The following text is taken from an interview David Virtue gave to Peter Menkin and posted by Examiner.com. It provides details and insight into the mission behind VIrtueonline and its service to the Evangelical Church and the Global Anglican Communion.
1. Your site Virtueonline draws 4,000 hits a day. if I am not mistaken. Further, as a 501©3 the non-profit takes in donations in the amount of about $150,000 annually. Tell us something of the why and the how of your success. What brings people to your website, and what brings them to give? Will you provide us with examples of why they come and your method of soliciting gifts?
ANSWER: Thank you for asking Peter. VOL’s success has been because we have stuck to the essentials of the gospel within the framework of historic, reformational, evangelical Anglicanism. We have never tried to hide our identity. We have also engaged the Culture Wars within the Anglican Communion and have not vied away from presenting sound biblical apologetics as we face critical theological, moral and social issues.
People give because they see VOL as a safe harbor for their views. They want to know that someone out there reflects their point of view. I was in Charleston, SC recently and met a priest for the first time. He said he lived in Western Washington surrounded by liberals far from other orthodox Anglicans. He said VOL was a daily lifeboat for him. He was able to read something that touched him and made him continue on the pathway he had chosen. I was very moved by this. About four times a year I go to a database I have and make a one-page appeal. I simply state my needs, no histrionics, no loud proclamations that I am the only voice out there. I do have more than 20 years of history now so VOL is a trusted source for the four million or so who go annually to the website.
2. They say you are a conservative or a traditionalist in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. Give us some examples of what this means, and tell us what brought you as a man of faith to this kind of viewpoint. Can you give us a taste of your educational perspective, a teacher’s influence, or a class you took? Maybe even an experience in your life? Or you tell us in your own words.
ANSWER: Because of the political nature and overtones of the word “conservative” I have vied away from using that word. The word “traditional” has largely applied to our Anglo-Catholic brothers and sisters and I would not want to take it away from them. I prefer the word “orthodox” (small o) to explain my position. I have loved the word “evangelical” but it has been coopted by American Fundamentalists of late and, regrettably, it has lost much of its theological currency.
My own history began among a group called the Plymouth Brethren, a group better known in the UK than the USA. I got my solid biblical foundation there, but came under the influence of the Rev. John R.W. Stott at All Souls Langham Place in London in the 60s. While there have been some twists and turns over the years, my wife and I have been Episcopalians from the early 80s and have been associated with an evangelical charismatic Episcopal congregation in Paoli, PA till very recently.
My pilgrimage can best be described as a growing disillusionment with free-wheeling, unstructured “happy clappy” Free Church evangelicalism (I am not totally opposed to praise choruses in small doses) and my growing need for a structure which the Book of Common Prayer provided. I once had a brief conversation with Archbishop Carey’s wife about her growing up in the Plymouth Brethren. Her pilgrimage seemed to parallel my own. The Rev. Dr. Ian Markham president of Virginia Theological Seminary echoed much the same sentiment and journey. My studies took me first to London Bible College, London University in the 60s, then on the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, then Regent College, UBC in Vancouver BC. I received a Doctor of Divinity from Laud Seminary. I have been deeply influenced over the years by men such as Bishop J.C. Ryle. John R.W. Stott, Dr. J.I. Packer and Dr. Michael Green.
3. Speak to us of our current American Presiding Bishop. She has been a controversial figure in many quarters and in some thought of as a special choice of liberalism and even popular among some. Why was she chosen Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church? Put on your Swami’s Hat and give us your thoughts on who we have coming next as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, if you will.
