The Ridley Institute

Chris Hancock In Residence at Ridley Institute

From Bishop Steve Wood:

Chris and Suzie Hancock

Chris and Suzie Hancock

Dear St. Andrew’s Family,

I am very pleased to announce to you that The Very Rev’d Dr. Christopher Hancock and his wife, Suzie, will be resident with us at St. Andrew’s this autumn (September – December) while Chris teaches our fall Ridley course and joins our Sunday preaching rotation. Many of you will know Chris who has spoken at St. Andrew’s often over the years.

A former Dean of Bradford Cathedral, Vicar of Holy Trinity Cambridge, and professor of theology in the UK, the US, China, and India, Chris currently directs Oxford House – an international agency providing a consultancy service to government agencies, corporations and NGOs in the area of religion, social transformation and contemporary geo-politics. Chris will be joined in ministry by his wife, Suzie. In addition to her work with Chris, Suzie will also offer administrative support to the associate clergy. Suzie is currently the Academic Registrar of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University. Together, they have two married children.

Jacqui and I met Chris and Suzie while we were attending Virginia Theological Seminary where Chris was my theology professor. They have been good friends and wise counselors to us over the years. I am delighted that they will be with us this autumn. Details will follow soon on his upcoming Ridley course.

In Christ,

This post was written by TRIadmin

The Conversion of C.S. Lewis

Speaker: Dr. Jerry Root

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The Bible can’t be God’s inspired Word because…

This is third and final installment of my series looking at some of Bishop J.C. Ryle’s reasons why the Bible is God’s Word. These are taken from his sermon “Inspiration” in Old Paths, a collection of sermons on theological topics he regularly dealt with in his conversations with non-believers. Ryle wrote and ministered in the mid to late 19th century. As we will see below, this was a century of incredible advances in the sciences, and these advances raised new questions about the Bible’s reliability. As we will also see, Ryle was ready for the challenge. (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

Ash Wednesday: An Anglican Tradition?

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 8.18.16 AMAsh Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent, historically a season of fasting and penance.  The service that many will be most familiar with is a formal, sober liturgy, which includes (a) an invitation to keep a holy Lent, (b) the imposition of ashes, (c) readings from Holy Scripture, including the corporate reading of the Miserere mei Deus, (d) a corporate confession of sin, (e) the hearing of a sermon or homily and (f) the Holy Communion.  In various iterations the rite will be observed in Anglican, Roman, and Orthodox churches (Western Rite only).

My concern isn’t with the Roman or Orthodox observance of Ash Wednesday, but rather with the Anglican.  Specifically, my concern is with the claim that the observance of Ash Wednesday is part and parcel of historic Anglican liturgical practice.  Such a claim, like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire’s batting average, should come with an asterisk.  The purpose in pointing this out is not to lead a Quixotic tilting of the windmills against Ash Wednesday.  But rather to inform the reader that (a) a significant number of Anglicans have historical, theological and Biblical objections to the imposition of ashes (b) that their convictions are consistent with a stream of historic Anglicanism and (c) that such should not be made to feel “un-Anglican.”  (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

J.C. Ryle: Reasoning through the reliability of the Bible, Part 2.

“What evidence is there that the Bible is really from God?”

Last month, I began a three-part series looking at how Bishop J.C. Ryle answers this question. In his chapter “Inspiration” in Old Paths, he gives numerous reasons why the Bible is God’s inspired Word. These reasons he gave to persuade non-Christians he encountered in his ministry. In part one, I shared the first five. Here are two more that show that the Bible cannot be just a human creation:

1. There is an extraordinary unity and harmony in the contents of the Bible.

Ryle points out that the Bible was written over 1500 years by over 30 authors from multiple cultures, backgrounds, vocations, and educational levels. Most of these authors never met face to face. Each book has its own genre, setting, themes, audience, and message. Yet, despite all this particularity, they come together to proclaim one unified and consistent picture of God. They all tell one story of God, man, and salvation. Such unity and harmony is too complex a creation for even the most exacting editors.

While there are many examples of this continuity (my latest favorite is Alistair Hunter’s “dry land” re-creation theme that runs throughout the Scriptures), I’ll go with the biggest: Jesus fulfilling every office, institution, ritual, and figure of the Old Testament. There is no clearer explanation and example of this fulfillment than this short video. It is almost statistically impossible for so many variables to come together in the life of one man.

2. The Bible has had a most extraordinary effect on the condition of those nations in which it has been known, taught, and read.

While the Church hasn’t been perfect in this, Ryle invites “any honest minded reader” to concede that Christians have brought blessing to every country in which they are the majority. Ryle appeals to God’s common grace to give credence to the Bible’s inspired nature. Here are three examples.  (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

C.S. Lewis and the Road Trip from Hell

The Ridley Institute is excited to partner with the Whitfield Center at Charleston Southern and the C.S. Lewis Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 4.22.35 PMInstitute to host an evening at St. Andrew’s, Mount Pleasant on the life, writing and impact of C.S. Lewis.  On Feb 8th, St. Andrew’s will host Dr. Jerry Root and Bill Smith to discuss the topic of “C.S. Lewis and the Spiritual Journey.”  The event is free.  Doors will close and the talk will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. 

