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LAMBETH: David's Diary - From My Ear to Yours (2)

LAMBETH: David's Diary - From My Ear to Yours (2)

By David W. Virtue in Canterbury
www.virtueonline.org
7/23/2008

The Anglican Communion is hanging by a thread. We are into the 7^th day of Lambeth, but only the 4^th day in terms of real Indaba talk. Already there are signs of fragmentation everywhere one turns.

Gene Robinson is roaming the campus with a body guard and press officer, the darling of the liberal media, offering his thoughts on exclusion and his personal pain at not being admitted to the Lambeth conference.

By contrast, the Archbishop of Sudan bounded into the media room to offer 25 journalists his thoughts on why Robinson should resign from the House of Bishops. He should repent and turn back to God. He said it was Robinson, not the orthodox bishops in the communion, who is causing it to fracture and that it is the liberals and revisionists who have a different gospel. The contrast could not be more illuminating. The media themselves are feeling pretty excluded. We are not permitted to attend either the Indaba groups or the self-select groups. We may only, with permission of course, attend the "fringe" groups.

A real dust up occurred at a press conference, yesterday, when Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, the bishop's press officer was challenged about why a list of all the bishops could not be handed out to the press. He pleaded "privacy and security" issues, but the security issue was later discounted as there are no Nigerians here. Challenged again today at a morning press briefing on why a list was not forthcoming, the press officer, Paul Feheley from Canada, said the Conference had sought legal advice from Tom Reese and was told that it was a matter of "privacy" so no list would be forthcoming. We were told there are 650 bishops "registered" at Lambeth, but no one really believes that figure. My guess is that it is probably closer to 550.

UPDATE. Today at the afternoon press conference, we were informed that a list was being prepared of those bishops who have given "explicit permission" to have their names on a list. Stay tuned. One reporter bitterly complained that getting hold of a bishop through official channels was not working and Aspinall promised to look into it.

My, how things have changed. We never had problems getting a list of bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, or Dromantine, Nottingham, and London, but here the word is no. Buttonholing bishops walking around campus or asking one of the Lambeth Conference Communications office people to get a bishop for you is the only way to go. Ah the feelings of exclusion. Mainstream media are naturally quite mad about this and have said so...repeatedly.

*****

ANGLICAN MAINSTREAM writer Chris Sugden offers this insightful word.

"This is clearly Archbishop Rowan Williams' conference. Do the math. He gave an opening welcome. He has led a three- day retreat in which he gave five addresses. He presided at the opening Eucharist at which he chose the preacher. He gave a presidential address. He has chaired both plenaries that have happened this week.

There can be no complaints about lack of leadership. This is his conference.

There was a gathering on Tuesday afternoon of 150 - 200 orthodox bishops at which among others Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester, Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh spoke. It should not be forgotten that on September 20 the House of Bishops of TEC will be voting on whether to depose him. It must feel odd for him and his wife Nara to be on campus for three weeks with those seeking to remove him.

The press is beginning to take matters into their own hands. Told that they could not have an interview in the press schedule with the Archbishop of Sudan, they went ahead and organized their own press conference in which everyone got to ask the questions they wanted to.

It was interesting to hear the Archbishop of Sudan blast the Episcopal Church calling on Gene Robinson to resign and not a bit embarrassing for the Episcopal Church who immediately sent in the Rev. Dr. Charles Robinson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church who uttered a few words about the Episcopal Church's historical friendship with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and then promptly leave the word refusing to take questions from the press."

VOL has learned that Mrs. Jefferts Schori is about to commit a major cultural and social faux pas. She has invited the Bishops of the Congo, Sudan and Liberia to a drinks reception with the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. This reception will take place on Saturday, July 26 from 4:30 to 5:30pm in the green and white tent by the picnic tables in the center of Kent's campus. Wine and juice will be provided. All these groups eschew alcohol, considering the consumption of the fruit of the vine pretty well a sin because of its abuse. One wonders if the Sudanese will not show especially if they think that Robinson will make a cameo appearance.

*****

We have now obtained the words of the Christian text used with Buddhist Chant at the end of Bishop Duleep de Chickera sermon in Canterbury cathedral: The chant was Buddhist but the words were Christian.

I take refuge in God the Father, I take the refuge in the Son, I take refuge in the Holy Spirit, I take refuge in the Triune God,

****

What if 250 Evangelical bishops had been seated at Lambeth? The truth is that the Big Tent marquee would have been too small to handle the numbers and the press benches, already tight, would have been completely eliminated!

Because of the huge debt the Lambeth conference has incurred, the Big Tent is not air-conditioned, so watch for fainting bishops in the coming days.

The Media room is found in the Darwin Building of Kent University and press conferences are held in a building called "The Missing Link" (I kid you not). One wag observed that perhaps the missing link is the gay gene the pan-sexualists are hoping to find one day to justify their behavior.

*****

The press conference today was all about Millennium Development Goals, the favorite pastime of aging social-activist liberal bishops. I raised my hand on several occasions, but got blown off publicly by Aspinall and denied the right to ask the obvious question: HAVE MDG'S REPLACED THE GREAT COMMISSION? So I asked around after the press conference and everyone I spoke to said "Yyes of course they have." So if you want to know what sort of theology the liberals have to make churches grow and prosper in the 21^st Century, the answer is nothing. Western liberal Protestantism will continue to wither and die, while Global South evangelicalism will continue to thrive and prosper. MDGs were the brain- child of the United Nations. The Anglican Communion has now adopted them as its new salvific mantra.

