What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb. But what if some novel contagion tries to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty. What if in antiquity itself two or three men, or it may be a city, or even a whole province be detected in error? Then he will take the greatest care to prefer the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if there are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a few men. But what if some error arises regarding which nothing of this sort is to be found? Then he must do his best to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided always that, though they belonged to diverse times and places, they yet continued in the faith and communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers approved and outstanding. And whatever he shall find to have been held, approved and taught, not by one or two only but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation. --- -Vincentian Canon (Fifth Century)
Pharisaic ambition. The Pharisaic spirit still haunts every child of Adam today. It is easy to be critical of Christ's contemporaries and miss the repetition of their vainglory in ourselves. Yet deeply ingrained in our fallen nature is this thirst for the praise of men. It seems to be a devilish perversion of our basic psychological need to be wanted and to be loved. We hunger for applause, fish for compliments, thrive on flattery. It is the plaudits of men we want; we are not content with God's approval now or with his 'Well done, good and faithful servant' on the last day. Yet, as Calvin put it: 'What is more foolish, nay, what is more brutish, than to prefer the paltry approval of men to the judgment of God?' --- "The Gospel According to St John" from "Christ the Controversialist" by John R. W. Stott
Self-centredness. By 'sin' the Bible means self-centredness. God's order is that we love him first, our neighbour next and ourselves last. Sin is precisely the reversal of this order. It is to put ourselves first, our neighbour next (when it suits our convenience), and God somewhere in the distant background. --- From "Your Confirmation"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
CANTERBURY. Nearly 600 bishops of the Anglican Communion are gathered here at this once in a decade event. The Episcopal Church is dominating it with high profile media/press coverage, picking up the tab for Sudanese bishops, making the most noise, and getting the most secular media coverage in the press. In short, the Americans are calling the shots - with gusto -- , believing as they do that nothing will change, either during or after Lambeth. They know that the Archbishop will never discipline or even suggest that their actions are schismatic, even though in a sermon today he used the word "schism", but never defined it.
Classically, schism is not those who leave from an heretical situation, but those who propose the changes that cause schism. The Archbishop of Canterbury will not come out and say that, which leaves one of two questions; he is either naive (which he is not) or he is not willing to state the truth to the communion's largest financial backer.
Regardless, the Lambeth Conference is in financial trouble and you can read my story in today's digest. So the word is, if he were willing to let Bishop Gene Robinson in as a full participant, , the financial problems just might magically disappear. We shall see.
The difference between Lambeth and GAFCON is also becoming more apparent by the moment, so much so that the usually pro-CofE, Lambeth supporter and writer for the "Times", Ruth Gledhill opined that she was starting to see GAFCON in a more positive light. It's hard not to.
"There's nothing like a Lambeth Conference or two to swing me back into the conservative camp. Here I am, separated from the leaders of the Anglican Communion, of which I happen to be a covenanting member, by a ten- foot wall. I've helped pay for this! Oh it makes me so cross," wrote Gledhill.
The truth is the seven or eight- foot wall, complete with security guards, begs the question, why does Lambeth need them? Who shoots liberal bishops, for heaven's sake? Gene Robinson along with his June bride is days away from arriving at the great marquee to do his dog and pony show for pansexuality complete so why all the security? . With the absence of the feisty African bishops (Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) and with the more demure CAPA African bishops less vocal, the Americans are having a field day and they are doing it with gusto.
The Episcopal PR machine is churning out daily news briefs, stories, and video with pro-gay lobbyists button-holing anyone they can to sell the story that homogenital behavior is just another inclusive behavior we should all accept even if at the end of your life you may go to Hell. Let's not spoil the party. Let Gene in, NOW. Mrs. Jefferts Schori is putting the proverbial thumb screws to Rowan Williams who is apparently holding out... but who knows, the Anglican Communion can turn on a dime. And you ain't seen nuthin' yet. It is still early in the proceedings and the heat has yet to be turned up to 400 degrees by the pansexualists.
If Williams had hoped for a sweetness and light, Indaba non-event he sorely misread the queue cards. Together, the Americans and the Canadians, along with liberal Church of England bishops, are turning up the heat and in short order it will be 'show time'. The one unknown factor will be the CAPA bishops and if they show any strength and are willing to speak out against the TEC publicity machine.
ONE story that begged to be written is that the Lambeth Conference is no longer the definer of Anglican identity. That day is gone. Lambeth is among a network of Anglican definers that includes GAFCON and Common Cause Partnership. With boundaries being crossed by African and Latin bishops, it is no longer possible to see Lambeth as the b-all and end- all of the Anglican Communion. It is not. Many now believe that unless there is a resolution to the present crisis,this might well be the last Lambeth. I have written a story documenting that at least 450 plus orthodox Anglican bishops are not here for one reason or another and that that situation cannot go on indefinitely.
As one blogger noted, "It's like a Jim Jones kool-aid party. Not content with their own suicide, the Episcopal Church (TEC) wants the Anglican Communion to drink their kool-aid, too. The TEC was defying the very much downward trend of other mainstream denominations into the early 2000's. But then they stamped out the Gospel and replaced with a political agenda culminating with Mr. Robinson's ordination. The result was that the TEC wass the fastest declining denomination last year, and this year will be much, much worse. So go ahead and drink deep."
You can read all the latest LAMBETH stories in today's digest. More are posted every day and you can go to www.virtueonline.org for a quick pick me up on the latest.
The ARCHBISHOP OF WALES came out with an announcement this week that his church could appoint Britain's first gay bishop. Dr Barry Morgan. He told The "Sunday Telegraph" that practicing homosexuals should not be barred from becoming bishops. He accused conservative Anglicans of being "exclusive" and narrow-minded in their opposition to gay clerics. His comments, which come on the eve of the Lambeth Conference, could inflame the already bitter controversy over homosexuality.
