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VANCOUVER, BC: Bishop Michael Ingham's Inglorious Reign

VANCOUVER, BC: Bishop Michael Ingham's Inglorious Reign

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
November 29, 2010

"Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear.
No one comes near...
All the lonely people Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people Where do they all belong? --- Eleanor Rigby from The Beatles album

When the final chapters of the ultra-liberal Anglican Diocese of New Westminster are penned, written on the tombstone of Bishop Michael Ingham will be these words, "He proudly emptied the churches of his diocese in the name of his god."

Perhaps he will, in his dying moments, recall the words of a certain judge that in making a grab for four orthodox parishes that believe everything he doesn't, the clergy in the Diocese will, for the foreseeable future, find themselves ministering to vastly reduced or non-existent congregations. The judge is living proof that the "children of darkness are sometimes wiser than the children of light." Of course, in this case, it is arguable whether Ingham has ever seen the light.

In the words of Paul McCartney, the Fr. Mackenzies of the diocese are writing sermons no one will ever hear because the gay and liberal agit-prop mouthed by politically correct liberal clergy has proven to save no one and nothing.

Bishop Ingham dismissed the four churches who fled his ecclesiastical grip as a "fringe group". Really. Within a decade he and his ilk will be the "fringe group" as parishes continue to close and the diocese, already in the early stages of ecclesiastical Alzheimer's, will only worsen. That is always the trajectory of liberal theology and the rectors they spawn. Like diseased salmon, they wait in the shallows for their own inevitable end.

The takeover begins inauspiciously enough. First, they infiltrate solidly grounded orthodox parishes. Over time, they cajole people into believing that sexual inclusivity, especially sodomy, is acceptable because some poor sod dies of AIDS and his parents believe the church should change its thinking and teaching to accommodate him. Before you know it, the parish priest has a case of misplaced compassion and it is all over. The orthodox are made to feel homophobic for not demonstrating enough pain. In time, the liberals win, the parish abandons historic teaching on sex and marriage and the orthodox leave. In time, the parish withers and dies. It is all done, of course, with the blessing and nod of the bishop. In this case, Michael Ingham.

Is it any wonder then that John Shelby Spong, former Newark bishop, launched his latest book "The Sins of Scripture" at Christ Church Cathedral a year ago. He started his speaking tour for the book there. Apparently, Ingham is his favorite Bishop.

Across the water, the Diocese of British Columbia will close 14 parishes, ahead of the Diocese of Westminster, living proof that if you have no discernible gospel to offer, the New York Times and the Sunday morning crossword offers more for your brain than some appalling politically correct sermon on tolerance for Islam.

The judges in the B.C. Appeal court, while ruling in favor of the Anglican Church of Canada, hinted that pursuing an action [such as this] would further alienate parishioners and is not without consequence. Ingham ignored their concerns, of course. Why listen to the wisdom of men who might know what they are talking about?

Consequences, too, be damned. Ingham couldn't wait to announce that he was taking over the parishes with his own brand of ecclesiastical storm troopers.

"[The] Bishop and the Diocesan Synod of New Westminster have chosen to pursue the matter to the extent they have -- despite the opposition of many of their parishioners," the judges wrote.

"Presumably [they] have chosen to take the risk that the policy allowing same-sex blessings will indeed prove to be 'schismatic'; or that clergy in the Diocese will for the foreseeable future find themselves ministering to vastly reduced or non-existent congregations. That, however, is their decision to make," they concluded.

Indeed it is. Ingham's theology and ecclesiology is better suited to a Vancouver gay bar than to the magisterial theology of the Rev. David Short, rector of the largest parish in Canada - St. John's, Shaughnessy - a parish Ingham now lays claim to. Is it any wonder that Hell is as real as Heaven and filled with clerics who distort the gospel message leading themselves and others astray, ultimately supping with the Devil?

Short and those who have ably defended the gospel perhaps knew they could not win in the courts, but they have laid to rest the old saw that schism is worse than heresy. They will move to new locations taking the vast majority of their parishioners with them. The faith will be maintained even as $20 million in property is sacrificed. Jesus did not die for real estate.

The Good Shepherd Church in the foursome is the largest Chinese Anglican Church in Canada - about 300 folk with the Rt. Rev. Steven Leung as their rector. He is also a new Bishop in ANiC for mission and outreach to the Canadian Chinese population.

Ingham's desecration of the diocese began in the New Westminster Diocesan Synod in June of 2002 when 80 clergy and delegates walked out with Ingham "wanting to make a name for himself and literally change the Anglican world" as their New Age Bishop. Behind it all was a concerted drive to destroy the evangelical Anglican witness of rectors like David Short.

Also noticeably included among those later inhibited by Ingham on the absurd charge that he had publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada was world renowned Anglican theologian Dr. J.I. Packer whose theological boots Ingham is not fit to shine. It continues still with a vengeance in the liberal Courts of BC, also known as British California, with the lawyer for the Diocese now seeking to overturn British Columbia's anti-polygamy laws.

