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Trust in US Clergy Declines, says Poll * Nigerian APB to consecrate 4 Bishops in NA * 24 homosexual couples tie knot in Diocese of Dallas * Churches pull out of CofE and SEC * ACNA Approves Prayer Book, punts on WO * Welby speaks in "tongues"

Trust in US Clergy Declines, says Poll * Nigerian APB to consecrate 4 Bishops in NA * 24 homosexual couples tie knot in Diocese of Dallas * Churches pull out of CofE and SEC * Welby apologizes for Bishop Bell cock-up * Welby speaks in "tongues" * ACNA Approves Book of Common Prayer, punts on WO * March for Life draws 100,000

In our times, the tendency is to omit two absolutely vital parts of this: First, the fact that we are faced with the choice between life and death. We fail to preach judgement, because we do not want to offend. Instead we preach a Christ who will fulfil all our desires -- for money, for success, for happiness, because we cannot believe in eternal life and eternal death. --- Rev. Dr. Peter Jensen

Now, we are seeing revival in traditionally non-evangelical regions such as China, India and Africa. These people are reading the Bible without 1,900 years of European anti-Israel (and in many cases anti-Semitic) theology and are able to grasp God's heart for Israel--His firstborn. Now, we are back on track to the "in this way" path to Israel's full spiritual restoration--even world redemption (Tikkun Haolam). ---Ron Cantor

GAFCON started over a dispute about the true Christ. If you accept the idea that sexual sin is not really sinful and that we need to encourage people not to live in accordance with the Bible, we are not proclaiming Christ faithfully, but commending 'another Christ, another Lord'. If you will not preach Christ faithfully, you will not be saving sinners from hell, no matter how big your church or vigorous its programs. --- Rev. Dr. Peter Jensen

On Fr. John Shepherd's statement about the resurrection: "The most deceptive comment is here: "I have never denied the reality of the empty tomb." Sounds orthodox. But note the negative formulation: "I have never denied..." Secondly, there are several theories which could include the Empty Tomb and no bodily resurrection. E.g., wrong tomb! Or "someone stole the body. Or simply, "I don't know, but bodies rising from the dead defies the laws of physics (h.t. to Rudolf Bultmann). Finally, "empty tomb" could be taken metaphorically: I have never denied that "the empty tomb" has served as a touching symbol for unenlightened Christians. --- Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll

Most of these modernist (Roman Catholic) bishops are little else than money-hungry Episcopalians who are more comfortable with easy-going Protestantism than authentic Catholicism. They might have a nice way about them -- or a creepy, smarmy way. Their personalities and dispositions mean nothing. In their cases, tolerance is not a virtue, because at the end of the day, it isn't really tolerance. It's permissiveness, the permitting of evil. --- Catholic commentator Michael Voris

Welby and Sentamu are shockingly unsuited to their roles of headship, and the CofE now wallows in shame and uselessness. Is it now time to "uproot, tear down, to destroy and overthrow" the errors and follies of the Church of England and then "to build and plant" in the right way"? (Jeremiah 1:10). Is it now time to launch a bold Luther-like corrective - the fearless, faithful preaching of the Word, the naming of error no matter the source, and quit all this fumbling, over-polite, soft-spoken, cautious, gentle concern of the bulk of current evangelicalism. The straight talk of the Bible is being eroded by those who have vowed to be its guardians: "The Church is a witness and guardian of Holy Scripture" (Article 20). --- Rev. Roger Salter

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
January 25, 2019

A NEW GALLUP POLL finds that trust in America's clergy is less now than ever, attributed mainly to the recent disclosures of sexual abuse by hundreds of Roman Catholic clergy across the nation. Positive news about Americans' confidence in religious leaders' honesty and ethical standards has been steadily tanking in recent years, with no letup in sight.

The polling organization found that only 37 percent of 1,025 respondents had a "very high" or "high" opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy, according to a report published this week. Forty-three percent rated clergy's honesty and ethics as "average," while 15 percent had low or very low opinions.