Dr Morgan said that he was in agreement with the decision of the American church five years ago to consecrate the homosexual cleric Gene Robinson as a bishop - a move that has pushed the Anglican Church to the brink of schism. He said that if his fellow bishops in the church in Wales voted for a practising homosexual priest to be consecrated, he would back their decision and approve it.
THE fallout from the recent CHURCH OF ENGLAND Synod over the vote to allow women bishops took a bad turn when Fr Jonathan Baker submitted his resignation from the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group to its Chairman, the Bishop of Manchester. "I am unable to commend simple draft legislation which is coupled with a Code of Practice to Synod and the wider Church, and therefore consider it inappropriate that I continue to serve on the committee charged with so doing. I have argued consistently that a Code of Practice cannot address the fundamental ecclesiological and sacramental concerns of those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate. The implementation of simple legislation and a Code of Practice will effectively bring to an end the period of open reception on the disputed question of the ordination of women which has enabled members of the Church of England with differing views to live together in one Church since 1994. A Code of Practice can, therefore, be only short-term provision, lacking theological integrity as well as legal security."
There you have it. What lies next for the Church of England's traditionalists is anyone's guess. Some of their priests will flee to Rome, some to Orthodoxy and some will hope against hope that some provision will be made, over time, for them. In the U.S., it is a different matter altogether although they are further down the road. When the last two remaining traditionalist dioceses - Ft. Worth and Quincy - vote to leave TEC, it will be the end of Anglo-Catholicism in the Episcopal Church forever. A few remaining parishes will either conform or be snuffed out., Ttheir priests will, in time, be inhibited and deposed, or they will retire. It is over for them. Evangelicals will be the next target for revisionist bishops, most of whom have gained a head start by not allowing graduates from Trinity School for Mission to minister in their dioceses. Ah inclusivity.
In something of a surprise move, the bishop of the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe announced this week that he is dumping his place in the Anglican Communion Network and throwing his allegiance behind the Anglican Communion Institute, TEC and the Archbishop of Canterbury. His evangelical diocese is one of a handful of dioceses that includes Dallas, Albany, South Carolina and Springfield that have decided to stay and fight...at least for the moment. Who knows where they will be five years from now. You can read the full story in today's digest.
BRAZILIAN LAW would prohibit Christian teaching on homosexuality, a news report announced this week. The Brazilian Senate is considering a bill approved unanimously and without debate by the country's House of Representatives that aims to promote homosexuality and prohibit Christian teaching on the issue, under the guise of combating discrimination. According to the Association of the Defense of Life, the bill would make it a crime, punishable by five years in prison, to impede expressions of "homosexual affection" in public places or private places open to the public. It would also punish those who deny employment to openly homosexual teachers in schools with up to three years imprisonment, making it impossible for Catholic or Christian schools to prevent homosexuals from joining their faculties. The bill would also impose prison sentences on any kind of moral, ethical, philosophical or psychological expression that questions homosexual practices. In this way, "a priest, a pastor, a teacher or even an average citizen who says in a sermon, a classroom or public conversation that homosexual acts are sinful, disordered or an illness could be denounced and detained," the association said.
What this means is this. You may not die for your faith, but be prepared to be imprisoned for it. This is the modern day version of persecution and the inquisition. It has already started in Canada where a pastor, Stephen Boissoin, faces possible jail in Alberta because he spoke against homosexual behavior. Will the U.S. be far behind? How long will VOL be allowed to assert its First Amendment rights guaranteeing free speech. Time will tell.
Seven GAFCON Primates responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury's rip at the GAFCON Declaration this week. They said they wanted to respond to some of his concerns.
On the subject of faith and false teaching, they said they shared the Archbishop's affirmation of the Jerusalem Statement as "positive and encouraging", but they were concerned that he should think that they assume that all those outside GAFCON are proclaiming another gospel. "In no way do we believe that we are the only ones to hold a correct interpretation of scripture according to its plain meaning. We believe we are holding true to the faith once delivered to the saints as it has been received in the Anglican tradition."
"Many are contending for and proclaiming the orthodox faith throughout the Anglican Communion. Their efforts are, however, undermined by those who are clearly pursuing a false gospel. We are not claiming to be a sinless church. Our concern is with false teaching which justifies sin in the name of Christianity. These are not merely matters of different perspectives and emphases. They have led to unbiblical practice in faith and morals, resulting in impaired and broken communion. We long for all orthodox Anglicans to join in resisting this development."
On the subject of boundary crossing which Mrs. Jefferts Schori is making a big issue of here at Lambeth they had this to say: "Whilst we respect territoriality, it cannot be absolute. For missionary and pastoral reasons there have long been overlapping jurisdictions in Anglicanism itself - historically in South Africa, New Zealand, the Gulf and Europe. In situations of false teaching, moreover, it has sometimes been necessary for other bishops to intervene to uphold apostolic faith and order. You can read the full text in today's digest.
I will be covering the Lambeth Conference and will post some personal observations in "From My Ear to Yours", a daily round up of bits and pieces of the news. Check in frequently to www.virtueonline.org for the latest news as it breaks.
On a personal note, I am happily ensconced in downtown Canterbury with a very fine group of orthodox believing Episcopalians and Anglicans that includes a couple of bishops, a fellow scribbler, and some wonderful ladies who provide the necessary food and liquid to keep us all going. It is a reasonable hike up the hill each day to the University of Kent, but it is always interesting because one never knows what to expect.
The Lambeth Conference begins in earnest next week. These past few days the bishops have been on a prayer and Bible study retreat at Canterbury Cathedral led by Dr. Rowan Williams. Next week will be the Indaba groups as they begin to sort through the issues. VOL will keep you informed.
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