Archive for the ‘The Emerging Church’ Category

This blog post — Shifting Evangelicalism — and the comments following it put into words a trend I have been sensing in the world of Evangelicalism for the past couple decades.  The rise of hard-line-ism and attempts to find reasons to exclude various sub-sets of believers from the church is troubling if not un-Scriptural.

Call me old-fashioned but I can’t let go the vision I caught in my younger years of what the author calls “Big-Tent Evangelicalism”, where we agree on the authority of Scripture and allow for differences in understanding.   The ‘new Evangelicalism’ seems to want to force all believers into the same mold and call it ‘unity’.  Forget about ‘liberty’ and ‘charity’.

If Jesus is true then we need to find ways to bring people INTO the kingdom, not ways to keep them out.  And we shouldn’t be wasting time trying to figure out (as if we had the right to) who’s going to make it into heaven and who isn’t.

Thanks to author Scot McKnight for his insights and to Mark for posting the article to FB.

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With a tip of the hat to a friend on Facebook, I wanted to mark and recommend this blog-find.  It’s a good example of wrong — and right — ways for Christians to approach politics and rumor-mongering.  And it gives me hope that the generation coming after us has seen through the BS the current generation-in-charge has been slinging for so long.  Welcome to Controversy in Wisconsin.

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Coming to you live from Trinity School for Ministry, 6/18/10, morning session

Mrs. Jenni Bartling – Will The Real Church Planters Please Stand Up?

Goal: Having the right person in the right place at the right time

Common Characteristics of Church Planters

Knockout Factors (first 6) – without these fuggedaboudit

  1. Visioning Capacity – the person generates vision, initiates plans, and builds significant projects from the ground up.  More than just a dreamer,  has a vision of what God wants and goes for it.  Has faith in what God can do.
  2. Intrinsically Motivated – has the ability to be a self-starter. High energy, manages large workloads and significant responsibility, maintains commitments.  Especially important if the person is bi-vocational.
  3. Creating Ownership of Ministry – passing on the baton of ministry so that others can continue the race.  Able to replicate him/herself, values coaching, instills congregational responsibility for the growth and success of ministry.  People feel ownership in the church.  Willing and able to delegate.
  4. Reaching the Unchurched – consistently reaches out to the unchurched, and influences them towards relationship with Jesus Christ.  Intentionally builds relationships with non-Christians.  “Gets” the unchurched.  Strong communication skills with the unchurched; feels comfortable with them.
  5. Spousal Cooperation – collaborating as a husband and wife in marriage and ministry.  God first, family second, congregation third.  Clear expectation about ministry roles.  This is considered the #1 item.
  6. Effectively Builds Relationships – initiates and builds relationships, constructively handles criticism and relational difficulties, has a strong social network, expresses compassion for the needs of others.

These characteristics tend to be innate — people are wired this way. The next seven can be learned or coached.

  1. Committed to church growth, both numerically and spiritually.  Implements church growth principles in an effective manner.
  2. Responsiveness to the community.  Finds the community’s unique pulse and character.  Develops need-based ministries.  Builds the church via community outreach.
  3. Utilizes giftedness of others.  Coaches others to serve in their area of giftedness.  Matching gifts to needs.
  4. Flexibility – Stays on course despite unexpected events and disruptions.  Effective multi-tasker.  Not giving in to the tyranny of the urgent, but responsive to issues.
  5. Building Cohesive People Groups – uses small groups effectively to accomplish ministry objectives; effectively resolves group conflicts; conscious of the morale of the people; promotes assimilation into the body of the church.
  6. Resilience – staying the course in the face of major setbacks, disappointments, and opposition.  Optimistic and tenacious when convinced they are in God’s will.  Relies on support system during times of crisis, setback, and disappointment.  Bounces back quickly from loss or discouragement.  Non-vindictive.
  7. Exercises faith – strong and vital relationship with God and willing to take significant faith risks.  Maintains one’s spiritual vitality.  Is convinced of church planting call.  At first only the church planter is able to see the new church.

