ELCA elects a gay bishop

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (not to be confused with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, or other more conservative Lutheran bodies) has elected its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin, who will lead ELCA congregations in the Los Angeles area.   The ELCA only approved gay pastors two years ago, which was when Rev. Erwin, a theology professor at Cal Lutheran, was ordained.  Is it usual in the ELCA to rise in the ranks from newly-ordained pastor to bishop in only two years?  (The ELCA has adopted an episcopal polity and claims apostolic succession through the Swedish church.)

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Two kinds of funerals

Funerals being on my mind lately, I offer you an essay I wrote that was published in  Table Talk.  It is entitled “A Tale of Two Funerals.” [Read more…]

Making the arrangements

My heart isn’t in blogging today.  I’m certainly not in the mood to complain about the culture, worry about politics, or pick theological arguments.  Death gives a different kind of perspective, an eternal perspective, that, for all its hurt, is  healthy for me to consider. With my mother, my brother, and my sister, we have been “making arrangements” for my father’s funeral Friday.  [Read more…]

100,000 Christians per year die for their faith

Statistics about the number of Christian martyrs today:

A top Vatican official has said around 100,000 Christians are killed every year for reasons linked to their faith and pointed to the Middle East, Africa and Asia as the biggest problem areas.

Monsignor Silvano Maria Tomasi was quoted by Vatican radio on Tuesday as saying that the figures were “shocking” and “incredible”.

Tomasi said Christians were also forced to leave their homes and see their churches destroyed in some parts of the world, and were often subjected to rapes, kidnappings and discrimination.

The Vatican official made particular reference to the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops near Aleppo in Syria last month.

Religious freedom is beset by “sectarianism, intolerance, terrorism and exclusionary laws,” he said, while also pointing to exceptions like Bangladesh where he said rights are protected.

Another senior Vatican figure, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Mario Toso, said recently that discrimination against Christians “should be countered in the same way as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”.

via 100,000 Christians die for faith every year: Vatican.

Interesting last sentence.  Is there even a name for this?  Anti-Christianism?  Christophobia?

More on the salvation of non-believers

In trying to explain Pope Francis’s statement about atheists that we blogged about, a Vatican spokesman, Father Thomas Rosica wrote a piece entitled Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22:  Reflections on Atheists, Christians, and Who Will Be Saved.  He nuanced what the pope said, but he didn’t explain it away, nor did he say, as we did in our discussion, that he was referring to meeting together in the realm of civil righteousness.  Rather, Father Rosica explained the sense in which atheists and other non-believers can, in fact, be saved:

4)  The great German Jesuit theolgian, Fr. Karl Rahner introduced the idea of “anonymous Christian” into theological reflection. Through this concept, offered to Christians, Rahner said that God desires all people to be saved, and cannot possibly consign all non-Christians to hell.  Secondly, Jesus Christ is God’s only means of salvation. This must mean that the non-Christians who end up in heaven must have received the grace of Christ without their realising it.   Hence the term – ‘anonymous Christian’. [Read more…]

Who proceeds from the Father and the Son

Happy Pentecost yesterday!  May the Holy Spirit pour out His richest blessings on you.  May the Holy Spirit work in your heart as you hear God’s Word.

Here is a  question about the Holy Spirit that I would like to submit to the collective theological knowledge manifested in the readership of this blog:   In Western Christianity, both among Roman Catholics and creedal Protestants, the Nicene Creed that we confess says that we believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In Eastern Christianity, on the other hand, the Orthodox rendition of the Nicene Creed says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. [Read more…]


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