The polls are unequivocal. The vast majority of African-Americans resent the left's comparison of sexual sin to the color of their skin. They understandably find such dishonest parallels both repugnant and highly offensive. --- Matt Barber
Revelation and illumination. The human mind is both finite and fallen, and will neither understand nor believe without the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. It is not only necessary that he should have given an objective revelation. We need his subjective illumination too. If I were to take a blindfold man to the ceremony of unveiling of some stone tablet, two processes would be necessary before he could read the inscription. First, the tablet must be unveiled (and of course 'revelation' means unveiling). Second, the bandage must be taken from his eyes. Similarly, it is not enough that God through his Spirit has unveiled the truth in Christ. The veil must be removed from our eyes as well. --- John R.W. Stott
The theological issues which divide Christians, both between traditions, and as we have seen, internally, are certainly very significant. However, this must not obscure the fact that behind these contentious issues of our day lies very deep theological agreement which much careful, ongoing dialogue, at both international and national levels, and of an official and unofficial nature, continues to discover. Taking our lead from Pope Francis, Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics remain determined to walk together in defence of the environment, in seeking justice for migrants, protection for persecuted Christians, and to fight poverty, and by so doing to experience that communion which comes before all conflict. --- Anthony Currer
The Pope has reportedly urged non-Catholics not to convert. In July 2014, he told a group of Evangelicals at a lunch in Rome: "I'm not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community." As cardinal, he once reportedly said the Anglican Ordinariate "was quite unnecessary" as the universal Church needs those wishing to convert to stay "as Anglicans." --- Edward Pentin in the NC Register
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
January 22, 2016
To repent or not to repent, that is the question. This week the Episcopal Church through its Presiding Bishop Michael Curry made it very clear he and they would not repent of their sins of endorsing pansexuality, allowing gay marriage and changing the Church's canons and constitution to do so.
In fact, if you read carefully what Curry said, he made it clear the Episcopal Church would not change direction: "We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on. It may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God's children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it's a part of our vocation to help that to happen."
The subtext is this. TEC is not going to change. They say they will forget repentance, and if possible they will turn the tables over time on the Communion and see the rest of the Anglican world accept their point of view on pansexuality! In other words, they will use their vast financial resources to coerce, cajole and finally win over as many Anglican provinces as they can while Curry is Presiding Bishop. Africa, Asia and Latin America: you have been warned. TEC still thinks it holds the keys to the Anglican kingdom, and this temporary three year setback is nothing. The long term outlook is ours, is the message Curry conveyed. The Culture Wars are in his favor over the universal adoption of gay marriage. Time is on his side, and he has a president who is also on his side, Scripture be damned. However, Curry might heed the words of Sir Thomas More in A Man for all Seasons when he said to Master Richard Rich, "And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?"
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, was even more belligerent and said this: "I want to assure you that nothing about what the primates have said will change the actions of General Convention that have, over the past four decades, moved us toward full inclusion and equal marriage. And regardless of the primates' vote, we Episcopalians will continue working with Anglicans across the globe to feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate children, and heal the world. Nothing that happens at a primates' meeting will change our love for one another or our commitment to serving God together."
Then she blew smoke right up the Primates' robes and said this: "The practical consequences of the primates' action will be that, for three years, Episcopalians will not be invited to serve on certain committees, or will be excluded from voting while they are there. However, the primates do not have authority over the Anglican Consultative Council, the worldwide body of bishops, clergy and lay people that facilitates the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion."
So now comes the "fun" part. The man in the middle then is no longer the Archbishop of Canterbury, who thinks he has kept the Anglican ship of state afloat for at least the next three years. No, the man who now must face the music is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, a Nigerian archbishop whose boss, Nicholas Okoh, is implacably opposed to sodomy and has his own Anglican branch office in America called CANA -- the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Foley Beach!
