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Ft. Worth Diocese Will Appeal Lower Court Decision * MDAS Could Pull Out of ACNA * NEW ZEALAND: Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Respond to Motion 29 * TEC Gen. Con. Will Explore Rites for Cohabitators * Clergy Housing Allowance could be Taxed

It has been the priesthood and episcopate through which Satan has introduced every heresy and evil into the Church from schism to heresy to a denial of truth. --- Michael Voris

The power of community has replaced the power of the gospel, when in reality the true gospel brings both --- Rev. Dr. Ashley Null

God in his fullness. The Areopagus address reveals the comprehensiveness of Paul's message. He proclaimed God in his fullness as Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Father and Judge. He took in the whole of time in review, from the creation to the consummation. He emphasized the greatness of God, not only as the beginning and the end of all things, but as the One to whom we owe our being and to whom we must give account. He argued that human beings already know these things by natural or general revelation, and that their ignorance and idolatry are therefore inexcusable. So he called on them with great solemnity, before it was too late, to repent. --- John R.W. Stott

"The Gospels do not explain the Resurrection; the Resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith, it is the Christian faith." --- John Whale, Oxford theologian

Forty-three percent of American children live without their fathers. We are in the middle of an intractable opioid epidemic. Almost half of marriages end in divorce. The number of Americans on psychiatric drugs is creeping toward 20 percent. More people are killing themselves. --- Dean of Patheos

"In my own experience in the Episcopal Church, I could hardly find a priest who could explain the gospel even if given an opportunity. In fact, the majority did not believe that Jesus was the savior of the world. I could never understand this and it perplexes me to this day." --- Anonymous former priest

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
April 13, 2018

When a culture slides into decadence, it does not go quickly. Rather, it oozes into progressively more degraded forms of itself. Cultures rarely end through explosion. They end instead over the course of decades through apathy, attrition and acedia, writes Dean of the Patheos blog.

"Because cultures die slowly, many people believe them immortal. Skeptics look around and see that all the houses still have electricity, that the grocery store remains stocked, that in many places, at least, the streets are still safe. Since they see no sudden and total crash of civilization, they imagine no end is coming. Anyone who says differently, they dismiss as crackpots with a doom addiction.

"The skeptics' confusion springs from failing to understand that cultural blight makes itself felt chiefly in the personal arena. Cultural collapses are always felt as personal crises. Skeptics look outward for some approaching devastation and, seeing none, return to their comfortable convictions about tomorrow."

What Collapse Really Looks Like

They should look inward instead. Evidence of our cultural deterioration is everywhere on the personal level. Almost half of kids have no dad. 43 percent of American children live without their fathers. We are in the middle of an intractable opioid epidemic. Almost half of marriages end in divorce. The number of Americans on psychiatric drugs is creeping toward 20 percent. More people are killing themselves.

The sign of a dying culture isn't barbarians in the streets. It's the suicidal single mom wandering around Costco while she gets her Xanax prescription filled.

Even people unaffected by these particular problems are suffering. A life of commuting and consumption isn't good enough. We feel restless. No amount of junk food, sports talk radio and porn can make up for the lack of purpose, authority, order and meaning that characterizes life in the contemporary West.

And the sad truth is that churches don't reflect a counter culture of salvation or hope. Liberalism with its countless social activist programs, its imbibing of pansexuality, offers nothing but palliatives and bromides against the darkening night of the soul that millions of Americans are now afflicted with.

The liberal churches betrayed the deepest spiritual longings of the human soul for social programs of human amelioration, and for that betrayal they emptied churches even as the vacuous ramblings of do goodism and moral compromise echoed from pulpits. Men and women quietly slunk away, their souls crying out for bread when all they got were stones.

We are, in a word, homeless, writes Dean. "This inward homelessness is pervasive and intense across the West. Even when barely conscious of it, we feel out of place, bereft, directionless on a sea of empty pleasures. Human beings are, because of our alienation from our Creator, always homeless. In the most profound sense, our sojourn on earth is entirely an experience of displacement."

