Friday, 23 March 2012

‘Your God’s wrong’: Judge erupts in angry tirade, sends pro-life activist back to jail

(Judge) Clements was unmoved. “You have, in some measure, displayed utter contempt for the courts and the rights of others,” he said. “You appear to be governed by a higher moral order than the laws of our country.”

“Your determination to break the law is a potential threat to the well-being of society and plants the seeds of lawlessness, perhaps even anarchy … You are unable to accord some civility and respect to others. Your view in law is wrong.” Read more

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Times interviews the Dean of St Albans

... the Church’s opposition to gay relationships is so patently unprincipled. In the Church of England we readily bless the second and even third marriages of couples who never darken our doors, yet we reject hundreds of our own faithful clergy and laypeople who long to bring their love and commitment before God and ask his blessing. While we dare to preach justice and equality in Christ’s name to the world, we seek exemptions to equality laws when it comes to our own employment and disciplinary practices. While we threaten to demote or debar American and Canadian Anglicans for appointing openly gay bishops and blessing gay unions, we are trying to appease homophobic Anglican churches in Africa which support extreme social and legal measures against homosexuals.

Not only gay people are repelled by all this. Many more people of goodwill who instinctively expect the Church to uphold justice and truth are scandalised when it so obviously does not. If secularism has gained ground in Britain in recent years, along with the demand that the Church of England must be disestablished and surrender its voice in national life, then it is our mishandling of the gay issue more than anything else that has brought it about.Read more

Three-parent families may be as good as two, judges rule

In a case which tackled fundamental issues of "biology, human nature and the hand of fate", the Appeal Court judges said the decision to have a child can never be a matter of "dry legal contract" and the father's right to play a role in his son's life had to be recognised.

 Observing that "human emotions are powerful and inconstant", Lord Justice Thorpe said that, despite the women's desire to create "a two-parent lesbian nuclear family", the father was "seeking to offer a relationship of considerable value" to his son.

And he told the court: "It is generally accepted that a child gains by having two parents. It does not follow from that that the addition of a third is necessarily disadvantageous".
The boy's biological mother says she made a pact with the father during a restaurant meeting before conception that she and her lesbian lover would fill the role of "primary parents" and that he would not stand on his paternal rights.

She and her partner said they felt "bitter and betrayed" after the father - the mother's former husband in a "marriage of convenience" to mollify his family - demanded overnight and holiday contact with his son.Read more

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Synod Votes to Abolish Easter. Clergy Houses to Become Gambling Dens

(The headline and following article are intended for parish newsletters, etc)
No it hasn’t happened, and no, it isn’t likely to happen — not soon, anyway. But if it did, whose fault would it be?
The policies of the Church of England are, to a large extent, decided through its Synods and various governing bodies. In addition to the Diocesan and General Synod, there are numerous, and often very important, bodies like the Bishop’s Council, the Pastoral Committee, and so on.
Elections to these bodies take place every three years. But it is often the same few people who stand for them and therefore who get elected. They are doing the best they can, but not many of them tend to be from churches with a passion to put the proclamation of the gospel and the conversion of non-believers at the centre of diocesan life.
This year is election year. And it is time to ask, “Will you stand for election?” If enough good-hearted people got on the Synod, it would make a real difference to the life of the local church.
To be eligible for election as a layperson, you just have to be a communicant member of the Church of England, over 16 years of age and on an electoral roll of a parish in the diocese. You do not have to be a member of the Deanery Synod, though those are the people who actually get to vote.
Nominations will begin on the 14th May – just a couple of months away – and close on the 8th June. If you want to stand, now is the time to be thinking about it. Those alarmist headlines may be a ‘spoof’, but there have been and will be plenty of serious topics up for discussion. If you have the time and willingness, this could be a very valuable work of personal ministry. Speak to one of the clergy if you’d like more details.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Guardian editorial on same sex marriage – the full fisk

Earlier this week the Guardian published an editorial backing the legalisation of same sex marriage, titled ‘Gay marriage: torn asunder from reality’

Virtually every sentence in it contained claims that were inaccurate, distorted or simply false. It was, in short, a breathtakingly naïve and misleading piece of arrant nonsense.

