The fundamental ground. The first and fundamental ground of our assurance, because it is the sole ground of our salvation, is 'the finished work of Christ'. Whenever our conscience accuses us, and we feel burdened with guilt, we need to look away from ourselves to Christ crucified. Then again we will have peace. For our acceptance with God depends not on ourselves and what we could ever do, but entirely on Christ and what he has done for all on the cross. --- John R.W. Stott
That sexual orientation theory is a fraud, a front for free liberal sex practices. That by the exercise of free will all mankind -- male and female - are responsible for their sexual conduct. That individual men and women do have the right to exercise that conduct by legal consent and are morally only responsible with their maker if they believe in God. --- Otis Page
"If we are to better the future we must disturb the present." --- Catherine Booth
"Here is the reason why we have such a host of stillborn, sinewless, ricketty, powerless spiritual children. They are born of half-dead parents, a sort of sentimental religion which does not take hold of the soul, which has no depth of earth, no grasp, no power in it, and the result is a sickly crop of sentimental converts. Oh! the Lord give us a real, robust, living, hardy, Christianity, full of zeal and faith, which shall bring into the kingdom of God lively, well-developed children, full of life and energy, instead of these poor sentimental ghosts that are hopping around us." ---- Catherine Booth
"Lord, what is your Kingdom assignment for me today?" I am reminded that this is the first priority that Jesus set for you and me, his disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Jesus promises that everything else flows from this, including good government, racial reconciliation, material prosperity for all, clothing, food and other essentials of life... Seek first the Kingdom and ALL these things will be given to you as well." --- Canon Phil Ashey
"God does not always punish a nation by sending it adversity. More often He gives the oppressors their hearts' desire, and sends leanness withal into their souls." --- William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Paul's
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
November 25, 2016
We have long known what should be fairly obvious: those churches which trash the gospel, disbelieve Scripture, and grieve the Holy Spirit are in decline, while those churches which believe and proclaim the gospel, have a high view of Scripture, and allow God to work in their midst are growing.
And there have been plenty of studies done over the years to prove this very point. Let me mention just three books dealing with the Protestant scene, which clearly document what I have just said. The first volume is Why Conservative Churches are Growing, written back in 1972 by Dean Kelley.
Another volume came out in 1996: The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity by Thomas Reeves. And in 2006, Exodus: Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity appeared, written by Dave Shiflett.
All three of these book-length studies made it plain that liberal theology and a rejection of the Bible and biblical values are a recipe for disaster, and not many people are all that thrilled with staying at such churches. Of course satanic deception does mean that many folks get sucked into cults and liberal churches -- they have their ears easily tickled.
But those looking for the real deal will give these liberal churches short shrift. If people are seeking after truth, the pale imitations hold little or no attraction. As C. S. Lewis wrote long ago, "By the way, did you ever meet, or hear of, anyone who was converted from skepticism to a 'liberal' or 'demythologized' Christianity?"
And the research continues to affirm this. Biblical Christianity which remains faithful to God and His Word continues to attract and keep people, while liberal churches and those commandeered by SJWs do not. A new study, from the Canadian province of Ontario, makes all this pretty clear.
Here is how it has been described:
The long disputed question of just what role adherence to core Christian orthodoxy plays in a church's numerical success--that is, whether it is growing or declining--has received a compelling and convincing answer in a major new peer-reviewed study by two Canadian academics. You can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/j6m27pa
In "Theology Matters"--its title a succinct summation of its conclusion--to be published in the December issue of the Review of Religious Research, Wilfrid Laurier University sociologist David Haskell and Kevin Flatt, professor of church history at Hamilton's Redeemer University College, reveal the statistical commonalities among nine growing and 13 declining congregations in southern Ontario.
The churches--located in the most church-rich part of English Canada--come from four mainline Protestant denominations: Anglican, United Church, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Lutheran. Decline was defined as an average annual loss of two per cent of attendees between 2003-13; growth by the opposite--although the truly expanding left that rate in the dust.
Parker, whose St. Paul's is a "destination" church, drawing attendees from as far afield as Barrie, 100 km north, thinks five per cent "is about normal" for a year's growth. Sherbina's flock has increased almost 80 per cent in nine years, while Allison has seen his St. Paul's go from 35 Sunday attendees when he arrived 21 years ago to 400 now. Those numbers are far from usual. Scholars have tracked shrinking mainline membership for decades, and declining churches are easy to find. Identifying the growing ones, though, was a "challenge," Haskell says.