Recommended Book: Training for Selective Interviewing – Charles Ridley and Tweed Moore

Acts 29 – 10 Top Qualities

  1. Spiritual Vitality
  2. Strong Marriage and Family Life
  3. Theological Clarity
  4. Missional Lifestyle
  5. Emotional health – if not, seek counseling before starting a new church.  Having a church baby doesn’t solve personal problems any more than having a baby saves a marriage
  6. Entrepreneurial Aptitude
  7. Disciple-making Skills – Lone-ranger mentality does not work here.
  8. Leadership Abilities  – Before God builds a church plant He builds a church planter.
  9. Clarity of Strength of Calling – compelling personal call
  10. Relationship Building

Gather in groups of three, and pray for God to raise up workers for His harvest field.  Pray for yourself or any names He has brought to mind to you.

Question: How many people do you find who have all these characteristics?

Answer: No one scores high in all these categories.  If the score is medium or low, recommendations are made to help build the score.  The report is only an indicator, not the final word.  It can also point in the direction of any alternatives or other roles on a ministry team.

Audience Comment – re: the verse “The harvest is white” – ripe color is actually yellow.  White means it’s about to go bad – must get it within a week or the harvest is lost forever.

So you feel called to plant?

  • Gather a team of intercessors
  • Get involved in missional/outreach ministry opportunities
  • Read about church planting
  • Schedule a discernment interview

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Reporting from the Church Planting Seminar at Trinity – There were two more addresses on the afternoon of 6/17/10, one from the Rev. Canon John MacDonald and one from the Rev. Mike Wurschmidt, pastor of Shepherd’s Heart (an Anglican church plant in the Hill District of Pittsburgh).  My notes from both addresses are posted here.  The notes on John’s address are very sketchy (interruptions – apologies!)

The Rev. Canon John MacDonald: Creating a Reproducible Missional Environment in the Church Plant

To churches that want to grow, John asks: “Where are you praying about planting your daughter church?”  Existing congregations should always be thinking about this, but many don’t.  There are lots of excuses: we don’t have enough resources – it will siphon off our best people – what if the new church outgrows ours?

In the end the mother church is only focused on its own survival.  It loses focus on God and falls into a death spiral.  People have more faith in their own resources than in Jesus.  At this point the door opens to all kinds of fad theologies and fad sociologies.

What about orthodox congregations?  Why are they not growing?  Why do some church plants fail?  Lack of adaptability?   Social changes being ignored?

Our society is no longer overtly Christian.  We cannot continue to make the same assumptions.   Is the US becoming like Europe w/ increased secularization?

According to a recent Barna poll, only 9% of Americans have a Biblical worldview.  For young people this number is only .5%  Young people are shaped by the current culture.  Interest in church is declining among teenagers; their impression of it is not favorable.  They see Christianity as no longer what it used to be and believe today’s church is not what Jesus had in mind.

Even the mega-churches are destined to fail as the baby boomer generation ages and passes away.  The younger generations want to see their money going to helping the poor, not maintain huge infrastructure.  As the senior pastors retire, the large churches are becoming vulnerable.  In addition, churches that teach heterosexual monogamy are seen as out of touch or worse:  prejudiced along the same lines as apartheid.

Most Americans believe there is no absolute truth; faith has become almost like the spirituality-of-the-month.  In popular opinion Christians are known better for what they are against than what they are for.

What happens when society decides church is not important, or is dangerous to one’s psychological health?  Church becomes a duty, a chore, something easy to skip.  It seems anachronistic.

Here are some thoughts:

  • We need to be intentionally missional.  Adaptability and resourcefulness are highly valued in this culture – ‘tinkering’ to put a life together.
  • This generation is very ‘connected’ and global.  This extended church community needs to be able to tap into this.
  • Being able to translate the gospel into different cultures is a good thing but it can also be one of our greatest weaknesses if we become too influenced by the society.  This requires work, study, and using the gifts God has given us.
  • We need to take a missionary approach, aware of regional differences and neighborhood differences.
  • Look for a ‘bridge’ person to help translate between different subcultures.  What are the values of the people you are reaching? What are their beliefs? What is their heritage?  Upon learning that culture, are we prepared to make changes in our ministries?  Be sure to be actually meeting the needs of the people.  Need a strategy to meet the community around us.
  • OTOH it’s possible to go to the other extreme in trying to be too relevant – “trendier than thou”.  There is a wide spectrum of possibilities between the extremes.

