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Oxford Diocese Faces Meltdown over Homosexual Marriage * Evangelicals Push Back * Pro-Homosexual Anglican Cleric Appointed to Holy See in Rome * Homosexual Marriage all but assured in TEC. Diocese of Albany holdout * ACoC Okays Assisted Suicide

Oxford Diocese Faces Meltdown over Homosexual Marriage * Evangelicals Push Back * Pro-Homosexual Anglican Cleric Appointed to Holy See in Rome * Homosexual Marriage all but assured in TEC. Diocese of Albany holdout * Anglican Church of Canada Okays Assisted Suicide * Homosexual Toronto Bishop Marries Partner * Colorado Baker can sue State for anti-religious Bias * Abortion leading cause of death in 2018 * Lammin Sanneh Dies

Submission to Christ. Our primary authority is Jesus Christ our Teacher and our Lord, and our submission to Scripture is only the logical outcome and necessary expression of our submission to him. It is to Christ that we come; but Christ sends us to a book. Not that the book to which he sends us is a dead and wooden letter, or an authoritarian ogre. He bids us listen rather to his own voice as he speaks to our particular situation by his Spirit and through his written Word. --- John R.W. Stott

"Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all." ― J.C. Ryle

More than a museum. Scripture is far more than a collection of ancient documents in which the words of God are preserved. It is not a kind of museum in which God's Word is exhibited behind glass like a relic or fossil. On the contrary, it is a living word to living people from the living God, a contemporary message for the contemporary world. --- John R.W. Stott

"Hell is truth known too late." ― J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
January 11, 2019

THE OXFORD DIOCESE in the Church of England faced a meltdown this week when a large number of clergy rejected Bishop Steven Croft's views on human sexuality, specifically homosexual marriage.

As a result, the diocese faces an uncertain future.

A letter to the bishops, signed by a wide grouping of more than 100 church ministers says that "the situation in the diocese is serious. If not addressed, we would all struggle to support the leadership of our bishops in this matter and a number of our churches may want to seek alternative means of receiving episcopal ministry, in recognition that your position is seriously differentiated from theirs. This would be a tragedy."

The warning comes in response to the Oxford bishops' offer of "interim LGBT guidance and support" in their diocese last October, in a move seen by many as pre-empting the outcome of the official Church of England's "Living in Love and Faith" discussions on sexuality, which will not conclude until 2020.

The letter to the bishops was sent before Christmas, and, in turn, the bishops have responded to the signatories with a statement of their own. Both documents appeared in the public domain on the website of the Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship.

Clergy signatories include conservative evangelical Canon Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe's Oxford, who has openly spoken of his celibacy despite same-sex attraction and the leading charismatic churchman Canon Charlie Cleverly, Rector of St Aldate's, Oxford. Their two congregations are among the largest in the diocese. There are also signatories who are lay people and retired clergy, including the distinguished author, evangelist and lecturer Dr Michael Green.

The letter says: "Our overriding concern is with the direction of travel which the Diocese is taking as revealed by this letter. In its desire for new expressions of "inclusion", it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction. We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible's teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit."

They continue: As Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany in the Episcopal Church of the USA said last month in relation to the introduction of "blessings" for same-sex couples, it "does a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman."

In response, Bishop Steven Croft, Colin Fletcher, Alan Wilson and Andrew Proud, write: "There is no desire on our part to diminish support for those who are seeking to uphold and to live within the Church of England's current teaching. We have specifically included a commitment to undertake some further listening here."

They add: "There is no intention either to exclude in any way those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture now or in the future... If the Church discerns that some further development in polity is needed at this point on human sexuality, we will need to take equal care both locally and nationally to honour and respect those who continue to hold the traditional view.' However, such reassurances are likely to be greeted with skepticism by traditionalists, as similar promises about the ongoing place of 'two integrities' in relation to the issue of women's ministry have not been honoured by the Church of England."

The Oxford diocese is the largest in the Church of England, with 626 parishes. The population is 2.2 million, but only 55,000 attend Anglican churches regularly. There are 816 churches and around 400 paid clergy.

The Church Times reported that the Living in Love and Faith group "will not pronounce on the rights or wrongs of same-sex marriage". Some interpreted this as an indication the existing conservative position of the church would effectively be ongoing, whereas others argued the decision not to make a pronouncement was itself a de facto change in teaching.

The report also quoted the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the group, as saying the project would be 'as much to do with heterosexuality' since he believed people generally were 'in need of wisdom to order their loving and sexing well'.

This revolt indicates a wider chasm that yawns before the Church of England. It is now becoming apparent to evangelicals in the Church of England that they are in a broad battle for the soul of the Church, and if they don't address it now, the progressives and pansexualists will overtake the Church and it will look more and more like the dying Episcopal Church.

