Friday, February 29, 2008

Bishop Threatens to Suspend J.I. Packer from Ministry

It is one thing to face high level dissension bordering on schism in your church. But, when you threaten a man hailed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential evangelicals in the world . . . yikes!

Packer, the squinty-eyed, jazz-loving, octagenarian represents one of the great thinkers in the evangelical fold and an extremely irenic exemplar of Calvinist soteriology. Known to millions for his classic, Knowing God, he has maintained loyalty to his Anglican tradition while standing squarely in the eveangelical camp. The letter threatening him shows how much brinkmanship is involved in ecclesiastical politics today.

As evidence of the escalating crisis in the global Anglican Communion, today one of the of the world’s most esteemed Christian theologians, Dr. J.I. Packer, received a letter threatening suspension from ministry by the controversial Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham. Bishop Ingham accused Dr. Packer, hailed by Time Magazine as the “doctrinal Solomon” of Christian thinkers, “to have abandoned the exercise of ministry” after the church where he is a member voted to separate from the diocese and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone under the oversight of Anglican Archbishop Gregory Venables. Dr. Packer, who was ordained in the Church of England, is the author of the Christian classic, “Knowing God,” and joined Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus as one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005.

Dr. Packer, who received his theological education at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, was ordained a deacon (1952) and priest (1953) in the Church of England. He was Assistant Curate of Harborne Heath in Birmingham 1952-54 and Lecturer at Tyndale Hall, Bristol 1955-61. He was Librarian of Latimer House, Oxford 1961-62 and Principal 1962-69. In 1970 he became Principal of Tyndale Hall, Bristol, and from 1971 until 1979 he was Associate Prinicipal of Trinity College, Bristol. In addition to his published works, he has served as general editor for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He currently serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

He will be 82 in July.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

U.S. Religous Landscape Survey - New Light for Understanding Trends

The Pew people have another great survey that sheds light on some of the trends reported in my last blog. For a summary of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, cf.

Among the interesting conclusions,

The Landscape Survey confirms that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions - evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Latest Church Trends

What is happening in the church today (as well as a couple of our sectarian/cultic cousins)? Check out this report from yesterday's The Wasthington Times.

Note that the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod, a conservative denomination, shows continued erosion, contradicting the general trend for more conservative groups to grow and more progressive organizations to decline. Perhaps the LCMS situation may be due to the more ethnic and sectarian identity of this conservative Lutheran body. Also note that many historically African-American denominations tend to report "no change" in response to these types of surveys. http // churches_are_the_country.html

1. The Roman Catholic Church, 67,515,016 members, an increase of .87 percent.

2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,306,246 members, an increase of .22 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church, 7,995,456 members, a decrease of .99 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,779,316 members, an increase of 1.56 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no increase or decrease reported.

6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., 5,000,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,774,203 members, a decrease of 1.58 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 3,025,740 members, a decrease of 2.36 percent.

10. Assemblies of God, 2,836,174 members, an increase of .19 percent.

11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

11. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

11. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

14. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,417,997 members, a decrease of .94 percent.

15. Episcopal Church, 2,154,572 members, a decrease of 4.15 percent.

16. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no increase or decrease reported.

17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

17. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.

19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,443,405 members, an increase of .21 percent.

20. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,371,278 members, a decrease of 1.82 percent.

21. United Church of Christ, 1,218,541 members, a decrease of 0.47 percent.

22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no increase or decrease reported.

23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,616 members, no increase or decrease reported.

24. The Orthodox Church in America, 1,064,000, no increase or decrease reported.

25. Jehovah's Witnesses, 1,069,530 members, an increase of 2.25 percent.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Welcome Rylan Everett McFadden!

Last Tuesday my eldest son and his wife welcomed their third son, Rylan Everett McFadden, weighing in a 8lbs 3 oz. Rylan's daddy is associate pastor of a church in Minooka, IL. Rylan Everett is the son of Rev. Arol Everett McFadden, the son of Dennis Everett McFadden, the son of Everett McFadden. He is healthy, we are ecstatic! Rylan is our fourth grandson.

Jeanette and I traveled to the midwest late last week to attend the memorial service for our older daughter's mother-in-law (she was only 58) in Fort Wayne. Following the service, which was an amazing testimony to God's grace, we went to Chicagoland to spend a few days after the service with our oldest son and family (including Rylan) in the Chicago area.

Like any good son of Illinois, our grandson was born on Lincoln's birthday.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Celebrating Abortion's Anniversary?

Thanks to the Weekly Standard (2/4/08) for this one . . .

How should one celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision? The Planned Parenthood chapter in Schenectady invited clergy to "bless" its new 18,000 square-foot "clinic."

The Times Union reports that "Rev. Larry Phillips of Schedectady's Emmanuel-Friedens Church . . . declared the ground 'sacred and holy . . . where women's voices and stories are welcomed, valued, and affirmed; sacred ground where women are treated with dignity, supported in their role as moral decision-makers . . . sacred ground where the violent voices of hatred and oppression are quelled.'"

Anthony Sacramone, over at First Things blog, proffered his own idea of what a blessing of a Planned Parenthood establishment might sound like.

O Ba'al, God of Thunder:
We beseech Ye in the name of science
In the name of self-actualization and personal autonomy
That the procedures and terminations wrought on this choice piece of real estate
Permit no hope
Silence all screams
And leave no child behind.

"O Ba'al" indeed.