Monday, April 17, 2017

Rest [UPDATED]

I have now completed my self imposed Lenten task to blog everyday through Lent.

It has been more demanding than I bargained on, even though most posts pointed readers to other posts.

So I am going to have a rest from blogging for a week or so.

"Rest" has another meaning, however, this morning as I write. Over the weekend the Diocese of Christchurch learned that a treasured colleague, Andrew Starky, died suddenly on Holy Saturday.

Please pray for his wife Kathryn, their son Daniel and their extended family, as well as the Parish of St Michael's and All Angels who have lost their Vicar.

Andrew held other responsibilities in the Diocese and leaves an empty place at important decision making tables. We are all bereft.

His funeral is 11am Friday 21 April at St Michael's and All Angels.

See now this moving post by Fr Ron Smith.

UPDATE:

It was a moving, solemn service, now viewable on YouTube.

An obituary published in the Press on Saturday is here.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Paschal [Resurrection] Homily

By St John Chrysostom (from here) (H/T Andrei)

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.
Amen.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kiwi iResurrection

Ok so its Holy Saturday and not yet the Day of Resurrection, but not only "needs must" - planning a blogging holiday next week, and a special guest blogger is working on tomorrow's post - but the fact is, a new Kiwi site for the Season of Resurrection has actually begun this week. It has resurrectional (is that a word?) reflection materials for every day of the week.

Go to resurrection.nz and work your way through, daily, this week and onto the Fifty Days following.

This is an initiative of the Diocese of Auckland!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Benedict-Dreher Versus Parris-Anglican

It is the great struggle of twenty-first century Christianity.

The Benedict-Dreher Option (enclave? ghetto? distinctive community? Christianity modelled on Orthodox Judaism?)

versus

The Parris-Anglican Option (enculturate? osmosis? blurred overlap church/culture? indecision?).

Of course Anglicans can and do opt for the former and steer away from the latter.

But both arguments have powerful points to make, do they not?

In a declining church, in a post-Christian era, when the last vestiges of Christendom in the West are being farewelled (if even noticed), do we Christians, following Rod Dreher and his increasingly well known "The Benedict Option", need to review, clarify and reassert those things that externally demonstrate what we are internally committed to believing? Do we need to make visible daily which community of believers we belong to?

Our identity as a community (tribe?) is at stake and some of us do not know how to present that identity to ourselves and to the world. Or, we know bits of a complete identity but not what the whole might look like (so we go to church but we are not sure what to wear to church, or we offer hospitality to others in our homes but we wonder if we should display a cross at our frontdoor).

Yet, rightly, as Matthew Parris astutely points out, there are distinctive communities of believers in the world, some of which are just plain weird, some of which are biologically dangerous to themselves, and many of which have no growth plan apart from, well, generational fruitfulness. Meanwhile the world changes at 100 kph and reasonable questions of adaptation of belief are asked and answered in communities (such as Anglican ones) which survive in their own peculiar way!

So, at the heart of Christianity's annual calendar, Holy Week, it is worth asking which option will take us forward as those who remember Jesus' death and proclaim it until his coming again?!

Answers in comments of a brief kind ... longer answers in your next book ... :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Christchurch Stations of the Cross - public viewing this weekend

My sister-in-law, Elizabeth Minato, has created a beautiful series of mosaic Stations of the Cross.

They are on display at St John of God, Halswell, Christchurch this week and through the Easter weekend. All are welcome to view.


Viewing details are as follows:

St John of God, Halswell gardens:

Up to Maundy Thursday April 13th Sensory Gardens, St John of God by appointment

April 13th Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Sunday public access to the Stations as they are back in the public gardens at St John of God, adjacent to the carpark: 10:00—4:00pm.

To get to St John of God, I suggest Google Maps!

These are Elizabeth's reflections on the Stations:

Stations
The way of life
comments by the artist

I Jesus is condemned to death
We are all condemned by others for things we didn’t do. Sometimes people take their anger out on us, and vent their frustrations and abuse us.
Be true to yourself and live with integrity. Don’t argue with a fool
II Jesus carries his cross
We all have a burden of responsibility. We should accept our responsibilities willingly and carry our burdens big or small, without complaint

III Jesus falls the first time
We all have knocks in life. When things go wrong, have strength, get up, and continue your way. Keep fighting, and don’t give up.

