Revelation and culture. There can be no gainsaying the fact that in the purpose of God his revelation reached its culmination in the first century AD, in Christ and in the apostolic witness to Christ, and therefore in what to us is an ancient culture of mixed Hebrew, Greek and Roman ingredients. Nor can there be any doubt that, in order to grasp his revelation, we have to think ourselves back into that culture. But the fact that God disclosed himself in terms of a particular culture gives us not a justification for rejecting his revelation, but rather the right principle by which to interpret it, and also the solemn responsibility to reinterpret it in terms meaningful to our own culture. --- John R.W. Stott
Despite a relentless cultural assault on America's founding values, the nation is still chugging along on the fumes of inherited virtues, such as faith, patriotism and personal responsibility. America is the envy of the world, and though our shining light is tarnished, many candles of hope are being lit. --- Robert Knight
With all lifestyles now claiming equal worth, there could be no hierarchy of values or groups. Western culture, identified with the oppression of the world's powerless, was damned as discriminatory and racist. The only legitimate values were universal, signaling a utopian belief in the brotherhood of man. --- Melanie Phillips
The mantra of the culturally attuned liberalism within Anglicanism is one of celebrating and ensuring 'inclusion'. At first sight this might seem to be fulfil some of the conditions of Jesus' invitation to unity. The difficulty is, as we have seen and known for some while, that inclusion does not mean what it says. Rather it means the reconfiguration of different sets of values. --- Gavin Ashenden
The only hope for this country is God. We have taken God out of the political debate. We've taken Him out of the public space. And I want to put Him back in. --- Franklin Graham
There can be no true walking together with those [TEC] who persistently refuse to walk in accordance with God's Word and the Anglican Church of Kenya will not therefore be participating in the forthcoming meeting of the ACC in Lusaka. -- Archbishop Eliud Wabukala
I suggest that we are now firmly in the final phase of a three-stage devolution of Holy Scripture, common in mainline Protestantism. Every Protestant expression of the Christian faith has in its origins a regard for the Bible as its norm; were we feeling especially confident, we might say it in Latin: the norma normans (the "norming norm"). But somewhere -- perhaps in the second half of the previous century -- that norm quietly became a resource. The norm became a resource because we are not naïve. We understand that there is no simple, unproblematic movement from biblical text to contemporary world, and so we hedged. It may have been a hedge born of courage or honesty, but, nonetheless, Scripture became a resource, a normed norm (norma normata), albeit with no shared norming criterion. --- Garwood Anderson
Dear Brothers and Sisters
March 11, 2016
DISCONNECT. If there is a single word to describe the political, spiritual and ecclesial malaise in this country, it is the word disconnect. This week the folk in Michigan, good, sensible, mid-western people, said they either wanted Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders for president. Whatever you may think of their choices, there is only one word to describe their behavior and choices -- disconnect.
People feel disconnected economically and politically; from Washington; the president and from America's institutions that supposedly support them. They are fearful, angry, and they hate the other side with a passion. They feel disconnected.
The same is going on in America's churches. For over 50 years, liberals, progressives and revisionists cut and diced the mainline churches over a social gospel that was no gospel, and then went right over the cliff, embracing pansexuality. When people up and leave, their leaders seem bewildered that fewer and fewer are buying what they are selling. It's called disconnect. The decline of Protestantism and the rise of the Nones is another sign of disconnect.
The Episcopal Church's new presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, has come up with the idea of TEC embracing the "Jesus Movement." No one know really knows what it means, where it comes from, or what do with it, except that somehow it is tied to racism. It begs the question what was Jefferts Schori's tenure all about if it wasn't the Jesus Movement. (Her specialty was running up millions on lawsuits). Curry has hauled it out of thin air, and wants everyone to get on board. That's called disconnect.
This week the Anglican Communion Institute, a group of scholarly Episcopalians, produced a paper titled Anguish and Amnesia: The Episcopal Church and Communion and said more or less the same thing. They concluded a long peroration with these words, "Let TEC then be clear about the character of its independent life vis-à-vis a bona fide historical reality called the Anglican Communion. Let it seek to clarify its present self-understanding. Let it speak this out clearly so that the larger Communion can hear and understand who TEC now wants to be, and in just this way, how it wants to differentiate itself vis-à-vis the historical Communion's evolution and present life. There is no need for too much sensitivity, but only clarity about its new self-understanding." Heaven forbid that these talking heads should use such words as heresy or apostasy to apply to TEC.
TEC doesn't seem to get it hence the disconnect between fantasy and reality.
