The Cross, the Trinity and Greek debt: salvation and economics

Jul 7, 2015 by

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream. When I became a Christian, central to my understanding of salvation was the Cross: a symbol of the Saviour who stood in my place and took the punishment I deserved. It made perfect sense to me that as well as being made in God’s image with gifts, friends and family, I was a sinner who had no right to be in the presence of a holy God; it was life-changing to realise that God himself, rather than waiting for me to reach a standard which was impossible, came to earth to die as a criminal for me, so I could be set free. “No condemnation now I dread”; what I owed he paid; amazing grace. But when I began to travel outside my familiar circle and read some theology, I realized that this account was for some Christians not central, and even completely denied. My understanding of the Cross was caricatured as being “obsessed with sin”; my God seen as a vindictive tyrant demanding blood sacrifice, my faith about transaction and obligation, exclusion rather than inclusion. Instead, I was told, as God is love and we are all his children; he can forgive without needing to pay any price. Increasingly, in theological circles, I saw that the most popular model for Christian faith was no longer the Cross, seen as being about sin and death and suffering, but the Trinity – that perfect community of three in an eternal cosmic “dance”. Salvation, I was told, is not about an individualistic repenting of my sins and believing in a crucified Saviour, but being part of a community on earth, united spiritually with the life of the Trinity. God is not an immovable, harsh lawgiver but a dynamic creative force; Christ should be seen primarily not as sin-bearer but as the one who has broken through death and achieved victory over oppressive forces. A strong focus on the Cross sees the church as made up of those “bought by the blood of the lamb” (Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 5:9); mission will contain a strong component of evangelism as people need to hear the Gospel of redemption through Christ alone. While salvation is by grace, we have been redeemed from a life of rebellion and disobedience for a life of holiness and “the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5). But a strong focus on the resurrection, the Spirit and the Trinity sees salvation more in terms of being caught up in divine new life. The church is really about a community of people of hope rather than a gathering of individuals with right doctrine. Mission is bringing hope and sharing love through social action perhaps more than through words, and ethics is more about being generous than being holy. Of course to set the Cross against the Spirit and the Trinity in this way is unbiblical. All are central to authentic Christian faith; to deny one side or the other is not...

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Bishops were wrong about poverty last time… this time they’re irrelevant

Jan 16, 2015 by

By Damian Thompson, Mailonline: The quickest way to ruin a dinner party is to talk about the Christian belief in an after-life. ‘Heaven? It’s just a fantasy cooked up by clergy to keep themselves in a job,’ a typical metropolitan hostess might say, her lip curling as she spoons out the asparagus soufflé. To which I can only reply: in 20 years of covering religious affairs as a journalist, I have almost never heard vicars or priests talk about heaven – except from the narrow confines of the pulpit, and even then not very often. But I certainly hear clergy talk incessantly about another fantasy world. It’s a Britain in which they talk about the ‘gulf between rich and poor’. This always seems to be a nicely flexible concept that they never precisely define. Above all, it is always ‘widening’ and they argue that society’s ills can be miraculously solved if only more taxpayers’ money was spent on them as if it was holy water. This week, they are it again with a book that deliberately echoes the infamous ‘Faith In The City’ report published by the Church of England in 1985 when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. It controversially called for greater government spending in every conceivable area (except on the country’s military defences, of course) and was denounced by one Thatcherite minister as ‘Marxist’. Such criticism was, I believe, over the top – but make no mistake: the truth is that the Church of England tried to strangle the Thatcherite reforms that turned Britain into the economic capital of Europe. The Church failed in it efforts – and it seems that Archbishop Sentamu is still very bitter. In his new book, he says he is sorry that the Church lost its nerve in its response to what he calls the ‘savage attack’ of Thatcherism. But he is wrong. The Left-wing bishops did not lose their nerve: they actually did everything in their power to elect Labour’s Neil Kinnock as prime minister. And then when that failed, too, they went into a sulk. Read here Read also:  The Church is preaching the wrong sermon, Daily Mail Editorial The Archbishop of York should talk more about politics by Harry Phibbs, Conservative...

