Monthly Archives: September 2011

Biblical Foundations For Creation Care

As I indicated in my last post the question I want to address for the next few blog entries is this: Is reverence for the natural world a legitimate element of Christian spirituality?

In answer to this, I would suggest that conservation of and caring for the natural order is foundational to a faith that takes the words of Scripture seriously. In Genesis 1 the natural, material world is brought forth by God’s word and repeatedly said to be “good.” Human beings are given dominion over this world (Genesis 1:26-31) and the character of that dominion is clearly portrayed as ordering, adorning, and conserving God’s physical creation.

Thus for the Christian tradition rooted in the witness of Scripture, human involvement with the natural realm is not a “hands off” approach in which the biosphere is best served by the absence of human influence. Neither is the biblical view of human interaction with the environment ruthlessly utilitarian or pragmatic. That is to say, the natural world is not simply a commodity to be expended at the whim of individual human consumers.

Moreover, the biblical doctrine of the incarnation (the teaching that God put on human flesh and came among us in the person of Jesus Christ), lends itself to promoting concern for the realm of nature. If Christians truly believe that, in Christ, the immaterial, eternal Creator condescended to clothe himself in atoms and enter his own physical creation, then material existence can never be seen as inconsequential. The incarnation means that now matter itself has been re-hallowed and has transcendent significance.

If all this were true, would not there be some residue of reverence for the material world in Christian spirituality? In the case of the Anglican expression of the Reformed Catholic faith the answer is, “Yes.” In fact, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer supports a spirituality that embraces the goodness of the natural realm, promotes the stewardship of creation, and exalts God for his mighty acts in creating and sustaining the cosmos. So in the next blog post I want to take a look at some of the important elements of the Book of Common Prayer in order to see how this resource promotes a biblically based, creation-affirming Christian spirituality.

Ben+

The Rev Ben Sharpe is Rector of Christ Church in Winston Salem an Anglican Mission church that was planted a few years ago.

Ben has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Lisa, for 29 years. They are the parents of three lovely young women.

The Rev. Ben Sharpe has served in pastoral and church planting ministry for over 20 years. In 1995 he planted Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Fayetteville NC. In 2004 he and his family “came home” to the Anglican Mission in America. Ben received his undergraduate degree from the University of NC – Chapel Hill. He is a 1991 magna cum laude graduate (MDiv) from The Divinity School of Duke University.

Ben is deeply interested in early church history and sees our post-modern culture as significantly similar to the world the Church experienced for the first 400 years of the Christian era. He believes these connections offer direction for evangelism and discipleship in the 21st century.

Ben is an avid “section hiker” of the Appalachian Trail and claims his one athletic ability is carrying heavy objects over long distances. He also brews his own beer.

Most of all, Ben loves Jesus Christ, is passionate about the Gospel of salvation, and authentic Christian discipleship.

you can read more from his blog here

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Sacramental Worldview

In next couple of days we will be following Rev. Ben Sharp’s thoughts on the relationship between the Sacraments and discipleship. The Rev Ben Sharpe is Rector of Christ Church in Winston Salem an Anglican Mission church that was planted a few years ago.

Ben has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Lisa, for 29 years. They are the parents of three lovely young women.

The Rev. Ben Sharpe has served in pastoral and church planting ministry for over 20 years. In 1995 he planted Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Fayetteville NC. In 2004 he and his family “came home” to the Anglican Mission in America. Ben received his undergraduate degree from the University of NC – Chapel Hill. He is a 1991 magna cum laude graduate (MDiv) from The Divinity School of Duke University.

Ben is deeply interested in early church history and sees our post-modern culture as significantly similar to the world the Church experienced for the first 400 years of the Christian era. He believes these connections offer direction for evangelism and discipleship in the 21st century.

Ben is an avid “section hiker” of the Appalachian Trail and claims his one athletic ability is carrying heavy objects over long distances. He also brews his own beer.

Most of all, Ben loves Jesus Christ, is passionate about the Gospel of salvation, and authentic Christian discipleship.

you can read more from his blog here

Discipleship and Environmentalism?


