Every year another 18,000 pastors surrender and quit the ministry. --- Rev Harold Bales, United Methodist minister
The ultimate question. The real issue is neither linguistic (whether the word incarnation is mythical, metaphorical, or literal), nor cultural (how far the biblical or Chalcedonian formulations reflect the concepts of their day). The ultimate question is absolutely plain, even to the man in the street to whom semantics, culture, and theology are all closed books. It is this: is Jesus to be worshipped or only to be admired? If he is God, then he is worthy of our worship, faith, and obedience; if he is not God, then to give him such devotion is idolatry. --- John R.W. Stott
If Anglicanism is to come to its rights, and its resurgence, its renewal has to be radical. Its original theology has to be thoroughly restored and not tempered by hesitancy and loss of nerve. Abuse of a theological position does not warrant its absence or avoidance. The Spirit will bless the truth he has inspired and prevent bellicosity and belligerence in its well-intentioned and prayerful advocates. Past occasions of animosity and insult need not recur if we all simply want to know the mind of the Lord in order to know him better and acknowledge his worth - the weight of his glory. --- Rev. Roger Salter
Observant love. True love is always observant, and the eyes of Jesus never missed the sight of need. Nobody could accuse him of being like the priest and Levite in his parable of the Good Samaritan. Of both it is written, 'he saw him'. Yet each saw him without seeing, for he looked the other way, and so 'passed by on the other side'. Jesus, on the other hand, truly 'saw'. He was not afraid to look human need in the face, in all its ugly reality. And what he saw invariably moved him to compassion, and so to compassionate service. Sometimes, he spoke. But his compassion never dissipated itself in words; it found expression in deeds. He saw, he felt, he acted. The movement was from the eye to the heart, and from the heart to the hand. His compassion was always aroused by the sight of need, and it always led to constructive action. --- John R. W. Stott
If you want to see what happens to ecclesial unity when the most controversial questions are placed before the unity of the Church, look to the worldwide Anglican Communion that is ripping itself apart. ----Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Vice President of Ecclesia Dei
Uncontested deity. The New Testament letters contain no hint that the divine honors given to Jesus were the subject of controversy in the church, as was the case, for example, with the doctrine of justification. There can be only one explanation of this. Already by the middle of the first century, the deity of Jesus was part of the faith of the universal church. --- John R.W. Stott
Dear Brothers and Sisters
January 25, 2013
An Episcopal priest played a prominent role at President Barack Obama's inauguration. The Rev. Luis Leon, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square, also known as the Church of the Presidents, was selected to deliver the closing prayer - or benediction - at the president's inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Monday.
He replaced an evangelical, Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Georgia, who was initially invited to give the benediction but withdrew from that role after news surfaced that he expressed disapproval of homosexuality in a sermon he delivered some years ago.
Leon, on the other hand, was one of the leaders of a 2009 interfaith group of clergy that campaigned for D.C.'s same-sex marriage law. He also served on the Steering Committee for D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality.
The group has been credited with boosting support for the same-sex marriage bill among people of faith as it made its way through the D.C. City Council, which passed the measure in December 2009.
Giglio committed the "sin" of advocating for "ex-gay" therapy intended to change people's sexual attraction from gay to straight and urging Christians to prevent the "homosexual lifestyle" from being accepted in society. This prompted LGBT activists to raise strong concern over his selection.
At the time Leon joined the steering committee of D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, he signed a joint statement released by the group saying, "We declare that our faith calls us to affirm marriage equality for loving same-sex couples... We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples."
There you have it. The great divide in American Christianity is plain for all to see. An Episcopal Church priest who stands for the complete progressive line in faith and morals while a believing pastor who says God does not approve of pansexual behavior (which killed my brother-in-law and one my closest friends in the 80s) says it is unacceptable.
Over time Pastor Giglio's church will grow and thrive in Georgia; he may well plant other churches just like the Anglican priest the Rev. John Yates has done in Northern Virginia. He has planted some eight evangelical Anglican churches while the liberal Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has failed to plant a single new church. Nonetheless, the latter is willing to legislate properties away from the Anglican diocese in the name of the Denis Canon.
According to a British Anglican blogger, the Church of England in conjunction with the BBC went overboard with an Obamafest broadcast on Radio 4.
Using the theme "Learning to Dream Again", Divine Worship in celebration of President Obama's second inauguration was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Did they ever do this for President Bush? Margaret Thatcher? Or even David Cameron? Is it only Socialist-Democrats who are deemed worthy of a national BBC broadcast in the context of prayer and divine worship?
