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Viewpoints : UK: Turmoil Rages Over Failed Women Bishops Vote*Sewanee Faces Decision over SC
Posted by David Virtue on 2012/11/24 15:20:00 (4050 reads)

My plea to the Anglican evangelicals of England is to be true to that gospel which they carried to us; to be faithful to the word of the living God; to be ruled by God through his word and Spirit; and to be fully committed at whatever cost to the proclamation of the gospel and the nurture of the churches until Christ returns. --- Peter Jensen, Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney

Throughout his academic and pastoral career, Rowan Williams has tried to marry Christian orthodoxy with left-wing politics - and yet he has never explained how one might do so without sacrificing the former upon the altar of the latter. ---- Benjamin Guyer

Christ abolished death. One of the most searching tests to apply to any religion concerns its attitude to death. And measured by this test much so-called Christianity is found wanting in its black clothes, its mournful chants and its requiem masses. Of course dying can be very unpleasant, and bereavement can bring bitter sorrow. But death itself has been overthrown, and 'blessed are the dead who die in the Lord' (Rev. 14:13). The proper epitaph to write for a Christian believer is not a dismal and uncertain petition, 'R.I.P.' (requiescat in pace, 'may he rest in peace'), but a joyful and certain affirmation 'C.A.D.' ('Christ abolished death'). --- John R.W. Stott

'A body of glory'. Resurrection is not the same as resuscitation. Those whom Jesus raised from death during his earthly ministry were resuscitated. They came back from death, resumed their former way of life, and then later died a second time. Resurrection, however, means the beginning of a new, a different, and immortal life. So our resurrected bodies, though retaining some kind of continuity with our present bodies, will also be changed. They will be different, Paul says, as the plant is from the seed out of which it grows. They will be set free both from decay and from 'the flesh', the fallen nature which in some sense belongs to them. They will also have new powers. In fact our resurrection body will be a 'body of glory', like Christ's. --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
November 24, 2012

It's not really about women bishops, it's a fight for the Church of England's soul, wrote George Pitcher, former Lambeth Palace pitchman for Rowan Williams.

"This issue isn't exclusively, or even principally, about women becoming bishops. What we have just so embarrassingly witnessed is the latest skirmish in the fight for our Church's soul," noted Pitcher.

"It's a struggle for power. In an alliance that is far more extraordinary than the Conservatives' coalition with the Liberal Democrats - one might call it an unholy alliance - our Anglo-Catholics have held their noses and teamed up with conservative evangelicals to frustrate the liberal, Anglican mainstream of the Church."

The Church must decide whether it wants the catholic tradition in the Church of England, an evangelically driven church that saves souls, or a progressive, inclusive, reformist program pandering to the culture, post modern church - a parallel universe if you please - that voting at Synod appeared to occupy.

That's the question. Does the Church of England want women bishops at the price of betraying its catholic and evangelical wing or go its own way pushed around by the prevailing culture, politicians and simpering liberal clergy and bishops who believe women's rights matter more than Scripture.

What is truly hypocritical in the voting this past week is that everyone prayed that God's will would be done; but apparently, the reformists and progressives didn't like the outcome. So God clearly wasn't listening to the majority of the bishops and clergy who clearly know better than the laity. God allowed a small band of "fundamentalists", as Pitcher calls them, to dictate the direction of the church.

"Well how do you like them bananas" as the "Reverend" Sorensen and a "Banker" (Preece) said while haggling over a donation to a local parish.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury is under pressure to hire professional mediators to help bridge the schism in the Church of England. Durham Bishop Justin Welby, who had a career in business before being ordained, is likely to seek outside help amid warnings that the Church's refusal to accept women bishops could trigger an exodus from the pews and anger from society at large, according to the London Times. Hardly. Where will women priests go? Nowhere. What other denomination would have them? Methodists. I don't think so. If the Church of England, which has barely a million Sunday worshippers, sinks any lower, they might just as well close up shop now.

Others say that the Church stepped back from the brink arguing that insufficient provision was never made for those who don't agree.

It would appear now that the same holy ground can no longer be occupied by the three groups. Perhaps the Anglo-Catholics ought to go to Rome via the Ordinariate or directly if they cannot countenance where the Church of England is going. Evangelicals can join the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) and form a coalition and come under say Nigeria or some other orthodox Anglican province.

This week the General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly to approve the ordination of women bishops. However, due to the requirement that the measure win a two-thirds majority in each of the Synod's houses, that approval was not overwhelming enough. The result was an outpouring of anguish from the plan's supporters, both within and outside the Church. Commentators and politicians - including the Prime Minister - queued up to express their regret or their anger, with some suggesting that the Church had somehow proved itself unfit for the modern world, or to be the state religion of a modern, civilized country.

