Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Archaeological digs on sites where Martin Luther lived.

The dirt on is out

Kate Connolly
Scientists trawl through his household waste

The ex-monk’s claim of poverty stand dismissed

Berlin: German scientists have reconstructed an extraordinarily detailed picture of the domestic life of Martin Luther, the 16th-century reformer and father of Protestantism. This they did by trawling through his household waste uncovered during archaeological digs

Beer tankards, grains of corn, cooking pots, even his toilet are among the finds dug up during the five-year project in the three places in Germany he spent his life. The items include his wife’s golden wedding band, a collection of 250 silver coins and the medicines used to treat his various ailments from angina to constipation.

Some of the finds have upset the Protestant church in Wittenberg where the ex-monk lived with his wife, the ex-nun Katharina von Bora, and their six children. It has termed “religiously irrelevant” evidence that the family used to throw dead cats into the rubbish bin and that the nails Luther used to secure his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, which led to his ex-communication from the Catholic Church and launched the Reformation, were in fact drawing pins.

Protestants from around the world are expected to flock to an exhibition at the history museum in Halle, where some of the discoveries will go on display.

Despite the widespread belief that Luther lived in poverty, evidence suggests he was a well-fed man weighing in at a hefty 150 kg when he died in 1546 at the age of 63. A search through the kitchen waste offers proof that the family ate well. There are clues that they regularly dined on roast goose and the tender meat of piglets, while during fasting periods they tucked into expensive fish including herring, cod, and plaice. Partridge and song-birds often graced the Luthers’ dinner table.

The claim by historians which will arguably be most upsetting for followers is the recently uncovered written evidence that it was not, as thought, a lightning bolt which led to the then 21-year-old’s spontaneous declaration he wanted to become a monk. Rather, it was his desperation to escape an impending arranged marriage. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008


Monday, October 27, 2008

The Birth of Modern Missions

David Brainerd was born on April 20, 1718, in Haddam, Connecticut, 43 years before William Carey was born in Paulerspury, England. Brainerd became a missionary to the Indians in New England but died at the age of 29. He spent the last 19 weeks of his life in the home of the great Jonathan Edwards in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Edwards was so deeply moved by the missionary labor and faith and courage of young Brainerd that he edited and published his Life and Diary in 1749. Forty years later a young English pastor, William Carey, was stung by the story of Brainerd's sacrifices as a young missionary.

When he was 31 years old, Carey published a little book entitled, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathens. Repeatedly in this book he refers to the great example of Brainerd. A year later, as he sailed to India in 1793 on the Kron Princess Maria, Carey wrote in his journal about how the sermons of Jonathan Edwards were giving him strength. For example: June 24, 1793—"Saw a number of flying-fish. Have begun to write Bengali, and read Edwards' Sermons and Cowper's Poems. Mind tranquil and serene . . . "

Carey's book, plus his own amazing 40-year career in India have immortalized him as the "father of modern missions." And the reason that I point out his connection with Edwards and Brainerd is to show that the great era of modern missions was born in the soil of sovereign grace. It was born in the hearts of men and women who believed in the doctrines of unconditional election and predestination and effectual calling and definite atonement and the perseverance of the saints—the great truths that we have been teaching for the past four weeks from Romans 8:28-30.


Sunday, October 26, 2008


The Doctrine of Ecclesiology is the Doctrine of the Church. It is the study of its origin, its nature, its constitution, its ordinances and its activities. We shall confine our consideration to four topics. The origin of the church, the organism of the church, the organization of the church and the ordinances of the church. There is always in the popular mind the hazy conception of the church as a club, a mutual society of kindred minds and a continual confusing of the church with the kingdom of Heaven. How often is the aim of the church stated as, "Advancing the kingdom" and "bringing in the kingdom," "establishing the kingdom." Many times making the church a political thing. Men lose sight of the primary nature of the church as a "called out" body of people "for His name", a heavenly people, one body separate from all other men of the world as a unique heavenly bride of Christ. Ignorance of its true nature is also displayed in classifying all the saved of all the ages as "members of the church." And some would even out all the sinners who, like the "mixed multitude" which followed Israel, fasten themselves for one reason or another like parasites to the church, as bonified members of the church. We must always see the distinctive nature of the church both as to dispensations and as to its membership as containing only the born-again. Not an earthly organization but a heavenly organism


Discipleship - A Space for Women’s Leadership? By Pauline Chakkalakal

Discipleship - A Space for Women’s Leadership? By Pauline Chakkalakal. Mumbai: Pauline Publications. 394 pp. Rs. 265.