If Beach ever applied for membership in the Anglican Communion he would have to go through the ACO, where his application would be surely denied. Fearon recognizes that TEC alone is the sole owner of the Anglican franchise in North America. However, such a rejection would ruffle the feathers of Okoh. Furthermore, with the GAFCON primates in impaired and broken communion with TEC one wonders what relevance the ACO has anymore. Fearon is walking on broken glass and he may find a few shards penetrating his feet as he walks alongside TEC and the Anglican Communion over the next three years.
Fearon came out firmly against homosexuality. It is not biblically allowable and his province will not recognize homosexuality as a legitimate sexuality. However, he can't afford to say too much against sodomy or the money he gets from TEC (some $400,000 a year, or $1.2 million over three years) will dry up and he will be out of a job. He dare not bite the hand that feeds him.
He tried to fudge a response at the press conference following the meeting of Primates when he said this: "There are gays and lesbians in Africa. Our cultures do not support the promotion of this kind of lifestyle. They do not propagate it as a way of life. The problem is of strong groups from outside Africa coming to impose what is culturally unacceptable. If the West would leave Africans alone, we know how to live together in our differences. I would not support the word lobby. The primates make clear that the Anglican Church would always make room for pastoral care and concern for those who have different sexual orientation, so let the church make everyone feel at home."
However, it is not pastoral care that homosexuals and lesbians want. They want full and total acceptance of their lifestyle with no strings attached or holds barred. They want an equal playing field with heterosexuals and they will stop at nothing until they get it.
I saw plenty of evidence of this on the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral while the press conference was being held inside. A group of about 30 mostly young Africans led by Peter Tatchell, England's leading queer and human rights campaigner, held up placards and screamed, "Anglicans, repent your homophobia" and "We are African LGBTI Anglicans."
Inside the press room, Archbishop Welby opined, "The group outside of LGBTI people with Peter Tatchell remind us of the pain and suffering of many LGBTI people around the world where they are criminalized. I have deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality. I want to take the opportunity to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain that the church has caused and the love that we fail to show in many parts of the world. It causes people to doubt they are loved by God. I want to say sorry personally."
In saying this he managed to appease the some 105 bishops and deans who had earlier written to him asking him to formally apologize to the LGBTQ crowd at Canterbury. He kept that promise.
At the press conference Welby put his own spin on what happened. "The week has been complicated and up and down with much to talk about in ways that were quite difficult. As we went through it was clear that everyone had come with a desire to listen. The spirit was good. We were all together. On Wednesday everyone indicated they wanted the churches to walk together. It was a public unanimous vote.
"I am pleased we decided to walk together. It is clear that it is not for us to divide the body of Christ, the church. The unity shown by the primates here is going to be costly and painful; as well as joyful and remarkable. We are a church in 165 countries alone, with 38 provinces, with 2000 languages and 4500 cultures. One thing we do say is that we love and seek to serve Jesus Christ. We also sin and fail and need to seek forgiveness."
He asked rhetorically, "What does it mean to walk together?"
"My primary fear for the majority of Christian communities and Anglican communion churches is the violence they face daily. The risk in the Congo for a woman going to get water of being raped, of [being blown up] going to church in Pakistan." He said the Primates' best couple of hours of the week was when they joyfully committed to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ unceasingly and to all. "We decided that we will have a Lambeth Conference in 2020."
Welby also talked about a fixed date for Easter. "After meeting with the Coptic Pope and with Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, we wish to join with Pope Tawadros in unifying and fixing the date of Easter celebrated by the global church. Tawadros put forward the idea of the 2nd or 3rd Sunday in April.
"There was a very moving and powerful discussion on refugees -- 1 million in Tanzania alone with far fewer resources to deal with the issue -- it is a huge issue around the communion. We also looked at corruption, tribalism and ethnicity and what church leaders can do to tackle these issues that face hundreds of millions of people."
During question time Welby said the process of TEC was "complicated."
