The character of God. God's wrath is not incompatible with his love. The contrast between verses 3 and 4 of Ephesians 2 is notable: "we were by nature children of wrath ... But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us ..." Thus Paul moves from the wrath of God to the mercy and love of God without any sense of embarrassment or anomaly. He is able to hold them together in his mind because he believed that they were held together in God's character. --- J W Stott
Righteousness and Love. The Judge and the Lover. God is not at odds with himself, however much it may appear to us that he is. He is 'the God of peace', of inner tranquility not turmoil. True, we find it difficult to hold in our minds simultaneously the images of God as the Judge who must punish evil-doers and of the Lover who must find a way to forgive them. Yet he is both, and at the same time. --- J W Stott
Christians, whose citizenship is ultimately not of this world and whose identity and perspective must likewise be eternal and transcendent, should not let our viewpoints be determined by the tyranny of the short-term.--- Jordan Ballor
The gay marriage movement has finally crossed the line into insanity. They must burn their own villages to save them from their phantasmal bullies. All the real things that gays could do to improve their real problems are right before their eyes: be humane to one another, forgive others, care for their most needy, and most of all, pick their battles...they have dedicated themselves to a scorched-earth campaign for gay marriage. And when that war is won, they will have conquered a wasteland. I wonder what [T.S.] Eliot would have to say --- Robert Oscar Lopez
Dear Brothers and Sisters
January 11, 2013
One might be forgiven if one had come to the conclusion this week that the Church of England had dissolved into the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
The sexual craziness in the Church of Englandhas now reached new unimagined heights that demand Mr. Cleese and his gang, parody the whole thing and send it up on BBC complete with limp-wristed bishops with lisps, overweight women priests, gay priests holding hands while prancing up the aisle and more. One doubts that Saturday Night live could outdo the cupidity and stupidity now being displayed by the CofE.
It goes a bit like this. If you are married to someone of the opposite sex you can have sex. (Having children is optional and abortion is available on demand if you happen to slip up).
If you are living with someone of the same sex, you can't have sex if you want to be a bishop.
If you are living with someone of the same sex and say you are celibate but there is no proof but just your word then everyone will believe you...hopefully...and you can still become a bishop.
Dean Jeffrey John is married to his partner but he says they haven't had sex lately or not recently or not at all depending on how you parse his words. And on and on it goes. Archbishop-elect Justin Welby is not weighing in on this distasteful parody of human relationships and apparently won't till he assumes the top slot in the Anglican Communion.
Meantime that has not stopped the Global South from collectively whacking the Church of England over the head for its lunacy over the possibility that gay (but allegedly celibate) men can ascend to the episcopacy, when just recently the CofE turned down the possibility of women bishops. This is a made for TV miniseries, "No sex please we're bishops...and women."
The Church of England has been ordaining gay priests (wink wink) for at least three decades and everyone knows it, so why all the fuss now? You can read a number of stories on this whole issue and the various reactions from Global South archbishops. They are not remotely interested in being collegial or nice, there is too much at stake.
There is talk of taking the gospel back to England from Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala which would be a real slap up the side of the head but nothing less than what England needs bearing in mind that 59 million out of 60 million Brits don't give a damn about the church or the gospel.
On a positive and upbeat note one of England's leading Anglican evangelists Canon Michael Green, the author of more than 50 books says things are not quite so bleak. In a note to VOL he said "The CofE is indeed in low water, but not as low as some suggest. There are many good churches around, and a conservative evangelical bishop, Nick McKinnell, is the new Bishop of Crediton. He was appointed by the orthodox Bishop of Exeter and is a real winner." Green himself is heavily involved in preparing for university missions in Exeter and Reading. Furthermore most of the CofE seminaries are conservative and filled with next generation evangelicals ready to spread the Word.
The big news this side of the Atlantic was the announcement coming out of the Diocese of Washington that the Washington National Cathedral, where Americans gather to mourn tragedies and celebrate new presidents, will soon begin hosting same-sex marriages.
Cathedral officials sent out the news that it would be among the first Episcopal congregations to implement this new ritual for same-sex blessings (read marriage), but not just for gays but lesbians, bisexual and transgender members as well. Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde weighed in with her blessing saying it was an expansion of the Christian marriage sacrament. However, VOL believes it is closer to excrement than sacrament to bless such heretical relationships.