Until the birth of liberation theology in South America, with the newfound openness of the Second Vatican Council, the Bible was read and theology was created mostly from the perspective of European male clerics and this was universally accepted as normative for all. With new challenges from numerous socio cultural contexts, traditional biblical hermeneutics has been uncomfortably challenged and remarkably broadened. Liberation theology, black theology, feminist theology, Dalit theology, tribal theology, etc. are fruits of new ways of doing theology, where the context and text are mutually challenged as well as reinterpreted. Among these, feminist theology seems to have the broadest scope, with empowerment of half of humankind as its objective.

Pauline Chakkalakal’s book is a revised and modified version of her doctoral thesis. It is undoubtedly a major contribution to the ongoing contemporary global debate on women’s dignity and equality, with special focus on ecclesiastical leadership in a patriarchal church where women are unfortunately marginalised against the gospel vision. A special feature of the volume is a well-balanced blending of social analysis, feminist hermeneutics and theological reflection on the theory and praxis of leadership in the Indian Catholic Church. The author’s powerful critique of existing hierarchical and patriarchal leadership pattern might elicit strong reactions from those who are inclined to hold that traditional western theology is normative for all places and times.

Chapter 1 begins with the statement and analysis of the problem. Although the Vatican Council II and subsequent documents, including those of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, are creatively responding to emerging consciousness of a democratic society which demands equality for women, still they are viewed as far from being satisfactory. The caste-ridden Indian society is male-dominated and women play second fiddle. (The book fails to mention a few exceptional communities that are matriarchal and matrilineal with certain influences on the Catholic Church). The church tradition, starting from the fathers of the church like Tertulian and St. Augustine with powerful impact on the whole Christian theology and spirituality, is profoundly anti women and in general continue to influence the church’s current leadership. According to St. Augustine the ultimate cause of the fall of humankind and original sin (Genesis 3) is Eve. So Tertulian condemned women, “you are the devil’s gateway” (p. 62). St. Paul’s injunctions to women to cover their heads and keep silence in the church (1 Cor. 11:2 16; 14:26 40) accentuate the problem if they are not interpreted as culturally-bound norms of behaviour.

The author’s uncompromising position on patriarchy, sin of sexism and exclusion of women from decision-making bodies in the church are supported by findings of empirical investigations in Chapter 2. The analysis of data from around 350 respondents to questionnaires and interviews, mostly from urban areas, confirm male domination in family life, society and church. Because leadership in the Catholic Church is intrinsically linked to ministerial priesthood, exclusion of women from ministerial priesthood logically leads to their exclusion from sharing leadership at every level of the church. The root cause of the unjust structure of authority is identified with this theological issue, according to the writer. “Matters requiring the exercise of power of governance be reserved to those on holy orders” reiterates Pope John Paul II (p. 40).

Critical investigation into the legitimization of socio religious order based on biblical authority is the focus of Chapter 3. A critical enquiry into women’s leadership in the biblical tradition, this chapter examines the creation account of man and woman (Genesis 1:26 27; 2:7 8, 18 25). After showing their equality as images of God, this chapter studies the role of women in the Jesus’ movement. Jesus’ style of dealing with women disciples, including women at the foot of the cross, broke the Jewish patriarchal and rabbinical model. Contemporary Mariology challenges the distorted image of Mary of the traditional catholic popular devotions. “The Magnificat (Lk. 1:46 55) is a powerful testimony to this counter cultural action of God” (p. 133). After his resurrection which is the foundation of Christian faith, women, not the male disciples, had the privilege to be chosen by Jesus to be the first missionaries. Women at Pentecost (Acts, 1:14; 2:1 4), Priscilla and Aquilla (Acts 18:23; 18:26), Mary, mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12 17) are subjected to scholarly examination to establish women’s leadership in the early church. Yet I wonder why the hermeneutics of the crucial text (Acts 2:17 18), the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (2:28 29), whereby the creation of the new Israel, the church, is missing. Radical equality of the members of the new Israel is founded on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh—sons and daughters, young and old, menservants and maidservants.