How should Christians relate to the natural world and to environmental concerns?  If talk radio (whether the boisterous commercial broadcasters of the political right or the political ideology that appropriately occupies the far left end of the FM dial) is any indication there seems to be a couple of dominant trends that drive the environmental discussion.  Since I don’t think I can hold most readers’ attention by “nuancing” every statement I will attempt to state these positions broadly and hopefully fairly.  But we need to recognize that both of these positions have an “extreme” element that tends to drive the discussion.

On the one hand there is the view which suspects that any attempt to publicly address ecological concerns, either by voluntarily curbing consumption or implementing environmental regulations, is an assault on personal liberty.  Painting with an extremely large brush, there often seems to be an accompanying utilitarian approach to the environment: the natural world is the vast repository of material resources to be harvested to fuel our consumer economy.  Sometimes proponents of this view see God’s command for humanity to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28) as an excuse for rapacious consumerism.  An extreme version of this view runs like this:

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man’s dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it’s yours. That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that’s the Biblical view.  (Ann Coulter, Jewish World Review, October 13, 2000,)

On the other end of the political spectrum there is at least a rhetorical commitment to protecting the environment. However this position often sentimentalizes or even idolizes the natural world and sees humanity’s use of natural recourses as inherently suspect.  Rather than having a twisted view of dominion theology, there is almost no discussion of humanity having any form of divine mandate in relation to the environment.

The extreme expression of this position promotes voluntary extinction of humanity as the best possible hope for the biosphere.  While this extreme is far from mainstream, even respected environmental philosophers have viewed humanity as innately problematic for the biosphere.  Philosopher Paul Taylor takes this position in his book, Respect for Nature:

Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo Sapiens, not only would the Earth’s Community of Life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being would be enhanced. Our presence, in short, is not needed. And if we were to take the standpoint of that Life Community and give voice to its true interests, the ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty “Good riddance! [Paul Taylor, Respect for Nature: a theory of environmental ethics (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2011), 115.]

So the question I want to address in the next few blog posts is this: Is reverence for the natural world a legitimate element of Christian spirituality?  And if it is, then how do we live it out as followers of Jesus Christ?

Ben+

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The Shame Exchange by Steve & Sally Breedlove and Ralph & Jennifer Ennis

The problem of shame is real. Things people say, things people do, the systems of our families and cultures – that’s just the beginning of the problem. Add to it things we have done, just who we feel that we are in the secret places in our souls – shame heaps up and eats away at our souls. The result? Shame becomes our personal world view. It damages our sense of identity, our view of life and our ability to relate in love to others. The Shame Exchange (185pp.) faces the problem of shame head-on. This book will help you understand the origins of shame, and it will help expose the unhelpful ways we deal with shame’s power. But more than just diagnosing the problem The Shame Exchange gives a Biblical perspective on how you can face shame and through it discover a door into the deep mercy and love of God that leads to freedom.

“I began reading “The Shame Exchange” over a month ago, thinking I would enjoy an evening in an intellectual discussion that would further my understanding of shame biblically as well as how it contributes to any or all of the issues people seek prayer and counsel for. This objective approach soon turned very subjective for me as I realized that this was not a quick topical read that I could accomplish in an evening or two without an emotional involvement…a very personal emotional involvement. I was not far into the book before I knew I was into something I would have to become engaged in, like it or not. This slowed me down in my reading as I needed to find times when I could be more present to that which was being touched in my own heart. Having finished the book, I have not finished with the topic of shame in my life.

“I want to congratulate you for making a significant contribution to the Church and the helping community with your book. Your book has given me a deeper understanding of shame biblically as well as its part in the issues we seek help with through prayer and counseling. I believe that personally I have opened up some areas that with perseverance will further my own transformation and bring more joy to my relationship with Christ. My hope and prayer is that many others will encounter their shame through your work and come into greater freedom and love.”

Keith
Counselor and spiritual director

Join Steve and Sally Breedlove and Ralph and Jennifer Ennis as they draw the distinctions between heaped-on shame and identity-level shame. Listen to the stories of people laboring to be free. Look at seven different ways we avoid facing the shame that taints our souls. Discover how shame can actually become the door to deeper intimacy with God, spiritual transformation and ultimate healing for our hearts.

