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PB Curry Woos Royals in Pelagian Sermon * Two Anglican Provinces & NZ Diocese Reject S-S Marriage * Homophobia is Invention of Gay Lobby * ACNA Prayer Book News * TSM Honors Evangelical Leaders * CofE Woman Bishop & Diocese Laud Gay Marriage

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

"Mere heathen morality, and not Jesus Christ, is preached in most of our churches." --- The Rev. George Whitefield

The trajectory (as it is called) is a spiral downwards. Yes. There is the pomp and show. But a downward spiral is the harsh reality. I used to think that there would be a flashpoint -- that 'enough is enough' event. But I realize now that it will not happen. Instead, the Church of England will first shrink to its cathedrals and other large centers and eventually just fade away. What you see is only a part of the process of the demise of the established church. --- David Nicholls

Presiding Bishop Curry has gotten his "radical inclusion" and "good disagreement" lines down pat, even as he continues to spend millions of dollars suing congregations out of their property in South Carolina and Fort Worth. Surely the "good news" that PB Curry is sending to conservatives remaining in TEC is: "believe what you will, but don't try to leave or you'll see how far good disagreement stretches." --- Stephen Noll

I've read my Bible cover to cover several times, I have a PhD in NT, I've been to Jerusalem, and let me tell you that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is to the apocalypse what Kale is to Texas BBQ. --- Dr. Michael F. Bird

"We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held..." --- Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, New Zealand

"I believe that many of us do so little going out, so little sowing beyond the walls of our churches and our comfort zones..." --- Bishop Mark Lawrence

"...It is not enough to have many people call themselves Christians or for churches to merely exhibit socially conservative attitudes. No, we need truly mature disciples and biblically sound churches on our continent." -- GAFCON release

Without justification, sanctification is fruitless, but without sanctification, justification is pointless. --- The Gospel Coalition

There is a civil war raging at the moment in Anglicanism (and elsewhere) between progressive Christianity that takes its priorities from the zeitgeist, the present culture, and a faithful orthodox belief, that keeps faith with what Jesus taught in the Gospels. --- Bishop Gavin Ashenden

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
May 26, 2018

Last Saturday, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame and became a worldwide ecclesiastical celebrity; the second such Episcopal celebrity following in the footsteps of Gene Robinson, former Bishop of New Hampshire, who was invited to offer the prayer at the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in 2009.

The two made history of a sort, but not one that will leave lasting spiritual legacies.

For one brief shining moment, Curry inhaled the air of British pomp and circumstance, joining the Brits in their own version of a royal soap opera preaching a sermon to two love birds, whose marriage may or may not last...or till death do them part, whichever comes first.

Curry saw his moment and, in the words of theologian bishop Dr. Gavin Ashenden, delivered himself of Christianity-Lite to a worldwide audience who loved his "itching ears" teaching about "lurv" and poverty, even if it did embarrass the Royal Ones who sat stony-faced, if not embarrassed throughout the 14-minute sermon.

Curry's "all you need is love" a la John Lennon is an example of Pelagianism, the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid. It was heresy 101. What Curry served up was mushy undefined love, except in terms of Eros, with much handwringing about a number of social issues designed to please his Episcopal base back home.

His uber boss, Justin Welby, who had made a solemn promise to his primates in 2015 that TEC face a three-year sanction for its decision to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, ate up Curry's performance, and warmly praised his sermon afterwards. The sanctions against TEC over gay marriage are now history and the wily Welby vindicated Curry by giving him a world-wide pulpit to make theological silly putty before a watching world, estimated at two billion.

Welby, it seems, had no intention of following through with his threat, because he is weak, spineless and can't make up his mind about sodomy and his church wavers between yea and nay with the inevitable result being yea.

Being a celebrity, dressing up, believing sodomy is good and right in the eyes of God, making pronouncements about racism and white privilege is all the rage these days by Curry and his House of Bishops. It's the stuff of celebrity rags and faux outrage, late night TV shows, FACEBOOK and twitter feeds. Thou shalt never say, 'thou shalt not.'

None of this will stop the inevitable slide of the Episcopal Church into oblivion as every single diocese is now in decline, with average Sunday attendance less than half of what it was 15 years ago and sagging by the month.