Biblical model?  Acts1:8 – “you will receive power when the H.S. has come upon you”.  The task is to find out how He is calling you and where He is calling you.  If possible, begin a missions program at the local church that has local, national, and international aspects.  Build relationships with missionaries.  TEC began to discourage overseas missions – ‘how dare we impose our beliefs on other peoples’ faith systems?’ – and that’s when it began to die.

Church plants need to have a structure that the mature plant will have – like a baby in the womb, it should have all the parts, it just needs to grow before it is viable as an independent life.  This structure includes plans for cross-cultural and overseas missions.  If the gospel is as important as we say, we need to be thinking on a grand scale.

Q. What is the key we can do to foster reproducibility?

A. Having the ‘DNA’ from the start is a large part; also depends on the people God calls to join the church.  Who has God put on your heart to reach?  Don’t be put off by budget constraints.  More dispersion and horizontal networking.  Relationships are no longer boxes on an org chart but are far more fluid.

Q. What model would you recommend?

A. Acts 13 is a picture of a healthy congregation.  After their mission they exhort and animate the church.


The Rev.  Mike Wurschmidt – Building a Transformational Community in the Inner City

Shepherd’s Heart – How we started

  • Planted in the summer of 1993 by a group of Trinity students
  • Walked the streets near the University of Pittsburgh, the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, and South Side
  • Began as a street ministry bringing food to those in need, blankets and clothes, love and friendship; grew into a place of worship, a new life in Jesus.
  • Started small – The first service was seven.
  • Shared the vision over and over with anyone who will listen.
  • Worshiped the Lord – preached the Word – baptized the homeless.

Why the cities? The harvest is plentiful.  The workers are few.  Urban areas are expected to absorb all the world’s population growth over the next four decades.

Who lives in the city? Prostitutes want to be made whole, addicts want to be set free, the homeless want a place to sleep that is safe, combat veterans want to find peace, hope, honor and respect…  The church needs to take back the city streets.  We need to pray while we walk.  “Lord, show us who was weeping last night.”  We need to be loving the lost and the broken, no matter who they are or where they’ve been.

“Where are your people? Where is your land?” – question a church planting pastor asked.  Where is God calling you to go? Have you asked God yet? And with whom?

“The early church thrived in the cities and announced to all who would hear… that the Kingdom of God had come to the city. […] They backed it up by casting out demons, healing the sick, and giving forgiveness of sin… to all who would confess and believe.” – Burt Waggoner

The message of Jesus has not changed.  He is calling His Church to pick up His Cross and follow Him into the cities. The gospel message of Hope is the only hope that can save lives.  The government cannot do what you and I are here for.

If you minister in the city you need to live in the city!  Take the poor and homeless into our homes.  Families are part of the team, and the homeless become part of your family.  “God sets the lonely in families.”

Values at Shepherd’s Heart

  • Highest value – Pursuit of God and giving back to Him in worship
  • Who is your neighbor?
  • Founded on the Word of God – only Jesus Christ can save, not the government
  • Evangelical – Catholic – Charismatic
  • Anglican
  • Spirit-led
  • Jesus is our head and the Holy Spirit is our Counselor
  • Holiness, honesty and generosity (you can’t out-give God)
  • Churches that plant churches
  • Servant leaders operating as a team.  The senior pastor functions as a coach and operates as the visionary
  • Financial support – each leader on the team works a job to support his or her financial needs
  • Use contemporary music to develop an atmosphere in which the poor and homeless will feel at home
  • Collaborative partnerships

Collaborative partners include:

  • 89 churches
  • 7 health-related agencies (hospitals, recovery programs)
  • 10 homeless agencies (shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens)
  • 10 government entities
  • 12 academic institutions (internships, field training, life skills training)
  • 22 veteran service organizations

Questions church planters must answer:

  • Are you willing to worship the Lord?
  • Are you in this for the long haul?
  • When you hurt your team members are you willing to keep trying?
  • When your body comes under assault, can you and will you continue?
  • Are you willing to fail and start over?

Church planting is about taking back a piece of land.  Intercession and prayer must always accompany ministry.  Potential leaders and members have the blessing of their current church leaders.

Do not lay hands too quickly on gifted people.  Make decisions as a team, including spouse and family.  Be careful how much debt you and your family are willing to enter into.

Have everyone on the team sign an MOU – memorandum of understanding.  Be able to articulate the strategy and commitments.