The 37 percent positive rating is the lowest Gallup has recorded for clergy since 1977 when it began examining views about religious leaders' ethical standards.

Currently, only 31 percent of Catholics and 48 percent of Protestants rate the clergy positively, according to Gallup.

John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, told HuffPost he believes the prominence of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal this year may be contributing to a lack of trust in the clergy.

In July, Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, resigned from the church's College of Cardinals amid allegations that he had sexually abused children and adult seminarians over decades. And in August, a Pennsylvania grand jury identified 301 predator priests and more than 1,000 victims in a landmark report into sexual abuse in the state. The report has inspired other attorneys general across the U.S. to start similar investigations into the cover-up of sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses.

"Men and women turn toward clergy in some of the most intimate moments of their lives," Fea told HuffPost in an email. "The kinds of scandals and authoritarian leadership that we saw this year among the clergy undermines the trust we place in them."

Ironically, ratings for journalists by the Gallup organization while still low (34%) are rising, even as clergy confidence is tumbling.

*****

Anglican adventurism reached a new peak this week, when the Anglican Church in Nigeria announced that they would consecrate four Nigerian bishops for North America without informing their GAFCON partner, the Anglican Church in North America.

This was a slap in the face at soon to be GAFCON chairman and ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, as well as Nigeria's two North American branches, CANA East and West.

The real question is why did they do it? It was not a conciliar, collegial or synodical act. It was clearly hurtful, thoughtless and punched a hole unnecessarily into GAFCON's side when GAFCON is making enormous head road into the Church of England as they see the "mother church" compromise over homosexual marriage and transgender issues.

The ACNA issued the following statement; "As was reported last week, the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria have elected four bishops for the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity to minister in North America. These elections did not follow the Protocol between the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and was not made in consultation with the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America. The bishops-elect still have to go through the Church of Nigeria's credentialing process. It is not intended that they will be a part of the Anglican Church in North America's College of Bishops."

You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/church-nigeria-appoints-four-bishops-minister-us-bypassing-acna

Fortunately, the new GAFCON General secretary, Nigerian Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria, said in a video that many Anglicans were teaching disobedience to the work of God. "We in GAFCON will uphold the authority of scripture and explain the salvation of Jesus Christ to the whole world. When people are saved, they will proclaim the Good News." He went on to say, "I will not deviate and I will follow in the steps that our fathers left for us."

*****

In the Diocese of Dallas, twenty-four homosexual marriages got recognized and blessed in an Episcopal diocese claiming to be evangelical. Former New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson stepped in to perform the ceremonies.

Dallas Bishop George Sumner turned a blind (evangelical) eye and allowed Bishop Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of New Hampshire, the Episcopal Church's first openly homogenital bishop to officiate at the two ceremonies.

"For a lot of years, you and I have been told that our relationships are not worthy of celebration, are not worthy of God's love, not worthy of God's blessing," said Robinson in his sermon at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in the first of the two services the weekend of Jan. 19-20, reported ENS.

Sumner, who claims to be an evangelical, had said he was opposed to homosexual marriage, but allowed Robinson to come into his diocese to perform these acts in defiance of Scripture, history and tradition.

"We are aiming to live out 'communion across difference' with all charity and respect," Sumner told Episcopal News Service in an email Jan. 19. Really.

This week also saw the Bishop of Tennessee, John Bauerschmidt allow a visiting bishop to perform homosexual marriages after a lot of hand-wringing about being obedient to the Book of Common Prayer on heterosexual marriage.

Under pressure from more than 100 Episcopalians in the diocese who had signed a letter asking their bishop for permission to perform homosexual marriages, the Communion Partner bishop relented and said that in light of this disagreement, in all matters pertaining to marriage in these congregations, whether use of the Trial Rites or not, another bishop designated by the Bishop will provide whatever episcopal support is needed for couples and clergy preparing for marriage, thus implementing B012 in Tennessee. He rolled over.