As a sign of the continued disconnectedness and brokenness in the communion, The Anglican Church of Kenya and the Anglican Church in Uganda both announced that they would not participate in the upcoming ACC Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.
The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) was pinning its hopes of bringing and keeping everyone at the table, but already two, and possibly more GFACON primates, have bowed out, saying that godly restoration has not occurred in the communion, and they are staying home.
They also say that the Primates' inability to enforce their "consequences" for the Episcopal Church in the United States has made their decision not to attend irreversible.
In their January communique, the Primates required that, for three years, the Episcopal Church, "while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion . . . , will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity".
The chairman of the ACC, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, said that the Primates did not have the "power to take the next step". It was the "right and responsibility" of delegates of the Episcopal Church in the US to vote at the ACC meeting.
He was speaking to the Dean of the School of Theology of the University of the South at Sewanee.
All three representatives of the Episcopal Church have confirmed that they will attend and vote at the meeting in Lusaka, from 8 to 19 April.
Bishop Ian Douglas (CT) said the Primates had "spiritual and pastoral significance, and not constitutional authority" and both the President of the House of Deputies, Gay Clark Jennings, and lay representative, Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine, also confirmed their intention to participate fully.
GAFCON Primates blame the Archbishop of Canterbury for not following through; it is just another betrayal, they say.
Uganda Primate Eliud Wabukala condemned what he called "a spirit of defiance against biblical faith and order", which had "infected the structures and leadership of the Anglican Communion".
The President-Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem & the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis, and the Area Bishop for the Horn of Africa, Dr Grant LeMarquand, issued a reminder to the Episcopal Church that the diocese of Egypt with North of Africa and the Horn of Africa did not accept money from it. This was "one expression" of the "impaired relationship". The statement ended with words from a priest in Ethiopia: "We [would] rather starve and not receive money from Churches whose actions contradict the scriptures."
That's called disconnect! What about impaired communion does TEC not understand? What about broken communion does TEC not understand? A deeper question is, does the Archbishop of Canterbury see what is going on and can he connect the dots, or is he just as disconnected!
You cannot square the circle. It's called disconnect. You cannot lift the Law of Non-Contradiction. That's called disconnect. In the end, it will be that disconnectedness that will bring down the whole TEC house of cards, perhaps even the communion itself.
You can read a number of stories about the terrible damage done by western pansexual progressivists, including a very fine commentary by the Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden, in today's digest.
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) will meet in July, 2016, in Toronto. And they will agonize over whether to approve homosexual marriage.
The Synod will consider a motion to amend the marriage canon to explicitly allow for the marriage of same-sex couples. Because this is a matter of doctrine and worship, it is required to have a 2/3rds majority in each of the houses of laity, clergy, and bishops. If it gets this - this is considered "First Reading" - it is then sent off to the ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses for feedback, and it will be considered for Second Reading at the next General Synod in 2019. Only then will it take effect.
The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Niagara Falls recently. They issued a statement which said "it became clear to us that the draft resolution to change the Marriage Canon to accommodate the marriage of same-sex partners is not likely to pass in the Order of Bishops by the canonical requirement of a 2/3rds majority in each Order."
Apparently it is not a done deal, and, when the General Synod meets, they might just get the 2/3rds majority, according to recent reports.
But here's the kicker. Four ACoC indigenous bishops are against homosexual marriage, not because they believe it to be wrong, but because it is an expression of "colonial oppression".
That leaves the liberals in the unhappy position of having to decide who to oppress: their indigenous members or their LGBTQI members; normally, they take the easy way out and just oppress their conservative members, writes an orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger.
The Bible does offer some advice on all this, of course, but no-one in the ACoC seems particularly interested in reading it. You can read the full story in today's digest.
The Diocese of Bor in South Sudan ended its 14-year relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis this week, citing those dreadful same-sex blessings issues that haunt the communion
Bishop Catherine Waynick noted that, in December of 2015, Sudan passed a resolution requiring that no formal partnerships can be sustained with Dioceses where such blessings occur.
"I received a letter from Bishop Ruben Akurdid in mid-February, explaining their position, and thanking me for the partnership we were able to have for these many years. I have responded with a letter expressing my deep disappointment, my hope that in the future such partnerships will again be possible, and assuring him that our hearts and doors are always open to him and our brothers and sisters in Bor."
Won't happen, of course. The Anglican Communion is moving inexorably towards fragmentation, if not open schism, and TEC is going to be the loser. The Diocese of Indianapolis is living in denial.