IV Jesus meets his mother
Mary was a special woman who loves us all with the unconditional live of an ideal mother, more than our mothers. She is always there for us. He heart bled for Jesus and it bleeds for us when we are in pain.

V Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
It’s hard to accept help because we are all proud. At one time of another, we are all vulnerable and we may need to accept help from other as gracefully. Frailty is not weakness: it’s part of being human.

VI Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Love can remove the mask we hide behind. We all live behind a mask for our own security. Remove this mask and show that you are a loveable person, regardless of your imperfections. Have confidence in yourself.

VII Jesus falls the second time
Jesus was tired, as we all become tired in our lives. Get up and keep going. The path is long but don’t give up.

VIII Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Sometimes other people suffocate us with their own needs. We must be empowering to others so they can help themselves and stand proud. Don’t let people become depend upon you. Any of us could die at any time: life goes on

IX Jesus falls the third time
The pain and suffering in this world makes us humble. We can easily be overwhelmed by all the evil that surrounds us. Choose your path and keep going, you are only human

X Jesus is stripped naked
What really matters in life? When all our worldly possessions are gone, what is important to us? Take a good look in the mirror

XI Jesus is nailed to the cross
Accept the consequences of your actions. There is always pain. Maybe the memory of this pain will help you make better choices in the future

XII Jesus dies on the cross
This is the darkest time in Christianity. No-one understood what would happen next. We all have these dark moments when life is at its lowest point. What is there to live for? Is death the easiest/best path? The answer is no! No matter how dark your life becomes, there is always a ray of light, even if you can’t see it now. Never give up hope.

XIII the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Grief is a natural part of life. Be honest in your grief. Show sadness when you are sad and mourn loss, bury the dead.

XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb
Gather all your regrets, problems and grievances and place them in a box. Let go. If you truly bury your earthly grief and leave it, then it will be replacing by heavenly grace/ Wait three days, and your problems will disappear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Was the wrath of God satisfied?

It is Holy Week. Time to bring out a fruitful theme in past times for provocative discussion?

A year or three back we had a good go at discussing the virtues or otherwise of the controversial line in the ubiquitous hymn, In Christ Alone, the line that goes:


"The wrath of God was satisfied"

One reason for continuing to discuss this line in this hymn is that, at least hereabouts, we are continuing to sing the hymn and that line in it. (And, as I recall, one part of previous discussion here was whether it is or isn't appropriate to change such a line if one does not like it. For slices of previous discussions on ADU, see here, here, and here.)

Actually, to be fair to that line, we should quote the line before and after:


'Til on that cross as Jesus died 
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid

In other words, the question about whether satisfaction of the wrath of God is a worthy theology is a question of atonement theology. We are attempting to put into words what happened to God, to us, to our sin, when Jesus died.

The three lines of the song effectively follow a "scapegoat" form of atonement theology fused with a "paschal lamb" theology of voidance of wrath merged with a "sacrifice of atonement" theology in which the justice of God is satisfied:

- Jesus was a form of the scapegoat on whom sins were laid on the Jewish Day of Atonement

- our sins were laid on Jesus as he died on the cross*

- by taking "every sin" laid on Him, Jesus fulfils the paschal/scapegoat destiny spoken of him by John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

- the doing of this is a Passover Lamb sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7; see also timing, according to John's Gospel of the crucifixion of Jesus as the same time as the sacrifice of the Passover lambs) and

- that sacrifice of Jesus is simultaneously the "sacrifice of atonement" (Romans 3:25), a sacrifice which could fairly be described in terms of Romans 3-5 as a sacrifice which "satisfied" the justice of God;

- *at this point the scapegoat imagery ends, because the scapegoat takes the sins into the desert; and the paschal lamb imagery comes to the fore: Jesus died at Passover, that festival celebrated the killing of lambs in order that their blood would mark the lintels of the doorways of the Israelites so that the angel of death visiting households in Egypt would avoid killing the firstborn sons of those households.

