Matthew 18:20 “Where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”
Christians regularly appeal to this saying in order to reassure themselves that, no matter how few their numbers when they gather for public worship or for prayer, Jesus himself will be present.
Matthew Henry: ‘Every believer has the presence of Christ with him; but the promise here refers to the meetings where two or three are gathered in his name, not only for discipline, but for religious worship, or any act of Christian communion.’
Ryle: ‘There is comfort in these words for all who love to meet together for religious purposes.…
If, like me, you’ve heard of the ‘Eastern Orthodox Church’ but wanted to know a bit more about it, then I offer the following as a public service.
1. Eastern Orthodoxy is nearly one thousand years old
Until 1054 there was just one church and no denominations. In that year of the Great Schism, various tensions reached breaking point and the church split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
2. There were various reasons for the split
These are complex, and have to do with language (Eastern churches used Greek and Roman churches used Latin), doctrine (the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed was affirmed by the Catholic church but rejected by the Eastern church), liturgy (the Western churches used unleavened bread in the Eucharist, while the Eastern churches did not), and ecclesiastical authority.…
As a Licensed Reader within the Church of England, it is of some interest and importance to me to know whether the doctrine of penal substitution is an Anglican doctrine.
Well, the doctrine is not clearly espoused in the Prayer Book of 1662, to which all clergy must assent. The nearest it comes to it is this:
‘…who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.’
But in the Homilies (which are commended in the 39 Articles as containing ‘godly and wholesome doctrine’), penal substitution comes through loud and clear:
‘God sent his only son our Saviour Christ into this world … and by shedding of his most precious blood, to make a sacrifice and satisfaction, or (as it may be called) amends to his Father for our sins, to assuage his wrath and indignation conceived against us … ‘… whereas all the world was not able of themselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ’s body and blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied.…
And so to the final chapter of this excellent book outlining a Christian response to the sexual revolution.
Too often, the Christian response to the sexual revolution has been harsh and uncaring. We need, writes Glynn Harrison, better storytellers to tell our great story.
Listen to those who differ from you. It is folly to answer before we have listened (Proverbs 18:13). Criticising from a distance feels safe. spending time in the company of those we may disagree with can feel uncomfortable. …
And so to the tenth and last chapter of Phillip Gulley’s book. If the church were more Christian, he says, ‘this life would be more important than the afterlife.’
Too many people, the church offers an alternative reality, an escape from the real world. A big part of this is its obsession with our ultimate destiny in heaven or hell, contemplated without due regard to living well in the here and now. And this obsession stems from a need to control – to control who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. …
If the church were Christian, writes Phillip Gulley, ‘It would care more about love and less about sex.’
The church, apparently, is obsessed with sex. It frowns on sex outside marriage, divorce, dancing and (especially) homosexuality). Indeed, it finds the whole subject distasteful.
This anxiety about sex probably has two causes: Victorian mores and ‘the apostle Paul’s obvious aversion to marriage’. Contrast Paul’s ‘sour assessment of intimacy’ with the delight and joy of the Song of Solomon.…
If the church were Christian, says Phillip Gulley, ‘meeting needs would be more important that maintaining institutions.’
Phillip Gulley has come across people within the church who, while ostensibly meetings the needs of others (for example, by running a food bank), are really putting their own needs first (the need for control, for appreciation, or whatever). We’ve probably come across such people ourselves.
We must wonder if many Christian organisations and entire denominations are primarily interested in self-preservation. …
When the Christian Union at the University of Derby organised their carol service, to be held in the city’s cathedral, they invited Rev Melvin Tinker, vicar of St John Newland in Hull, to be the preacher.
It transpires, however, that the CU was not empowered to invited Rev Tinker to speak. Such invitations have to be made by the Dean, the Very Revd Stephen Hance. The Dean said: “I am aware of online comments this morning claiming that Derby Cathedral has banned the Revd Melvin Tinker from speaking at the Derby University Christian Union Carol Service.”
“The Dean invites all guest preachers for services to be held at the cathedral.…