The Queen does not believe in gay marriage, and doesn't believe it should have been allowed, a source told the Daily Mail this week. The newspaper cites a "friend" as saying she favored civil partnerships, but because of her deep Christian faith, did not support same-sex marriage. This is because she believes the traditional Christian teaching that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Same-sex marriage legislation was passed in England and Wales in 2013, and came into force in 2014. It was passed in Scotland in 2014. It is still not allowed in Northern Ireland.
The friend said: "I said to her, couldn't she do something about it, and she replied: 'I can't. I can only advise and warn.'" The Queen reportedly told her friend she was frustrated, but powerless to intervene.
Buckingham Palace did not comment because it never comments on what are regarded as private matters.
FORWARD IN FAITH -- UK (FIFUK), which opposes women bishops, announced this week that over 300 parishes have already passed a resolution under the House of Bishops' Declaration, which results in them receiving episcopal oversight from a member of the Council of Bishops of The Society. The majority had been petitioning parishes under the former Act of Synod, but a significant number previously had only Resolutions A and B or had no resolution at all.
Parishes that have not yet passed the new resolution have just over eight months to do so before the existing resolutions and petitions lapse. (Resolutions can, of course, be passed later, but, where resolutions are already in place, the new resolution should be passed before 17 November 2016, to avoid a hiatus.)
In January 2015, Forward in Faith published a booklet containing advice to parish priests and PCCs on passing resolutions under the Declaration. A second edition has now been published and is available on the Advice page of the Forward in Faith website or in print from the office. In addition to some minor adjustments, the second edition includes a new section setting out the steps that need to be taken after a resolution has been passed. This has been drafted in the light of parishes' experience of communication with dioceses about resolutions.
The Advice page also includes
a draft Resolution and Statement as a Word file,
a checklist for chairmen and secretaries of PCCs,
a sheet for calculating dates by which notice must be given before the PCC meeting,
a table for calculating the majority required to pass a resolution, and
a leaflet for PCC members.
The Archbishop of Canterbury visited a refugee camp in Rwanda on March 6, after a three-day visit to Burundi, to show solidarity with Anglicans and pray for peace and reconciliation. Archbishop Justin Welby toured the Mahama Camp in the Kibungo Diocese of Rwanda, where almost 50,000 refugees -- all from Burundi -- have fled.
The Archbishop, together with Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, the Archbishop of Rwanda, briefly toured the camp and then participated in a service for the refugees.
Mahama Camp is the UNHCR's newest camp in Rwanda and, in only four months since opening in April 2015, has become the country's largest camp.
For two years, ISIS has been terrorizing Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.
In one week, Secretary of State John Kerry will have to tell Congress whether the United States will officially label ISIS' actions a "genocide."
Many Christian groups have been ratcheting up the pressure for such a declaration. Today, the Knights of Columbus released "encyclopedic evidence" for Christian genocide in the Middle East at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
"If Christians are excluded from the classification of genocide, we will be responsible for a greater and more ruthless campaign of persecution against them," said Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, one of this morning's speakers at the National Press Club. "We cannot declare genocide for Yazidis and not Christians if they are suffering the safe fate at the hands of the same perpetrators at the same time under the same conditions."
"I share just a huge sense of revulsion over these acts, obviously," Kerry told a House Appropriations Subcommittee two weeks ago. "We are currently doing what I have to do, which is review very carefully the legal standards and precedents for whatever judgment is made."
Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted last week to pass two resolutions: one calling for support of the creation of an international war crimes tribunal to prosecute those involved in Syria, and the other calling the crimes perpetrated by ISIS against Christians and other minorities there "war crimes," "crimes against humanity," and "genocide."
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called for a "great wave of prayer" for the evangelization of England. In an "unprecedented step", Justin Welby and John Sentamu have written to every parish priest in the Church of England, inviting churches across the country to take part in the focused prayer initiative, in the week leading up to Pentecost Sunday.
They say they want "to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches" from 8 to 15 May. At the end of the week, a number of "beacon" events will be held -- at St Paul's Cathedral in London, on Saturday 14 May; and at Durham, Coventry, Winchester, and Canterbury Cathedrals and St Michael le Belfrey in York, on Sunday 15 May.
These beacon events, led by renowned worship leaders and preachers, will provide space for people to "pray for the renewal of the Holy Spirit and the confidence to share their faith," a spokesman for Lambeth Palace said.
Archbishop Justin will send a message via live video link to other beacon events taking place at the same time as the Canterbury event.
"At the heart of our prayers will be words that Jesus himself taught us -- 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,'" the two archbishops said in their letter to clergy.