In the Diocese of Central Florida, Bishop Gregory Brewer, an evangelical charismatic, quickly determined that he was not going to fight the passage of B012 and rolled over, allowing a woman priest to bring in another bishop to perform a homosexual marriage in her parish.

However, the Bishop of Albany, William Love, steadfastly refused to allow any of his priests to perform these ceremonies, and for his stand has been partially inhibited by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry from performing his duties as a bishop in the diocese.

You can read my exclusive interview with this godly bishop here: https://www.virtueonline.org/albany-bishop-love-explains-his-actions-rejecting-resolution-b012

You can also read my COMMENTARY piece here: https://www.virtueonline.org/albany-episcopal-bishop-faces-ecclesiastical-execution

*****

ACROSS England and Scotland, orthodox parishes are beginning to abandon their increasingly liberal pro-homosexual dioceses and provinces in the Church of England. In Aberdeen, Scotland, the Westhill Church voted 87% to disaffiliate from the Scottish Episcopal Church. The parish will affiliate with Scottish Anglican Network under Bishop Andy Lines.

Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, the Rector of Westhill, Canon Ian Ferguson, said: "We have been on a journey for many years -- when I say 'we', I mean a group of evangelical Episcopal rectors -- in talking to bishops about the trajectory the Scottish Episcopal Church has set itself on going. This culminated in a number of decisions that the SEC took which some of us found that we could not accept."

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, said in a communique, "We praise God who through the Holy Spirit empowered this Church to do so. As Chairman of GAFCON, it is my privilege and great honour to welcome them into the fold of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. we can assure them of a rich and wonderful fellowship in the GAFCON family. we are Anglicans who uphold Orthodoxy in faith and practice. By joining GAFCON, they are in fellowship with more than half of the Anglican world."

This is not the first evangelical parish to leave the liberal Scottish Episcopal Church. In August last year, St. Thomas in Edinburgh, the latest evangelical parish quit the official Anglican church in Scotland over its support of homosexual marriage. The move to split from the SEC was seen as a major blow to Scottish bishops trying to hold together the deeply opposed factions over homosexual marriage.

A number of other churches have either left or are considering leaving in the wake of the decision to change the Scottish Episcopal Church's (SEC) definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. You can read the full story here: https://www.virtueonline.org/aberdeen-westhill-church-votes-87-disaffiliate-scottish-episcopal-church

IN ENGLAND, another large evangelical parish, Christ Church Balham, near London, made the decision to join the Free Church of England. Senior minister, Andy Palmer, heralded it as "exciting news" and said it
will "help us secure the gospel ministry here in Balham for generations to come, and send many more people into full-time paid gospel ministry."

"One problem we have had is what to do with all the young men we send off for further theological education. It is our experience that some of those we have sent off to college without the backing of a denomination have then struggled to find ministry jobs afterwards. Of course, some may return to find a job within the Co-Mission network, but this will not be possible for everyone. We needed to
find a way for potential Christian ministers to be ordained and exported across the UK and beyond.

Given the theological trajectory of the Church of England, many churches like us across the country are now looking elsewhere for alternative oversight from evangelical bishops. The two best options seem to be Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) and the Free Church of England (FCE). Both are solidly evangelical, mission-minded, and passionate about planting, but the FCE has the added
benefit since 1992 of being one of the 'Churches designated pursuant to the Church of England (Ecumenical Relations) Measure 1998.'"

One suspects that more and more Church of England parishes will make their way out the door and join movements like the AMiE, and ultimately hook up with GAFCON Bishop Andy Lines as the CofE unravels.

You can read more here: https://www.virtueonline.org/aberdeen-westhill-church-votes-87-disaffiliate-scottish-episcopal-church

*****

In breaking news, the Archbishop of Canterbury apologized 'unreservedly' after an inquiry into allegations against Bishop George Bell found them unproven.

Bell (1883-1958), whose wartime work led to him being regarded as a hero by many Anglicans, was accused of sexually abusing a child during the 1940s when 'Carol' approached the office of Justin Welby in 2013. The Diocese of Chichester paid compensation to her and the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology.