If, dear readers, you follow me thus far, we are not quite at the point of squaring the line "the wrath of God was satisfied" with this theological fusion of scapegoat, Passover and atoning sacrifices.

Notably, the New Testament does not speak of God's wrath being satisfied. At least not directly, in so many words.

It does get close, however. In particular I note two ways in which talk of the wrath of God comes close to talk of that wrath being satisfied.

(1) Paul's discourse on God's wrath in Romans 1 spills over into Romans 2:5-6 where we read:

"But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one's deeds:"

It is reasonable to talk about the avoidance of God's wrath on that day comes through the "repay" being made on our behalf by Jesus, that is, on the shortfall in our "account" with God being satisfied by the "payment" Jesus makes through his death on the cross.

(2) Speaking of what God has done for us in Christ, Paul writing in Ephesians, says that we "were dead through the trespasses and sins which [we] once lived" ... "by nature children of wrath" ... "But God, who is rich in mercy ... made us alive together with Christ" (2:1-5). What makes us alive when we are dead is the same as that which changes our status as "children of wrath": the "blood of Christ" (2:13) or Christ's sacrifice on the cross becomes the "gift of God" which saves us. God's wrath towards us changes into God's acceptance of us. In some sense - but much less implied than in Romans - God's wrath is satisfied and thus no longer determinative of our status before God.

So, I am as uneasy as ever about the line "the wrath of God was satisfied"! It is not completely wrongheaded but it places emphasis on the wrath of God driving Jesus to the cross rather than the justice of God, let alone the love of God. The line is, I argue here, less accurate than a line such as "the justice of God was satisfied."

But that alternative is pretty unsingable if substituted [!!] within the hymn.

Other alternatives?

Theologically accurate, lyrically smooth and rhythmically balanced ...!

UPDATE: (H/T Jonathan commenting below) Keith Getty, song writer, himself comments on the hymn here.





Monday, April 10, 2017

Palm Sunday Persecution

I was going to post on something else today but that can wait.

Yesterday our brothers and sisters in the Coptic Church in Egypt were battered by yet another bomb attack, two in fact, in Tanta and in Alexandria. NZ Herald report here (with video).

Militant, violent, vicious forces working in the name of Islam - though thankfully not supported by the majority of Muslims - are intent on killing Christians.

These are dark days but not unknown days for Christians.

Damian Thompson sees the attack as part of a campaign to wipe Christians from the face of the earth.

I wonder if Sonny Bill Williams will visibly protest this murderous violence by his co-religionists when he next plays rugby?

UPDATE: Statement from Archbishop Mouneer Abbas.

Also worth reading is this from Mark Steyn.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Easter Bunny Better Than Jesus?

As we head towards Holy Week and the Paschal celebration, it is sobering to read this piece published by Fairfax Media yesterday. Entitled "Why I don't take my kids to church?", the view proposed here is that the Easter Bunny providing Easter eggs is a better bet as an explainable saviour-figure than Jesus himself.

It is always good to be reminded that what we Christians take for granted as "good news" is not so for many non-Christians and (in this case) post-Christians.

I sympathise with the writer to the degree that her life story involves major events in which God has seemed absent in her life. But I note with concern the "semiotics" of the article posted a week before Easter: the secular media goes not to a Christian to explain why Easter means so much to them but to a post-Christian to explain why she does not send her kids to church. Message received loud and clear, Fairfax!

Disclaimer: the church the opinion writer happens to pooh-pooh is the Catholic church. I am not linking to this column to join her negativity about Catholic Christianity. The central concern she raises could have been raised whether she had been brought up Pentecostal, Baptist or even Anglican!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Very Latest on ChristChurch Cathedral

As circulated last night to the Diocese and (re the Opinion Piece) published in the Press this morning:

Message from the Bishop

 
Dear Friends,

Last Saturday in The Press newspaper Mr Philip Burdon of the GCBT  had an opinion piece about Church Property Trustees and the Cathedral.  This Saturday the CPT are responding and I am sharing with you what will be in the paper over the name of Gavin Holley, the CPT General Manager.  CPT also has placed an ad in the Saturday Press (see below).

