus if a Christian group prefers to employ Christians to do its work, that is discriminatory. If it offers prayer as one of the activities available to its clients, that is anti-diversity.

Another charity, which wishes to remain anonymous as it tries to rebuild itself after the loss of council funds, helped get disaffected black youths out of gun and drug crime. A council officer accused it of “brainwashing” and “being a cult”. When asked why, he said that no other course in the field had been nearly so successful, so there must be something funny about it. He did not like the charity’s video projector used in its courses, which showed a logo saying “We empower youth”.

But of course, for a Christian, faith and works go together, the latter flowing from the former. Works without faith would be like a body with limbs, but no heart.

The faith is why the works are necessary. As Ian McColl, of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust, puts it: “We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t believe it.”

And if you believe something, you cannot just abandon it at convenient moments. All the mainstream Christian Churches teach that homosexual acts are not the moral equivalent of heterosexual acts within marriage (though a good many individual Christians disagree with this view).

Almost all Christians, though most nowadays are ecumenically open to the idea that other faiths contain important truths, believe that Christianity is true in a sense in which Islam or Judaism or Hinduism is not.

None of this means that Christians cannot serve people of other beliefs, or people whose actions they think are sinful. In fact, the whole of Christian charity is based on the idea that we are all sinful and that you should show particular consideration to those – prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, prisoners etc – broken down by a sinful world. But it does mean that if the public authorities start demanding Christians’ assent to anti-religious doctrines, they cannot give it.

And that means that such catechising, if rigorously applied, will prevent Christians from doing the benevolent public work that the Government itself welcomes.

It is perfectly reasonable for the public authorities to say that they do not want to spend taxpayers’ money on the work of conversion.

But it is another matter to attack religious beliefs, and to try to keep the people who hold them away from all public money, and from the drunk and homeless and poor and handicapped and old, and from children, all of whom need so much more help than a society without belief can give them.

This is an attack on the people in our society most motivated to help the unfortunate. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of our country.

Another oddity is that “faith groups” of other religions – most notably Islam – seem to attract much less persecution from government and local councils than does Christianity. This is because such groups have been encouraged under the banner of helping ethnic minorities, whereas Christians in Britain, at least outside London, are predominantly white and Anglo-Saxon. Ethnicity gives you a free pass.

Many of these charities of other faiths are excellent, but few cater for the general population in the way that Christian ones do. In that sense, they are less “diverse” than Christian charities. (And I bet there are no Muslim charities where homosexuality is an approved “lifestyle choice”.)

When people prevented children from coming to Jesus, he said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” How would he have fared in 21st-century Britain? He was clearly promoting his faith, and so, obviously, behaving “inappropriately”.

Part of my block placement and…

part of what I have been working on, are a series of podcasts. Please do click here and listen to the podcasts. I welcome any feedback , and any comments you feel you want to make on style, tone or presentation, please do comment over there or email me…

Thank you

Dave

Church’s ‘Jesus loves Osama’ sign criticised

By Matthew MooreLast Updated: 10:02am GMT 01/02/2007

The Australian prime minister has criticised a Sydney baptist church for erecting a sign declaring that “Jesus Loves Osama”.

  Jesus Loves Osama sign outside St Clement's Anglican Church in Sydney
The sign has been placed outside several churches in Sydney

The slogan, a reference to Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa’eda leader, has provoked a storm of controversy across the country despite its apparently Christian message of forgiveness.

Small print at the bottom of the sign urges churchgoers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, a quotation from Matthew 5:44.

But John Howard, the prime minister, said that the church should have chosen a less offensive way of spreading its message.

“I understand the Christian motivation of the Baptist church,” he said.

 

“But I hope they will understand that a lot of Australians, including many Australian Christians, will think that the prayer priority of the church on this occasion could have been elsewhere.”

Peter Jensen, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, said that the sign – which has been put up outside several churches in the city – was confusing and potentially offensive.

“There is a truth in it,” he said. “But, “what we’ve got to say is, ‘Jesus doesn’t approve of Osama.’ It makes it sounds like, ‘Oh, Osama’s doing the right thing’.”

A spokesman for the Central Baptist Church told the Australian Daily Telegraph that it was merely “sharing the gospel”.

He said: “Osama is the head of terrorism. We are saying that Jesus Christ loves everyone in the world, even this man. … All we are doing is sharing the gospel.”

Link to the story in the Daily Telegraph

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