The “role of feminist theology and hermeneutics” to enhance feminist leadership in the church is the concern of Chapter 4. Since all theological articulations are based on particular understanding of biblical texts, feminist theologians, in contrast to an androcentric and kyriarchal interpretation, propose their own hermeneutics, e.g. of suspicion, remembrance, proclamation, and liberative vision and imagination. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza is quoted as saying “the locus of divine revelation and grace is not simply the Bible or the tradition of a patriarchal church but the ‘church of women’ in the past and present” thus, feminist theology has for its point of departure women’s experiences in their struggle for liberation” (p. 216). Feminist theology is a type of liberation theology that hopes to liberate, transform and create communities of ‘disciples of equals’. This logically leads to a feminist ecclesiology. Since ecclesiastical power and authority are at present intimately linked to ministerial priesthood, debate on ordination of women is inevitable even if it is forbidden. The Women’s Ordination Conference in Dublin in 2001 is cited as a case in question (p. 242). What is the essence of Jesus’ priesthood? Did Jesus rule out women priests? These questions are elaborately deliberated from the feminist perspective. Revision of exclusivist God-language is a logical necessity of feminist theology. Apart from feminist theologians, many who struggle for a new way of being church are inclined to believe that by the fourth century, with the Edict of Milan (313), the church lost sight of Jesus’ vision of a community of discipleship of equals (Mt. 23:1-12) as it developed into a clerical sacerdotal hierarchy.

“In search of a relevant model of church leadership” is the fifth and final chapter. Feminist leadership is described as relational, flexible, intimate and passionate. The ultimate norm and example for it is the leadership of Jesus, which is prophetic, conflictual, and contextual, and in solidarity with the poor. The chapter concludes with two specific recommendations, among others, in the exercise of authority: (1) shift from authoritarian to participatory model; (2) dialogue and partnership. The author argues that women have a unique role in liberating church structure from sexism, clericalism and other forms of discrimination against women and laity in general. New ecclesiology, underlying equality, justice and dignity of women, is impossible without reconstructing traditional Christology that emphasizes his maleness over his new humanity. New Christology and new ecclesiology should be pneumatocentric where criteria for a new model of leadership is neither maleness nor femaleness but the Spirit-filled life (Gal. 3:28).

The book is scholarly, critical, creative and thought-provoking. It also breaks new grounds in methodology for theologizing in India. The author’s commitment and passion for a new vision for alternative model of leadership in the Catholic Church in India distinguishes her as a pioneer of Indian feminist theology.

Dr. Augustine Kanjamala, SVD holds a Doctorate in Sociology of Religion. He was Director of Ishvani Kendra (Missiological Institute), Pune, India, of which Streevani (Women's Voice) is a Research & Publication wing. He has served as Secretary to the CBCI (Catholic Bishops' Conference of India) Commission for Evangelisation. Author of several articles and books, Kanjamala is presently the Director of "Institute of Indian Culture", affiliated to the University of Mumbai.


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Introduction to Ecclesiology By Veli-Matti Karkkainen

An Introduction to Ecclesiology By Veli-Matti Karkkainen

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What is the church?What makes the church church?In this volume, theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen provides an up-to-date survey and analysis of the major ecclesiological traditions, the most important theologians, and a number of contextual approaches that attempt to answer these essential questions.Drawing on his international experience, global research and ecumenical awareness, Kärkkäinen presents an overview of both traditional and contemporary expressions of the Christian church. An Introduction to Ecclesiology will richly reward the student, pastor or layperson who is looking for a comprehensive and insightful overview of the unity and diversity of understandings and practices within the one church of Jesus Christ.