Find a team member and leader who also has knowledge and experience in drug and alcohol recovery programs.

Maintain self care and Sabbath rest – you will get weary and beat up. Stick to a disciplined routine.

To-do Items

  • Have a weekly prayer partner
  • Keep the diocesan leaders informed
  • Give away your very best
  • You do not need a permanent building
  • Tell the stories of the lives changed
  • Money follows ministry – started w/ nothing
  • Do not be afraid to ask family and friends
  • Think outside the Anglican Dio of Pittsburgh and your own tradition
  • Stick to your core values, priorities, and standards
  • Look at ways to connect to other ministry opportunities in the city
  • There are a lot of people who understand how to write grants
  • Do not be afraid to admit failures and mistakes
  • Spend time with your family – your family needs you

About Shepherd’s Heart

13 Pride Street is now their building.  They serve a hot dinner every Sunday night.  The church has a homeless drop-in center, morning prayer, counseling, Bible study.  Offers programs for homeless veterans.  Manages 5 community houses – one has a basement chapel.  Uses a shuttle bus to provide free transportation to the homeless, at no charge, Mon-Fri.  Owns parking lots that are leased to a business for income.

Does your heart ache for the lost when you are in the city?  Love the lost and the broken with the love of Jesus Christ.  Have you asked God yet?  It’s time to ask!!!

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~ Reporting to you live from Trinity School for Ministry ~

The following are my notes from the 1:00PM session with speaker the Rev. Canon Ron McCrary dated 6/17/10.   The topic was  Anglican Riches for a New Day.   Sadly due to work obligations I missed the morning sessions which included an address by Archbishop Robert Duncan.  If I hear any details of his address I’ll pass them along.


What we have to offer dovetails with what the world yearns for.  There is something about the Anglican way that speaks deeply to our culture.  Our worship is more than just four songs and a sermon.

There is convergence between [Archbishop Robert] Duncan’s call to plant 1000 churches and the unique charism & riches we have as Anglicans.  What God has called us to do He has already gifted us to do.  We have riches that are hidden in plain sight – just like Jesus was hidden in plain sight.

Not even prayer can make it the year 1957 again.   We need eyes to see afresh the things that are familiar.

Humanity apart from God is ruined.  We have been rescued from our lostness and are being restored into the image of Christ.  The treasure is that God Himself comes among us to bring a new species of humanity on the earth.  Prayer book and vestments etc are just the riches.

The deepest needs of people in North America, many of which go unspoken, include the need for…

  • Belonging – people are isolated, lonely, and alienated in a culture where nobody knows your name.  Anglicans are incarnational, and we invite people into community.  We see the church in the light of relationship, like marriage, the only two institutions instituted by God.
  • Trust – the need to be able to trust someone or something, to find another person trustworthy, to be safe being vulnerable.  This is difficult if not impossible in a world of deeply wounded people – people wounded by divorce and unfaithfulness and greed and advertising that never delivers what it promises.  Anglicans have riches of historicity – we did not just go into business yesterday.  We are tried and true.  Even our polity has accountability built into it.
  • Stability and order – not to the point of limiting freedom, but to counterbalance the constant change we’re all subjected to.  We live in a very chaotic time; the world we have known is being deconstructed; we see the collapse of civilized order (terrorists); there is more than enough hatred to destroy the known world.  The Book of Common Prayer in itself is full of order and structure:  observe the church calendar and the lectionary.  At its root the Anglican way is an ordered way of life for both individuals and community.
  • Direction – people are lost, disoriented, living at the speed of light rather than the speed of life.  It’s no mistake the most popular TV series in recent history has been LOST.  Anglicans have direction – from the desert fathers to CS Lewis – that slows us down and digs deep.

We are organized around worshiping God (not just worship).  Four songs alone will never be worship.  We seek to be “a community of loving persons with God at its center.”  This is offensive to humanity – ‘I want to be the center’.  Our focus is on word and sacrament, gathered around God as our sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.  It is more important that a sermon blesses God than that it blesses you or me.