The answer, of course, is foregone. Yet the BBC and the CofE united to worship Barack Obama as Abraham Lincoln reincarnate. The service explored "the connections between Lincoln's 1865 speech, delivered during the civil war, and the situation facing the world today'. It included 'lively' American music and an anthem specially written for this service".
Would they be talking about "the souls of the righteous" or "America's special vocation", or singing that "It is well with my soul" if Mitt Romney had won? Would they have commissioned a special anthem (at what cost and met by whom?) if we had a Republican back in the White House? Is "Learning to Dream Again" a purposeful allusion to Martin Luther King? What, in the Name of God, is Obama's dream? And as for ending with "Come thou fount of every blessing" - was this an appeal to the Lord, or to Obama as Messiah, come to free the captives, heal the sick and proclaim the day of salvation?
The address for Obama's inauguration was given by the Rev. Prof Mark McIntosh, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, who previously served as a chaplain to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, and as canon theologian to the 25th Presiding Bishop and Primate. It was led by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Wells (Vicar). The entire Order of Service went slightly beyond praying for those in authority: indeed, it was verging on idolatry and blasphemy (score - Obama: 8; Jesus 8).
An observer at the Inauguration noted that Justice Thomas Scalia's headgear for the inauguration was a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein's famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. It was presented to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in their 27th annual Red Mass and dinner. Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.
I have posted just one significant article on this inauguration that you will not find anywhere else. It was written by an Australian very much up on the Culture Wars raging around the world.
News from the Diocese of South Carolina changes every few days. This week Bishop Mark Lawrence won a round against the national church. South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein issued a temporary restraining order that prevents The Episcopal Church (TEC), parishes, and individuals associated with it from assuming the identity of the Diocese of South Carolina.
The judge's order states, in part, "No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and the seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina."
The order specifically prohibits all but a handful of Diocesan employees, directors and trustees who are specified by name from using the Diocese's identity.
The judge effectively prevents TEC, a voluntary association, and the parishes who support it, from claiming to own or operate the Diocese of South Carolina, an entity that it insists it owns but whose very existence predates The Episcopal Church.
In the continuing effort by the besieged rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan to limit dissent and voices of reason, the complicit and lame duck bishop, Robert Gepert, has apparently permitted the first parish meeting in many years. No voting will take place (thus no vestry will be elected and the self-appointed Leadership Team will continue to govern the church without parishioner input). NO ONE NOT APPROVED BY THE RECTOR WILL EVEN BE ABLE TO SPEAK OR ASK QUESTIONS, a source told VOL.
This continues to disenfranchise almost 200 former attendees of the church. The following is from the church newsletter, which is only e-mailed or sent to "approved" parishioners, but not to any parishioner who may ask for it concerning Grace Church's 2013 Annual Meeting. "For those of you unfamiliar with the protocol for annual meetings in the Episcopal Church, as set forth in our diocesan canons, in order to be a participant (either to vote or be officially recognized and speak from the floor) you must meet the criteria set forth in the canons for 'Qualification of Voters' (Canon 22.05, of the Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan). Please note that we will not be voting on any matters at our meeting this Sunday." Does the word paranoia come to mind? "We welcome all guests and visitors to attend the Annual Meeting and look forward to seeing you." But shut up.
If one has any doubts about the future of North American Anglicanism, just watch the continued growth and expansion of the Anglican Church in North America. This week The Most Rev. Robert W. Duncan announced two honorary appointments, both non-stipendiary positions that will add significant value to the mission and ministry of the province and to the work of the Archbishop. The Rev. Prof. Dr. Stephen Noll has been appointed "Special Advisor on the Global Anglican Future."
"Prof. Noll is an authority on the Anglican Communion and the theological compromises that have torn the fabric of the Communion," noted Archbishop Duncan. "Along with this new advisory position, he will also serve as the North American member of the GFCA International Theological Commission."
"For many years I have been concerned about matters of Anglican identity and the wider Anglican Communion, a concern that was deepened during my ten years living in Uganda," Prof. Noll stated.
The Rev. Canon J. Phillip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer of the American Anglican Council (AAC), has been named as "Canon for Special Initiatives." He is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Province and has agreed to undertake special assignments as requested by the Archbishop.
"Canon Ashey directs a number of programs through his work at the AAC and is an authority on canon law," said Archbishop Duncan. "He is also well known in international circles and will be a strong asset."
"Gay but celibate" is how Tom Shaw, the outgoing Bishop of Massachusetts, describes himself. Interesting. He carts around a younger looking version of himself to general conventions who he describes as his "chaplain." The diocese also had the first transgendered priest in the church, who was proudly shown off at the Lambeth Conference of 2008. Shaw is a close friend of former PB Frank Griswold which should tell you everything.