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An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives
By Veli-Matti Karkkainen
Published by InterVarsity Press, 2002
ISBN 0830826882, 9780830826889
238 pages

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The Role of Ecdesiology in Systematic Theology
ecclesiology, Systematic Theology, Miroslav Volf
Roman Catholicism, Free churches, ecumenical movement ecclesiologies
Eastern Orthodox Ecdesiology
ecclesiology, Eucharist, Vladimir Lossky
Roman Catholic Ecdesiology
Lumen Gentium, Vatican II, Ut Unum Sint
Lutheran Ecdesiology
Augsburg Confession, Book of Concord, Martin Luther
Reformed Ecdesiology
Ecclesiology, John Calvin, Zwingli
Free Church Ecdesiologies
Anabaptists, Free churches, Miroslav Volf
PentecostalCharismatic Ecdesiologies
Pentecostal, Charismatic Movements, Peter Hocken
The Ecumenical Movement Ecdesiologies
Ecclesiology, ecumenical movement, Unitatis Redintegratio
ecumenical, theology, Zizioulas
Communion Ecdesiology
pneumatology, John Zizioulas, eschatological
Charismatic Ecdesiology
charism, Second Vatican Council, body of Christ
Universal Ecdesiology
Wolfhart Pannenberg, eschatological, christological
Messianic Ecdesiology
trinitarian, Moltmann, Glossolalia
Participatory Ecdesiology
laity, Tertullian, charismata
Baptist Ecdesiology
McClendon, Mennonite, Jews
Missionary Ecdesiology
Lesslie Newbigin, Protestantism, Protestant Reformation
Concluding Reflections on Leading Ecclesiologists
Mukyokai, Kanzo Uchimura, Non-Church Movement
Base Ecclesial Communities in Latin America
Leonardo Boff, feminist theology, Maryknoll
African Independent ChurchesEcclesiology
Shepherding movement, African Independent Churches, AICs
A World Church
postmodern, Donovan, George Lindbeck
Ecclesiological Challenges for the Third Millennium
Emil Brunner, Christian theology, Roman Catholic

Key terms
ecclesiology, pneumatology, Pentecostal, Shepherding movement, Eucharist, Lumen Gentium, Christology, Holy Spirit, Charismatic movement, Vatican II, Mukyokai, sacraments, Roman Catholic Church, Systematic Theology, Miroslav Volf, baptism, Lesslie Newbigin, eschatological, John Zizioulas, ecumenical movement


Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology

3. FROM A CHRISTOCENTRIC TO ATRINITARIAN MISSIONARY ECCLESIOLOGY:(1959-1998) 3.1. I NTRODUCTION This chapter traces the historical development of Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiologyfrom the time he became the General Secretary of the International Missionary Councilin 1959 until his death in 1998. Newbigin’s 1958 publication One Body, One Gospel,One World marked a consensus in ecumenical thinking on the church and mission thathad developed from the time of the IMC meeting in Tambaram in 1938. However, thisagreement was already under attack. Within three years Newbigin himself would beginto see the inadequacy of his ecclesiology. A Christocentric ecclesiology must bereplaced by a Christocentric-Trinitarian ecclesiology. His first halting attempt toarticulate this new ecclesiology is found in The Relevance of Trinitarian Doctrine forToday’s Mission (1963g). Many other publications would follow in which the detailsof a Trinitarian ecclesiology would be expanded more

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An Orthodox, Indian perspective on ecclesiology - Jacob Kurien

An “invitation” on the ecclesiology statement from an Orthodox, Indian perspective

There is a proverbial statement in the Harare Report: “Any vision which does not inspire new forms of acting remains a distant utopia”. The strength, of the Ecclesiology statement entitled “Called to be the One Church”, is an inspiring vision and a new form of acting for the manifestation of Christian unity.