We have three great things:

  • A great challenge.  People are yearning for what we have.  But they have no clue what Anglicanism is.  “Anglican – what’s that?”  It’s tough to explain in a nutshell in an emotionally relevant way.  We are aliens in this country.  The Baptists and Methodists churched America.  They have ‘brand recognition’.  Episcopalians are known down at the local bar as “the queer people”, and the word ‘Anglican’ is totally unfamiliar.
  • A second challenge. – Keeping in mind that the riches are not the treasure.  Don’t trade God for ecclesiology and vestments.
  • A great opportunity – To plant Anglicanism in North America.  The last time this opportunity existed was in the 1600s.  This is hugely historic.  You only get to build the foundation once.

Audience comment: this must not be a church of Bishops but of personal faith
Answer: we must learn to be no longer chaplains to the ruling class but must develop a “folk Anglicanism” – it will be a powerhouse.

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Because we’ve heard it all before.  Because we’re sick of the pretenses.  Because we’re more than just brains.  Because we’d like to see faith lived and not just talked about.   All this and more…

…but iMonk says it much better than I could.  This article is a must-read:
“Just Beyond the 100th Time: What Many Of Us Are Looking For”


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This list of worship leading concepts was offered by Dr. Edith Humphrey of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary at the Ancient Wisdom – Anglican Futures Conference, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge PA today (June 5, 2009).  One of the panelists commented “this alone was worth coming for”.

  • Don’t call attention to the fact that you’re worshipping during the worship service (it’s like the characters in Spaceballs watching the Star Wars movie to figure out what to do next)
  • Don’t meddle with the historical order of worship. (this is in regard to traditional liturgy – there are reasons things are in the order they are and have been for hundreds of years: it works)
    • Avoid novelty for novelty’s sake.
  • Don’t interrupt the flow of the service.  (She offered an example she witnessed of a communion service being interrupted with a skit encouraging the kids to attend Sunday School.)
  • Allow for quiet prior to the service.
  • Prepare children (and teachers) to receive. (whether it be the sermon, sacraments, or children’s church)
  • Allow calm for reflection after reading the Word, and during and after Communion.
  • No imposing joy on others. (don’t try to whip up peoples’ emotions; allow room for God to touch them)

She adds: “Watch!  This too is the work of God – we need to get our agendas and presuppositions out of the way.”

To read more about AWAF and the speakers at the conference, check out the blog Ancient Wisdom – Anglican Futures: An Emerging Conversation.

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This afternoon’s schedule:

  • D.H. Williams, Professor of Religion in Patristics & Historical Theology, Baylor University, Waco, TX
  • paper by Tony Clark, Assoc Professor of Ethics, Friends University, Wichita, KS. Presented by Phil Harrold of Trinity School for Ministry.

Quotation from this morning’s session:  “‘Evangelical rationalism’ is a place to defend, a security system, not an experience of God. Rather, faith is a matter of surrender.”

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Currently attending, and writing to you from, the Ancient Wisdom – Anglican Futures Conference at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.  The conference continues all day today, tomorrow, and Saturday morning June 4-6.

If you’d like to follow along, join the Twitter Group at


This morning’s presenters:

  • Jason Clark, Emergent-U.K. and Vineyard Church pastor, Sutton, England
  • Holly Rankin Zaher, Director of Student Discipleship, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN
  • David Neff, Editor-in-Chief and VP, Christianity Today Media Group, Carol Stream, IL

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A classmate just sent me this on Facebook.  The woman at the well is one of my favorite characters in the Bible and her story is one of my favorite stories.

Updated for the younger generation, and too good not to share…


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“The angel of the Lord… said ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.  I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me.  Why have you done this?  Now therefore I tell you… they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'” – Judges 2:1-3, edited

On reading the first few chapters of Judges this morning the above passage jumped out at me.   In too many ways I fear religious institutions and people of faith have made a truce with the values of the surrounding culture.  For example:

The culture holds up football players, Hollywood stars, and politicians for praise and hero-worship.
God says “you shall have no other gods before Me.”

The culture says beauty, money, and popularity are what make a person great.
Jesus says “he who is the least among you all is the greatest” and “if anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all”.

The culture says you have to compromise what you believe to get the things you want.
The Psalmist says “delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The culture says “whoever dies with the most toys wins.”
The witness of the martyrs says “one is no fool to give up what one cannot keep to gain what one cannot lose.”

The culture says go ahead and have sex with anyone with anyone you like.
The apostle says “set an example… in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”.