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you," wrote Augustine.

Those of who retain the faith find ourselves exiled from the world and the churches, refusing to stir out our lives with coffee spoons, we inwardly yearn for that kingdom to come, "on earth as it is heaven." A therapist friend calls it "fright/flight".

Christianity in America is being repudiated by Millennials because of societal and spiritual corruption and the profound confusion over the shrill cry for civil religion, (God, flag and country) while genuine faith is lost in the hotbed of social media.

It is any wonder that loneliness and fatherlessness are becoming the two prevailing issues of the 21st century.

You can read Revisiting The Fatherhood Crisis Of Our Civilization here: https://tinyurl.com/y9rzvmj5

*****

While TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry keeps telling one and all to breathe the mountain air of reconciliation, whole dioceses remain in litigation over properties. In the case of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, now in its tenth year! Backwards and forwards they go in one court and then into another.

In the latest round, the Diocese of Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker will file an appeal in the Texas Supreme Court to counter the Second Court of Appeals long-awaited opinion in its dispute with TEC over the ownership of their church property which reversed the previous trial court ruling in their favor (dated July 2015). "After review by our legal team, we have concluded that this most recent appellate court opinion is not consistent with what the Texas Supreme Court previously decided when it addressed this controversy in 2013 and that we will appeal it," said a press release from the diocese.

"In reversing the original trial court ruling in favor of TEC's claims, the Supreme Court instructed the trial court to rehear the case and to use neutral principles of law in reaching a conclusion, instead of deference to TEC. This means that Texas laws concerning corporations, property, trusts, and unincorporated associations are to direct the outcome of the lawsuit."

"In the meantime, everything remains as it has been, as we continue to wait for a conclusion to this tiresome litigation now entering its tenth year before the courts. Our trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and we rely upon His grace to sustain us with faith and patience in the months to come. Please continue to pray for our legal team and for the justices who will address our petition."

What is at stake in both the dioceses of Ft. Worth and South Carolina is more than a billion dollars' worth of properties, not to mention the disruption it will cause for priests and parishes alike. You might think that the deal cut in the Diocese of Pittsburgh recently would be a model for these two dioceses.

In effect, the agreement did not declare a winner in each side's claims to control the properties -- the parishes as title holders or the diocese as legal beneficiary.

The agreement called for the parishes to pay an annual fee to the Episcopal Diocese. For the first 20 years of the Agreement, the annual fee will be 3.25% of the operating revenues of the parish for the prior calendar year. The ACNA diocese need not worry. The Episcopal diocese will be out of business long before then. Demographically, the Episcopal Church is on a long slide into oblivion, with nothing short of revival to bring it back from the dead; there is no likelihood of that happening as God is doing a "new thing" with the formation of the ACNA.

*****

The Rt. Rev. William Ilgenfritz, Bishop Ordinary of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, (MDAS) a non-geographic diocese of the ACNA, told delegates to their recent Synod that the ordination of women is symptomatic of deeper problems with the ACNA. "It is not the sole problem. I urge MDAS to keep the dialogue open for a possible exit ramp with the Polish National Catholic Church and the Nordic Catholic Church via the Scranton Union."

Some bishops claim the goal of GAFCON and ACNA is to complete the Reformation. The Anglo-Catholic viewpoint and practice are being pushed out of the Church in favor of an evangelical Protestant viewpoint and practice.

An early report that the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) might join them was not true. REC Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton told VOL that he and Bishop David Hicks were not invited to the MDAS synod meeting to talk about the REC leaving ACNA. "If anything, we were there to discuss how the REC might assist the MDAS within ACNA.

"If you know of my deep passion for the unity of God's faithful, and the REC's history as one of the founding members of ACNA to this end, then you should have a sense of how important it is to us to stay together in ACNA, even though we have differences on the important issue of women's ordination."