Of the many stories VOL published and not picked up by the media was just how much Curry went off script. His sermon had been approved and he was supposed to preach for four minutes. He went on for 13 minutes. You can read Mary Ann Mueller's excellent expose about this here: https://tinyurl.com/yc273vcw

As Bishop Gavin Ashenden observed, "It was a brilliant move of Welby to sign Michael Curry up to present their joint vision of faith. But the reason for the struggle is that 90% of Anglicans in time, and nearly 100 % of Anglicans in history, do not or would not accept it as authentic, faithful Christianity."

For stories on this marriage of Harry and Markle click here: https://tinyurl.com/ycnjrkxu; here https://tinyurl.com/y9sm37ge and here: https://tinyurl.com/yabxoazq

In a note VOL received, we were informed that Markle had told the ABC that she would be an ambassador for the LGBTQ community following her marriage to Harry. Welby apparently did not disapprove.

*****

In a statement designed to cause hand-wringing and cries of outrage from the gay community, the former head of the Vatican's doctrinal office denied the existence of "homophobia," asserting that it is an invention of the gay lobby for "totalitarian domination" over the minds of others.

In a shock interview last week with Costanza Miriano, an Italian Catholic writer and mother of four children, German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller had strong words to say about the "International Day Against Homophobia" celebrated on May 17.

"Homophobia simply does not exist, it is clearly an invention, an instrument of totalitarian domination over the minds of others," the cardinal said. "The homosexual movement lacks scientific arguments and therefore they have built an ideology that seeks to dominate, seeking to construct their own reality."

The prelate tied strategies of the gay lobby to those employed by Marxists, in inventing a "phobia" for those that oppose them.

"It is the Marxist scheme, according to which it is not reality that forms thought, but thought that forms reality," he said. "And so, whoever does not accept this reality must be considered sick. As if, among other things, you could use police or the courts to combat a disease."

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

*****

Some good news at last. Two Anglican provinces, Ireland, Australia and the Diocese of Polynesia have put the kibosh on same sex marriage, which must be causing major headaches to the LGBTQWERTY crowd who long for total compliance and acquiescence by the entire Anglican Communion. Now they are getting push back, not from just the African and Asian Anglican provinces, but from some western provinces as well. You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/ya2k49e8

*****

The ACNA Prayer Book is set for release in 2019. Many have asked when and what the new ACNA Book of Common Prayer is about. Here are some facts.

The 1662 Book of common Prayer is the standard on which the work of the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force (LCWTF) is based. That basis is then informed by the various liturgical traditions that preceded and followed the 1662 including: evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and charismatic practice; ecumenical dialogue with other liturgical traditions, other prayer books, including those of the American and Canadian churches; and shifts in style and meaning in the English language.

The College of Bishops intentionally sought to avoid coercion, but rather charged the LCWTF to produce a book that would be attractive to as many as possible. There is no plan to require anyone to use the 2019 book. The College of Bishops passed a resolution in December 2017 that said in part, "the College sees no route to making it mandatory at the Provincial level."

*****

The Church in Wales has announced a new £10 million ($13,384,919) scheme to help its six dioceses fund new evangelism projects. The Church in Wales' first ever Evangelism Fund will be launched this weekend with the aim of engaging "Welsh society with the claims of the Christian faith in vibrant and exciting ways." The fund will provide grants of between £250,000 ($334,619) and £3 million, ($400,015) for diocesan projects that "will focus on people rather than buildings," the Church in Wales said.

"We are putting our money where our mouth is," the Archbishop of Wales John Davies said. "We have long talked about growing the church and now we want to invest in projects across the country to enable that to happen. It is a radical answer to the decline we are experiencing in many places, and £10 million is a transforming amount.

The province's lead bishop on evangelism, Andy John, the Bishop of Bangor, described the new Evangelism Fund as "an incredibly exciting opportunity for the whole church."

So the big question is, who are the real evangelists who will be preaching a vibrant biblical gospel of repentance and faith not heard in several decades in Wales?

Here is what the 1904 Welsh revival looked like. "Political meetings were cancelled. Soccer matches had neither players on the field nor fans in the stands. Theatres closed down due to low attendance. Gambling and alcohol business lost their trade.

And doctrinal barriers came tumbling down as Christians from all denominations worshipped together in the Spirit's move. Some of the reporters themselves were converted at the meetings. Soon bars and movie houses closed. Former prostitutes started holding Bible studies. People began to pay their longstanding debts. And those who selfishly wasted their money on alcohol suddenly became a great joy and support to their families....