Eventually, through word-of-mouth--which often turned out to be more hopeful than accurate, adds co-author Flatt--the researchers found their examples. They surveyed clergy and--a step ignored by earlier studies--2,255 lay attendees.
Answers in accord with traditional Christian orthodoxy--basic articles of faith (the ancient Creeds), the authority of Scripture, God's visible working in the world today, the exclusivity of Christianity (Jesus as the door to eternal life), the importance of daily prayer--were tightly bound to growing life in individual churches. As well, conservative churches had a lower mean age among attendees (53 to 63), emphasis on youth groups, the presence of young families, wide participation by congregants (not only on Sunday mornings) and a commitment to evangelism.
The piece concludes:
Nowhere do clergy matter more than in their most deeply held attitudes. Sociologists who study religion debate whether the decline in church attendance is a matter of demand--fewer moderns want it--or a matter of supply, with would-be Christians not finding the faith they want. "When we asked clergy why they thought churches grew or declined, those in the shrinking churches replied decline was because of socio-economic factors, the influence of secular society. Clergy in expanding churches said growth was because of what they and their members did." And what they preached, adds Haskell: "Ideas have consequences."
This story of two homosexual men marrying at St. Paul's K Street in Washington DC has been removed at the request of the mother of one of the men. As a courtesy to her we have done that, believing, as she does, that the end of the story has not been told and that her son might yet come around. We honor that.
David W. Virtue, DD
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is inviting his followers, including clergy and leaders of the ACNA, to meet for their annual assembly in Chicago (Wheaton), Illinois, from June 28-30, 2017.
"I am calling this Assembly to gather the whole Church in the United States, Canada and Mexico to celebrate God's goodness to us as a Province and to call us to our theme: "Mission on Our Doorsteps" based on Revelation 7:9.
"As the nations come to our doorsteps throughout our North American Province, the mission field is truly all around us. As the Archbishop of this Church, I want us all to be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit for this missional opportunity that we are being given by God!"
He's also offering a deal to make it possible for everyone to attend. "In addition to our corporate worship and teaching, we are working on tracks for Youth, Caminemos Juntos! (Hispanic ministry), Church Planting, Multiethnic Ministries, Worship Arts, Prayer Ministry and much, much more!"
The folk in the Diocese of North Carolina are looking for a new bishop and they have three candidates -- all men, no women. But one of the candidates is The Rev. Charles Dupree, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Bloomington, Indiana, and, according to his bio, he has been married to Matthew Cole since 2011; prior to that they were partners for sixteen years!
The whole thing has not created even the mildest stirs online, but the GAFCON bishops and Global South archbishops now know so they will be watching in earnest to see if he wins. If he does, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of TEC and continued distancing of the Global South from the West.
The Church of England's House of Bishops met this week, but there are no signs at all that they were prepared to move in a liberal direction on sexuality issues. A source told VOL the HOB has worked out just what a tiny group the revisionists are; and how many others would be "alienated" if they give way to the revisionists. "There are plenty of alternatives for the revisionists. It's good to hear that they are leaving the Church of England."
It comes amid a long and drawn out process and will certainly not be the last key moment. Arguments have raged for decades over the Church's teaching and practice on gay relationships. Things reached a head when several conservative Anglican leaders formed a splinter group ahead of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of senior bishops from across the world. Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) was set up in protest that the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada had been welcomed despite promoting a "false gospel" over same-sex relationships.
Here is what the House of Bishops of the Church of England, which met at Lambeth Palace, said:
The formal meeting was preceded by a Eucharist where the Bishops remembered St Clement. Prayers were said for those across the globe who are persecuted for their faith, victims of religious violence and those with responsibility for Government.
The meeting received an update on the work of the Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in September 2016 to assist the process of consideration.
As with the meeting of the College of Bishops in September, the considerations of the House of Bishops took place in private, with reflections due to be shared with the wider College of Bishops next month.
It is envisaged the House will prepare material to bring to the General Synod for initial consideration in February 2017. I think this is called kicking the can down the road. As one wag wrote VOL, "There will be no change" -- "but we feel the pain of our LGBTQIXYZtutu sisters and brothers and stand in admiration of their great witness to the gospel."