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Connecting Religious and Economic Liberty

Nov 24, 2014 by

By Dylan Pahman, Public Discourse: New data suggest that countries that value and protect religious liberty offer fertile soil for economic liberty to flourish. In a recent article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, Brian Grim, Greg Clark, and Robert Edward Snyder published their findings that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes and that advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, government, and societies by contributing to successful and sustainable enterprises that benefit societies and individuals.” Grim et al. demonstrate a strong connection between religious freedom and economic growth. This raises another question: does religious freedom also correlate with economicliberty? In this essay, I compare data from the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom with the Pew 2012 Government Restrictions on Religion Index and the 2012 Social Hostilities Toward Religion Index, which can be found in Appendix 2 and 3 of the report “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High.” Every measure of this kind has its limits, of course, but both sources use clear and consistent methods to determine their ratings. They reliably reflect the concrete realities in the countries they rate. The economic freedom index put together by Heritage and the Wall Street Journal uses the following five ratings (from best to worst): “free,” “mostly free,” “moderately free,” “mostly unfree,” and “repressed.” These ratings are based on average scores in ten quantitative and qualitative measures, divided into four equally weighted categories: the rule of law (property rights and freedom from corruption); limited government (fiscal freedom and government spending); regulatory efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, and monetary freedom); and open markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom). Thus, countries with a “free” or “mostly free” rating do well in maximizing these measures, whereas countries with a “mostly unfree” or “repressed” rating lack most if not all of them. Read...

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Financial advice to be available in church

May 28, 2014 by

The Church of England has launched a new scheme to promote responsible lending, which will see people being given financial advice in church. The Church Credit Champions Network (CCCN) will promote the use of credit unions rather than payday lenders. It follows the Archbishop of Canterbury’s criticism of payday lenders in July last year. Justin Welby said he was trying to put such lenders “out of business” by giving them greater competition. Adrian Newman, the Bishop of Stepney, told the BBC: “You can either whinge about the Wongas of this world, or you can provide an attractive alternative.” Last year, the Church said it would try to force payday lender Wonga out of business, but later admitted it invested in funds that provided money for the firm. The Church has not yet completely severed links with the firm. The CCCN scheme is launching in three pilot areas: the dioceses of London, Southwark and Liverpool. The idea is to train up church members to offer responsible advice on financial matters. They will use church buildings to help with new accounts, or advise customers on how to apply for a loan. However, no money will change hands in church. “It’s not about handling money; it’s about being a point of contact,” said David Barclay, the CCCN’s senior network co-ordinator. As a first step, posters and flyers advertising local credit unions will be placed in Church of England premises. One church in London’s East End, St James in Clapton, is already offering such advice to local people. It is working closely with the London Community Credit Union (LCCU), which offers loans, savings and current accounts. The LCCU is owned by, and run for the benefit of, its 16,000 members. “We still see the effects of payday lending on deprived communities and the way they exploit people’s need for credit,” said Mr Barclay. “We need alternatives,” he said. The Church scheme is being supported by Sir Hector Sants, the former head of the city regulator, the Financial Services Authority. He said he was confident that the scheme “will equip churches to be even more relevant to their local communities, and transform the lives of the many people we hope will be served as a result”. Read more...

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74 Anglican bishops don't castigate Cameron

Feb 20, 2014 by

From Cranmer The mainstream media are running prominently today with a letter to the Daily Mirror on the subject of food-banks, which has been signed by 27 bishops of the Church of England (along with sundry Methodists, and a couple of Quakers thrown in for good measure). The letter reads: Sir, Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry. Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year. One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards. We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years. Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions. On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God. On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us. There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to. We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger. Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk. And then comes a veritable psalter of episcopal signatories: Read here Read also: More bishops heap burning coals on Cameron from Cranmer Read also: Church vs State: is David Cameron facing a crusade? By Benedict Brogan, Telegraph The Church of England has become an outpost of the Labour Party  by Toby Young, Telegraph...

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How a country’s economy is determined by the quality of its marriages

Dec 3, 2013 by

Tamara Rajakariar, MercatorNet A mother at home is of more use to the economy than her husband at work.   Don’t believe me? Watch this clip of Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council speaking at the recent World Congress of Families, and I’m sure you’ll agree! I’ll run through his main points though, to summarise for you.   Fagan starts by saying that the quality of children, and so our future society, depends directly on the quality of the marriage of their parents – which affects the quality of their upbringing.   Fagan notes that society is made up of five facets: the family, church, school, the marketplace and government. The first three mentioned are the places that “grow the people” so to speak, and are closely interrelated. The last two areas of society are those into which people are set loose, once they’ve grown up: but the role that they play in these spheres of economy and government really depends on what happened in their experience of family, church and school.   Read here...

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