There are aspects of the history of the Cathedral conversations which probably need to be stated again just because six years is a long time and people forget what has happened when they have not been involved in the deliberations on a daily or weekly basis.  For example, five years ago the Synod passed a resolution in support of the building of an inspirational Cathedral on the site of the Cathedral building in the Square. Legal action followed.  When it became possible and desirable  to have a conversation with the Government we re-visited the decision about deconstruction and possible re-instatement of our Cathedral in the Square.  Hence in late December 2016, CPT was open to considering signing a document which signalled an intention to re-instate the Cathedral.  As you will read, the actual late 2016 offer leading to that possibility is now off the table and a new, somewhat more conservative offer from the Crown is being considered.  Hence CPT need in the near future to give an answer to the Crown about their present offer.  It is with the intent of making the best decision possible that CPT has ordered more community research and is also undertaking further due diligence.

I have to say that none of this is easy for the Church Property Trustees or our excellent CPT staff team.  I am immensely grateful for their work since February 2011.  They serve and operate at the highest level of their professions.

Please be aware that this recent media engagement about the Cathedral building should not distract us from what is truly important as we enter into Holy Week and prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Holy Week blessings,

.
 



Opinion Piece for The Press   

For the ChristChurch Cathedral, the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the wider community, the damage to the ChristChurch Cathedral from the Canterbury earthquakes is heart breaking. The ChristChurch Cathedral was a place of enormous spiritual significance and heritage for the Anglican Diocese. Having to make decisions on the future of the Cathedral is one of the hardest challenges CPT has ever had to face. Since February 2011, the Diocese has suffered total loss or damage to 248 of its 280 parish and commercial properties.

CPT holds and administers the property and funds of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, which stretches from Hanmer Springs in the north to Waimate, Twizel and Haast in the south, and its parishes. Membership of CPT comprises the Bishop Victoria Matthews and eight trustees, who are members of the Church elected by the Synod. Synod is the governing body of the Christchurch Diocese where reports are received to allow representatives to debate and vote on key Diocesan issues.

Church Property Trustees make decisions by vote and while the Bishop chairs the meetings, she neither has veto nor does she usually cast a vote. It is usual to have unanimity in the voting. This means no one person can decide on the fate of the Cathedral nor can Bishop Victoria Mathews exercise any “personal agenda”, as she has been accused of, to stop the reinstatement of the Cathedral.

For six years CPT has been striving tirelessly to find a workable solution on the future of the Cathedral and has always said that it is committed to a cathedral in the Square. It shares the frustration many feel over the lack of progress.

There has been recent commentary that the Church and CPT have somehow frustrated recent negotiations with the Government. In an opinion piece published by The Press last week, Philip Burdon, representing the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT), went so far as to say: “We have all been victims of sham negotiations and that the private ambition of the relevant Church leadership has always been to oppose restoration of the Cathedral.” Mr Burdon is not correct.  The Trustees were fully committed to good faith engagement with the Government and rescinded CPT’s standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral.

This earlier key decision made a commitment to building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. The decision had been based on numerous engineering, costing, risk and other professional evaluations for which CPT sought advice for different options. All key reports were made public.

The decision to build a contemporary cathedral in the Square was challenged in the courts by GCBT and led to three years of CPT defending its decision. During this time, in May 2013, CPT asked the public which design options for ChristChurch Cathedral it would prefer. More than 800 people attended public forums, the website had more than 14,000 unique visitors, and more than 3,800 votes and comments were received. A contemporary design for the future cathedral was favoured by respondents.

In June 2014, the High Court lifted the stay it issued in November 2012 on deconstruction of the Cathedral. This meant CPT could continue with its plan to progress the idea of building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. Although there would be significant consenting issues, a beautiful and highly functional inspirational and contemporary cathedral, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral, could be built within the $40 million of cathedral insurance funds then available.

