SOUTHERN CONE PRIMATE LASHES LIBERALS
By David W. Virtue
TORONTO, ONT: (6/17/2005)--"We saw this coming; the 1998 Lambeth Conference was an ecclesiastical one flew over the cuckoos nest, with documents being lost and more. We had two priorities; to work hard to make it happen and we had to lay a foundation for the future."
The Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, told 800 besieged orthodox Canadian Anglicans here that God is going to have the last word in all of this.
"You ain't seen nothin' yet." Venables said, "I am here in the name of the global millions and millions of faithful Anglican Christians. You are not alone, you won't be alone. There are no frontiers to the Christian gospel."
Venables blasted liberal Anglicans saying, the full authority of the Anglican Communion rests on Holy Scripture. "Our authority is the Word of God. God has spoken is the foundation of all our doctrinal considerations. We do not go to scripture with doctrine. We go to Scripture to find doctrine. We do not find supporting texts for our causes. You have got to use the whole of Scripture for the whole of what God says. There must be no finding verses to support what we think."
As far as the Anglican Communion is concerned that has not changed, he said.
"If you believe the bible is the revealed word of God; if you believe that the Bible is in line with the Anglican Communion then that was clearly affirmed at Lambeth 1998. The issue of human sexuality must not be taken lightly, it is not the major issue, but you cannot take God's word to suit our culture."
Venables said that at Dromantine the homosexuality issue was raised in the context of Canadian culture by Archbishop Hutchison and he said it should be accepted by the church, Pakistani Primate Malik got up and said, "then you won't mind if I bring four wives with me to the next Primates meeting because that is the way things are in my country."
"Christianity does not submit to culture, culture submits to Christianity. Obeying God is true freedom. The theological position of the Anglican Communion has been clarified and firmly established. Heterosexual life long marriage is in line with the Anglican Communion."
Venables said that when ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold tried to spin what happened at Dromantine with his 'languagespeak', Venables said he looked at him and said "that's weird". He told Griswold that the body [of Christ] works in coordination with Jesus who is the head and one with the Father.
The Southern Cone primate reiterated that what happened at Dromantine, Northern Ireland was that the Primates agreed that Canada and ECUSA violated agreed Anglican faith and practice.
"These two positions [on human sexuality] are irreconcilable. It was said very clearly that you cannot hold those two [opposite] positions together. In Ireland we said that and we made it abundantly clear."
"The Primates met together in love and politeness and good will, and we agreed that the only way for this situation to work was too lovingly and politely and with enormous good will say will you please stand outside for a few years and consider your position in the Anglican Communion. It grieves us enormously that that love and good will, kindness and desire to say that was not really what was meant [in the final statement]. When you know this is the only way, it is not easy to ask someone to step outside."
Venables said the wonderful diversity of Anglicanism has a limit. "We do not live in an expanding series of concentric circles. We live in wonderful place called the Kingdom of God, and there is an in and there is an out. There will be a final judgment, and that does not go down very well in post modern America and Europe."
"There are two 'no no' words. One starts with 'h' and ends with 'l' and the other is a 'no no' word that nobody in 1998 [Lambeth] wanted to say and that word was SIN. How can you preach the gospel without preaching about sin? We all need God's forgiveness."
Venables said the Anglican Communion does not have adequate mechanisms to deal with these situations. "No one has defined the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Primates. No one is able to execute that authority."
Bishop Donald Harvey (Newfoundland ret.) and moderator of the Canadian Network said he was pleased by the recent actions of the Diocese of Arctic, the largest geographic diocese in Canada, which adopted the Montreal declaration.
"When I was up there a priest asked me, is the first chapter of Romans still in the bible? Last year in Ottawa I spoke from Acts 18:9-10 and I will, like Paul, go on speaking and I will not be silent. We must try and purify the church to reach out and bring people in. We must stand firm for the faith before us. The Primates spoke out of love and there was no ambiguity at all."
Harvey said he had no doubt what will have to be done if the church goes in the wrong direction. "There is a fear of persecution from fellow clergy at deanery meetings. There is a complacent - we can always get along - and stay intact mentality. I am told repeatedly that I am doing more harm than good by stirring up the pot. Give it time the complacency will have worked."