Sutton said that while WO presents many challenges in walking together, "By God's grace we have been led to a way where we can proclaim the Lord's Gospel together in Word and Sacrament, and even participate in strategic, ecumenical, kingdom building dialogues with other significant branches of the Lord's Church. Without our provincial unity and our relationship to GAFCON, these dialogues would not be possible."

*****

As the Anglican Communion heads towards Lambeth 2020, The Lambeth Palace spin machine is in full swing. There is a whole slew of propaganda pieces Canterbury is putting out about "walking together" and "good disagreement." We know of course that it is not true, but they do keep trying.

One major thorn in the flesh of Lambeth 2020 is, of course GAFCON III, which meets in two months in Jerusalem. The chairman, Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria, is singing a quite different tune. He issued his April letter to his followers, urging Anglican Evangelicals to be steadfast against growing Western apostasy and warned against compromise with a counterfeit gospel.

He urged faithful Anglicans to avoid the seductive calls to unity whether through money or unity which is based merely on shared history rather than shared truth.

He sent signals to American Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz that their interference in the Global South with money to buy allegiance and phony unity conferences designed to play down differences based on culture and opt for "good disagreement" is unacceptable.

"Some of you face challenges such as persecution, disease, communal strife and food insecurity. Some have to struggle with less physically threatening problems which can still be very hard as you are marginalized because of your faithfulness and those who were once friends draw back from you. But in all these circumstances the resurrection of Jesus from the dead assures us that despite the sins, confusions, suffering and setbacks that are part of our experience now, ultimate victory is certain," he wrote.

You can read his full statement here: https://tinyurl.com/yasw5y9e

*****

The Episcopal Church will hit a new low this summer when the Church meets for General Convention in Austin, Texas. A resolution will be on the table proposing non-marriage Rites for cohabitation (aka) fornication. It will, in all likelihood pass. Moral boundaries no longer exist in TEC except for adultery.

At the 2000 General Convention, the Episcopal Church passed resolution D039, which acknowledged relationships other than marriage, but characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and something called "holy love". A handful of bishops dissented.

Now, 18 years later, this summer's convention delegates will be asked to pass yet another resolution proposing non-marriage rites as ways to minister (celebrate) cohabitants who live in monogamous relationships outside of marriage. You can read my full report here: https://tinyurl.com/y82pgfmb

*****

St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA reopened this past week amid much joy and anticipation. About 100 congregants met to mark a homecoming of sorts. For three years, this congregation, evicted from the church on Via Lido by their former bishop J. Jon Bruno, led a nomadic existence, but remained hopeful that they would return to their home church someday. Now that has been realized. Bruno had planned to sell the piece of prime real estate to developers, twice, and was suspended for his dealings over this issue.

But the true history of this church lies elsewhere. It was built by orthodox Episcopalians who paid for it and then had it stolen from them. The parish throve under the Rev. David Anderson in the 90's and then it all fell apart when the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, was consecrated in 2004.

In the 1990s under the leadership of Fr. David Anderson, the church began to play an important role in the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church. In 1996, new administration, fellowship and education facilities were completed and in 2001, a new sanctuary was completed. Fr. Anderson retired and was succeeded by Rev. Praveen Bunyan in 2003. Robinson's election changed all that and they were forced to disaffiliate from the diocese and TEC. St. James was soon joined in secession by All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood. All three churches were then sued for their property by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church. Exit the faithful.

Last Sunday, Bishop John Taylor welcomed congregants back, making his sermon all about reconciliation and urged everyone to move forward as one united church casting aside past differences and hard feelings. Really. With who and whom? To my knowledge, now ACNA Bishop David Anderson has not gotten a call and neither has the most immediate former rector, Richard Crocker.

Can the parish thrive with only 100 members? It will get a pop based on victimhood, but that does not last forever. The woman rector has no understanding of the gospel, so don't expect the long-term to hold. With new county rulings, the property can never be sold to a developer. The diocese might ultimately be stuck with another dying, but expensive piece of real estate to maintain.