"The issue for the meeting was much more that they (TEC) went ahead with a basic change ahead of the rest and without consultation. We have no power to sanction. But if any province [behaves in such a way] on a major issue on how the church is run or believes there will be consequences."
Welby said several times that the word "sanction" was not the correct word. It was "consequence." But sanction was the word used by Archbishop Foley Beach and most reporters seemed to think that TEC was being sanctioned. Of course by using the softer language, Welby hopes to keep TEC at the table, or conversely bring them back three years from now regardless of whether there is any repentance or not.
Actions have consequences, but the issue will be to what degree they will be enforced three years from now.
Welby made it clear that the Episcopal Church will play a full part on moral issues of refugees, corruption, evangelism, and worship -- but not on issues of doctrine and how we run ourselves for the moment. There would be a similar response to other subjects, he said.
Ironically, the liberal South African archbishop Thabo Makgoba, whose province has been bought and paid for by TEC over the years and is the only serious liberal province on the African continent (though others might be turning), said, "We are a household and we have ways that govern a household. There are consequences if there is divergence on how we operate. TEC has amended its [doctrine] without observing process." So nothing about truth--just process.
When asked how concerned he was about how LGBT people will receive this news, Makgoba said, "We are a church of those who support people in same-sex unions and of those who oppose this. We are all created in the image of God. The decision is not seen as sanctions. We are hoping we are doing it for the good of the church and its impact on of all God's people."
Welby then chimed in saying, "We are all concerned to make the strongest statement on the issue of the criminalizing of LGBTI people."
When asked if there is a desire or attempt by the Church to influence governments in Africa in an effort to reverse criminalization, Welby said the basic answer is yes. "We would love to see a change. A lot of African governments say we have heard quite enough from the former colonial power about how we live. We want our own situation to demonstrate a good example that helps overseas. The CofE was one of the first churches to campaign against the criminalization of gay people under Archbishops Michael Ramsey in 1960s."
Welby said the condemnation of homophobia was not in the joint resolution -- someone leaked it a day early.
The make-up of the press panel consisted of primates from liberal provinces like South Africa and Hong Kong. The ultra-liberal UK reporter Stephen Bates asked, "If you are all walking together, why is no GAFCON Primate on the Press Conference Panel?" Welby replied that the last one left 20 minutes ago.
Questioned on membership for the ACNA in the Anglican Communion, Welby replied that that was a matter for the Anglican Consultative Council but that invitations to the Lambeth Conference are the prerogative of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When asked if he will invite the ACNA to Lambeth 2020, Welby replied, "I do not know."
When I asked the Archbishop of Canterbury what assurances he would give that things would not be swept under the rug if The Episcopal Church does nothing to repent, he replied, "See what happened this week. We spent 2.5 days working on this point. Everyone was listened to with great care. We have no idea what will happen in three years' time. I cannot speak for other primates -- as to what happens in three years' time. This week we were primates of the Anglican Communion, not GAFCON Primates nor anyone else."
When asked what they would do if Canada goes ahead to approve gay marriage, Welby replied, "We will cross that bridge when we come to it."
When asked if the majority reaffirmed traditional teaching of the Church on marriage, Welby replied, "That is private."
However, a source told VOL that the voting was 27 yes, 3 no with 6 abstaining. The three nos were The Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Canada and the Scottish Episcopal Church.
When questioned on the traditional doctrine of the church on marriage between a man and a woman, Welby replied, "A number of provinces are examining their futures. There was not a formal vote on that. We seldom take votes."
Panel Primate Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong, said the Holy Spirit is not finished with us. "All God's people need to move." "People," he said, "misunderstand...dialogue is not to convince but to understand." He also said the atmosphere was much better than those of previous meetings he had attended (four so far). "The atmosphere could not be better."
Makgoba said, "We washed each other's feet at our closing service. There was a closeness after a hard working week." Welby said the healing impact of Jean Vanier's addresses were enormous. "It was a powerful moment."