*****

Once upon a time an Inclusive church used to be a comprehensive church, containing within its bosom various strands of orthodoxy. Today orthodoxy has all but evaporated and been replaced by assorted liberal theologies and orthodox persons with their theology no longer wanted at the table. It's now called inclusivity. But evangelicals will have the last laugh. The Episcopal Church is dying. That's a FACT. Nothing can stop it. It will go from 700,000 to 500,000 within a decade as the geriatric generation head for columbariums. The Anglican Church in Nigeria, now 25 million will probably be 30 million within the next five years, which means it will be bigger than ALL the rest of the Anglican Communion put together.

*****

The INCLUSIVE NEWSLETTER put out at Lambeth can't give its propaganda away. By the end of the day stacks and stacks of their literature lie untouched. Perhaps the inclusive folk could better spend their money on reducing the Lambeth deficit. Now that would be an inclusive act.

*****

The Queer Eucharist held on the green of St. Stephen's parish went off without a hitch and without much theology either. About 200 worshipers, including many of the American bishops who attended the earlier Eucharist at the cathedral, held a service before a roughly carpentered wooden cross, and then lingered over a picnic. Bishop Robinson, surrounded by well -wishers, declined to give interviews, apparently keen to let only his presence speak. In a radio interview with the BBC last week, he said he had not come to England to disrupt the Lambeth Conference, but rather to make the case for gay men and lesbians in the clergy in as civil a manner as possible. And pigs fly.

The Rev. Susan Russell preached the sermon and the Rev. Colin Coward of Changing Attitude dispensed the Eucharist.

The Rev. Peter Ould, a former homosexual who describes himself as "post gay", wrote a piece on this called "Getting a Sermon Right." He took exception to Ms. Russell's interpretation of John 8:32 , where Jesus promises that "the truth will set you free."

"You really do just hand this to us on a plate don't you, Suse? Go back one verse (John 8:31 ) and Jesus says this: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."

" And what is Jesus' teaching I hear you ask? Let's turn to Matthew 15:19 . For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'. ; "That phrase "sexual immorality" is the Greek "porneia". What would they Jews have understood that encompassed? Well BDAG (*the* leading Greek lexicon) is quite clear that porneia covers every single form of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. So that would include sex between two people of the same sex - permanent, stable, faithful or otherwise."

Quoth Ould: "I would like a revisionist to cite us one Rabbinical or Patristic scholar, text or commentary, 500 years either side of Jesus (so that gives us a 1000 years to play with) that explicitly argues that porneia does *not* cover faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships. Otherwise I think we're pretty clear that Jesus' audience would have understood what he said and the argument is pretty well closed."

*****

And then there was the VOL reader who couldn't resist writing his own hymn as a paean of praise to whoever is running the universe, following the piece of drivel we were made to sing in the cathedral. It goes like this:

O God who leads to this or that.
Who counts our calories and burns our fat;
Be with us now as we gather here
To sermonize and swill some beer.

CHORUS

We sing to you our united tune
Of mother earth and sister moon;
We beg you now to lead our way
To inclusive thinking every day.

O God who made us straight or gay,
Make our time here meaningless play;
Let every speech be aimless flannel,
And bless each church with a solar panel.

When VOL made inquiries about why the Bishop of Sri Lanka who preached his inclusive cathedral sermon was so, well, generous with his words and Buddhist chant, we were told that "they are all syncretists down there."

*****

Went to hear Brian McLaren of Emergent Church fame, deliver himself of a lecture that is supposed to challenge Lambeth Conference bishops. He is trying to relate the gospel to the New World that is emerging. He said Anglicanism is uniquely positioned to make disciples because of its worldwide outreach. McLaren is a non-denominational pastor who lectures and writes about modern-day evangelism and whom Time magazine named one of American's 25 most influential evangelicals.

McLaren told participants that "on our one planet now we have three worlds co-existing:" a pre-modern world, a modern world and an emerging world. He said evangelism may feel "effortless" when pre-modern people are entering the modern world because "the Christian church so effectively became connected with modern culture."

He said churches in the modern world are either "static or declining," noting that most church growth comes from people shifting denominations and "evangelism is hard to come by. "Our structures for evangelism and for the formation of disciples are becoming tourist attractions," he said.

He said the institutional church could be compared to the tortoise and the emerging global culture to the orphaned hippo.

Then he made some really stupid and condescending remarks about African Christianity. He talked about health and wealth preachers dominating the continent. That is a GIANT half- truth. The Anglican Church of Nigeria is not remotely interested in buying into this prosperity "gospel". Neither are the Catholics.

McLaren should have read Lamin Sanneh or Philip Jenkins three volumes on Global Christianity before shooting his mouth off. He caricatured much of Global South Christianity and set up straw men to knock them down. He needs to read much more widely before talking any more. I don't think I'll bother with his next two lectures, if his first one was this bad.

In fairness, he did make at least one good point. He urged the bishops and others to avoid being caught up in what he called "internal institutional maintenance" because of what he called the church's "outward mission of forming disciples among all people" is the only way to save the world. That mission, he said, is also "our only hope of saving the church from division, diversion, implosion, irrelevance, and triviality."

I wonder if liberal TEC bishops were REALLY listening. They've been told to listen. The truth is they are total institutional wonks who are are suing evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics for their properties.These godly men can hold the faith and make it grow while they are dying!

McLaren did say that some of the best teachers explaining the Gospel of the kingdom of God are Anglicans. He didn't mention names. I wonder, you don't think he had Canon Michael Green or JI Packer in mind do you? Nah, probably Frank Griswold, Orris Walker and Charles Bennison. In any event, the Great Commission is not on the minds of these bishops, just MDGs.

Another wag commenting on the MDGS and the bishops walk to end world hunger in London tomorrow commented wryly with his own line. It reads thus:

Let all things green or ungreen
Their CO2 together blend
For bishops go to London
Their carbon footprints please ah-mend

END

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