As the most prominent US church, the decision carries huge symbolism. The 106-year-old cathedral has long been a spiritual center for the US, hosting presidential inaugural services and funerals for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, among others. The Rev Martin Luther King Jr delivered his last sermon there in 1968.
The Very Rev Gary Hall, the cathedral's dean, said performing same-sex marriages is an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community "that reflects the diversity of God's world."
You can read two stories on this abominable action in today's digest. VOL's Washington correspondent Sarah Francis Ives has some choice words on this new blasphemy.
Ironically, just the previous week, the University of the South at Sewanee announced that they would allow same sex blessings in their on campus chapel, a move that will infuriate conservatives who support the university. Vice-Chancellor John McCardell is looking to raise a quarter of a billion dollars for the university's endowment.
It looks as though the "Richmond Nine" bishops who faced discipline for signing an amicus brief in support of Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker and other "crimes" may have resolved their differences with the Episcopal Church leadership. An accord was struck this week that resolved the complaints against them, but the Accord will remain confidential till all parties sign off, said Albany Bishop Bill Love.
Nobody was really willing to spill the beans. When Springfield Bishop Dan Martins started to weigh in on the Accord, he quickly withdrew his comments from his diocesan website.
Love wrote, "We have reached an agreement in principle which resolves all the complaints brought against me and the other six respondent bishops named in the Fort Worth Complaint. In accordance with Canon IV.14.5, the terms of the Accord still have to be signed by all involved and are not final, thus remaining confidential until approved and released by the Presiding Bishop."
When and if we ever get the full statement, VOL will publish it. One wonders just how much serious cassock kissing went on for them not to face charges and be put on trial.
In the ongoing property battle in the Diocese of Virginia, the Supreme Court will consider the Diocese of Virginia's cross-appeal on whether the Diocese has a trust interest in the real and personal property of the Falls Church. Just less than a year ago, the Circuit Court of Fairfax County recognized that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have proprietary and contractual interests in the Falls Church and awarded ownership to the Diocese. However that decision is now under review.
"We welcome the Court's willingness to address this issue, because it will provide greater certainty for the Diocese of Virginia in ensuring that church property serves the mission of the Episcopal Church," said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary and chief of staff. "In addition, the review will provide greater certainty to our sister Episcopal dioceses and all hierarchical denominations in Virginia." That remains to be seen of course.
We will be watching and waiting to see how this turns out and keep you posted.
In a spectacularly unsurprising move, The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee with longtime ties to South Carolina, has been nominated as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. VOL predicted this would happen several weeks ago; it can now be verified. Now the battle begins for properties and more. I will be in South Carolina in 10 days to cover Mere Anglicanism. At the same this is going on, Mrs. Jefferts Schori will be rallying what troops she can find in South Carolina to form a new rump diocese.
In other news, a petition has been mounted that urges a non-litigious resolution of tensions within the Diocese of South Carolina. It has attracted support from Episcopalians and Anglicans in 27 states (including South Carolina), Canada, and England.
The petition also urges the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops to "seek, alongside other leaders of our Church, a new application of the discipline of this Church that will build up the body of Christ in South Carolina and the Episcopal Church, mindful of our call in Christ to 'be patient, bearing with one another in love.'"
The petition has drawn support across diocesan boundaries, including from several well-known leaders and bloggers:
The Rev. Tony Clavier, vicar at St. Bartholomew's, Granite City, and St. Thomas's, Glen Carbon, Illinois The Rev. Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG, rector, St. James Church Fordham, Bronx, New York The Rev. Robert Hendrickson, curate, Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut, and director of St. Hilda's House The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis The Rev. Jonathan A. Mitchican, rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania The Rev. Yejide Peters, rector, All Saints' Church, Briarcliff Manor, New York. The Rev. Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe Hall, Toronto Charles Wingate, Maryland The Rev. Jesse Zink, United Kingdom The petition has a goal of 1,000 supporters, and stood at nearly 9 percent of that goal on the afternoon of Jan. 8. (The Living Church)
The petition reads in full:
We, the undersigned seminarians, clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Church, hold a variety of views which are often in direct conflict with each other concerning the theological issues confronting the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. But we have been joined together through baptism into "God's family the Church" as "Christ's body" (BCP, 858), and we lament the sad divisions that have arisen among us.
