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Are we living in End Times? * Diocese of South Carolina Seeks Rehearing * Nashotah House President Resigns * Church of England Could Split if Liberalizing Trend Continues says Bishop * VOL urgently needs your support.

The historic Christian faith. At the risk of oversimplification and of the charge of arrogance, I want to argue that the evangelical faith is nothing other than the historic Christian faith. The evangelical Christian is not a deviationist, but a loyalist who seeks by the grace of God to be faithful to the revelation which God has given of himself in Christ and in Scripture. The evangelical faith is not a peculiar or esoteric version of the Christian faith -- it is the Christian faith. It is not a recent innovation. The evangelical faith is original, biblical, apostolic Christianity. --- John R.W. Stott

We must learn to know the Scriptures again, as the Reformers and our fathers knew them. We must not grudge the time and the work that it takes. We must know the Scriptures first and foremost for the sake of our salvation ... one who will not learn to handle the Bible for himself is not an evangelical Christian. --- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together.

Over the last several decades mainline Protestantism has withered. The country became more diverse. The WASPs lost their perch atop society. The mainline denominations lost their vitality. --- David Brooks

The Catholic Church in the United States is only doing "exceptionally well" by comparison to the Catholic Church in Europe. Political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell found that if not for Latino immigration, the US Catholic Church would be hemorrhaging members at the same rate of Mainline Protestantism. --- Rod Dreher

"Our saints are our models in this journey of faith and life, and it is good to be led by the example of their commitment to fulfilling God's will rather than our own particular desires. As Catholics we pray always for the wisdom to make wise choices and to be guided by Christ rather than the world around us." --- Catholic Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell

The Apocalypse of Donald is not mindless or careless or mad: it is purposely and purposefully incendiary -- it sets ablaze the imagination and boils the fat out of an obese culture of politically-correct pontifications and interminably immoral compromises. There is good and evil; love and hate; war and peace; truth and lies; purity and perversion. And there is heaven and hell.--- Archbishop Cranmer

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
August 11, 2017

Are we living in the End Times? Are these the "Last Days"? You might think so if the rhetoric of our president is anything to go by. Is this the Apocalypse of Donald Trump? Is he fulfilling the Book of Revelation's dire predictions on the rampancy of evil and the end of the world as we know it? This is "fire and fury like the world has never seen," he said from his golf lair in New Jersey this week, and many Christians scrambled for their bibles wondering if The Donald is God's apocalyptic answer to the West's moral degradation, its acceptance of pansexuality, pornography, child abuse, abortion, "gay" marriage, opioid abuse, inequality and much more.

Of course, the End Times has been around for over 2,000 years and might be extended a millennium or two longer as no one knows when the End will come; only the Father, said Jesus. Even Jesus said He didn't know. What people mean is; is this the end of the End Times. Again, who knows, and it is not for Christians to speculate. I doubt you will hear apocalyptic sermons this week from an Episcopal or even an Anglican pulpit. You might perhaps hear a lecture on climate change quoting Gore not God.

While the signs of the Lord's soon return seem to focus largely on traumatic events and great troubles, deliverance from these (or from our own personal troubles) should not be our reason for wanting the Lord to come. We want Him to return in order that He might finally be accepted and honored in the world He created, not just to keep us from going through death or for relief from our own problems. Even when Paul knew he was about to be executed, he still "loved His appearing", said one commentator. (II Timothy 3:8).

Hold that thought. We should not be concerning ourselves overly with the ups and downs of earthquakes, floods or even the stock market; even the give and take of our lives, which, by the mail I get, would have me on my knees 23 hours a day praying for people. I grew up in earthquake prone New Zealand where we were taught in school what to do if an earthquake struck. It happened, a few died. Life went on. "Give us this day our daily bread" and "forgive us our sins" should still be our cry, and we should continue to trust that God is working out His purposes regardless of who is running the country. Cosmic catastrophe is in His hands, not ours.

Who is running the Church is far more important and pertinent question as the eternal destinies of millions are at stake in the message we do or do not proclaim from pulpits and with our lives.

That is why, in the end, VOL will continue to focus on God's kingdom, His work, the Good News, exposing the evil deeds of the wicked, occasionally pronouncing anathemas, but confident that the work He has begun in us, He will bring to fruition "in that day," even if North Korea is a sea of diabolical godlessness. "Be still, and know that I am God," even as all creation groans.

*****

The Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina Mark Lawrence got a stomach punch this past week when the Supreme Court of SC reversed an earlier lower court ruling and said The Episcopal Church owned and had a right to 29 parishes that had gone over to the ACNA.

