Monday, November 19, 2018

Book Review

So What’s the Difference?

By Fritz Ridenour

 The goal of this book is to spell out the differences between the historic Christian faith and other views represented in major religions, cults and ideologies.  The author begins by asking the reader to answer some important questions about life so that you can discover your own worldview.   Ridenour quotes the Bible extensively as he goes about to compare Christianity and other religions.

He begins showing how God’s word is the plumb line to define the differences between the basic truths on which Christianity was founded and what other faiths believe.  I felt that this first chapter was an excellent review for all Christians to reconfirm their beliefs. 
Once this Biblical worldview has been explored by the author he goes on to discuss what he calls the other trunks of the Christian Tree.  He looks at Roman Catholicism-the one true Church?  And Eastern Orthodoxy-just like the Catholics except for the Pope? At the end of each chapter he sums up the differences between these religions and Evangelical Protestants.  I found the explanations easy to understand and helpful when looking at my own worldview.

The next part of the book looks at the major religions of the world.  Judaism-  foundation for the Christian Faith, but still looking for the Messiah;  Islam-Allah is One, and Christ was just a prophet; Hinduism-We are all divine ; Buddhism-You yourself must make the effort.  Once again the discussions are easy to understand and the author ends the chapters by summing up the major differences between these religions and Christianity.

Part four of the book looks at cults with a very good discussion of where cults come from, their characteristics and why they grow so fast.  Ridenour looks at  Jehovah’s Witnesses-there is no hell, hard work earns paradise; Mormonism-As God is man can become; New Age-the serpent’s old lie in an updated package;-- a chapter is dedicated to each of these movements.  From here the author goes into a discussion of eleven more viewpoints that undermine, challenge or attack Biblical Christianity. These are short discussions which include a section of how these beliefs are different from Christianity.  The book ends with two appendices that give resources for further study.

I very much enjoyed this book.  The author explains other religions in a way I could understand and unfailingly compared them to evangelical Christian beliefs.  His Bible references are helpful and reassuring to the Christian view.  However, and I guess here is the BUT.  I would not say the book is unbiased but does serve as a quick reference to other beliefs and also gives the Christian reader ways of approaching those who believe differently. 

 Thanks to Linda Cliff for this post.

Ed. Note: The book is available in our library.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Moderator of the Synod of British Columbia

Our own Roy Napier was ordained as Moderator of  Synod at its October meeting.  I asked him about his new job. This is his reply.

About eight years ago, I was asked to become an elder and join the session of Saanich Peninsula PC. 
At that time, Phyllis Lindsay, a long serving elder of SPPC, was the representative elder on presbytery, and likely had served in that capacity for several years.
Phyllis saying good-bye to SPPC

When Phyllis moved to Northern BC, the session had to appoint a representative elder.
At presbytery, each congregation has a rep elder and a teaching elder (the minister). 
I was asked to  be the“rep elder” for SPPC. Initially, the meetings of presbytery were found to be extremely formal, with a great deal of due process, all governed by Book of Forms.
After serving a couple of years on presbytery, I was asked to sit on a synod commission which had to deal with a dispute within another presbytery. 
On such a commission, one quickly becomes more familiar with the processes in the Book of Forms, (B of F), the ultimate rule book of the Presbyterian Church in Canada! 
Fortunately, that commission was able to find a reasonable solution to a difficult situation.

In June 2016, the Presbytery of Vancouver Island nominated me to be the Moderator of Presbytery, and there was a service of installation at the September meeting. 
It was expected to be a one year position, but this was extended for an extra year, until September 2018. 
Generally, the role of moderator is “to be the judge only of order, and it is his/her part to “announce matters”, gather votes and cause good order to be kept.” (B of F). 
That is the relatively easy part. 

When difficulties arise in congregations, as they sometimes do, the moderator, working closely with the clerk of presbytery, is expected to follow the established processes to resolve the issues, and find the best way forward. During these past two years, some very difficult situations did arise. Working with several members of presbytery, it was possible to find a positive way forward.
Other parts of the moderator’s task are: 

  • to chair meetings,
  •  arrange worship services, 
  • serve on the administration committee,
  •  sign minutes, 
  • and appoint any commissions to deal with issues or disputes which might arise. 
  • Also, an important part of the moderator’s task is to conduct services of induction for new ministers and their congregations; there were three such services in this two year period. 
As the representative elder of SPPC, it has been an honour to serve as Moderator of Presbytery for this past two years.

In June 2018, the Presbytery of Vancouver Island nominated me to be the moderator of the 127th Synod of British Columbia, to be held at Central Presbyterian Church, in Vancouver, October 11th-13th.
Central Presbyterian's new building
On the Friday evening, as part of the regular business meeting, there was a formal service of installation. 
In the rest of the business sessions, I served as  moderator and assisted in the Sunday communion service.

When asked what is the task of moderator of synod, I expect that it will be somewhat similar to the role of moderator in presbytery. 
The term of office is for one year, and the next meeting of synod will take place in Kelowna, in October 2019. 
In the meantime, there will be administrative meetings and planning meetings for the activities of the annual meeting of synod. 
Then, there is always that great unknown of dealing appropriately with unexpected issues which may arise within the synod of BC.

It is an honour to represent SPPC on the Synod of British Columbia, and be installed as the Moderator of Synod. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Nov.11, 1918 - Nov. 11, 2018

Next Sunday is November 11, Remembrance Day.  This year's observance will be particularly poignant as it marks 100 years since the armistice that ended World War I.  In order to accommodate people who want to attend cenotaph services, SPPC will hold its worship service a little early, beginning at 9:45 am and ending a little early at 10:30 am.  That leaves worshippers time to travel to a cenotaph for the commemorative ceremonies.

Because this is such a significant Remembrance Day, various groups around Victoria are sponsoring special events all this week.  School children have already visited the Veteran's Cemetery (God's Acre) in Esquimalt in order to place a poppy on each grave marker. If you want to make your own pilgrimage, that's a good place to start.

Special events will take place all week at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse.  Participants will include the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and the  B.C. Air Museum.  If you can't make it into Victoria, just drop into the Air Museum at the airport and pay tribute to our airmen.

On Friday, Nov.9, the School of Music at U.Vic presents a concert of WWI music with Benjamin Butterfield and Kinza Tyrrell. Admission is by donation.

Sunday, Nov. 11 there will be remembrance ceremonies in all municipalities in B.C., including here on the Peninsula.  For the first time, Central Saanich will hold its service at the new cenotaph monument in Brentwood Bay. See here for a list of all services.

On Sunday afternoon, after the cenotaph ceremonies, Via Choralis is performing a concert titled "In Remembrance," 2:30 pm at St. Elizabeth's Church in Sidney.

In recognition of the significance of this Remembrance Day, the Royal Canadian Legion has coordinated the "Bells of Peace." Across Canada, bells will ring 100 times at sunset. In Sidney, the town crier will begin ringing at 4:39 pm at the Cenotaph.

Time has marched on. Memories dim. Old soldiers are laid to rest. But for those who live in freedom and peace,  "at the going down of the sun, and in the morning,/ We will remember them."