*****

IN NEW ZEALAND, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans responded to Motion 29 allowing for authorized services for same-sex marriage and pushed back.

They said the Motion went too far and was inconsistent with the Formularies of the church and will result in changes to the church's doctrine and practice regarding sexual relationships. It will allow for the blessing of not only homosexual couples, but also heterosexual couples who are not married. This will cause significant problems for the consciences of many who minister, serve and participate in the life of our church. They will be required to declare their obedience to rules and regulations which contradict the teaching of Scripture and the historical practice of the Christian church. There will be many who will not be able to sign due obedience to these new canons and will therefore be unable to retain episcopal licenses. By allowing for the authorized introduction of such doctrine and practice, this church risks losing many faithful men and women, both lay and ordained.

They also said the Motion did not go far enough. They said the recommendations failed to provide structural safeguards for those within the church who hold differing theological convictions on this matter from their diocesan bishop. They cited the example of Rev. Michael Hewat and the Parish of West Hamilton in 2014 which showed that relational solutions were not enough, and with no structural safeguards available, their licenses were lost and they found themselves outside of the Province.

How will this all play out? VOL predicts badly as it has done in the US and Canada. Alternative Episcopal Oversight is one option, but that usually does not play out well, or as planned. Liberal bishops foam at the mouth when an orthodox bishop appears in their diocese. The other option is the formation of an Extra Provincial Diocese, done collaboratively and with goodwill which would endorse the gospel of the Lord Jesus rather than bring it into disrepute. That might work, but if such a diocese should be recognized by GAFCON, it will amount to an ACNA type situation and the two sides will never talk again.

A split is inevitable and property wars will begin. This will not have a good ending.

*****

For a fine article on C.S. Lewis, Evangelism, and Cultural Engagement click here:
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/april/cs-lewis-evangelism-and-cultural-engagement.html?utm_source=edstetzer&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=17244483&utm_content=576798288&utm_campaign=email

*****

The Church of England should lose its protections under the Equalities Act that allow it to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality, Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool and David Ison, the dean of St Paul's Cathedral say. Both backed Jeremy Pemberton, a gay priest who was blocked from being a hospital chaplain after marrying his partner.

They are supporting the Ozanne Foundation, a charity launched recently by Jayne Ozanne, a lesbian who is campaigning against what she calls discrimination within religious institutions.

The Church of England is exempt from equality laws, meaning it can discriminate on the basis of religion, requiring candidates for certain roles to be Christian. However, it can also discriminate over sex, sexuality, marital history and gender identity.

"We want to ask the churches to answer the question -- if we mean what we say about opposing homophobia, if we believe what we say about wanting to include everyone, if we believe that God made every one they are, then what does that imply for our public policies?" Bishop Bayes told Christian Today.

Bayes then went on to make the absurd and unproven statement that failure to redefine marriage leads to LGBTI suicide! But as columnist Julian Mann observes, the tragedy of suicide did not deter Jesus from heterosexual definition of marriage. You can read his commentary here: https://tinyurl.com/ya87r4ay

You can read Bill Muehlenberg's excellent article The Gayification of Everything here: http://www.virtueonline.org/gayification-everything

*****

The Living Church reports that as priests file 2017 taxes ahead of this year's April 17 deadline, experts in tax and constitutional law have a message for them and their congregations: enjoy these good times while they last, because a clergy tax hike could be coming.

The clergy housing allowance, a cherished perk that lets the ordained avoid federal income tax on some or all of their compensation, faces the stiffest challenge in its 64-year history. With a 2017 ruling from the Western District of Wisconsin, federal judge Barbara Crabb found the allowance unconstitutional and rendered a decision that could have national implications. You can read the full story here: https://livingchurch.org/2018/04/12/clergy-housing-taxes-may-change/

*****

The Episcopal Church is mounting a full-court press to save St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, North Carolina, ahead of an autumn accreditation review that could make or break the 151-year-old, church-affiliated, historically black institution, according to The Living Church.