As a result of the revival, local stores couldn't keep Bibles in stock. The Welsh coal mining industry also took on a new look. Their workhorses had previously been trained to respond to instructions that included profanity. But with the coal mining crew now born again, they found that their horses had to be re-trained because the animals didn't know how to follow a normal command without a curse word in it." - Robert Liardon, God's Generals

"In a short while the whole of the country was aflame. Every church was stirred to its depths. Strong men were in tears of penitence, and women moved with a new fervour. People were overpowered by the Spirit as on the day of Pentecost, and were counted as drunken men. In the services they were praying, singing and testifying. It was a church revival, turning Christians everywhere into witnesses." Will we now see this happening in Wales? Don't hold your breath.

*****

The Church of England's first female bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull, had this to say on gay blessings recently: "It is not theologically a problem for me." Ms. Faull was the Church of England's most senior female cleric in a time before women bishops were allowed.

She has previously said she would have no problem theologically with blessing a gay relationship and condemned the Church for "driving people away" with its stance on sexuality.

Rules designed to increase the number of women bishops in the House of Lords means she will leapfrog more senior male bishops when the next bishop with a seat in the Lords retires. And this is supposed to advance the mission of the Church of England and make new converts how?

*****

Ambridge-based Trinity School for Ministry (TSM) celebrated its 40th commencement recently and gave five octogenarians honorary doctorates for helping to establish and develop TSM. They included John Guest, Fitzsimons Allison, Peter Moore, Bill Frey and John Rodgers. Guest was the graduation preacher.

"This is our attempt to say a formal and genuine thank you for their many courageous and faithful acts of service in the mission of the Church," said The Very Rev. Dean Henry L. Thompson, Dean and TSM President.

******

The CANA East family of 39 congregations and four additional church plants remind us that we are not alone! This is one of the great gifts of an Anglican diocese, said CANA East Bishop Julian Dobbs recently to his diocesan convention.

"We are in relationship with 10 regular worshipers at Christ the King, Pine Knot, Kentucky and 97 regular worshipers at Church of the Holy Spirit, Tulsa, Oklahoma and 47 regular worshipers with whom I gathered on Resurrection Sunday at St. George's Anglican Church, Helmetta, New Jersey. We are in relationship with the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) over 22 million Anglican worshipping members. We are in relationship with the Anglican Church in North America over 110,000 worshipping members. We are a member diocese of GAFCON -- the Global Anglican Future Conference, at whose most recent meeting gathered delegates from 38 nations and 27 Provinces of the Anglican Communion. We are not alone! I serve as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) 168 bishops and I also serve as a bishop of the Anglican Church in North America -- 58 bishops, Bishop Bena and I are not alone!

Dobbs cited C. Peter Wagner, theologian, missiologist, missionary, writer, teacher and church growth specialist, who died in 2016, saying, "The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches."

*****

VOL has, on occasion, made the observation that Black evangelicals are not on board with marriage equality. They have said, "don't confuse your sin with our skin," a point lost on Michael Curry.

Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at a rally for the antigay National Organization for Marriage and said marriage equality would lead to "extinction" and called it "genocide."

King, who heads King for America, addressed a rally Saturday in Atlanta, whose attendees were outnumbered by counter protesters, according to the Georgia Voice.

"King also spoke of her family's commitment to strong marriages, including her uncle and 'his lovely wife,'" reported the Voice. She did not mention that Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, spoke out in favor of gay marriage on several occasions and was a speaker at Atlanta's Gay Pride festival in 1996.

*****

Melissa Skelton, bishop of the diocese of New Westminster, has been elected metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, becoming the first woman in the Anglican Church of Canada to have the title "archbishop."

Skelton succeeds John Privett, who last December announced plans to step down, both as metropolitan and bishop of the diocese of Kootenay. Privett resigned as metropolitan effective April 30 and will retire from his position as bishop May 31.

The deeper question is what this will do for her diocese. Will one more title for a woman bishop turn things around. The answer is no, nothing will. She has now ensconced herself at St. John's Shaughnessy Church on Granville Ave., where they threw out some 600 plus evangelicals. It was recently described by one attendee as a "mausoleum."