The deeper truth is that Shaw hates orthodoxy with a passion. He is spending $7.5 million on youth programs, which he hopes will jump start the Episcopal Church, if not the diocese. It won't happen of course. With his love of pansexuality, liberal theology and a "married" lesbian running the Episcopal Divinity School in the area, one can't imagine how this will jump start TEC. If there is no gospel, it will be a vast waste of money. His successor, whoever he/she maybe, will carry on the progressive tradition of the diocese. Shaw's predecessor Bishop David E. Johnson killed himself after engaging in extramarital affairs.
Shaw's passionate concern about Israel's treatment of Palestinians led him to join a protest outside the Israeli consulate during the second intifada a decade ago. The action shook interfaith relations in Boston; Jewish leaders, caught by surprise, saw the action as an affront.
He's barely into the job, but the new black Bishop of Atlanta Robert C. Wright has announced two major actions that impact the entire diocese. "First, I have commended the provisional liturgy for the blessings of same-sex unions approved by General Convention for use in our diocese. Use of this resource comes with a set of guidelines that, I believe, offers an opportunity for spiritual formation for us all and that demonstrates Christian care for couples, clergy, vestries and congregations of every position on the matter.
"Secondly, I have suspended our ordained ministry discernment process for one year so that we might review and refine the process. By this action, and the subsequent committee work, we will gain clarity and insight about what kind of candidates for ordained leadership is best suited to respond to God's mission for the church in the next two decades and beyond."
A source in the diocese says the new bishop takes credit for growing the diocese just by changing the count from parishes to worshipping communities. "Growth. Vitality. Hispanics. Diversity. SSB. Race and Religion. Public Theology. Open Minded Approach to Jesus Christ. He'll make a great Sewanee Chancellor to replace Florida Bishop Samuel Howard in 6 years or sooner if Howard is elected PB."
When he becomes the 16th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York on Feb. 2, the Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche will be responsible for supervising more than 200 congregations from New York City to the Hudson Valley.
He said, "We face a lot of challenges and opportunities. Like all institutions, we suffered after the economic fallout and I want to bring our congregations together to discuss budgetary and assessment practices."
"Budgetary and assessment practices" is code for parishes that are withering and dying. There are not five parishes in the whole diocese that is paying its full assessment and virtually none that are growing.
The Continuers continue to grow. The Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) consecrated three new bishops recently, an indication perhaps that there is movement in a positive direction for the Continuers.
The three were consecrated August 15th in services at St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral in Oakland, California. The Rt. Rev. Dr. John E. Upham, Jr., was consecrated Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Atlantic States. The Rt. Rev. Frank W. Brulc was consecrated Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Southwestern States. And The Rt. Rev. Donald M. Ashman was consecrated Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Western States.
The new Bishops will continue as Rectors of their home churches. The Rt. Rev. Donald M. Ashman has been Rector of the Anglican Church of Our Saviour and Holy Apostles in Los Angeles, California, for over 25 years. The Rt. Rev. Frank W. Brulc is Rector of All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Rt. Rev. John E. Upham, Jr., is Rector of St. George's Anglican Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist told Vatican Radio last week. Reports from Africa, India and Asia showed a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.
Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign, was re-arrested at his home on Christmas Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said Pastor Nadarkhani had been returned to prison Iran. CSW reported he had "been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah," who is also in an Iranian jail for having defended Mr. Nadarkhani.
The Mohabat News service reported that on 27 Dec 2012, approximately 50 converts to Christianity from Islam were also arrested by police in Tehran for unlawful assembly. The converts were released after several hours of police interrogation, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, remains in custody.
In Nigeria, the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, attacked a church service on Christmas Eve in a village in Yobe State, killing the pastor and several members of the congregation. The First Baptist Church in the northern city of Maduguri was attacked by gunmen during a Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and the church's deacon was killed. Reports on the total death count vary, with reports ranging from 12 to 24 killed. CSW reports that since 2010, 45 Christians have been killed in Christmas church attacks launched by Boko Haram.
IN England over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.
The letter was coordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Rev. Chris Newlands, and was signed by fifty-five clergy from across the diocese who are keen to see a supporter of women's ministry appointed as Diocesan Bishop.
What does Shariah Law have to offer Britain? Watch this video and find out: http://www.4thought.tv/themes/what-does-sharia-law-have-to-offer-britain/1259?autoplay=true
Two leading Lutheran clerics have rejected suggestions from the Vatican that it could create a subdivision for converted Lutherans similar to its structures for Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Church.
The dispute, concerning tiny numbers of believers but major issues in ecumenical relations, comes as the churches mark the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week.