The Telegraph newspaper put forth the following wisdom: "It is at this point that we need to take a deep breath. The purpose of the Church is not to accommodate the demands of secular society; its duty is to a higher power. Nor were those who opposed the measure the zealots or dinosaurs of caricature. The debate was anguished, compassionate and reasoned. Those who voted no knew that they were going against the grain of modernity, and the exhortations of their leaders. But they had scrutinized conscience and Scripture, and could not bring themselves to vote otherwise.

"The suggestion is now being made - especially on the Left - that Parliament should intervene, perhaps by removing the religious exemptions from equality laws, or by legislating directly. But as with the current debate over the media, MPs should think carefully before claiming more power over other institutions. The laws that govern the Established Church are explicitly constituted so that Parliament can only reject the Synod's decisions, rather than amend them, precisely to avoid such political interference in matters of faith. The Church of England has certainly landed itself in a mess - but it is for the Church itself, not high-minded outsiders, to fix it."

The Telegraph is exactly right. The state has no business interfering with a decision of the church. however egregious a decision might be to secular minded politicians or even nominal church attending Anglican politicians. It's none of their damn business...and Rowan Williams should say so. Apparently he won't because he deplored the results and cried in his hands while others cried all over his shoulders. The whole thing was appalling.

If the democratic process means anything, it means just that; otherwise you are in for a theocracy or demagoguery or worse --- Big Brother determining how the church should be run and who should run it.

This is one of those occasions when it should be said, "let's move on". The liberals and reformists lost, but you can be sure they will come around again in 2015 and they will probably win. The Church of England will continue to shrivel and shrink, dominated increasingly by strident feminist voices far removed from Biblical faith and reason. The feminized church will continue.

Meantime, the Global South watches and waits like a giant stretching its theological and ecclesiastical muscle. They are watching all this play out. More importantly, they will be watching to see how newly anointed Archbishop Justin Welby will run the Communion. That is a far more pre-occupying question.

Perhaps the final word should be given to Dr. Philip Giddings, the chairman of the House of Laity, who commented, "A formal process of 'reconciliation' is needed with a professional facilitator to come up with a solution that 'everyone could own'. Yes, we have a lot of work to do in terms of explaining ourselves. But the Church is still there and will continue to be there, serving the nation and the world." He explained that his views were based on the Biblical view of episcopal ministry and on the teachings of St Paul and others on the man's role as "head" of the woman.

I have posted a number of stories on this momentous event in the life of the Church of England.

*****

The Culture Wars in England are heating up something fierce. It's not just about women and whether they should be bishops. The gay lobby is going after anyone who dares to call into question gay marriage. The latest in their sights is a call to silence Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The student union at the former Archbishop of Canterbury's alma mater has begun a petition campaign calling for Kings College London to remove George Carey's portrait from a gallery of famous alumni.

The Kings College London Student Union released a statement saying it was offended by Lord Carey's remarks on marriage in a talk given at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference. Lord Carey told the meeting at Birmingham Town Hall that re-defining marriage would "strike at the very fabric of society.

"Let's have a sensible debate about this, not call people names," he said on 8 Oct 2012. "Let's remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state."

The student union said the former Archbishop's restatement of Christian doctrine and teaching on marriage and sexuality was "outdated, hurtful and offensive". In the name of "diversity", they demanded he be silenced.

"We are proud of our diverse and inclusive community and would never seek to promote the outright censorship of ideas. But we believe that the images of alumni on the Strand campus are there to represent King's College London. In light of these comments, we believe by continuing to display an image of Lord Carey, the College are losing sight of the reason why these individuals are displayed on the front of our university," the statement said.

They called upon the university to be "bold" and make an example of Lord Carey for his remarks which "exposed our students to a great deal of distress and upset, particularly our LGBT community. Until now, King's has a proud history of supporting gay students."

The college administration, however, was not swayed by the pleas to punish Lord Carey. A university spokesman said it would not be removing his portrait. "We explicitly reject the notion of any censorship of ideas. Lord Carey's views are his own and were offered as part of an open debate," the spokesman said.

Keeping the archbishop's photo on display is a mark of the university's "diverse and inclusive community," the spokesman added.

*****

To see what happens when moral confusion goes unanswered, ponder this: The UPS Foundation, which gave $150,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010, announced this week that it is cutting off the Scouts because they won't allow homosexual scoutmasters. Millions of boys and men who have been involved with the Scouts support their moral stand. An online petition with a mere 80,000 names was the trigger. Given the timid conservative response to the Left's immoral onslaught, the company probably figured that sticking it to the Scouts would not hurt them, even as the Christmas shopping season goes into high gear. At some point, people are going to notice that this agenda, built on the powerful notions of tolerance and freedom of choice, is fashioning fetters for Americans who disagree. They'll also notice which public figures are defending their values.