*****

If you had any doubts about the direction of the Church of England, doubt no more. Recently, the Diocese of Lichfield had a "Welcoming and honouring of LGBT+ people"

A message to all clergy and licensed lay ministers in the Diocese of Lichfield said this:
You may have heard about initiatives happening nationally in the area of human sexuality and gender identity. We are writing this letter to update you briefly on that work and then to set out how we see the Diocese of Lichfield exemplifying the "radical Christian inclusion founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it" for which our Archbishops have called.

Work is underway at the level of the Church of England nationally on a major new Teaching Document. This is intended to set out a framework for what it means to be human and sexual. It will attend faithfully to holy scripture, acknowledging its authority within the community, tradition and pastoral practice of the Church in the reality of the world. It will also attempt to use God's gifts of reason and wisdom shaped by the Spirit in order to seek and discern the mind of Christ for the Church and the world.

The Teaching Document will be a substantial piece of work, drawing in scholars and interested parties from a wide variety of backgrounds; it is intended that it will report in 2020. Meanwhile, a group has been established by the Archbishops, chaired by the Bishop of Newcastle, on pastoral issues relating to sexuality. This group's remit is to support and advise dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to the Church's current pastoral approach to human sexuality and the group has seen and endorses this letter. More information on both the Teaching Document and the Pastoral Advisory Group can be found on the Church of England website.

It is already clear that within the Church of England, as in other churches, there is considerable, sometimes passionate, disagreement about the theological and ethical issues involved in these matters. This disagreement is naturally to be found in our own diocese, too, and as bishops we are committed to encouraging people with differing views to meet, pray and talk together.

*****

To complement the above news, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll has written a brilliant piece titled, THUMBS SIDEWAYS: THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND RESPONDS TO TEC.

He argues that TEC's leadership knows how to play the long game of "open reception." So long as the trial rites are approved and all the North American bishops, including openly LGBT bishops, are welcome at Lambeth, these "facts on the ground" will move the process forward. Even the theological Left's angry protests against Mr. Nye's recent letter fit the game plan, as they will push the leadership of the Church of England to apologize for the tradition and compromise the outcome.

One thing is certain about the process of the "arc of history": it only moves forward, never back. So just as TEC's "trial use" rites will become the norm, so we can count on the thumbs-sideways reception by the Church of England to trend upward and become two thumbs-up before too long, after Lambeth 2020 is safely past. You can read the full story here: https://tinyurl.com/ybwtappv

*****

The Church of Scotland's 'very existence' is under threat with whole generations missing from its pews.

A major 10-year strategic review being discussed by the ruling general assembly in Edinburgh this week, recommends drastic restructuring of the 458-year-old church amid dire warnings about its future.

Membership has fallen by around 20 per cent in five years, from 413,000 in 2011 to 336,000 at the end of 2017. In the next five or six years, there will be a shortfall of around 300 paid ministers, with 75 per cent currently over the age of 50, the report says.

'There are missing generations in congregations,' it says in a stark assessment of the Kirk's future. 'Not only do we have very few children compared to 10 years ago, or similarly young people (under 25s), the number of folks in their 30s and 40s is also very small.

'Given that the majority of those attending Church are over 60, these missing generations pose a real challenge to the very existence of the Church. We cannot afford to ignore this and fail to produce a plan to address it.'

The Church of Scotland is the country's national church and operates on a parish system similar to that in the Church of England. However, the report says 'the present model of one Minister to one parish is no longer sustainable' with the impending shortage both of ministers and funds to pay them.

By 2020, the Church of Scotland will begin culling churches 'where congregations have no long-term future' the report says, as well as looking for 'appropriate places for new and emerging congregations'.

On the issue of buildings, the review says by 2028, each area will have a plan for the 'use, development or disposal of all buildings within their bounds'.

Does any of this sound familiar. Just change the denomination to The Episcopal Church and you have exactly the same trajectory. By 2030 (at the very latest) TEC will cease to be a viable Church. The millions spent on property battles will be null and void as those same properties will be up for sale to anybody who will buy them.

*****

The Diocese of Virginia ended its search for second bishop suffragan with Bishop Shannon S. Johnston publishing a letter to the Diocese of Virginia, on the diocesan website stating that the ongoing search for a second bishop suffragan has come to an end without an election.