However, supporters of Bell argued the evidence against him was too slender. A subsequent investigation of the Church's handling of the issue by QC Alex Carlile found it had 'rushed to judgment' and had 'failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop'.

Welby rejected calls to state unequivocally that Bell was not guilty and in January last year, the Church's national safeguarding team said it had passed 'fresh information' to Sussex Police regarding Bell in a move that was widely criticized.

Now, however, an investigation by ecclesiastical lawyer Timothy Briden has concluded that allegations against Bell subsequent to Carol's -- which he was not asked to consider -- were unfounded.

*****

If you want to read a brilliant take on the state of The Church of England, I can do no better than point you to the piece by the Rev. Roger Salter at VOL's website. It is titled: THE PERILOUS PLIGHT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

Here is a sampling: When the British philosopher Cyril Joad returned to Christian faith and membership of the Church of England, he paid fulsome tribute to the unassuming clergy of the hundreds of ordinary parishes throughout the land. The faith and fortitude of these lowly men of God was a major factor in sustaining Christian belief and character in the life of the nation. Sincere but unspectacular ministry held the church together and maintained the good health of the institution. The troops of the church were of more value than the titled, pretentious, liberal senior clerics.

These men, acknowledged by the former atheist, had no prominence in church affairs and received few plaudits for their sacrifice and loyalty. They had little access to the media and limited participation in the making of church policy. The overall impression of the Church of England was created by noted communicators of striking ability, or notorious skeptics who loved to bathe in the gratifying glare of publicity.

There must be many pastors of similar ilk to those highly regarded by Joad who remain active in the Church of England today. When criticism is made of the Church of England it is leveled principally, forcibly, and deservedly, at those in positions of leadership, and also those followers who heartily approve of them. There is great cause in our time to weep at the poor quality of spiritual leadership in the Established Church.

Canterbury and York are of no encouragement whatsoever and we are saddled with a bevy of bishops that seems utterly useless to the promotion of the true Gospel and who are a distinct danger to the souls who are cruelly hoodwinked by them. They happen to be the daftest set of clerics ever to exist en masse throughout our checkered history. They neither impart nor share in a sure way of salvation through our beloved Redeemer and his mission of human reclamation to God and criminally omit any valid preparation of the soul for eternity. "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways" (Psalm 95:10). Some very plausible names come within this category.

You can read his full piece here: https://www.virtueonline.org/perilous-plight-church-england

*****

This week we learned that Justin Welby speaks in tongues when he prays. "In my own prayer life, and as part of my daily discipline I pray in tongues every day--not as an occasional thing," he told a radio show host. Master journalist Jules Gomes had this to say; "The half-hour parley was a masterstroke in massaging the wobbly allegiances of evangelical and charismatic Christians in the Church of England about to make for lifeboats as their Titanic sinks after an almighty bonk against the LGBTI iceberg. Look at me, I'm filled with the Holy Spirit, I bring Christians together, I speak in tongues, I'm alert to prophecy, God speaks to me, don't make for the lifeboats, together we can save the Titanic," Captain Welby seems to be bellowing down his bullhorn, with all the persuasiveness of a bald salesman peddling a magic hair growth tonic."

"No one with an iota of media nous should be surprised at how the media latched on like limpet mines to the bit about the Archbishop "speaking in tongues." The top-most English cleric admitting to yammering gloopy gibberish just before his cup of Frappuccino is enough to make an Etonian's toes curl like Ali Baba's slippers. Poor Welby's publicity pony threw a shoe." You can read Gomes brilliant analysis here: https://www.virtueonline.org/archbishop-justin-welby-suffering-terminal-case-confirmation-bias

*****

In Melbourne, Florida, the ACNA College of Bishops met this week and approved a Book of Common Prayer 2019. The bishops also agreed to retain two integrities over the ordination of women priests.