However, in May 2015 CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was paused following a request from the GCBT to further discuss engineering and costs of a rebuild. At that meeting, GCBT’s experts agreed with CPT’s advice that the approximate cost of a rebuild would be approximately $100 million (not $67 million as GCBT had been publicly claiming), that base isolation is preferable, and the rebuild project would take approximately seven years.

CPT approached the government and suggested it might like to become involved. The Crown decided to appoint Miriam Dean QC to assess the situation. In a previous conversation with Minister Brownlee, the Bishop and the Trustees present explained very clearly that they believed CPT might do well to move towards a compromise – a build of old and new materials despite the Diocese and CPT stating it had a preference for a contemporary build. The Trustees were open to reinstatement as long as when completed the project did not leave the Diocese or CPT in debt. In particular, it was highlighted that CPT could only commit $30 million as it needed significant endowments to pay for the maintenance of such an expensive building and also to cover the cost of full replacement insurance, which is estimated at up to $360k a year.

In January 2016, CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was again paused, following an approach from the Government to review the feasibility of reinstatement. As mentioned, CPT committed to good faith engagement and rescinded its standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral. The Government announced a Cathedral Working Group, however its appointment and the agreement to the Terms of Reference was delayed for several months due to the Minister’s heavy schedule. CPT was then concerned about the delay in the timing as it had committed to making an announcement about a way forward by the end of April 2016; in fact that was when the working group was confirmed  by the Crown.  The Cathedral Working Group’s report confirmed CPT’s advice that the cost of reinstatement (rebuild) was approximately $104 million (plus $4 million fundraising costs), base isolation is preferable, and reinstatement would take approximately seven years.

CPT then agreed to a Government request to negotiate a funding and delivery model to reinstate the Cathedral. In late December 2016, CPT believed that an agreement was in place and were ready to sign.  However in November we had the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake and the following month the Prime Minister resigned.  These and other developments that occurred may have led those representing the Crown to re-assess their offer. Hence on 21 December 2016, the offer on the table was changed to an entirely different document – a Statement of Principles.

This brings us to the present, with an offer of a grant from the Crown of $10 million and a loan of $15 million towards potential reinstatement. CPT has clearly said that to leave a Bishop and Diocese with a $15 million loan is unacceptable.

More importantly there is the need to fundraise as much as a further $56 million in order to complete the project of reinstatement. The policy being followed for all of the buildings in Trust with CPT is that the money must be in hand before the repair or build begins.  Fund-raising efforts by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust report $15 million intentions, but no pledges have been presented or seen. In the meantime, CPT continues to assess the Government’s offer.

Some people have argued that CPT has the means to fund the shortfall and fund the insurance and running costs of the reinstated Cathedral. But, CPT simply cannot do this as it holds no assets in its own right. It holds the assets in trust for the Diocesan and parish mission and ministry – and must ensure that any potential reinstatement does not weaken the wider mission of the church.

GCBT claims that opinion polls consistently supported reinstatement. This is not the case as proven in the consultation undertaken in 2013. However, to give us up-to-date information, CPT has engaged an independent research firm to complete a community survey to determine Christchurch residents’ opinion on reinstatement and their appetite to contribute to fundraising. Once the survey results are known they will be made public.

CPT anticipates soon being able to give the government an answer to its offer.

Gavin Holley is the General Manager of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Church Property Trustees. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Don't put me down for Euthanasia

Title from a  quip made by one of my siblings!

We had a good crowd of participants at the Transitional Cathedral on Saturday for the seminar on Euthanasia advertised previously here.

A full report is being worked on by the Editor of our Diocesan magazine and when that is available I will alert readers to that.

What follows here is not a "report" but some of the key comments, phrases, questions I picked up as the presentations were made. I am not attributing them as they are from my notes and to attribute them might lead to readers thinking that X said something they did not actually say. I am giving my impressions rather than my accurate citations. They are my highlighted remarks and are not a guide to the thesis of any one speaker.

How does E affect the overall well-being of society?

Wouldn't legalised E make it "a duty to die"?

Vulnerable people ARE at risk.

Doctors will be pressed to offer E as an option as a means of cutting health care costs.