But then he said this; "We have taken this extraordinary step for two fundamental reasons. First, over the past few months, serious questions have been brought forward by members of the diocesan staff having to do with the leadership and the culture among diocesan staff. As Bishop I must take full responsibility for this situation. Utmost in my priorities will be to ensure that all of us function well together. The crucial point as we face this reality is that this is not the time to introduce a new bishop into the diocesan system. Rather, it is much preferable to bring in the help we need to address the difficulties and identify ways that the staff as a culture and system can be become fully functional again."

In the letter, Bishop Johnston noted that his own discernment around when he will retire was also a factor in ending the search. At the time the search commenced, Bishop Johnston was prepared to work for five years alongside a new bishop suffragan but is no longer certain he will remain in his current post that long. Clearly there is more here than meets the eye. Stay tuned.

*****

The Rev. Carlye J. Hughes was chosen 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. The first woman and first African-American to be elected bishop in the Diocese of Newark, Hughes, 59, is currently rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, and was one of three nominees. Can anyone imagine a sharp change in the direction of the diocese where a third or more of the priests are pansexualists.

*****

The Anglican Archbishop of South Sudan recently led five days of mediated peace talks between the warring parties in South Sudan. The talks reached agreement on three of the 11 demands made by opposition groups, including a recommitment to the cessation of hostilities. Talks on the remaining eight unresolved issues will continue under the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, who was recently installed as Primate of the Anglican Church of South Sudan last month, led the talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa alongside a number of other South Sudanese religious leaders.

*****

The Soul Survivor charity, which runs youth discipleship and worship events throughout England, will close after its 2019 events, the trustees announced today. Soul Survivor began in 1993 when Mike Pilavachi was released by St Andrews Church in Chorleywood with 11 others to plant a new youth-focused Anglican church, Soul Survivor Watford, which now meets in two neighbouring warehouses in an industrial estate in north Watford, Hertfordshire. The Soul Survivor events were organised by the church and grew into an ecumenical charity reaching thousands of young people every year.

*****

Israel is taking a lot of heat for the battle going on along the GAZA/Israeli border and there is much misinformation coming forth from some US media. Dr. Gerald McDermott, author of Israel Matters and editor of The New Christian Zionism, says that more than 80% of the killed protestors were Hamas soldiers. This was admitted publicly on a television interview by senior Hamas official Salah Al-Bardaweel.

"Soldiers were told to dress in civilian clothes because of media cameras, were on their way to kill Jews. According to Palestinian journalist Bassam Tawil, this was no peaceful protest. They and the rest of the demonstrators were chanting, "Death to Israel!" and "Death to America!" They had machine guns, Molotov cocktails, airborne improvised explosive devices and grenades. One of their leaders, Yahya Sinar, shouted to the media, "We will take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies." Hamas had posted maps for their soldiers showing the quickest routes from the border to Israelis' homes, schools and day-care centers.

These "protestors" were not "protesting Israeli policies," says McDermott, they were protesting Israel's very existence. Hamas, the Gaza government that planned this assault very carefully and paid families to come (even promising $500 to anyone who managed to get injured), has declared repeatedly that its goal is to drive every last Jew into the sea.

It is easy for us Americans to criticize a government trying to protect its people whose very existence is threatened on a daily basis. We do not face that existential threat. What would we do if terrorists were trying to break across the Canadian border to kill residents of the state of Washington? If those terrorists were shot as they tried to invade and kill, would we cry "disproportionate violence"?

You can read this story and that of Andrew Harrod of JihadWatch here: http://www.virtueonline.org/gaza-and-israel

*****

Neva Rae Fox, the chief spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church for more than a decade, apparently left her employment abruptly Wednesday, for reasons that have not been made public, reports The Living Church.

"Senior leaders at the church center did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Fox could not be reached. Fox's contact information was deleted on Wednesday or early Thursday from the staff directory and communications office pages on episcopalchurch.org.

"Lisa Webb, associate officer for public affairs, is now listed as the primary contact for public affairs. She also has not responded to inquiries, and her automatic email reply describes her as "currently unavailable."

*****

In three weeks, I and my team will be heading to Jerusalem to cover GAFCON III. We have still not quite reached our goal to cover all expenses. If you can make a tax-deductible donation of any amount we would be most grateful.

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Warmly in Christ,

David

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