"After six years of the use of draft liturgies, submission of extensive comments from across the Church, and significant revisions and refinements, we have approved the Book of Common Prayer (2019)! The last wave of liturgies in their final form was approved this week for our new Prayer Book, which will be available at Provincial Assembly this June in Plano, Texas. One of the documents approved was the Preface, which includes this helpful introduction to worship in the prayer book tradition."

The Bishops' Working Group on Holy Orders, co-chaired by Bishop Clark Lowenfield and Bishop Jim Hobby, facilitated the next step of our conversations regarding holy orders and the ministry of men and women. When we met previously in Victoria, Canada (September 2017) to discuss this topic we acknowledged that "we have not effectively discipled and equipped all Christians, male and especially female, lay and ordained, to fulfill their callings and ministries in the work of God's kingdom. We repent of this and commit to work earnestly toward a far greater release of the whole Church to her God-given mission." In light of this reality, we thought a good place to start was to listen. There were powerful presentations by a number of women about their experience and observations about ministry from their perspective. The presentations were very well received and are linked here: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1774

The thorny issue of women's ordination continues to haunt the ACNA. Biblical anthropologist Alice Linsley, a former TEC priest, has written about this and you can read what she has to say here: https://www.virtueonline.org/acna-and-historic-priesthood

*****

ABORTION remains a major issue for millions of American Christians. Recently a March for Life rally was held in Washington, D.C. At the very least, over 100,000 Americans attended the 45th March for Life on Jan. 19, according to organizers. But Americans wouldn't know that number by reading the news.

The rally celebrates life and challenges abortion around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. Held annually in Washington, D.C., the event rarely receives the coverage it deserves -- including the crowd estimates.

What did make the news was the very bad news from New York. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, signed the most radical abortion law that our nation has ever seen. It codifies (puts into law by legislation) the original holdings of Roe v. Wade and goes even farther, striking down all meaningful abortion regulations and enshrining abortion as a "fundamental right."

The law also allows abortion at any time during pregnancy - period. Astoundingly, Governor Cuomo ordered that the One World Trade Center and several other structures be illuminated in pink to celebrate this barbaric legislation.

*****

The Canadian branch of the ACNA received The Rt. Rev. Todd Atkinson of Alberta, Canada into the ACNA college of bishops at their meeting in Melbourne, Florida last week. The College of Bishops regularized Bishop Atkinson and received him as a bishop under the oversight of the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters, Bishop of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANIC). Bishop Atkinson leads a church planting initiative in Canada called Via Apostolica, which will remain independent of the ANiC for the time being.

*****

The ecumenical Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), which includes the Anglican dioceses in the country, have joined other NGOs and Christian groups to express their "deep concern" about the crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe. In a joint statement issued by the CCZ, Caritas Zambia, Civil Society Constitutional Agenda, Non- Governmental Gender Organisations Coordinating Council, Alliance for Community Action and Action Aid, call for an international response, and say: "as civil society activists, we cannot sit idle while our neighbours are being beaten, arrested, detained and killed."

*****

The Church of England announced that it would spend £35 million investment in new churches and outreach. A new church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition is being developed in the Becontree Estate in London, Europe's largest housing estate. A new congregation in a nightclub area and the Church of England's first weekday-only church are two of several new worshipping communities to receive a share of £35 million GBP in funding. The money -- the biggest investment so far by the C of E's Renewal and Reform program -- is intended to help it reach tens of thousands of people, including in city centers, outer estates and rural areas, the C of E said in a statement. The Church said that the new Christian communities "may be far from the traditional image" of churches and will pioneer new types of churches along with new forms of outreach, including a social media pastor and outreach work with school and community choirs.

"Hearing and responding to the good news of Jesus Christ unlocks new joy, new belonging, new purpose and new life," the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said. "These projects show the dynamism and drive of the Church of England's mission to share this good news with people throughout our dioceses and parishes.

But will it work? A senior cleric in the CofE told VOL, "Nope - it will create a tiny number of HTB satellites - replicating current problems over doctrine and morals."

*****

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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