The Primates of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit and Archbishop Justin Welby, met at Lambeth Palace in London for fellowship and prayer this week. During their meeting on Wednesday, the two leaders spoke about how the Anglican Communion can serve wider society.
"In our sharing we realized that as the Anglican Communion, and as Churches and as Provinces, we have a lot to be able to contribute to society if we get structured and organized and do things that will benefit the larger society," Dr. Sapit said. "What we are focusing on is engaging in mission and evangelism and focusing on prayer and worship, that we can be able to heal the church internally and heal our society externally.
"Because when the church is healed it has the opportunity to heal society."
Archbishop Justin described the meeting as "a wonderful time of fellowship and prayer", and said, "We spoke about unity and about the issues and challenges of the Communion, with a deep commitment to worship and witness and to holy living."
It should not be overlooked that Dr. Sapit is a GAFCON archbishop, so one wonders what other GAFCON primates thought of his visit with the ABC.
A major plus for African nations now that President Obama is leaving office and Donald Trump is coming in, is that they will not have to suffer Obama's demands that they go along with the West's homosexual agenda and abortion. They will be free to have their own rules of moral behavior without being told that they have to imbibe sodomy. The U.S. government's insistence that the new Kenyan Constitution include provisions for abortion will be no more. Government voices insisted that a great deal of funding was linked by the US administration to including abortion in the Constitution, writes Bishop Bill Atwood.
Then, when President Obama visited Kenya, he also pressed for same sex marriage. In my visits just after President Obama had been there, everyone was talking about it. They were hugely offended and were delighted at the courage Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, exhibited to stand next to President Obama and tell him, "The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families - these are some things that we share," Kenyatta said. "But there are some things that we must admit we don't share. Our culture, our societies don't accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept," Kenyatta continued. "This is why I repeatedly say for Kenyans today the (gay rights issue) is generally a non-issue."
ANGLICAN NEWS FROM CANADA...
On November 20, Council of General Synod (CoGS) of the Anglican Church of Canada passed four resolutions related to how it will deal with the resolution to change the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage in the triennium before General Synod 2019.
CoGS resolved to translate the materials related to the motion to change the marriage canon into Indigenous languages, to have its members encourage consideration of the motion in the synods of their home dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces, and to have the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, appoint a task group from the members of CoGS to facilitate consideration of the motion.
It also voted to have its members invite their dioceses to share resources they found helpful in learning about the proposed change to the marriage canon with the office of the general secretary, and to indicate if further resources are needed.
The resolutions came out of sessions on November 18 and 19, in which CoGS members discussed the best way for the council to encourage the dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces to continue the discussion on same-sex marriage in advance of the second and final vote on the matter at General Synod 2019.
The council had originally planned to act on the resolutions during a legislative session on November 19, but passionate debate about the appropriate wording caused the vote to be pushed to the next day to ensure the wording of the resolutions reflected CoGS' intent.
The resolution calling CoGS members to encourage their dioceses and provinces to continue to consider the marriage canon, had originally asked CoGS members to serve as "ambassadors," but some members expressed concern that this would put them in the role of advocating for a change to the marriage canon.
"Are you going to make me go out and promote this resolution to move forward? Are you expecting me as a member of CoGS to give copies to other people?" asked the Rev. Vincent Solomon, of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land, before adding that he would prefer not to.
A similar concern was raised by John Rye, also of Rupert's Land.
"Where a number of us have been publicly identified as advocates who clearly will be doing advocacy during this process, are we really the right people to be saying, 'We come from CoGS, and we want you to consider this'?" he asked.
General Synod prolocutor, Cynthia Haines-Turner, said members are not being ordered to do anything, but are being "invited" to encourage a discussion to happen.
"We are in a position where the dioceses and provinces are bound by the constitution to consider a motion that has passed first reading in preparation for its second reading," she said.
The Diocese of New Westminster won't perform same-sex marriages until 2019, says its bishop the Left Rev. Melissa Skelton, a refugee from Seattle, Washington, and successor to Michael Ingham the pioneer of sodomy in the diocese and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
That means that the Diocese of Niagara has usurped New West's position as the most liberal diocese in Canada, says blogger David of Samizdat.