Despite what it sounds like on the campaign trail, Americans of all religious backgrounds are opposed to curtailing freedoms for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. While Marco Rubio states that "...faith-based people...are being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct" and Ted Cruz is calling 2016 the "religious liberty election," statistics show a more complicated relationship between American religion and LGBT issues. A majority of Americans - across the religious spectrum - think that people should not be fired from a job, denied housing or evicted from their home simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
While more than 50% of white evangelical Protestants and Mormons do support Religious Refusal bills, every other American religious group - including Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Muslims - oppose them. Moreover, majorities in every single American religious group - including white evangelical Protestants and Mormons - would support legislation protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.
The Public Religion Research Institute, drawing on 42,000 interviews conducted in 2015, issued a recent report showing that even among religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage, a majority support legal protections for LGBT people and do not believe that small business owners in their states should be able to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds. Even where their religion has been vocal in opposing same sex marriage, a majority of Americans (53%) support it.
The survey comes in the wake of a slew of anti-LGBT religious refusal bills being proposed at the state level which would allow businesses to refuse services to LGBT people and eliminate the ability of local governments to protect LGBT residents and visitors through non-discrimination ordinances.
On the national scene, the conservative American Principles Project approached all of the presidential hopefuls late last year to endorse the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), hoping to get their pledge to support legislation during their first 100 days in the White House that would, according to the ACLU, "permit government employees to discriminate against married same-sex couples and their families - federal employees could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks for all married same-sex couples, and allow businesses to discriminate by refusing to let gay or lesbian employees care for their sick spouse, in violation of family medical leave laws."
The act goes beyond affecting just LGBT people: it would allow landlords to refuse housing to a single mother on the religious grounds that sexual relations must only occur within the bounds of marriage. Six of the Republican candidates pledged to back the act, and three more have endorsed similar ideas. No Republican candidate has publicly opposed the bill.
But the findings of the Public Religion Research Institute reveal that it is no longer possible to make blanket assumptions that people who affiliate themselves with a religious institution will support legislation that legalizes discrimination against LGBT individuals and families. When 73% of Catholics, 72% of Mormons, and 57% of white, Evangelical Protestants support LGBT nondiscrimination laws, we begin to see a more complex picture of religion in America.
BEST FICTIONAL WRITING OF THE WEEK comes from Victoria Carodine of The Eckerd College Currant in St. Petersburg, FL. "Jefferts Schori pushed through efforts by church officials to undermine her authority and advocated for social issues. She blessed same-sex marriage unions, civil marriages and stood up for abortion rights....Jefferts Schori's leadership rescued the church from institutional demise -- an accomplishment for anyone, much more so a woman leader constantly facing down discrimination.
"As a presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church the United States, she has been a voice for the voiceless and a champion for social justice and equality. She is someone we all can admire and want to emulate in terms of her lived commitments." Ms. Carodine gets a free subscription to VIRTUEONLINE for her commendable, but fictional lines.
New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference 2016 is upcoming April 7-10, at Ridgecrest Conference Center East of Asheville, NC. Speakers and Anglican leaders from around the world, and missionaries from many agencies, are coming to New Wineskins 2016, to inspire and equip clergy, lay leaders, youth ministers, mission mobilizers, potential missionaries, and entire congregations to fulfill our Lord's Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Participants from 34 states and provinces in the U.S, Canada, and 53 other countries have attended previous New Wineskins conferences, which are still bearing fruit, as churches are mobilizing youth, sending missionaries, and reaching out to Muslims, Hispanics, Jews, refugees and international students in their area. Bring a team from your church to this encouraging, eye-opening, and life-changing conference!
Among primates present, is The Most Rev. Dr. Tito Zavala, Archbishop of the Province of South America and Bishop of Chile, who will be the Celebrant at the Closing Eucharist on Sunday morning. He is also leading a workshop on Making the Great Commission a Reality in the Parish.
You can register here: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ebdgudxk5d0661f0&oseq=&c=&ch=&utm_source=Master+List&utm_campaign=a719870dd1-The_Mid-Atlantic_Messenger_March_10%2C_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6ef69f053c-a719870dd1-75219454
TEC TRUST FUNDS. If you ever wondered how much money there is in TEC's Trust Funds and where TEC gets its money for all the lawsuits it files, well, this might help. The Episcopal Church Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer N. Kurt Barnes announced that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society's (DFMS) trust funds, had $380 million in 2014, citing an "exceptional performance" during the first six months of 2014. The trust funds account for 25% of the annual budget, he said. So spending $40 or $50 million is really no big deal.
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