One can be against people being euthanased (A puts B to death) while being for assisted suicide (B wants to die and A assists that happening).

Unbearable pain is a matter for each individual. I cannot tell you that your immense pain is bearable.

A formula (e.g. undergirding a clear, precise law change) could be terminal illness + sound mind + choice + assurance of no duress = receive assistance to die.

Danger without such a law of an unregulated sub-culture of advice re suicide. (I couldn't help thinking of analogies re justification for legal abortion, prostitution, gambling, marijuana use!)

Euthanasia alters the relationship between patient and doctor (from relationship in which doctor is present to preserve, prolong and save life to one in which doctor may enhance life or may hasten death).

Euthanasia may start well in a society but there is evidence from countries in which it is legal of it ending badly - concern for unintended consequences - voluntary euthanasia becomes involuntary euthanasia.

Does E normalise (all) suicide?

Contrasting approach: confidence that all legal safeguards around E will work.

Release of death sometimes more important than a miserable existence of unbearable suffering.

E is about the right to choose when and where to die with medical assistance.

My own closing remarks at the end of the event included these observations:

Across our panel of speakers there were real differences of views, of statistical date and of the interpretations of that data.

Every speaker presented a view which was based on care for people and each speaker respected the dignity of human persons but there were differences over what dignifies people in certain traumatic circumstances at or towards the end of life.

Talk of autonomy, of my right to choose to authorise my death is in tension with concern that society might take over my autonomy. But there is also the question of God's autonomy: what rights does God have over us? Related to this question is the question of whether we are authorised by God to ever take life or assist in taking another person's life.

Speaking only for myself, appreciative as I am of the cut and thrust of differing views well articulated, I come away from the day unconvinced that we have the right to take the life of another person outside of contexts of criminality (i.e. capital punishment) and war (i.e. in combat, according to rules of engagement). I accept that there is a grey area theologically when we talk about assisted suicide (aiding someone to take their own life as release from unbearable pain). That is, Christian arguments can be brought to this matter for consideration.

I am also appreciative of the concern about unintended consequences. Interestingly, just this morning I read about that great Western democracy (or "democracy") France moving to ban certain pro-life websites, dismissing people (according to another article I cannot now locate) who run such sites as "alt-rights and Catholics." If we permit euthanasia, 20 years from now will it be illegal to publicly voice opposition to it?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

You have been warned

I have been alerted to a dangerous cult I had never previously heard of before.

The NZ Herald has the details here.

Keep safe. Stay MSM*!

*Mainstream Sensible Moderate Christian

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

On abortion

As we steer away from the You Know What issue, we encounter plenty of other matters which provoke reflection, analysis and careful consideration on matters of human choice in God's world.

One is abortion, nudging its way back into Kiwi consciousness these days as some calls grow louder for abortion law reform (and that direction is not the direction of the article I wish to point you to).

That article is here.

What do you think?

PS We had a great day at the Euthanasia seminar on Saturday. Our local Diocesan magazine editor is working on a report and I am hoping to pen a few words here before the end of the week. But, life is ...

Sunday, April 2, 2017

On miracles

Some Lenten readings take us down the pathway of miracles (e.g. last Sundays John 9:1-41, also today's John 11:1-45). Such readings, combined with some scriptural perambulations through other parts of the Bible, keep pointing out to me that miracles have played a major part in people coming to faith.

Is this a missing dimension in today's missional context? We strive in all sorts of ways to proclaim the gospel in word and deed (i.e. our actions, our ministries, our loving efforts to serve others) but in some periods of the church, there has been no need to strive, just a need to marvel at what God has done to impress the reality of God on unbelievers.

To be sure, stories such as John 9:1-41, sharply remind us that miracles do not impress sceptics!

But do we as church in today's world of decline, drift and (ironically) pressure from other religions, need to strive less and pray more?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Livestreaming today's seminar on Euthanasia

At fairly late notice we are able to confirm that today's event, a seminar on Euthanasia organised by Theology House and the Transitional Cathedral, is able to be livestreamed.

The link is here.

We begin at 9.30 am and conclude at 2.30 pm. (or maybe a little earlier).