As such, in light of the recent escalation of litigious dispute between factions within our Church, we stand united in our plea that the case involving the withdrawal of the Diocese of South Carolina be settled without recourse to civil litigation (1 Cor. 6:1-11), lest our rivalries become a stumbling block and impede the ministry of reconciliation that our Lord has given to us (2 Cor. 5:17-20).
We furthermore implore the House of Bishops - as guardians of our faith and common life - to take counsel with one another as a body; to seek, alongside other leaders of our Church, a new application of the discipline of this Church that will build up the body of Christ in South Carolina and The Episcopal Church, mindful of our call in Christ to "be patient, bearing with one another in love"; and finally, to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2-3).
Now what are the chances Mrs. Jefferts Schori will take a blind bit of notice of this? Answer: NONE. It will have even shorter shelf life than the Covenant. She is shortly heading south to Charleston, SC to set up vonRosenberg as her faux bishop and the lawsuits will flow in short order.
An Evangelical pastor tapped earlier this week to give the benediction at the presidential inauguration is withdrawing after criticism of a sermon he gave addressing homosexuality, according to ABC News.
The Rev. Louie Giglio, who serves as pastor at Georgia's Passion City Church, sermonized in the mid-1990s that Christians must "lovingly but firmly respond" to an "aggressive agenda" by some in the homosexual community.
Giglio is perhaps best known for his involvement in the Passion Conferences, which annually attract tens of thousands of university students. The conferences have been heavily focused around opposition to human trafficking and slavery, with the most recent event drawing over 60,000 to Atlanta's Georgia Dome and raising millions of dollars towards combating trafficking.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented, "Are all orthodox clergy now to be banished from civic life if they openly affirm their faith's teachings about marriage and sexual ethics?
The Pope launched an attack on what he called the human rights culture. According to the Pope, human rights laws are being abused by people who are obsessed with simply getting what they want.
Far from protecting hard-fought freedoms, modern human rights culture is being used to suppress liberty of conscience and restrain Christianity, he said.
In one of his biggest addresses of the year, Benedict XVI said a false concept of human rights has gripped the western world.
As a result, he said, religion is being marginalized and symbols of faith, such as the cross, are being treated with growing hostility.
He also singled out how some charities and schools are limiting the freedom of Christians to practice or express their faith and spoke of the need for "conscientious objectors" who would defend faith and traditional morality.
A recent article I wrote on the name change of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) to Us (United Society) has met with push back from VOL's readers and missionaries, many of whom reside in the Global South. VOL has also learned that the leftward swinging USPG now has only ONE missionary it is supporting. All of its funding goes to social causes.
Amid a flurry of court rulings, strict fines kicked in last week for employers that refuse to abide by the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraceptive mandate. However, recent judges' opinions on the mandate-which, among other things, requires insurance coverage of emergency contraceptives that religious conservatives believe act as an abortifacient-have been anything but unanimous.
On December 20, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction to one of the highest-profile plaintiffs, Hobby Lobby. The court concluded that concerns by the craft chain's owners, the evangelical philanthropist Green family, that "funds [might] subsidize someone else's participation in an activity condemned by plaintiff[s'] religion" were not a substantial burden to the Greens' religious exercise.
One week later, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals explicitly disagreed, stating that the Tenth Circuit "misunderstands the substance of the claim." In a ruling granting an injunction to a for-profit construction company, the Seventh Circuit wrote, "The religious‐liberty violation at issue here is the coerced coverage of contraception, abortificiants, sterilization, and related services, not-or perhaps more precisely, not only-in the later purchase or use of contraception or related services."
In the 43 legal challenges to the ACA mandate, some courts have ruled that for-profit companies and their owners are separate entities and thus the companies themselves cannot practice any particular religion. Notably, both Priests for Life and Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan also recently won preliminary injunctions. Priests for Life now qualifies under the temporarily enforced "safe harbor" clause for employers who have not previously provided contraceptive coverage to employees.