However, the Standing Committee has asked for a rehearing of the case, so perhaps we may yet see some better outcome on all this.

The deciding vote was made by an Episcopalian, Judge Kaye Hearn, who should have recused herself because she is up to her neck in Episcopal Church politics and had no business being on a jury of judges.

What was doubly sad was that Lawrence's lawyers did not call her out when this all began, but they didn't and they may have paid a half-billion dollar price for their blunder.

I am sure that as the four or so remaining and watching orthodox dioceses in TEC must realize is that a guillotine hangs over their heads and if Brewer (Central Florida); Martins (Springfield); Love (Albany) and Sumner (Dallas) think about departing, then David Booth Beers and his team of lawyers will be all over them like a ton of bricks hot out of the oven and their ecclesiastical lives will be over. Of course, there is not a shred of evidence that they plan to depart. They will ride the TEC train right off the cliff and jump off just in the nick of time to collect fat pensions.

Of course, at the divine bar of justice when the Judge of all the earth convenes He might have other things to say and other places to send them. Winning (or holding out with evil...in the name of saving a remnant) in this life does not guarantee you a place with Christ in the next. Jesus did not die on the cross to compromise with sin and give sodomites a pass because a series of sodomite and pro-sodomite bishops and archbishops think He has changed his mind. He hasn't.

*****

The Board of Directors of Nashotah House announced this week that they had accepted the resignation of the Very Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D. as Dean and President of Nashotah House. Peay has served as Dean and President since February, 2015. Peay notified the Board that his decision to step down is based upon a number of personal factors, including the need to assist full recovery from a recent, non-life-threatening health issue and a desire to facilitate new leadership at the House. Peay has accepted an appointment as Research Professor of Homiletics at Nashotah House, effective September 1, 2017, and will remain a member of the House community after he steps down as Dean and President on August 31.

VOL writer, Mary Ann Mueller, wrote that "In modern times Nashotah deans have inherently had short tenures and Dean Peay accomplished much in his short term. Reportedly the dean with the longest tenure in The House's 175-year history is former Dean, Robert Munday, who was at Nashotah's helm for a decade from 2001-2011."

But a source told VOL that Peay had always been in favor of women priests, but he kept it a secret from most of the trustees. He was starting to become more open about working toward women celebrants at the House, and the hiring of a woman priest as an assistant dean and the composition of the Alumni Council were indications of this. Even most of the trustees/directors who are in TEC do not support changing the House's policy against women celebrants.

Dr. Garwood P. Anderson, Ph.D., Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament studies, will assume the position of Acting Dean, effective September 1.

*****

A senior evangelical bishop in the Church of England is spearheading resistance to a perceived drift in teaching on sexuality, hinting that some form of schism may be necessary.

Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn and president of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), told evangelical leaders across the CofE that 'behind the scenes' initiatives were under way to bolster traditionalist teaching and support in the Church.

But he went on to warn that some form of split or church-within-a-church may be necessary if the apparent liberalizing trajectory continues.

"We are being realistic and thinking through what visible differentiation might look like, should the Church depart from its current teaching, whether in law or in fact, and make such differentiation necessary," he wrote in a letter to evangelical Anglican leaders this week.

All this comes prior to an October meeting of Global Primates in Canterbury who are watching with dismay the unraveling of the Church of England over homosexuality.

*****

In an emergency letter to South Korean president Moon Jae-In, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) urged immediate dialogue to ease military tension in the Korean Peninsula.

In the letter, the NCCK reiterated its hope to see a peaceful reunification of South and North Korea, but tension has caused grave concern. "To make matters worse, President Trump has declared that 'North Korea would face fire and fury, one never witnessed by the world'," states the letter. "Military tension is at its height in the Korean peninsula and there is fear of war spreading among the people."

The lives of the people in South Korea should not be threatened by the provocative acts of the US and North Korea, said the letter. "The road to peace is a difficult one, but the harder it gets the more important it is that we keep the principle," the letter states. "We cannot start sincere dialogues when we place blame for the opponent's extreme actions or when we insist various pre-conditions for dialogue."

*****

The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem is looking for a new bishop after the disastrous reign of Paul Marshall. A blurb said this:

The Diocese has had a bishop provisional since 2014, when The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe was elected following the retiring of The Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall, the Diocese's eighth bishop. At the time, the search committee felt that they were not ready for a new bishop. "Leadership had atrophied, committees were stressed and not functioning well, financial resources were in need of realignment and transparency. Relationally, some among us were hurt, and we were in need of healing," wrote Rowe.

*****

In the last 30 years, more mosques and Muslim prayer centers have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century.