"It will be a sad day for Canada when the Anglican Church here separates itself from the Anglican Communion, and no voices speak out. We will be the voice that will tell this Church that we do not want to see the Church split up into various factions and sections and we need to go back to our foundational roots."
Harvey said the Canadian House of Bishops issued a letter saying they will neither encourage or initiate same sex blessings. "We need another document that says we will forbid it, and then we will know the HOB speaks with the authority of Holy Scripture. Time is running out."
The Network leader said an African Primate told him that "you came to us with the gospel and now we need to tell you what you told us."
ECUSA Network leader, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan said that what we were seeing now was the failed leadership of the old systems of the West. "It has to do with all of you. You have become most wanted fugitives. Flee from false teaching, be one of the most wanted list. There are so many faces on the fugitive posters. May their number ever increase. The tide in this battle has changed and that is why they [the revisionists] are behaving very badly; it has gotten more difficult and our enemy is angry. The tide of the war has changed and there are more casualties."
The leadership of the west has failed and is failing, said Duncan. "The HOB of ECUSA was shocked by the ferocity of the Global South. The leadership of the West has failed, the Western systems are failing and they will not be brought back to life. The ECUSA will not be brought be back. Sadly it is not possible though we continue to work for it."
Duncan said that the upcoming ACC meetings in Nottingham will be too severely compromised to bring out any good. "What comes out of that meeting will not save the situation; there is not enough there to save the situation. The precedents don't provide for a way of dealing with the situation we have never had before. There is nobody in the official structures of the West that I trust to save us. The western systems are failing. The faithful are frustrated around the world."
The Rev. Bill Murdoch, New England Dean of the Network said the conflict was also about property. "Even if we fix the church it belongs to the diocese. How can we call a new rector if the diocesan bishop doesn't approve of that person, if he considers him or her orthodox?"
Murdoch said a revisionist bishop feared an authoritative warden because he has a lot more power than a local priest. "The priest is under orders. The revisionist bishops have Canon Law but they do not have canon jail."
Murdoch said we need to suffer for the offences of the gospel. "Decisions are going to be made in the next two years that are united, clear and Anglican."
Algoma Bishop Ron Ferris said there was a growing theological divide. "It is not simply a difference of opinion on a single moral issue. The issue is a reflection of a widening chasm of Creedal faith, Scriptural obedience and Christian discipline. Historic Christianity seems to have been overtaken by a universalist fundamentalism. Our Church, and many of our closest friends seem smitten. As with other infatuations, appeal to responsibility and the moral order are no longer compelling."
Ferris said the average Sunday attendance of the Canadian Church nationally was less than 150,000. "Many congregations are facing enormous adversities of which this is just one. The conflict must be channeled and contained in disciplined and effective measure. It will need to focus on issues rather than personalities, truth over spin, convincing over intimidating and building over dismantling."
"The Chinese, Cree, Inuit, Caribbean, South Asia and Afro-Anglican churches, as well as many dioceses, could distance themselves from structures that are seen to be promoting teachings and lifestyle contrary to 2000 years of Christian discipline."
Ferris said the doctrine of inclusion undermines all basic Christian teaching. A gospel of inclusion is embarrassed about any unique claims for Jesus Christ and eventually you end with universalist fundamentalism.
The Algoma bishop said he saw signs of hope. "The Canadian scene is not presently as divided as the US episcopal scene. We have a smaller House of Bishops where strong bonds of mutual affection and respect prevail.
"But we know that our church is coming into a storm that all side wishes we did not have to go through. We do not know what the future holds. Will it be common, or will there be many new expression of the Anglican Church, some flourishing, some floundering? We need to suffer our griefs and losses with charity and good will to all. We need to prepare ourselves to enter unfamiliar terrain."
The Rt. Rev. Malcolm Harding, an ambassador of Anglican Renewal Ministries and the former Bishop of the Diocese of Brandon, Manitoba said they are waiting in solidarity with our Lord to take some decisive action and that might become necessary. "We are preparing a way for an Anglican grass roots renewal. We are not going anywhere no matter what happens."
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