Here's what the bishop had to say:
First, during this three-year period we will strengthen what we offer all couples who seek marriage or the blessing of their marriage in the church. I will convene a group to create standards and develop or refine materials to assist all couples in preparing for their making monogamous, lifelong commitments of fidelity to each other.
Second, we will abide by what General Synod decided, that is, during this three-year period we will hold off on our clergy officiating at the marriage of same-sex couples, preserving this period as a time to study, reflect, discern and pray for General Synod 2019 and its decisions. I, myself, did vote for the change in the Marriage Canon and do believe that offering marriage to same-sex couples within the Church is an expression of the Gospel. At the same time, as your bishop, I feel I should respect and abide by the full resolution as passed at General Synod 2016.
Third, building on the work already done in this diocese, I will authorize new liturgies for the blessing of marriages that enhance and maximize what we as church do and keep to a minimum what marriage commissioners do. These liturgies will be available for the use of clergy and parishes who would find them helpful and for all couples who are duly qualified to enter into civil marriage.
Of course we know what the outcome will be, everything is predictable about revisionism, everything.
Bogus unity in the ACoC is worse than honest disunity, writes blogger David of Samizdat.
"Now that same-sex marriage is settled, the Anglican Church of Canada is concentrating on presenting a united front "as a form of witness to the world", in contrast to this "time of political division", a snide reference, I presume, to the US elections.
"Here is a tweet showing Michael Thompson exhorting the church to indulge in a little faux-unity hypocrisy for the sake of its witness.... or should that be coffers? He writes, "We should see church unity as a form of witness to the world." Really!
"The only problem is, there is no unity in the ACoC: a number of bishops walked out of the last general synod after the same-sex marriage vote, registered their dissent and aboriginal Anglicans want to distance themselves from same-sex marriage. I know it falls somewhat short of rioting and property destruction but, in the Anglican world, this is disunity.
"As an aside, I do hope Thompson has noticed that voting in the US elections - a slightly more ambitious exercise than the ACoC general synod - went much more smoothly than the GS2016 voting debacle run by.... you guessed it, Michael Thompson."
St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Diocese of Huron, London, Ontario, has closed its doors and the small number of parishioners are meeting in an adjacent hall. The dean of the cathedral ordered it closed over structural concerns. Services will be held in a chapel and hall until further notice.
Church officials said the nave of the central church of the Anglican Huron Diocese and 170-year-old London landmark was closed after "some alarming results" were found by engineers during an ongoing $1-million restoration. Bishop Barry Clarke concurs.
Many believe that spiritual dry rot had set into the cathedral a long time ago; this is just a physical manifestation of an internal dry rot. Recently, two homosexual men celebrated their nuptials in the church, a fitting end. Parishioners were informed of the closing in an email Saturday.
IN other news, several Anglican parishes in the Diocese of Huron, are not going to use Samaritan's Purse charity any more to distribute boxes. It all has to do with LGBT concerns and its approval by the Anglican Church of Canada.
What happened was a woman who was working for Samaritan's Purse packing shoe boxes was let go after she refused to sign a revised belief statement saying Samaritan's Purse does not support same sex marriage.
Churches are not going to pack "shoeboxes" for the Operation Christmas Child charity which gives gift-filled boxes to struggling children in the Global South developing nations.
The Anglican Church of Canada promotes abortion on demand and same-sex "weddings", while the Samaritan's Purse organization does not support either and so needy kids will now suffer.
Now if you thought that The Episcopal Church had all the crazies, well apparently not. A senior Catholic Archbishop recently said, that "Christ did not die for the sins of the people" According to the chairman of the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany, the death of Jesus Christ was not a redemptive act of God to liberate human beings from the bondage of sin and open the gates of heaven. The Archbishop of Freiburg, Robert Zollitsch, known for his liberal views, publicly denied the fundamental Christian dogma of the sacrificial nature of Christ's death in a recent interview with a German television station. Zollitsch said that Christ "did not die for the sins of the people as if God had provided a sacrificial offering, like a scapegoat." Instead, Jesus had offered only "solidarity" with the poor and suffering. Zollitsch said "that is this great perspective, this tremendous solidarity."
When I mentioned to a good Catholic friend that this guy was channeling John Shelby Spong, he shot back, "But Spong et al had no one to rein them in--I think Francis and his group will take care of this guy pretty soon." One hopes.
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