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Two All Saints Musicians Featured this Month in Durham Concert

All Saints Church members Ehsan Samei and Amy Kortus  (members of  Nyquistmusic.org) performed in a recent musical event at Duke University.

Take a listen!

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Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626

A devoted scholar, hard-working and accurate, and a master of fifteen languages, Lancelot Andrewes was renowned for his learning and for his preaching, and was a seminal influence on the development of a distinctive reformed Catholic theology in the Church of England.  Born in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, Andrewes was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he was elected Fellow in 1576 and Catechist in 1580.   In 1589 he became Vicar of St Giles, Cripplegate, and Master of Pembroke Hall.  His incumbency at Cripplegate was attached to a prebend at St Paul’s Cathedral, where his remarkable preaching abilities first attracted notice.  In 1601 he became Dean of Westminster.  Under James the First (reigned 1603-1625), who held Andrewes in high esteem, he was made Bishop of Chichester in 1605, of Ely in 1609, and of Winchester in 1619.

A distinguished biblical scholar proficient in both Hebrew and Greek, in 1604 Andrewes attended the Hampton Court Conference and was appointed one of the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.  He was largely responsible for the translation of the Pentateuch (the Books of Moses) and the historical Books (including the Chronicles and Kings).  Andrewes was involved in vigorous correspondence with Roman Catholic controversialists and critics of the Church of England, including Cardinal Bellarmine, and in this correspondence he gave a robust defense of the catholicity of the Church of England.

Andrewes died at Winchester House, Southwark, in 1626, on either September 25 or 26 (the uncertainty of the date accounts for the variance among Anglican Churches in the date of his commemoration).  He was buried in the parish church which later became Southwark Cathedral.

Andrewes was one of the principal influences in the formation of a distinctly reformed Catholic Anglican theology, which in reaction to the rigidity of the Puritanism of his time, he insisted should be moderate in tone and catholic in content and perspective.  Convinced that true theology must be built on sound learning, he cultivated the friendship of such divines as Richard Hooker and George Herbert, as well as of scholars from abroad, including the French Reformed pastor-theologians Isaac Casaubon and Pierre du Moulin.  His aversion to Calvinism probably explains his absence from the Church of England’s delegation to the Synod of Dort in 1618.  Andrewes held a high doctrine of the Eucharist, emphasizing that in the sacrament we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ, and he consistently used sacrificial language of the rite.  He desired the Church of England to express its liturgy in ordered ceremonial and in his own chapel used the mixed chalice (wine and water), incense, and altar-lights (candles).

In his lifetime Andrewes’ fame rested particularly on his preaching.  He regularly preached at court on the greater Church festivals, being the favorite preacher of the King.  His “Ninety-Six Sermons”, first published in 1629, remain a classic of Anglican homiletical works.  The sermons are characterized by sophisticated verbal conceits, a minute (and to modern sensibilities overworked)  analysis of the text, and constant Greek and Latin quotations.  The noted Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky has written perceptively of the deeply patristic character of Andrewe’s theology in these sermons.

Andrewes was also a deeply devout man, and one of his most admired works is his Preces Privatae (“Private Devotions”), a collection of devotions, mainly in Greek, drawn from the Scriptures and from ancient liturgies, compiled for his personal use.  The Preces were translated in partial versions from 1630 onwards, and the first comprehensive edition was published in 1675.  The Preces illustrate Andrewes’ piety and throw light on the sources of his theology.

Andrewes was respected by many as the model of a bishop at a time when the episcopate was held in low esteem.  His student, John Hacket, later Bishop of Lichfield, wrote of him:

“Indeed he was the most Apostolical and Primitive-like Divine, in my Opinion, that wore a Rochet in his Age; of a most venerable Gravity, and yet most sweet in all Commerce; the most Devout that I ever saw, when he appeared before God; of such a Growth in all kind of Learning that very able Clerks were of a low Stature to him.”

prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

Lord and Father, our King and God, by your grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of your servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

( Copied from Todd Granger blog: http://www.forallsaints.wordpress.com )

 

The following is an excerpt from a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall in December, 1614

This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.