As an Oriental Orthodox, I am delighted to notice a Trinitarian image of unity and an emphasis on the Faith of the early undivided Church as embodied in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. As an Indian Christian living in a multi-religious and dominantly non-christian background, I see in the text a commitment for inter-religious dialogue as integral to the unity we seek. A theological self-understanding on religious plurality and a common stance against religious extremism and violence are central to our vision of Christian unity. more

Mission and Ecclesiology

Jesudas M. Athyal, Identity And Mission: Towards A New Ecclesiology"

Indigenous Forms of Mission

There is a tradition in India of permeation at the deeply spiritual level of relating faith in Christ to the pluralistic context as well. In his article: ‘The Church – The Fellowship of the Baptised and the Unbaptised?’, M. M. Thomas says that in the history of the modern neo-Hindu movements, the person of Jesus was a strong component. There were many Hindus who kept themselves in spiritual fellowship with other Christians without joining the church by baptism. Kandasamy Chetty of the Madras Christian College, who was one such, stated: ‘There is nothing essentially sinful in Hindu society any more than there is anything essentially pure in the Christian society - for that is what the Christian church amounts to – so that one should hasten from the one to the other…So long as the believer’s testimony for Christ is open and as long as his attitude towards the Hindu society in general is critical, and his attitude towards social and religious practices inconsistent with the spirit of Christ is protestant and practically protestant, I would allow him to struggle his way to the light with some failure here and some failure there perhaps, but with progress and success on the whole’.[xi]

There were several other forms of Christian witness, by individuals and local worshipping and witnessing communities, outside the established churches. Sattampillai, a man of high intellectual calibre and extraordinary qualities, founded the Hindu-Christian Church of Lord Jesus at Prakasapuram near Tirunelveli in 1857. He evolved the agenda of the Hindu-Christian Church to negotiate the contradictory impacts of conversion by developing at one level a critique of western Christianity as practised by the missionaries, in the context raising questions such as “What is real Christianity”?[xii] In his recent book, Christianity is Indian: The Emergence of an Indigenous Community, Roger Hedlund of the Mylapore Institute for Indigenous Studies, identifies and describes several such “little traditions” of Indian Christianity – movements largely unstudied and unknown.

Within the framework of the mainline churches too, there were small, yet definite, forms of indigenous expressions of mission and witness in India. Much before dialogue was officially recognised as a form of Christian witness, several theologians and church leaders like Keshub Chandra Sen and Bishop Appasamy here practised a dialogical form of mission. The itinerant evangelist Sadhu Sunder Singh and organisations like the National Missionary Society too represent indigenous patterns of mission and evangelism. The grave situation in our country today might require a more rigorous articulation of a theology of mission in comparison to the earlier indigenous forms of mission, though as forms of mission rooted in our soil, these patterns will continue ‘to be challengingly relevant’ at all times.

Any attempt to identify and define viable patterns of mission and evangelism today need to be placed firmly within a definite historical context. The search for patterns of church and Christian witness sensitive to the cultural and religious settings of India is not only a theological discussion of the last generation but a pertinent question in our current context. M. M. Thomas says: ‘The crucial question for evangelistic mission today is how in a changed post-colonial situation the forms of church and its evangelistic proclamation of Christ, the call to conversion and invitation to join the fellowship of the church may take place within the context of the recognition of religious and cultural plurality and common participation in building a new just society and state’.[xiii]

Our societies today are experiencing changes that are unprecedented and historic. It is therefore important that the traditional patterns of mission and evangelism be drastically reviewed in a search for more relevant patterns. It has often been pointed out that the aggressive evangelistic campaigns of most churches do not adequately reflect the holistic mission of Christ and are often insensitive to the delicate pluralistic framework of our societies. While critically reviewing our existing structures, we however, also recognise the search by small Christ-inspired groups at various levels – within the churches as well as outside - for authentic and relevant patterns of Christian witness in today’s pluralistic context. Such groups are not however, always a rejection of our existing church structures. What is central to our discussion is that the challenge of the gospel demands us to repeatedly relate God’s mission to the context, which is central to our affirmation that, at the cutting edge of the mission, the church meets the world. The Church is defined by the necessity of proclaiming the saving activity of God through Christ in history. The central ecclesiological concern in pluralistic societies like India therefore, is the search for contextual forms of proclamation - evangelisation.