The second Global Anglican Futures Conference - GAFCON II - will be held in Nairobi this October, the chairman of the primates' council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, reports.
In his New Year's Day message to the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Wabukala stated that he was "very happy" to report that "in October this year, we are expecting the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON 2) to be held here in Nairobi and we look forward to welcoming Anglican leaders from around the globe. I believe this will be a strategic moment in the reshaping of the Anglican Communion to fulfill our vision for global mission and a time when we will experience a foretaste of that glorious gathering of the people of God which Isaiah prophesied."
When Wabukala talked with yours truly at a Missions conference in North Carolina last year I suggested Greece as an alternative to Israel again. The archbishop agreed. At their fall meeting the FCA primates agreed to a proposal to hold it in Athens. However, Wabukala's New Year's Day announcement now moves the gathering to Nairobi, his backyard and home to the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA).
A landmark judgment in the cases of four UK Christians will be handed down at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Tuesday 15th January 2013.
Please pray that Christian freedoms would be upheld and please help us to continue to stand with Christians.
Andrea Williams commented, "These are landmark cases and we have waited a long time to get to this point. At stake is not only the future shape of Christian involvement in community life but the protection of important personal freedoms in a diverse society." The Christian Legal Centre is handling two of the cases:
Gary McFarlane, a relationships counselor, said during a training course that he might have a conscientious objection to providing sex therapy to same-sex couples because of his Christian faith. He was dismissed for gross misconduct for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
ANGLICANISM is on the move in North America. Bishop Frank Lyons of The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh ordained Glenn Crytzer, Justin Helton, and Jeff Minshall to the transitional diaconate on December 15, 2012 at Trinity School for Ministry's chapel in Ambridge, PA.
Diaconal ordinations in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are typically held each June and December. The Rev. Mike Wurschmidt, rector of Shepherd's Heart Fellowship in Uptown, was the preacher at the ordination service. The chapel was completely filled with clergy and lay supporters. All three ordinands are (or were) students at Trinity School for Ministry. This is living proof you can't keep a good church. If and when TEC fades into the sunset and there is no Anglican Church in North America, the stones would cry out.
The Episcopal Church is promoting a new video featuring Trinity Episcopal Church in Alabama addressing community food deficiencies as part of Transforming Churches, Changing the World series. Makes you wonder why they don't have a video featuring spiritual food deficiencies. If TEC really believe this sort of thing is going to change the world, why doesn't it simply can the creed and announce it has become a social service agency and be done with it? Then it can compete for funds alongside World Vision, Food for the Poor and a whole host of other NGOs who ARE busy changing the world. Ironically, they are specifically Christian and make no bones about it.
Church leaders in Newtown, Ct. got standing ovations from parishioners they are helping to cope with the massacre at an elementary school. Monsignor Robert Weiss of the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic church received applause at Sunday Mass. He said he is grateful to everyone in the community for giving him strength to get through the week. Eight of the children and two of the adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School belonged to his church. Weiss said it was the hardest week of his life.
The Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd at Trinity Episcopal Church also received an ovation and kisses from a long line of parishioners. She offered a prayer for the 26 victims at the school as well as the gunman and his slain mother.
The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral will meet as part of a medieval tradition where the dean and canons of cathedrals select bishops. There will be only one name on the ballot sheet and the electors will be under royal command to choose him. Bishop Welby will remain the Bishop of Durham until a legal ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral next month.
Even as the Anglican West contracts and shrinks, the Global South continues to grow and go. Five new Nigerian Archbishops will be presented this Saturday at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Asaba, Delta State. They are the Most Rev. Edmund Akanya as the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna, The Most Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, as the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Jos, the Most Rev. Professor Adebayo Akinde, as Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos. Others are the Most Rev. Caleb Maduoma as the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri and the Most Rev. Dr. Segun Okubadejo as the Archbishop Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan. The Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, the Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion will celebrate at the service.
In this spirit of this season I invite VOL readers to click on this video. It will lift your spirits amid the gloom and doom that is sweeping over us from so many quarters.
HALLELUJAH: Sing to Jesus http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sIYpVJNIW-o
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