The culture says whoever shouts loudest and longest wins.
Wisdom says “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

The culture says “might makes right” and “the survival of the fittest”.
The apostle says “God [is]… the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

The culture says ‘children are our future’ but it treats them as property — the property of parents (in divorce cases), the property of the state (in modern education), or the property of society (‘future consumers’ – targets of TV brain… er… advertising).
Jesus says “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

The culture says women are of equal value to men but doesn’t pay them equally, doesn’t treat them equally, and still measures their value in terms of sex appeal.
Jesus treated women with dignity and respect, and chose a woman to be his first evangelist (John 4) and the first witness to His resurrection (John 20).

The culture of business says profit is more important than the men and women who produce it.
Jesus says “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

The culture of government says ‘all your goods are belong to us’.
The Psalmist says “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.”

God grant us means and opportunities to be salt and light in a bland, rotting, and darkened world.

(readers may feel free to add to this list)

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John 1:14 contains one of the most stunning statements ever written.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Churches and believers everywhere read this verse every year around Christmas-time. How often do we just breeze right past it in our haste to see a baby in a manger — or more likely, to see the presents under the tree? Time to stop and consider the meaning of these words.

Our Greek textbook highlights both the translation and meaning of the verse. In the original language the phrase o` lo,gos tou/ qeou/ — “the Word of God” — would have been immediately understood by John’s contemporaries as referring to “God’s transcendent rationality that gave the universe order and purpose. […] As such, o` lo,gos tou/ qeou/ was foreign to human ways, above us and distant from us, guiding us from afar.” (Basics of Biblical Greek, Mounce, 75)

The ancient Greek philosophers agreed with this definition and often constructed elaborate systems of thought and practice to attempt to reach the heights of heaven. Platonism — which emphasized denial of the flesh and the passions — is one famous example of this kind of thought. The philosophy is rooted in the belief that the things of the spirit and the things of the flesh are entirely different and in fact oppose each other. Therefore the flesh must be denied if the spirit is to thrive.

Yet the apostle John writes “the Word became flesh” — the word for “flesh” is sa,rx which is pronounced approx “sarke,” and makes up the first half of the English word “sarcophagus”. In other words, the Word of God became mortal. Became one of us.

This is no distant God whose superiority, utter perfection, and ultimate power keeps him apart from his creation and out of reach of his people. This is a God who is perfect spirit and is willing to commit the scandal of putting on flesh. And in doing so he overturns those who think they have all the answers, who think they have knowledge that will get them to God, or who think they honor God with better-than-thou lifestyles. He does all this just to rescue a soul that is lost. This is a God of love.

“This affirmation about lo,gos and sa,rx is the very heart of our faith. God has not abandoned us. No lowliness, no misery, no sinfulness is beyond God’s comprehension and reach. […] This is the mystery and the power of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.” (ibid p. 75)

This is Truth. This is the Word of God.

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Here’s an unexpected discovery. As I’ve been getting to know Simon Patrick in preparation for our first class paper, I’ve come across the name George Bull a number of times. So tonight rather than read the assigned reading I decided to read a little Bull. (shush up there in the peanut gallery)

George Bull (1634-1710) studied at Oxford, was secretly ordained C of E prior to the Restoration, and was a contemporary of Patrick’s. The author of the text I’m reading calls him a “progressive traditionalist” — interesting way to describe a person! (more…)

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John Donne (1572-1631) was a Roman Catholic convert to Anglicanism. In his youth he was, shall we say, a familiar of pub-keepers and popular with the ladies, and was known for his bawdy poetry. After his marriage, however, he matured and developed an interest in theology. Even so it took those around him nearly a decade to convince him to be ordained. He became Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and was a popular preacher in his day.

The man who advised the world “never to send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” writes with great joy and even earthy humor. Donne is incredibly passionate. His religious poetry, some of it, is so sensuous even modern readers sometimes find it shocking or at least a little uncomfortable. Yet at the same time he had an intellect that few in his day could withstand (or can today). The thoughts in his sermons (as I read the excerpts) are like gemstones — every paragraph a string of pearls.

Here are some quotations. (more…)

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In honor of the Reformed Charismatic friend I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with today. A beautiful prayer to close the day. From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, a translation of the Veni, Creator Spiritus:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
The dulness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home;
Where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of both, to be but One;
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song:
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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