VOL has been saying all along that a behavior, proscribed by Scripture and frowned on by society, is now being shouted from the housetops and demanding full inclusion. In time, any opposition will be met by jail or worse.

*****

A side bar story to the separation and vilification of Mark Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina, and his diocese is their position in regard to Sewanee: University of the South and its new vice-chancellor, John McCardell. This diocese is an owning diocese of the University. So is The Episcopal Church, headquartered at 815 Second Avenue in New York City. So with the split, the question must be asked: Do you consider Bishop Lawrence to be your bishop?

As of today, Sewanee's website still lists Bishop Lawrence as a Trustee of the University. Based on TEC's hostile attack against Lawrence along with South Carolina's resolutions confirming withdrawal from TEC (resolutions that include the Parish of St. Helena as a sponsor), your home diocese has now returned to its historic and non-integrated independent ecclesiastical existence. Is Bishop Lawrence still a trustee of Sewanee Episcopal University?

Based upon news reports, TEC is now organizing rump leadership for a replacement Episcopal diocese in South Carolina, with Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the retired Bishop of East Tennessee and former Sewanee trustee, as its leader. Is Bishop von Rosenberg your bishop, and do you expect him to replace Bishop Lawrence on Sewanee's board of trustees?

It should be noted that McCardell is orthodox in faith and morals, but the incoming new Dean of the Seminary, former Bishop of Atlanta, Neil Alexander is anything but. He has endorsed TEC's pro gay stand, is considered ultra liberal and his choice for Sewanee's new chancellor, the liberal Bishop of Florida, Samuel Johnson Howard, deposed 22 priests and lost 5,000 parishioners in his diocese over L'Affair Robinson.

*****

Are Anglo-Catholics passing into history in the Church of England? Telegraph columnist Damian Thompson seems to think so. "In the early 1990s I was religious affairs correspondent of this newspaper. The main leaders of the conservative Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England were, at the time: the Reverends John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham, Peter Geldard, Geoffrey Kirk, David Silk and Stuart Wilson. All these men are now Roman Catholic priests, with the exception of Dr. Kirk, who has only just crossed the Tiber. Some converted after the C of E ordained women priests; others form part of the small and dynamic Ordinariate. I would have been astonished, at the time, if you had told me that all these clergy would go over to Rome: indeed, Bishop Broadhurst, as he became, was for years the figurehead for traditionalists who refused to be pushed out of the established Church.

"There has, however, been no huge movement of laity to correspond to the conversion of their pastors. I expect that to remain the case. Your typical worshipper at an Anglo-Catholic church does not feel so strongly about women priests or bishops that he or she is prepared to take a step that instinctively feels wrong - becoming a "Roman" and moving parish as a result. It's true that the Ordinariate offers a means of retaining elements of Anglican worship as a Roman Catholic, but that body will not reach critical mass for some time, thanks in part to the hierarchy's shameful reluctance to provide it with a principal church. Six months ago I thought the experiment had failed; now, having witnessed its determination up close, I'm sure it will find a secure place for itself in the English Catholic landscape. But it will do so by evangelism and punching above its weight, not by forming a church within a church.

"What this boils down to is the effective disappearance of traditional Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England. Its old clerical leaders have "poped"; those that remain are biddable in a way that their predecessors were not."

*****

Diocese of Albany Standing Committee is skating on thin ice. They came out with a statement this past week endorsing the Communion Partners Bishops' Statement on South Carolina. "The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Albany endorses the 'Statement from the Communion Partner Bishops on the South Carolina Situation', and shares the Bishops' grave concerns with the deficiencies in Title IV and their hopes and prayers that the Church will be led to new and creative ways to discover Christ's reconciling love and discern God's will in the midst of our differences."

One wonders what punishment PB Jefferts Schori is cooking up for Bishop Bill Love. He is one of nine bishops charged under Title IV disciplinary canon that accuses him and eight other bishops of disloyalty to the Episcopal Church and violating its canons in supporting an amicus brief ruling in Ft. Worth.

The letter has been described as an "end run" around the Title IV canons seeking a political solution to a judicial process. It is interesting timing, wrote Bishop David Bena, that right after Mark Lawrence was brought up on charges in South Carolina, Bishop Clay Matthews issued his decision for a Title IV Conciliation (translate "shut up and get in step, Ft Worth Nine") event. "The Episcopal Church leaders do not want their bishops saying anything that rocks their ecclesiastical boat. This whole thing was cooked up by the Episcopal establishment to wipe out any orthodox bishops who speak their minds."