And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own SonNHis now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.

A Prayer: 
Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The Mission of Art : Christianity Today Interviews All Saints Church’s own David O. Taylor

David looking smart and pensive as well as bearded and hip

The Mission of Art

W. David O. Taylor grounds his aesthetic passion in the local church.

Christianity Today: Mark Moring | posted 5/18/2010

Growing up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, David Taylor was learning the meaning of beauty before he even realized it. Taylor names the tropical landscape as one of five key elements in shaping his own identity as an artist. The others: listening to his mother play classical music on her grand piano; watching his father tend orchids in the backyard greenhouse; reading “books outside my tradition” recommended by his Regent College professors, including Eugene Peterson; and “being given permission to try and fail—again and again—by the leadership of Hope Chapel [in Austin, Texas], as I sought to discover what an arts ministry was supposed to be about.”

Taylor, Hope Chapel’s arts pastor for eight years, is now studying theology and liturgy in the doctoral program at Duke Divinity School, with an eye toward establishing an arts center in Austin. He has just released his first book, for the Beauty of the Church:Casting a Vision for the Arts(Baker), with contributions from such culture observers as Peterson, Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Barbara Nicolosi, and Taylor himself. He hopes his book will “offer the church a theologically informed, biblically deepened, liturgically sensitive, artistically robust, and missionally shrewd vision for the arts.”

Question & Answer

What is beauty?

Classically, the approach has been to see beauty in terms of three qualities: unity, complexity, and radiance. The textured parts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet hold together in a way that keeps us asking for it again and again. But that can also be true of a Texas barbecue, the four beasts of Revelation, and the athleticism of Kobe Bryant. We shouldn’t stop with classical ideas about beauty; we also need to think about beauty Christologically. The moment we sever beauty from the death and resurrection of Christ, we risk sliding toward idealism or pretty-ism. In Christ we can discover the broken side of beauty, and it is in that light that we will find beautiful the self-sacrifice of a Mother Teresa or the terror of a Schindler’s List.

I might find something beautiful that you find ugly. Are we both right?

Yes. You might find the German language beautiful; I may find it ugly. But we find it beautiful and ugly for complicated reasons. You may despise bratwurst and German consonants, but that doesn’t mean that the language of Martin Luther ceases to be beautiful. We have to distinguish between the form of the material and our personal response to it.

How can the church better integrate the arts into its life?

It’s not that we haven’t thought biblically about the arts; it’s that we haven’t thought biblically deeply enough. It’s all there, as Andy Crouch points out in Culture Making: in Genesis and in the Gospels, in Jesus, the Icon of God and the great metaphor user. My prayer is that the essays [in my book] will stir us to develop a theology—a Christian mind about art—that is capable of sustaining a long-lasting, fruit-bearing tradition of art-making by the church, for the church, and for the good of the world, to the glory of God.

More: ArtsPastor.blogspot.com

Age: 38

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Church: All Saints Church, Durham, N.C.

Family: Phaedra Jean (wife)

Reading now: George Herbert’s poetry, David Maine’s Fallen, Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine, and Harry Potter (in Spanish)

On your iPod: Russian choral music and lots of hip-hop

Favorite website:ArtMachineStudios.net

Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today.

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Please pray for Patrick Kelly and his family!

Patrick, Julie and Cecilia Kelly’s were members of All Saints Church and Julie was our first deacon at the church. They were an important part of our church family and Cecilia was born in Chapel Hill. About a year ago the Kellys moved and a about a month ago it was discovered that Patrick’s brian cancer had returned.

Our hearts hurt for the Kelly family. We love them deeply and our prayers are with them. Please read and subscribe to the Kelly’s blog and continue to pray for Patrick, Julie and Cecilia Kelly. Click HERE to go to their blog for the latest updates and prayer requests.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit and relieve thy sick servant Patrick Kelly for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him from the temptations of the enemy; and give him patience under his affliction. In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that finally he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


 

 

 

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