Already GAFCON has its own bishop in the person of Andy Lines entrenched on English shores and if evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics of all stripes should decide to get behind him and cease funding the CofE, chaos would ensue, forcing the Archbishop of Canterbury to realign his loyalties which, to date, show that he is moving irretrievably to the left and down the primrose path of cultural Marxism. We await further developments.

You can read more here: https://www.virtueonline.org/oxford-bishop-issues-ad-clerum-homosexual-marriage and here: https://www.virtueonline.org/letter-concerned-anglicans-oxford-diocese-response-ad-clerum-bishop-croft

*****

As if to confirm the point about Justin Welby's loyalties, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome appointed The Very Rev. Dr John Shepherd as the Interim Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See. Shepherd holds views on human sexuality at odds with the vast majority of Anglicans in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Here is what he said in 2006; "It is consistent with the compassion and love enjoyed by biblical teaching, and with the freedom from injustice and discrimination which the new life of the spirit (sic) offers, to affirm equality for all in Christ. And it is this fundamental principle which will lead us to an informed, enlightened and just appreciation of racial affirmation, the equal place of men and women in church and society, homosexual relationships, societal responsibility, and so on. The church was founded presumably to embody the love and charity of God. Paul declares us to be discharged from rules which demean and thwart the flourishing of human nature. He urges us to serve God in a new way. Thanks to St Paul, and to his example of extending the range of God's acceptance and generosity. We can now be more appreciative of the extent to which God's love can inform and shape our lives, and how we can offer justice and compassion to all."

Another report said Shepherd denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which begs the question, what the blazes is Welby doing putting this man in a position next door to the Vatican where no one there would dare deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus!

Last month, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, stepped down following allegations of sexual misconduct.

You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/archbishop-canterbury-appoints-pro-homosexual-representative-holy-see

*****

The Episcopal Church's five-week-old plan to give homosexual-sex couples unfettered access to marriage in all its domestic dioceses has met with overwhelming success, except in one diocese -- Albany -- where the bishop, Bill Love, has steadfastly rejected any notion that he will allow homosexual and lesbian couples to tie the knot in his diocese.

In a handful of Communion Partner dioceses, the bishops have washed their hands in Pilate like fashion and given the parish in question over to a progressive bishop to come in and put his seal of approval on a pansexual union, in the name of "pastoral care", of course.

A parish in the Diocese of Central Florida under the leadership of evangelical (Charismatic) Bishop Gregory Brewer is planning next month to allow two men to participate in accord with resolution B012.

And two of the three congregations in the Diocese of Dallas under Bishop George Sumner (another evangelical) whose pastoral relationships with their bishop changed because of their support of same-sex marriage, are planning services the weekend of Jan. 19-20 to bless couples who had to leave the diocese to get married in the last three years.

In some cases, these bishops are using DEPO as the fall back position to wash their hands personally - "not me Lord".

Eight bishops in the church's 101 domestic dioceses previously had blocked access to the rites. Then in July, the 79th General Convention passed the often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012.

Now all but Bishop Love of Albany have rolled over, and he has shamed the other Communion Partner bishops by his relentless refusal to allow these unbiblical unions to take place.

By refusing to obey the resolution's requirements, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has affirmed General Convention's authority, saying that "those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the church." He and other church leaders, he said in mid-November, were "assessing the implications of [Love's] statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon."

TRANSLATION: If you don't relent, you will be put on trial, found guilty and deposed.

In a sermon Love preached, he said this: "Are we, like Mary and Joseph, willing to risk our reputations, our relationships, our jobs and livelihood?" He is, apparently, but the other Communion Partner bishops have descended down the slippery slope from which there is no return.

"As I write to you, I don't know what the future holds. There is a strong possibility that I may be facing Title IV disciplinary proceedings for my unwillingness to abide by General Convention Resolution B012. As I stated in the Pastoral Letter, it was "not out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, or homophobia" that I have taken the actions that I have, "but rather out of love---love for God and His Word; love for the Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion; love for each of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially love for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions." Whatever the outcome, I trust and believe that God will use it for His purposes and the benefit of His Church and people."

The real and personal tragedy (for me) is that bishops like Brewer, Sumner and Dan Martins of Springfield (Anglo-Catholic) -- who invoked "heartbreak" over B012 - know better. They are putting the institution ahead of the gospel and Scripture and for that they will be answerable "in that day."

You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/celebrations-planned-tension-lingers-month-after-marriage-equality-resolution-takes-effect

*****

A Colorado Christian baker can continue his lawsuit against the state of Colorado, accusing them of anti-religious bias for refusing to make cakes that support transgender identity and gay marriage, a federal court has ruled.

Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has issued an order allowing Jack Phillips' lawsuit against Colorado and its Civil Rights Commission to continue.

In his order, Judge Daniel did grant the Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis' motion to dismiss Phillips' claims against them for compensatory, punitive and nominal damages, and the motion to dismiss Phillips' claims for prospective relief against Governor John Hickenlooper.

However, Daniel denied the motion to dismiss the other aspects of Phillips' litigation, among them being his claim of having the standing to sue the defendants and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman's motion to dismiss the claims against her. [Barnabas Fund]

*****

The Episcopal Church continues its Gadarene slide over the consecration of women to the episcopacy, with the announcement this week that it would ordain and consecrate Cathleen Chittenden Bascom March 2 as the next Bishop of Kansas. She was elected Bishop on October 19 replacing Dean E. Wolfe, who fled Kansas for St. Bart's in New York City where he can hobnob with the Episcopal upper crust practicing noblesse oblige.

*****

The Anglican Church of Canada has published a study guide for its pamphlet "In Sure and Certain Hope", or, how to commit suicide inclusively with diverse missionality, while listening with a generous pastoral response as we journey together.

In keeping with its floundering response to same-sex marriage, the church isn't particularly interested in whether suicide is right or wrong: instead, it prefers to indulge in conversations about it, long and boring enough to drive all but the most resilient to...suicide, writes David of Samizdat, an orthodox Anglican blogger.

The ACoC is an expert in suicide, of course, since it has been committing it institutionally for years, he writes.

Recently, the Bishop of Toronto Kevin Robertson married his partner at St. James Cathedral, in a form of ecclesiastical and moral suicide that is rapidly emptying the Anglican Church of Canada. You can read both stories here: https://www.virtueonline.org/canadian-anglicans-contemplate-suicide-faster-route-heaven-or-hell and here: https://www.virtueonline.org/toronto-anglican-bishop-kevin-robertson-marries-his-homosexual-partner-cathedral

*****

For some time now, I have been ruminating on a movement called MOCKINGBIRD, that focuses on a very shaky theological foundation known as hyper grace. The movement has been gaining some traction among a loosely knit group of Episcopal clergy. Mockingbird highlights grace as the defining message for today's post-Christian youth.

The leader and mentor of the movement is the Rev. David Zahl, son of the Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl, former seminary president and priest of a parish in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

A blurb from their website says Mockingbird is a non-profit organization devoted to connecting the message of God's grace with the realities of everyday life in fresh and creative ways. "We do this primarily, but not exclusively, via online resources (www.mbird.com), publications and conferences."

In his book, Grace in Practice, Zahl challenges the call to live life under grace -- a concept most Christians secretly have trouble with. He contends that no matter how often we talk about salvation by grace, in our "can-do" society we often cling instead to a righteousness of works. Asserting throughout that grace always trumps both law and church, Zahl illuminates an expansive view of grace in everything, extending the good news of grace to all creation.

Tragically, our relativistic/permissive society has become a natural breeding ground for antinomianism and, therefore, 'grace' has inevitably become 'cheap grace.'

Some now believe, as does this writer, that Zahl has gone too far in his understanding of grace, pitting it against both the law, in the face of legalism and Pharisaism, and antinomianism which holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.

Take, for example, the definition of gospel as Mockingbird defines it. "We stand in the tradition that sees the Gospel as just what the word means: Good News. Specifically, the Good News that "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15). The Gospel is a proclamation, rather than an invitation or command, yet it always addresses sinners and sufferers directly, i.e. you and me. People have gone wrong throughout history when they have reduced this Good News to its effect on those who have heard it, e.g., peace, love and understanding. These are wonderful things, to be sure, but they should not be confused for the Gospel itself, lest it become a means to an end, rather than an End in itself."

There are two inherent problems with this statement. If the gospel is not an "invitation", then the ministries of the Wesley's and Billy Graham soaked in the message of "whosoever will" is made null and void. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). On the issue of "command" the apostle Paul was explicit: in Acts 17:30, Paul on Areopagus says; "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." There is nothing passive aggressive about the apostle's declaration of war against sin and those who refuse to repent. True evangelism, according to the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18--20, is a matter of making disciples: first, in the narrow sense of calling men and women to believe in Jesus and, second, in the broad sense of teaching them to observe all things that Jesus has taught His people.

But that is not the message of Mockingbird. Mockingbird is not simply evangelical lite, it borders on heresy and what some theologians call hyper grace, which downplays sin and judgement in favor of a happy God.

You can read my full analysis of this movement here: https://www.virtueonline.org/mockingbird-shaky-theology-hyper-grace-movement

*****

More human beings died in abortions than any other cause of death in 2018, a new report indicates.