When questioned whether it was all worth it, if it is so difficult to be together, Kwong said, "It is worth it to address this issue, but it is not the only issue. The communion is a responsible body. The communion has to be relevant."
Welby described the meeting as "painful," and Makgoba said the critical issue is not a church-dividing matter.
When asked if the communique would free up time for mission, Welby said, "Every ABC comes into the post thinking if I can deal with this, then we will be all right and then other things come. It is always an illusion that there is just one more thing to deal with. This issue concerns the dignity of the human being and the value we attach to them.
"We established this as a way to deal with church-dividing issues in any area. You are entitled to go off on your own -- if you ignore that there will be consequences. That is how it has always worked. There will still be consequences."
When asked why the Primate of Uganda left early, Welby said he didn't know. "He did not speak to me before he left." That is too disingenuous. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali left with a statement that VOL posted. He had even more to say when he returned to Africa. Here is the essence of what he said: "Sadly, after two long days of discussions, I was concerned that the process set up for this meeting would not permit us to address the unfinished business from the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam. In accordance with the resolution of our Provincial Assembly, it was, therefore, necessary for me to withdraw from the meeting, which I did at the end of the second day. It seemed that I was being manipulated into participating in a long meeting with the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada without the necessary discipline being upheld. My conscience is at peace."
However, it should be noted that Ntagali had no option but to leave, unlike the other GAFCON primates who are in impaired communion. His province is in broken communion with TEC and he was not permitted by his province to stay. That the remaining GAFCON primates stayed was attributed to the fact that some 21 archbishops were new, and to bring them up to speed the GAFCON primates needed to stay or else see them sliced and diced by the ABC and his "reconciling" handlers. They feared the new archbishops would be swayed by Philip Groves of the "Listening Process" as well as other Western leftist archbishops who are pushing for full LGBTQI acceptance and inclusion. The decision of the other GAFCON primates to stay was clearly the right strategy.
When asked what his hopes and fears are for the Lambeth Conference 2020, Welby replied that he hoped (somehow) to get the money. "I hope it's a conference that affirms and that does not hurt people and that glorifies God. People to celebrate the love and joy and welcome of Jesus Christ with passion and renewed to serve God which is so dark at the moment."
This is going to be awkward because in times past The Episcopal Church has been the biggest funder of the Lambeth Conferences. If they are not invited because they refuse to repent after their 2018 General Convention and the Task Force set up to deal with the issue has not repented, what will become of TEC's status? (This question would also apply to the Canadian church if it changes its marriage canons.) If TEC gets an invite (and presumably comes up with a check to pay for the conference) this will show the Task Force was nothing but a ruse to keep TEC at the table.
Furthermore, if ACNA Archbishop Foley Bishop, who is de facto an archbishop because he is a GAFCON primate, is not invited will the GAFCON and Global South archbishops show up? Will we have a repeat of 2008?
Predictably Episcopal Church bishops began a long slow whine about how disenfranchised and hurt gays and lesbians would be by the Canterbury communique, and they promised not to heed anything the archbishops decided. Typical of their responses was that of the Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher, Bishop of Western Massachusetts who wrote, "The Episcopal Church is not backing down on our support for same-sex marriage and for the dignity and equality of LGBTQ persons. But I also, as a Bishop in the Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion, apologize to LBGTQ persons. This decision by the Primates is hurtful for you -- you who are God's creation and beloved by God as you are. I wish they had never said what they did and I support you."
Such belligerence will be noted three years from now when the next General Convention meets and TEC has still not repented. What will the Task Force set up by the Primates report to the ABC? Who then will show up in 2020 for the next Lambeth Conference? Comment: Changes okay?
British writer Julian Mann put it well when he wrote, "GAFCON needs to make clear soon that it will not participate in Lambeth 2020 if the ACNA bishops are not invited. If it does not publicly lay down this condition, then that would allow the revisionist institutional narrative to gain momentum in the Anglican Communion. As is evident from the statement above, that narrative is that the formation of ACNA constitutes a breach of Anglican order on a par with TEC's running ahead of the Communion on same-sex 'marriage'."