The Church of Santa Rita used to stand in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris. A few weeks after Father Hamel was murdered by Islamic terrorists, the French police cleared the church. It is now a parking lot. Police dragged the priests out by their legs as a Mass was being celebrated.

In France, there are laws protecting old trees. But the state is free to flatten old Christian churches. The vacuums created in the French landscape are already being filled by booming mosques. Cowardly French authorities would never treat Islam as they are now treating Christianity, a news report said.

*****

Pope Francis currently has the highest Twitter following of all the world's leaders, though Donald Trump could soon overtake him.

Across his nine Twitter accounts in different languages, the Pope has a following of 36.2 million, according to The Tablet.

A May study by the global social media analytics group Twiplomacy ranked the Twitter popularity and activity of the world's leaders. It recorded the pontiff's two most popular Tweets, both fraught with political reference to the policies of Donald Trump -- without naming the President.

"I invite you not to build walls but bridges, to conquer evil with good, offence with forgiveness, to live in peace with everyone", Francis posted on March 18, 2017.

An earlier Tweet from Francis wrote: "How often in the Bible the Lord asks us to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we too are foreigners!"

Close behind the Pope lies Trump with 35.3 million followers, who could overtake the Pope by the end of August if his current growth rate continues.

*****

In the category of Ripley's Believe It or Not comes word that Hillary Clinton wants to be a United Methodist preacher, and a Duke Divinity School alum who served as her spiritual adviser during the 2016 presidential campaign says Clinton would be powerful in the pulpit. "I think she would be a terrific preacher," said the Rev. Bill Shillady, who has been a friend and a pastor to the Clinton family for 15 years. "She knows her Bible, and she loves people and she loves God."

Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, wondered if Clinton believes "that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." The United Methodist Church officially teaches this.

Now cast your mind back to a certain governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey whose homosexual lover Golan Cipel blew the whistle on him accusing him of sexual harassment. McGreevey had two previous heterosexual marriages, resigned as governor and is now an Episcopal priest working in a NJ prison. He lives with an Australian businessman in Plainfield, NJ.

You can't out satirize this stuff.

In other news, approval of Donald Trump is slipping among evangelicals and other Christians, a new survey says.

However, the Politico/Daily Caller survey does not separate out white evangelicals -- around 80 per cent of whom voted for Trump last November -- and it is probable that the declining support is among Latino evangelicals who were less supportive of Trump in the first place.

In March, evangelicals approved of Trump by a margin of two to one: 63 per cent to 32 per cent, according to the original Politico/Daily Caller survey.

Five months later, the same surveyors have found that the margin has shrunk by more than half, to 56-42.

An even bigger slip in support has been recorded among non-evangelical Christians, both Protestant and Catholic. In March, they approved of Trump's performance 58 per cent to 40 per cent, and now, they disapprove of it by a margin of 56 per cent to 40 per cent.

The new survey comes after reports that evangelical leaders are, nonetheless, tightening their grip on the White House under Trump, with a series of prayer and policy meetings and apparently growing influence.

*****

Now if you don't think the country is going down the drain then consider this: Lesbians are behind a Disney cartoon pushing LGBT to preschoolers. One of the creators of a Disney cartoon that promoted same-sex "marriage" to preschoolers has admitted that they specifically aim to promote political messages on the show. Ellen Degeneres (a lesbian) admits that what she's doing with the show is making sure the characters are "accepting." The show is about an aspiring doctor who "fixes" toys.

*****

The Episcopal Church made the right move with Bishop Bruno, said a Letter to the Editor of The Daily Pilot.

"I was gratified to hear that Bishop J. Jon Bruno was repudiated for trying to complete a backdoor sale of an iconic Newport Beach church landmark to developers. Isn't anything sacred anymore? Kudos to the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church for stepping in and preventing the sale so that the sanctity of the church can be preserved. It's sad that the original St. James couldn't have continued along a path that had been cherished for decades!"

Pete Rabbitt
Newport Beach

PS. The "original" St. James was run by the Rev. Richard Crocker, an evangelical priest who experienced the wrath of Bruno. The irony is that the Rev. Cindy Voorhees, his successor, is not unlike Bruno in theology and inclusiveness.

*****

Dear VOL readers,

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Our options are few: We can erect a paywall which a lot of newspapers and magazines like Church Times does. We would continue of course, but fewer of you would receive the digest. Or, we close down completely. It is your call.

Of course, you can cruise blogs and minor Anglican news services to get the news but that is time consuming and I know most of you don't have the time. So please consider a tax-deductible donation to keep us afloat.

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In Christ,

David

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