A New Ecclesiology

The link between the renewal of the church and her missionary mandate is crucial. T. V. Philip says that in the history of the Church, it has been the people engaged in mission in the world who have often raised fundamental questions about the nature of the church, its catholicity and unity.[xiv] In recent times, theologians have been re-interpreting the identity and function of the church not so much as a given and unchanging reality but as a movement of the Holy Spirit and in response to the major concerns of the period. Accordingly, Wesley Ariarajah, in his book, Not Without My Neighbour, outlines dialogue as a paradigm for ecclesiology. He asks the pertinent question: ‘Why are we in mission? Is it because God is present with our neighbour or because God is absent?’[xv] M. M. Thomas, in his Chavara Lectures (1994), on the other hand, discusses a diaconal approach to Indian Ecclesiology aimed at the re-structuring of the church of Christ in modern religiously and ideologically pluralistic India in ways more relevant to the discharging of its humanizing mission.[xvi] The underlying concern in these attempts to re-articulate the identity and role of the church, is the growing awareness that the traditional understanding of the functions of the church as teaching the Word of God and administering the sacraments, is in urgent need of revision. A serious challenge for the church today is the gulf between its life and mission. In the words of Abraham Kuruvilla, ‘When the liturgy itself was degraded to the level of a sacramental act, the character of the ordained ministry became significantly altered….The ministry of the Word of God was not merely a matter of preaching sermons; ‘it meant equipping the church to live in orthodoxy and orthopraxis. But preaching and the sacraments got divorced from witnessing to the marvelous acts of God and participating in God’s continuing work in history’.[xvii]

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mormons, the fastest growing USChurch, build their first temple in Italy

Mormons build their first temple in Italy
Sat Oct 4, 4:55 PM ET
CASPAR, Wyoming (AFP) -

The LDS Church, the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States and by far the largest denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement, has rapidly expanded in recent years, and constantly seeks growth.

The LDS temple in Rome is the first for that nation, as well as the first in the Mediterranean region.

LDS Church membership in Italy membership tops 25,000 followers over 102 congregations. Worldwide, there are more than 13 million Mormons, according to the Church.

Mormon temples, unlike conventional church buildings, are used by followers only for the most sacred ordinances and, unlike churches, are not open to the public.

The LDS movement was established by Joseph Smith, on April 6, 1830 in New York. Smith also published the Book of Mormon, which, followers believe, is a translation of God's word written on gold plates buried near Smith's house, as revealed to him by the angel Moroni.

Smith's followers, known as Mormons, moved westward in the 19th century to flee prevalent anti-Mormon sentiments. In the latter part of the 1900s Mormons eventually settled and thrived in the Utah desert, although numerous schisms in the movement have emerged since then. read it all

Episcopal diocese split over Bible, gays

By JOE MANDAK, Associated Press Writer

MONROEVILLE, Pa. - Clergy and lay members of the theologically conservative Pittsburgh diocese voted overwhelmingly Saturday to break from the liberal Episcopal Church, with which it differs on issues ranging from homosexuality to biblical teachings on salvation.

Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven said the vote means the Pittsburgh diocese is now more firmly aligned with the majority of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, which is more conservative than the communion's 2.2 million-member U.S. church.

"I am delighted," Scriven said, "that what we have done today is bringing the Diocese of Pittsburgh back into the mainstream of worldwide Anglicanism."

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the U.S. church, criticized the vote in a statement, saying, "There is room in this Church for all who desire to be members of it."

She also said schism is not an "honored tradition within Anglicanism" and is "frequently been seen as a more egregious error than charges of heresy." more