ANSWER: Yes I believe she was chosen because the Episcopal Church was ready for a woman leader. The church had voted for an openly gay bishop – Gene Robinson of New Hampshire – so the church was ripe for change from an all-male leadership. She had a Ph.D. she was smart, but theologically thin. She was politically correct on all the hot button issues and she appealed to a wide swathe of Episcopalians who wanted to see a progressive figure at the helm of the church. She was a perfect for them. For orthodox Episcopalians it has been disastrous. The constant lawsuits over properties for over a decade now running an estimated $40 million, the inhibitions, her rejection of the need for a personal faith in Christ has galvanized orthodox Episcopalians into thinking that she cannot possibly hold the church together with its diversity. They see her as demanding capitulation to the church’s pansexual agenda and that has been a no-no to them. Women’s Ordination, once considered a matter of conscience is now the law of the church, no diocese may not ordain women to the priesthood. These lines in the sand have now made it impossible for Anglo-Catholic dioceses like Ft. Worth. Quincy, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Pittsburgh to stay in The Episcopal Church and so the Anglican Church in North America was born.
Who will be the next PB? My take is that at least two African American bishops have a shot at it. The first is the Bishop of Atlanta, the Rt. Rev. Robert Christopher Wright. The other is the Bishop of Maryland, the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton. Among white candidates, Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut would be a contender as would Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas. They are all liberal in theology and ethos but far less strident and ideological than the present Presiding Bishop. My sense is that a new generation of bishops coming into TEC are far less ideological than previous bishops like Frank Griswold, Tom Shaw, John Chane, Jon Bruno, Jack Spong, Gene Robinson, et al. I believe the newer cast of bishops want to lower the tone of the debate in the culture wars and get on with the church’s mission to grow their dioceses. If they don’t most of them will be juncturing with other dioceses in the next 5 to 10 years. In recent months’ two dioceses – Central Florida and Pittsburgh – both elected evangelicals. This might be the beginning of a trend but I would not bet on it.
4. I just think that I’m not fair to our readers or even to myself if I fail to ask you about homosexual marriage. Where did it come from and how come it has become so prevalent? Why the tremendous success of this movement among Episcopalians and in the United States. Pick an area of this of your choice and speak to this for I know it is a favorite subject of your website. You are welcome to quote from your website here, if you wish.
ANSWER: Yes, homosexual marriage has become the sine qua non of the pansexual movement within The Episcopal Church. I wrote definitively about it this past week. You can read it here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=18767
My main points are that you cannot change the ontology or cosmology of human sexual behavior to satisfy a very small handful of persons whose inclinations are towards those of the same sex. I believe this is an aberration, albeit a cultural aberration that will not last forever. Meantime it has turned the Episcopal Church inside out, caused the fabric of the Anglican Communion to be torn and alienated the vast majority of Global South Anglicans resulting in abstentions from the Lambeth Conference and Primatial gatherings called by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
5. Thank you so much for your willingness to answer questions. I do hope you will answer anything you think I have missed, that is any matter on your mind you wish to comment on here. It has been a pleasure making your acquaintance.
Thank you again Peter. I would like to comment on the possibility of schism in the Anglican Communion.
Many have asked and many believe that schism is a real possibility in the Anglican Communion because the West’s proclamation and acceptance of pansexuality. I think the answer is that we now have a de facto schism but not a de jure schism. One of the phrases often repeated by Global South Primates is that “we don’t need to go through Canterbury to get to Jesus”. That is true. There is still nonetheless emotional and historical ties to Canterbury that will not soon be broken. The reason is that the Global South are in a holding pattern. They don’t need to do anything. They can simply wait it out. They are growing by the millions in Africa, (less so) in Asia and Latin America, while Western Pan Anglicanism is withering and dying. The Anglican Province of Nigeria has more than 20 million practicing Anglicans. By contrast the Episcopal Church has less than 700,000 ASA, the Anglican Church of Canada has about 300,000 ASA and the Church of England about 1.2 million.
The crouching lion is Africa. If they wanted to pounce and end it all they could, but they don’t want to do that. They will continue to comment on the state of things in the Anglican Communion as Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala does from time to time. Meantime they wait and pray. I believe the evangelical Archbishop Justin Welby has the best shot at healing the wounds of the Anglican Communion but he will have to be more definitive in his stand on moral issues. The road ahead is still strewn with theological and moral boulders.
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