I have reproduced it line by line below with my own comments in italics. Read more

The mistakes of Phillip Jensen

TP: It’s really interesting that your experience was after receiving that training, that theological framework, it actually equipped you to keep growing and changing your mind. The perception might be that you go to somewhere like Moore College and you learn a body of knowledge that is fixed forever more. But in fact what you learn is a framework and a set of tools to keep learning and growing.

PJ: Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s the exact reverse of expectation. My youth fellowship group took me through Louis Berkoff’s Systematic Theology. And so I went to Moore College thinking I knew it all. But instead they dismantled much of what I’d learned—especially the sense that here’s the question, here’s the Bible verse, here’s the answer. They said, “Well, what does this proof text verse say in its context, and what does the book say?” And it just didn’t actually prove the point that Louis said it proved. What Moore College did was radicalize my mind to think biblically and creatively, rather than giving me all the answers so I didn’t have to think any more. I had that before I went to College. College freed me from it.

TP: As you left College, and went out to apply your newfound understanding in ministry, you found yourself dealing with people, because ministry is people. Thinking back on your relationships with people and on the pastoral issues you’ve dealt with, what mistakes stick out in your mind? Things you wished you’d done differently, things you’ve learnt from?

PJ: Well, people are an inexact science! You can wish that every relationship is going to work perfectly—but they don’t and they’re never going to. And so there are certain people that I’ve hurt and people who have hurt me. And they would wish, hopefully, that they hadn’t hurt me, and I certainly wish that I hadn’t hurt them! And so there are just mistakes that we all make in relationships.
But in general, with people, I think I was too naïve and trusting of people, especially early in my ministry. I took people too much as I found them.

I didn’t really believe enough in the doctrine of sin. And so I took people on face value, which in one sense you have to if you’re going to trust people, and if you’re going to have a relationship with people. But over the years you learn that the enthusiast, especially the newcomer enthusiast, is often the shallow soil that will burn out very quickly when the opposition comes. And you need to be wary. Read more

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Chelmsford Diocesan Evangelical Association, 17 March 2012

The next meeting of the CDEA, on the 17th March 2012, will be on "Transforming Evangelical Strategy".

Rev John Richardson will draw on themes from his recent book, "A Strategy that Changes the Denomination",  then John Dunnett, the head of the Church Pastoral Aid Society, and Paul Harcourt, vicar of All Saints Church, Woodford Wells, will offer responses to stimulate discussion on how evangelicals can join the diocesan strategy of Transforming Presence with enthusiasm.

Coffee at 9.3, finishing at 12.30. Venue: Meadgate Church, Meadgate Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, CM2 7LJ. All welcome.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The case against gay marriage

... objection to gay marriage isn’t about religion at all and the letter that the bishops are sending to Catholic churches does, to do them credit, make that clear.

It’s all to do with the nature of marriage. And that is, a natural institution providing the optimal situation for raising children. It’s vulgarly biological, marriage — a state for bringing up children in. And that’s how it’s been for almost all of human history. Even in ancient Greece, which practically invented homosexuality — alright, it was especially about the Socratic master-pupil relationship — reserved marriage for men and women, for the conceiving and bearing of children. And it’s that fundamental character of marriage which makes it essentially heterosexual. It’s to do with the complementarity of the sexes. Men and women fulfil different roles when it comes to the rearing of their offspring, and even in an atypical family like my own, in which I’m the sole breadwinner, those complementary roles make sense. Children relate differently to mothers and fathers; they pick up cues about how the sexes work, even children who go on to become gay. And departing from that biological foundation for marriage is a radically new departure.

Obviously, there are infertile normal marriages, which are no less valid and exemplary for that. The most perfect Catholic marriage I know is involuntarily childless. Some people marry post-menopause, and their marriages aren’t second class, just exceptional. Read more