Sodomy, polygamy, polyamory, transgendered...no sexual preference shall be left unturned or undefended even as the Judeo-Christian basis of Western thought slips slowly into English Bay to be swallowed up and regurgitated as diversity, inclusivity and a boundary free morality.

It is ironic that at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, Ingham opined that Resolution 1:10 is a clear tendency toward biblical fundamentalism, a use of Scripture in uncritical and even uncharitable ways that was evident in sermons at the daily Eucharist and in discussions at the daily Bible Studies. "It was as if the last hundred and fifty years of biblical theology and academic research had never happened for many participants."

One must suppose then that German Higher Criticism and Form Criticism has done wonders for his diocese with exuberant rectors offering the latest and best in biblical criticism and then, scratching their heads, wonder why they have failed to win converts, fill churches and their own coffers.

Ingham's conversion from historic Christianity to post-modernity continued with a savage attack on the sacredness of marriage. On May 29, 2003, Ingham authorized gay blessings, a move that brought opprobrium from orthodox archbishops across the globe. Undeterred, Ingham further raised the middle finger at orthodox Anglican bishops by authorizing a Rite for the Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Covenants. Clergy in six parishes within the Diocese took up the offer.

In his book "Mansions of the Spirit: The Gospel in a Multi-Faith World", Ingham clarifies his new fangled "gospel" declaring Yes, "Christian exclusivism" continues to shape the doctrines taught in legions of fundamentalist, evangelical, and Orthodox churches, and in Two-Thirds of World Anglican and Catholic churches. Nevertheless, he argues, people of faith can see a broader, more inclusive gospel emerging in postmodern Christendom.

"The early Church's dogmatic "exclusivism," which warped the loving, prophetic teachings of Jesus, is giving way to a new age of religious pluralism," wrote Ingham, but it is a pluralism that will have no truck with the likes of David Short or J.I. Packer.

That the church announced salvation through Christ alone was a tragic mistake, argued the bishop. "The early Church was wrong. Today, after centuries of rigid orthodoxy, Ingham is convinced that more enlightened bishops, theologians, and mystics are outvoting the church fathers. The truth is that God intended people to use many paths to reach the divine. Thus, all world religions possess a piece of the greater mystery that humans have called God, or the gods. All religions contain errors as well as truths."

Is it any wonder then that orthodox Canadian Anglicans can no longer stay under Ingham's authority? It is why a number of Pennsylvania parishes could no longer stay under Bishop Charles E. Bennison whose theology mirrors that of Michael Ingham's and John Shelby Spong.

One newspaper headline read, "Tyrant. Dictator. Heretic. Totalitarian. Revisionist. Maverick. Renegade: Bishop Michael Ingham gets called a lot of names"? And why not, if the shoe fits?

Over time, thirteen mostly-rural Canadian bishops out of a total of 40 publicly chastised him. The vast majority of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates expressed "regret" at Ingham's consent to same-sex blessings, but still no one would bring him to trial for heresy because the Canadian archbishop's views quietly mirror those of Ingham. He would not want to face the same derision from Ingham that John Spong was capable of dishing out at those who disagreed with him.

Over the past few years a half-dozen Archbishops and bishops have flown to Vancouver to denounce Ingham and to perform sacramental duties under his nose with at least four primates offering to be "flying bishops" to Vancouver's dissidents. This only infuriated Ingham all the more.

The win this past week in the courts must smell like victory for the revisionist bishop whose deconstructionist gospel is emptying his churches. Time, however, is not on his side. His diocese is dying. It cannot be kept alive on the pluriform dung heap of religious pluralism. That is a recipe for disaster.

A Vancouver Anglican leader caught in the midst of the fray wrote VOL to say that "Michael Ingham is our own best friend - the very instrument God is using to grow us up to maturity in Christ. We are refined in the refiner's fire. Character is forged in the anvil of God's heat. God knows and He is sharpening us daily for the battle ahead. He has always worked this way since the beginning of Israel."

Where it is all headed is still anyone's guess. The Supreme Court of Canada may or may not hear the case.

Legally, Ingham has deposed the priests following the lawsuit and he is free to appoint new priests. There are not enough evangelical Anglicans in the diocese to fill four parishes, a source told VOL.

But Ingham cannot discipline, punish or sack any of the lay officials who are the trustees of the properties. Although the court has ruled the trusts cannot be transferred out of the diocese, it does not mean that Ingham has or can gain control of the trusts. The long and short of it all is that if the laity stay and give Ingham's Potemkin priests a hard time. Ingham can rage all he wants, but he has no power over the laity.

In truth the the laity have two options. One is to walk out the door and leave the key and checkbook in the Narthex and start up somewhere else, or the laity can stay and fight the new Ingham-appointed priests, forcing the priests, in time, to leave disillusioned. The priests can only do what the law allows, but they cannot compel conscience. It is a double-edged judgment - the trusts cannot be taken out of the diocese nor do they belong to the diocese. Furthermore the laity will outlive Ingham.

The victory for Ingham is entirely pyrrhic. It is a symbolic victory without substance. In the long run he will lose. Time is against him and so is his morally bankrupt ecclesiastical world.

END

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