*****

On a brighter note, C.S. Lewis will be honored with a memorial stone to be dedicated at Westminster Abbey next year. He will join a host of international figures from the arts commemorated within the Abbey church. A memorial stone will be placed in Poets' Corner and will be dedicated at a special service on 22 November 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of Lewis's death.

CS Lewis was a novelist, poet, essayist and literary critic. Born in Belfast in 1898, he is best remembered for his Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, been translated into more than thirty languages, and been adapted for film and stage.

His book Mere Christianity was adapted from his series of BBC radio broadcasts. It is considered a classic in Christian apologetics seeking to explain the fundamental Christian teachings to a general audience.

Vernon White, Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey, said, "CS Lewis was an extraordinarily imaginative and rigorous thinker and writer, who was able to convey the Christian faith in a way that made it both credible and attractive to a wide range of people. He has had an enduring and growing influence in our national life."

*****

Jesus was born years earlier than thought, claims Pope Benedict XVI. The entire Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation. The Pope declared in a new book that Jesus was born several years earlier than is commonly believed

The "mistake" was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or, in English, Dennis the Small, the 85-year-old pontiff claims in the book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, published on Wednesday.

"The calculation of the beginning of our calendar - based on the birth of Jesus - was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years," the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

"The actual date of Jesus's birth was several years before."

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new - many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.

The fact that the leader of the world's one billion Catholics has raised doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition is striking.

*****

For most, the Occupy Wall Street Movement came and went without the significant change to America's system some had hoped to achieve. Those still occupying New York City in front of a church that found itself at the center of the controversy have said that their fight continues - Thanksgiving Day and beyond.

Outside Trinity Church, the Episcopalian Lower Manhattan church that refused to give shelter to Occupy protestors when they were removed from Zuccotti Park last year, merely a block away, a number of protesters still sit on the sidewalk with signs reminding pedestrians that the Occupy spirit is still alive, and that Trinity should answer for why it closed its doors to the needy in times of trouble.

Occupy's mission right now is to force the resignation of Trinity Church's rector, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper. The rector, who heads the world's richest Anglican parish with over $1 billion in Manhattan real estate, has been accused of lavish overspending even by former directors of Trinity. He is also the one who made the decision not to allow the church to provide shelter to Occupiers.

"We're going to stay here until Cooper is fired or steps down," say occupiers. Trinity Church declined an offer for an interview and they have tried to distance themselves from the Occupy controversy - despite the camp of protesters and their signs sitting just feet away from the church.

Most recently, the church decided to cancel a Halloween event for kids after they cited "escalating illegal and abusive" activities stemming from the camp, describing them as a danger to safety.

Still, Occupy and Trinity Church did join together to some extent when they helped out with the recovery process for victims of Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm to hit the tri-state area in recorded history. But for now, the standstill between the camp and the church continues.

*****

The Amity Foundation Press reports that the last Anglican bishop in China, the Rt. Rev. K.H. Ting, died on 22 Nov 2012 in Nanjing. Bishop Ting Kuang-hsun was 98. He served for 57 years as president of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, stepping down in 2010, to become the honorary president of the China's national Protestant seminary.

He was jailed during the Cultural Revolution and returned to national prominence in the 1970's in the wake of the liberalizations following Mao's death. Bishop Ting continued to serve as vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and as a member of the National People's Congress, China's legislature.

An Anglican presence is all but extinguished in China, however an estimated 28,000 Chinese are confessing the lordship of Christ each day with an estimated 20% of the nation fast becoming Christians. This is posing a major threat to the government that doesn't know what to do about it. With communism all but dead and Buddhism not appealing to the vast majority of Chinese, Christianity could transform that country beyond anyone's imagination. It is said that there are more practicing Christians in China on a Sunday than in all of Western Europe.

*****

Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop in The Episcopal Church, believes that voucher programs that benefit religious schools are a "tragedy." The controversial bishop of New Hampshire told The Christian Post about his views on vouchers at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress on the issue of poverty reduction. "I am a believer in public education and I believe every dollar diverted from public education either by religious schools or by charter schools is a tragedy," said Robinson. "[A voucher] takes away from this great mission that is so embedded in the life of this country... I just favor full and un-diverted support for those public schools." Of course, another reason Robinson is rooting for public education (and his repudiation of private education that he cannot control or influence) is that a lot of schools in America have become gay rights battlefields. There is a real push to influence public policy for the full acceptance of homosexuality in schools across the country. Increasingly gays are mounting challenges to a behavior that still has the potential to kill a person. *****

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