A Road Trip from Hell.  That’s the basic premise of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, an allegory wrapped in a dream about the “divorce” between heaven and hell.  The title is a play on William Blake’s poetic work The Marriage of Heaven and HellMore than a mere play on Blake’s disorienting yet nevertheless, grand work, Lewis’ title is also a critique.  “In some sense,” wrote Lewis, “the attempt to make that marriage (between Heaven and Hell) is perennial.”  He went on to write:

The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain.  This belief I take to be a disastrous error.

The lines, which come from Lewis’ preface, are something of a brusque dismissal of Blake.  Blake’s allegory presented a universe where contraries fed off one another something like an internal combustion engine.  Just as in the engine, where burning fuel and air combine to power the motor, in Blake’s universe good and evil are merely different forms of energy that join to make the universe go.  Thus morality for Blake is not so much about decisions as it is about balance.  But Lewis is having none of it.  For Lewis, Blake’s marriage of contraries doesn’t represent reality, which as Lewis points out often presents us with “an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or.”  He went on to write:

You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind.  We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre:  rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.  Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree.  It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection.  Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.

Again, grounded in an appeal to the real world, Lewis notes that even in evolutionary biology, life itself progresses through a series of decisive moments from which the world is left permanently altered.  The same is true in the realm of human decision.  As Kierkegaard learned through his broken engagement with Regine Olsen, his lifelong love and lifelong regret, there are some decisions that one makes that cannot be revisited nor mended.  Decisions, at least according to Lewis, have more than temporal consequences.  Hence Lewis’ road trip from hell, which constitutes the bread and bones of his wonderfully insightful narrative in The Great Divorce.  (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

Dodge Trucks and the Kingdom of God

This article originally appeared in “The Kingdom of God as Biblical Worldview,” the first session in Ridley’s A King Called Jesus:  A Biblical Theology of Christian Citizenship.  Registration to attend in person or participate via our livestream service remains open for two more weeks.  Sign up today!

Stories are all around us.  They’re in books.  They’re in film.  They’re in advertising.  They’re in family traditions as well as national ceremonies.  These stories shape what can be called a worldview.  Anglican Bishop and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright describes the function of worldview as the means by which we address:

the ultimate concerns of human beings…all deep-level human perceptions of reality, including the question of whether or not a god exists, what he, she, it or they is or are like, and how such a being, or such beings, might relate to the world.

For both the medieval as well as much of the modern period of Western history, Christians have enjoyed a monopoly on worldviews in the Western world.  This however, is no longer the case.  In the late modern era, which some describe as postmodernity, worldviews have proliferated like popcorn in the kettle.  Rather than one coherent worldview presented by a religious majority, now worldviews are conceived and shared by traditional majority groups such as governments and religious organizations as well as ethnic and sexual minorities as well as commercial interests such as Silicon Valley as well as entertainment interests such as Hollywood as well as …. we could go on and on. (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

J.C. Ryle: Reasoning through the reliability of the Bible

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 3.36.20 PM“How do I know that the Bible is really God’s word?”

“What evidence can you give me to prove that?”

Any Christian who has ever had a conversation with a non Christian about our faith has faced these questions.  Sure, there’s lots of information in the Bible about it’s authority, but answering this person with 2 Timothy 3:16 won’t be convincing.  So, how are we to begin to convince them?

19th Century Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle faced the same problem.  In his sermon “Inspiration” (which you can read for free here), he offers many arguments for the Bible which make even the most hardened skeptic pause.  Over the next three months,I will outline these arguments in a three part series.  I will begin where he begins: six arguments which appeal to common human experience.


This post was written by Rob Sturdy

Scrooge’s New Year

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There’s more than a bit of magic associated with the New Year.  And not the good kind.  I’m not talking of course about the “magic” of being in Times Square when the clock strikes twelve, which I’m certain would be “magical” in the sense of being awed.  Surely such a thing conveys the sense of participating in something that feels existentially grand (unless you happen to be Mariah Carey).  Rather, the magic I’m talking has more the flavor of pagan superstition and wizard’s spells.  It is quite a thing that in these modern and rapidly secularizing times, an age which increasingly prides itself on the use of reason, that we would in mass invest the changing of the calendar with the magical properties of being able to change ourselves.  And thus enter stage right, the New Year’s Resolution.


This post was written by Rob Sturdy

Curing the Holiday Blues with J.C. Ryle

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 11.04.36 AMEven the newest parish minister is familiar with the “Holiday Blues”, or Holiday Depression Syndrome as the experts call it.  From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, many people experience increased or intensified feelings of sadness.  This is experienced by Christians and non-Christians.  These feelings are primarily caused by a sense of relational loss:

  • loss of relationships one used to have (loved ones now gone due to death or relational breakdown), and/or
  • loss of relationships one does not have (not having a spouse, child, family, or close friends).

While these feelings of loss can be forgotten throughout the year, they are sharply brought to the forefront during the Holidays.  We are bombarded by images, movies, stories, and real life examples of (seemingly) idyllic, happy homecomings and families.  Every Facebook post, Christmas card, and Holiday Commercial just drives the knife in deeper.  All of this is made worse by the additional guilt, jealousy, and bitterness that comes from feeling sad when you should feel the happiest.

How can the Church (clergy and lay) bring the Gospel’s comfort to those suffering from the “Holiday Blues”?  Certainly, it is always wise to help them see the idol they can make of relationships, but that’s not the only comfort.   In his chapter entitled “The Great Gathering” in Practical Religion, Victorian Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle reminds us of another comforting dimension of the Gospel:  the great gathering of believers at Christ’s return. (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

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