One person, a canon lawyer, said clearly that Primates' ruling was not binding. Professor Norman Doe said the communique issued by the Primates in Canterbury last week does not bind anyone because the Primates' meeting has no jurisdiction. It represented "completely unacceptable interference" with the autonomy of the bodies to whom it had issued requirements.
"I find it utterly extraordinary," the director of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University, Professor Norman Doe, said on Tuesday. "No instrument exists conferring upon the Primates' meeting the jurisdiction to 'require' these things. . . Whatever they require is unenforceable."
Professor Doe confirmed, "The decision will not bind anyone -- not the Episcopal Church. There is no question of that." It was for the bodies referred to in the communique to determine what, if any, consequences the Episcopal Church should face, he said.
So the communique constituted "completely unacceptable interference with the autonomy of each of these bodies as they transact their own business."
The events of the past week highlighted the consequences of the Communion's failure to adopt the Anglican Covenant, Professor Doe suggested. He spoke as a member of the Lambeth Commission, which had proposed the Covenant and helped to draft it.
"What we have with the Primates' meeting is an assumption of authority which has no basis in law."
Not so fast, said the Rev. Peter Ould, an Anglican commentator. He called such talk "utter nonsense."
Here are two simple things to remember. First, the liberals are absolutely right (the ones who claim the Primates have no statutory power to demand such a sanction/consequence). Comment: Change okay? Secondly, this doesn't matter in the slightest. The sanction/consequence is still going to happen because the force behind them is not one of law but one of love.
This is Ould's response: "You see, what those criticizing this Communique don't understand is, we are now in a process of reconciliation between the Primates, and this is the path (the consequences) that the Primates have agreed is the way forward. TEC isn't instructed to do anything with any legal force, because grace doesn't operate like that. They are simply asked, requested, implored to do this. These requested actions are the one thing that will stop the Communion falling apart and they are requested in a spirit of love.
"It is now entirely in TEC's hands as to whether we stay together as one body. TEC can recognize in the spirit of love and grace that the Communique was written in that they have indeed broken the shared vision of Jesus' ministry that we all have together, that that requires reflection and potentially repentance and that the consequences in the Communique deliver us the path to such reflection, repentance and reconciliation. Or, TEC can operate out of a place of defiance, demand its legal rights and simply answer love and grace with obstinacy.
"But one thing is clear to me - for a liberal church that keeps on repeating the mantra 'Grace, not Law,' there's incredible ability to revert to law the moment that grace isn't working out for them. Funny that."Comment: Quotes correct here?
I have posted some of the best commentary on the Primates meeting from around the Anglican Communion in today's digest. These responses come from Andrew Symes, Chris Sugden, Vinay Samuel, Ephraim Radner, Gavin Ashenden, Julian Mann, Peter Ould, Bill Atwood, and your humble scribe. The British broadsheets are so pro-gay they cannot be trusted to be remotely objective, and some North American Episcopal bloggers did more guessing than anything as they were not present.
I have written a piece about how Presiding Bishop Michael Curry used his being black to manipulate the archbishops. He said, "I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain." It was a brilliant move by the black US Presiding Bishop to use his color in Canterbury following the vote to discipline the American Episcopal Church by 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion. He shrewdly linked his color and race with his church's adoption of pansexuality. What he said and inferred is that slavery and homosexuality are linked (in his mind) and that what whites did to blacks in the US, blacks (GAFCON primates) are now doing to homosexuals.