Rev Martin Junge, the Chilean-born secretary general of the World Lutheran Federation (WLF), said in a statement that the suggestion has caused great concern and would "send wrong signals to LWF member churches around the world."
Bishop Friedrich Weber, the German Lutheran liaison with the Catholic Church, said the idea was unthinkable and amounted to "an unecumenical incitement to switch sides."
The Vatican announced special structures for disaffected Anglicans in 2009, creating a so-called ordinariate so conservatives opposed to female and homosexual bishops could become Catholic while retaining some of their traditions.
Several thousand Anglicans, including dozens of priests and a few bishops, have joined ordinariates established in England, Australia and Canada. Married clergy are exempted from the obligatory celibacy of the Catholic priesthood.
A Kenyan priest has appealed to Christians around the world to pray for the people of Garissa, a violence-stricken city in the North Eastern Province of Kenya.
The Rev. Canon Francis Omondi's plea comes after at least five people were killed and four others wounded by Somali Islamist group al-Shabab that opened fire on guests at one of the city's local hotels, The Dunes on Jan. 16. Al-Shabab-a clan-based insurgent and terrorist group-has continued its violent insurgency in the area with Christians and security personnel being the main targets of the attacks.
Canon Omondi said, "The targeting of Christians and security personnel is a very worrying trend. Christians should pray for courage in the midst of these pressures."
"The Muslim fundamentalists have no respect for denomination," he said. "They aim to rid Christians from here [along with] the security forces. As a result of this Christians who have not fled live in great fear".
Canon Omondi reminded Christians around the world about their responsibility during such times of strife and violence. "Christians around the world ought to pray for us urgently. We need God to change our situation."
The Canon has refused to leave the region despite the situation being "volatile, tense and very unpredictable." He expounded, "I have been in the region for the last 25 years and my commitment to developing the region holds me here."
Pro-life groups today expressed their grief for the 55 million unborn children aborted since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide and renewed their determination that the ruling - which turns 40 today - will not endure for another generation.
"Today, we remember the 55 million human beings who had the most basic right and freedom tragically stolen from them through abortion, the first right of all -- the right to life," said Lila Rose of Live Action. "Without the right to life, there are no other rights."
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League pointed out that before Roe, even Planned Parenthood admitted the deadly nature of abortion.
"'An abortion kills the life of the baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health'," quoted Donohue, adding: "Those are not the words of a pro-life activist in 2013-those are the words of Planned Parenthood fifty years ago."
The Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, Rector of St. Andrew's Church Mount Pleasant, SC, and his vestry have written a letter to his parish stating that the unnecessary distractions that have come to characterize life within the Episcopal Church would not stifle the church's mission or outreach. "We have planted and revitalized churches and even facilitated the creation of a new diocese. But no servant of Christ can expect such tranquility to last forever. Recently, the Episcopal Church took hostile actions against the Diocese of South Carolina, removing its Bishop (+Mark Lawrence) from ministry and threatening to aggressively litigate for property. The Diocese of South Carolina has filed a request for a declaratory judgment in Dorchester County, S.C. that seeks relief from such actions. As of Jan 21, the vestry of St. Andrew's Church Mount Pleasant voted unanimously to join in this request for declaratory judgment.
"Two words of clarification are in order. In this action we are not seeking anything from Episcopal Church other than our peace. The legal vehicle of a declaratory judgment action filed by the diocese offers us the opportunity to gain clarity and, in turn, peace from the threats voiced by the Episcopal Church against us. We have appealed to the court system, as Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25.11) asking the courts to prevent the Episcopal Church from acting in a manner for which they have no claim. Second, and more importantly, we will refuse to be consumed by this process - keeping the 'main thing' the main thing - and encourage all involved to do likewise. No servant of Christ can expect to go through this life without opposition, but no servant of Christ can use opposition as an excuse to become distracted from the mission.
"At St. Andrew's we exist to "Connect people to the presence and power of Jesus Christ." By God's grace, we will continue to do so."
If I were the devil...a warning to America about its own decay, written in 1965.
I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: "Do as you please." "Do as you please." To the young, I would whisper, "The Bible is a myth." I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is "square". In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: "Our Father, which art in Washington . . ."
If I were the devil, I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I'd threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I'd get organized. I'd infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I'd tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say, "She's right." With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.
If I were Satan, I'd make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps.
In other words, if I were Satan, I'd just keep on doing what he's doing.
Paul Harvey, Good Day.
This was 47 years ago. April 3, 1965. An amazing prediction. You can listen to it here. http://stg.do/9LDc
Wherever possible, VOL always publishes primary source documents before we make commentary or news analysis. We believe it is in the best interests of truth and history that original sources be made available to our readers whenever possible.
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