In a bid to satisfy creditors who need to see much-improved financial stability this year, St. Augustine's has raised about $3 million, President Everett Ward said. But that's not enough. The school still needs to raise another $3 million before June 30, he told TLC in a March interview.

St. Augustine's has an annual budget of about $26 million and had a $1.7 million deficit last year, Ward said. The school has been tackling deferred maintenance on buildings dating to the 1970s and '80s, but still aims to end the fiscal year with a surplus, which is what accreditors like to see.

From fundraising tours to in-kind donations, the church's campaign to rescue St. Augustine's before it's too late has been a pillar of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's racial reconciliation agenda for his episcopacy since his installation in 2015. It also marks an attempt, observers say, to learn from past mistakes, including costly indifference and neglect that preceded closure of other Episcopal-affiliated historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as recently as 2013.

Of course, if TEC had not spent MILLIONS of dollars on lawsuits to reclaim properties, it would be a no brainer to bail out the university. You can read the full story here:
https://livingchurch.org/2018/04/12/church-rallies-for-surviving-schools/

*****

The Archbishop of Canterbury loves to make nice with Nigerians except for the Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh. Recently, Justin Welby met with Nigerian President Muhammdu in London. Welby revealed that "the complex security situation in Nigeria" was on the agenda.

Welby took to his Facebook page to provide highlights of their discussion. The Nigerian Presidency had earlier circulated a statement detailing what both men discussed.

The update by Welby was accompanied by a photograph showing him presenting a copy of his book. Welby expressed deep concern about the suffering resulting from raids on Christian communities and villages as far south as Delta State. "We discussed the causes of such depredations, which have led to very many deaths and threaten an escalation of violence. I urged measures to restore confidence in the neutrality of the state and spoke of the suffering of the poor in such tragedies."

So why was the Nigerian Primate kept out of the loop, probably for the same reason he was kept out of the loop when Nigerian Bishop Josiah Adowu-Fearon was appointed to head up the liberal leaning, Welby-kissing Anglican Consultative Council. And you wonder why "good disagreement" is a fiction in the minds of Global South Primates. Don't look for any talk of reconciliation now or in the future with GAFCON primates.

*****

About 50 top leaders of major evangelical institutions will attend an invitation-only gathering next week to discuss the future and the "soul" of evangelicalism at a time when many of them are concerned their faith group has become tainted by its association with divisive politics under President Trump.

The diverse group, which includes nationally known pastors such as Tim Keller and A.R. Bernard, is expected to include leaders of major ministries, denominations, colleges and seminaries. The gathering will take place at Wheaton College, an evangelical college outside of Chicago, according to organizer Doug Birdsall, honorary chair of Lausanne, an international movement of evangelicals.

The gathering, which has been in the works for several months and was discussed at evangelist Billy Graham's funeral last month, will take place before the expected meeting of a separate group of evangelicals who advise, defend and praise Trump. Those leaders, which include members of Trump's informal advisory council, are considering convening at Trump International Hotel in Washington in June.

The purpose of the Wheaton meeting is to try to shift the conversation back to core questions of the faith and Trump, as an individual, will not be the focus of discussion, Birdsall said. Nonetheless, the president will be the "elephant in the room," he said, because under his leadership the term "evangelical" has become negatively associated in the minds of many Americans with regard to topics such as racism and nationalism.

*****

AARP put out a brochure title HACKING LONGEVITY on the stages of life. What was interesting is this description of the various stages people go through in later periods of life.

From 65 to 70 spending more time with grandchildren, caring for parents replaces caring for kids; more worried about being a physical burden versus a financial burden.
From 70 to 75 not having a schedule creates freedoms and the first-time own age is considered 'old'.
From 75 to 80+ the two most important things were faith is a priority and connecting with others is key.

*****

Please go to VOL's webpage www.virtueonline.org and FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/virtueonline/ for more stories and your comments.

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Thank you for your support.

In Christ,

David

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