It is a huge lie of course, but it makes for a great emotional and personal headline and would probably get him on the Oprah Winfrey show if it was still running. Black leaders of the Global South never bought this argument--and they shouldn't. There is no connection. Slavery and slavery to sexual sin are quite different matters. You can read my take in today's digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/j88uuwm
While Anglicans agreed to disagree in Canterbury over the question of same-sex marriage, John Cunningham and John Johnston were married in the City of London by the Rev. Joost Röselaers, The Guardian reported. Interestingly, the London ceremony wasn't a blessing or a carefully cobbled together service after a civil ceremony. It was a proper marriage, something the current CofE hierarchy has banned its priests from performing. However, the Rev Joost Röselaers, minister of the Dutch church in Austin Friars, is able to conduct the ceremony because of a little-known historical loophole. In 1550, Edward VI granted a charter to Protestant refugees living in London, giving them the same privileges as the CofE. He permitted the Dutch "freely and quietly to practise, enjoy, use and exercise their own rites and ceremonies, and their own ecclesiastical discipline, notwithstanding that they do not conform with the rites and ceremonies used in our Kingdom, without impeachment, disturbance or vexation."
The irony should not be missed. While the Church of England agonizes over homosexuality, the latest figures have been released and showed the CofE in rapid decline. Britain is losing its religion, but nobody seems that bothered, writes Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator.
A new book Why No Religion is the New Religion is based on responses from 1500 respondents and suggests most white Brits have no religion. Among the under 40s of all racial groups, 56 percent are non-religious and 31 percent are Christian. Brits are no longer reflexively CofE but not-religious.
Sunday attendance has slumped by 22,000 to 765,000 as older worshippers die. The Archbishop of Canterbury warns of struggle in "anti-Christian culture." Only 1.4 percent of the population of England now attends Anglican services on a typical Sunday morning.
Even the Church's preferred "weekly" attendance figures, which include those at mid-week or extra services, have slipped below one million for the first time ever.
"Given the age profile of the CofE, the next few years will continue to have downward pressure as people die or become housebound and unable to attend church."
The falling away from faith is the kind of thing that should be keeping Anglican leaders awake at night because it is the biggest cultural shift of the age. The reasons for it are almost too obvious to talk about -- the failure to transmit faith between the generations being the most obvious. If people can't make the minimal effort to attend even an Anglican Evensong, the most perfect liturgy in English, and rub shoulders with the septuagenarians who really are keeping the faith, Anglican leaders don't deserve an Established Church. And when they're down to the last few thousand Christians in Britain, they can reflect that it's all their fault.
It might also have something to do with the fact that no clear certain gospel trumpet is heard in the land and people are dying without Christ.
Forward in Faith North America issued a statement on the Primates meeting. Dr. Michael Howell wrote, "With all Christians who submit to Biblical authority within the historic Church, Forward in Faith North America rejoices in the recent statement by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in support of marriage defined as a covenant between one man and one woman. Our members within The Episcopal Church, often marginalized or treated as a tolerated minority, are encouraged to hear that our position is upheld by the vast majority of our international leaders. Our members within the Anglican Church in North America welcome both the statement itself, as well as the full inclusion at every level at the meeting of Archbishop Foley Beach. All of our members are heartened by the small step taken in Godly discipline towards those who have acted unilaterally in presuming to redefine Biblical marriage."
Orthodox Anglican parishes now number nearly 1,200 in the US. The Fellowship of Concerned Churchman reports that its online directory of orthodox Anglican/Episcopal parishes (anglicanchurches.net) now numbers nearly 1,200.
Current information on the final collection of jurisdictions is available and the earlier sub-total of 969 parishes in the U.S. and Canada has added a further 224 parishes for a total of 1,193. By contrast, the FCC counted 1,141 in its parish database in 2011. This now includes 15 jurisdictions from the Charismatic Episcopal Church with some 66 parishes. Among other jurisdictions were 22 and 18 from the Anglican Orthodox Southern Episcopal Church (formerly the Southern Episcopal Church) and Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite, reports the FCC.
I will play catch up with news from North America next week. I am in the process of sending out letters and emails in response to your donations. Please be patient. I am on the road again, this time in Charleston SC covering the annual Mere Anglican conference and attending a Global Anglican Leadership conference of which I am a member.
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