A heartbreaking reminder about the prevalence of abortion, statistics compiled by Worldometers indicate that there were nearly 42 million abortions world-wide in 2018. The independent site collects data from governments and other reputable organizations and then reports the data, along with estimates and projections, based on those numbers.

Breitbart contrasted the abortion numbers to other causes of death, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, traffic accidents and suicide, and found that abortions far outnumbered every other cause. [Life News]

*****

Students are demanding Oxford University sack a Roman Catholic professor for allegedly criticizing homosexuality. Students claim John Finnis, 77, attacked same-sex relations in published essays. Campaigners launched a petition saying his presence threatens gay people. However, Oxford has supported his right to academic freedom

They claim essays published by John Finnis, 77, emeritus professor of law and legal philosophy, attack same-sex relations and are 'discriminatory'. However, Oxford has supported his right to academic freedom.

Professor Finnis is one of the world's foremost thinkers on the philosophy of natural law and is said to have mentored Right-wing US judge Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the US Supreme Court by Donald Trump in 2017.

The university said: 'Vigorous academic debate does not amount to harassment when conducted respectfully and without violating the dignity of others.'

You can read two articles one by Dr. Jules Gomes here: https://www.virtueonline.org/sack-roman-catholic-professor-criticising-homosexuality-students-say-petition-oxford-university

*****
Dr. Lamin Sanneh has died. He was the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School. Lamin suffered a stroke and died on Sunday, January 6th, surrounded by his family. Lamin was born on MacCarthy Island in the River Gambia. A descendent of an ancient African royal family, he grew up as a Muslim but converted to Christianity. He was educated and taught on four different continents. He earned graduate degrees from the University of Birmingham, England (M.A.), and the University of London (Ph.D.). He received honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University. His major faculty appointments were at the University of Ghana (1975-1978), the University of Aberdeen (1978-1981), Harvard University (1981-1989), and finally Yale (1989-2019). He had a lifetime appointment at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (1996-2019), and was an Honorary Professional Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1997-2019). He was the author or editor or co-editor of twenty books and monograph-length essays and well over 200 articles and chapters in scholarly venues.

*****

Denouncing the growing hostility to religion that has manifested itself in efforts to eradicate references to God and religion from public places, The Rutherford Institute is asking the United States Supreme Court to reverse a court order requiring the removal of a 40-foot "Peace Cross" memorial from Veterans Memorial Park in Maryland that was erected 90 years ago to honor soldiers who were killed or wounded in World War I.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered the memorial removed on the grounds that the Peace Cross, modeled after a Latin cross, is a predominately Christian symbol and constitutes an endorsement of that faith. However, in asking the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court's ruling, Institute attorneys warn that the ruling fosters a pervasive bias and hostility to religion and does not reflect the neutrality toward religion required by the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

*****

Summit and March for Life. Anglicans for Life will offer a day of teaching called the Summit for Life at The Falls Church Anglican, on Thursday, January 17, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Keynote speaker will be Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. On Friday, January 18, an Anglican Worship Service will be held at 9:00 AM, then chartered buses will ferry folk to the National Mall for the joyous March for Life. Further details can be found here: anglicansforlife.org/summit-2019

Ironically, England's leading conservative evangelical church has repeatedly rebuffed pleas from a pro-life organization, claiming to have "suffice [sic] in-house resource," even though it is unable to provide evidence of a single sermon on abortion in its online Media Library.

The Parish of St. Helen's in Bishopsgate, London, is reportedly the biggest, richest and best known conservative evangelical congregation in the Church of England. According to the Charity Commission, its income for 2017 was £4.1 million.

It has a staff team of eight, led by its Rector, the Reverend William Taylor, plus an associate rector, four curates and an assistant curate. As a conservative evangelical church, it does not ordain women or accept the ministry of female clergy.

From July to December 2018, Brephos, a leading evangelical pro-life organization approached St Helen's leadership pleading with Taylor and his team to address the issue of abortion in their preaching, teaching and training.

A string of emails between St Helen's and Dave Brennan, Executive Director of Brephos, obtained by Rebel Priest, (Dr. Jules Gomes) reveals a stubborn reluctance on the part of Taylor and his clergy to address abortion from the pulpit, send clergy for training or invite qualified personnel to equip the church on pro-life issues. You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/uk-abortion-no-go-area-church-englands-flagship-conservative-evangelical-church

*****

My new book, The Episcotape Letters, modeled on that of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, is available. For a donation, I will send you an autographed copy. This is a volume of my best satirical essays compiled over the years. It catalogues the unravelling of the Episcopal Church, its apostasies and heresies. Such pathology cries out for correction and there is no better way to do so than by humor and satire. In my book I expose the foibles and self-destruct machinations of the Episcopal Church's apostasies.

Please make a donation at this link: https://tinyurl.com/yabemo37

All Blessings,

David

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