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Nigerian Primate Blasts Welby for inviting Curry to Rome * LA Bishop Will Face Disciplinary Hearing * Church of Wales elects First Woman Bishop * Toronto Gay Bishop to be consecrated in Evangelical Parish * CofE Decline Continues

"The last time I looked, the Episcopal organization has an incredible treasure of $355,969,542 in trust funds (see page 8 of the 2015 Trust Funds Report)." -- The Underground Pewster
"Education, the great mumbo-jumbo and fraud of the age, purports to equip us to live, and is prescribed as a universal remedy for everything, from juvenile delinquency to premature senility. For the most part, it serves only to enlarge stupidity, inflate conceit, enhance credulity and put those subjected to it, at the mercy of brain-washers with printing presses, radio and television at their disposal." --- Malcolm Muggeridge

The secularization of Europe, or of any society, is usually the result of one of two factors: "a weak evangelization" caused by "lukewarm Christians" or a cultural process in which a growing number of people start thinking they are the lords of history --- Pope Francis

United to Christ. When we become united to Christ by faith, something so tremendous happens that the New Testament cannot find language adequate to describe it. It is a new birth, yes, but also a new creation, a resurrection, light out of darkness, and life from the dead. We were slaves, now we are sons. We were lost, now we have come home. We were condemned and under the wrath of God, now we have been justified and adopted into his family. What subsequent experience can possibly compare with this in importance? We must be careful, in describing deeper experiences, not to denigrate regeneration or to cast a slur on this first, decisive and creative work of God's love. --- John R.W. Stott

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
Nov. 4, 2016

"For it is time for judgement to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" -- 1 Peter 4:17.

A lot of what has driven me over the years in my writings is this verse found in Peter's epistle. God's initial judgement is first and foremost aimed at the Church, His Church, and when I think of how and what the Episcopal Church has abandoned, abused, distorted and done in driving away the faithful, I shudder and shake. The same could be said now for all the mainline denominations.

Before Him, at the Last Judgement, there will be no excuses, no second chances. God will read out what they have done and not done in His name and the words, "depart from me I never knew you" will be heard and they will be final and absolute.

I get scared when I think of this. It drives me to my knees and to my keyboard each day. I try not to worry about what people think (and I do), but still I press on because by not exposing the lies, the heresies, the half-truths, the sleights of language like "pluriform truths"...all designed to placate Christians and give them a sense of peace, albeit false, I am gripped by fear that I, too, might somehow compromise, come up short, be found wanting and find myself as lost as those I expose in my writings.

But then Peter goes on to say this in v. 18; "And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

You can't evade, avoid or minimize this. If you read this and feel a bit afraid, then maybe you should. This is scary stuff and it should be a wakeup call to every person reading it.

Yes, God is merciful and loving, but He is a God who will also judge the "living and the dead" and that should be a wakeup call to all of us, most especially those who preach to us, because they will be held to a higher standard. "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." James 3:1

*****

The future of the world is at stake, and more importantly, the future of countless millions of souls, writes Catholic writer, Michael Voris. "These are indeed surreal almost unbelievable times. If you are feeling disquieted, you should. There is a great ferocious spiritual battle being fought right now; the election is the flashpoint, but it is not the real battle."

The battle is spiritual, it is going on in the heavenlies, and it is playing out as the nation faces the consequences of its actions over a score of years. All the forces of evil have collected around this moment, as they have at various other times in the history. For America, this is a Kairos moment; there has never been an election like this with two candidates more disliked than they are liked by vast swathes of the population.

It is not only two deeply flawed candidates that bothers people, it is rampant greed, lust, sexual license, the vast inequality in a country that could feed the world's poor and won't, and, yes, the cowardice of Christians in the face of a growing secularism, and the abandonment of the gospel by mainline denominations and our refusal to speak up for our Savior (and I am just as guilty).

Please don't misunderstand; this isn't a loss of hope. It is a dread, a deeply frightening dread, for what the damned will experience and how so many will reject the great mercy and grace of our Lord that flows like an ocean the moment a soul repents. Only God knows at this moment how this will all play out. The collapse of virtually all morality, the cries to Heaven for justice from 60 million-plus murdered children. Could anyone doubt that the evil which would befall the nation and the Church will not have been completely deserved and just?

Still, there is hope that the arm of God, ready to drop on this nation for its universe of evil -- and most especially on the Church and its leaders for our cowardice and responsibility for the societal collapse -- may still be stayed. Consider the fate of the world if God -- who is not mocked forever -- allows mankind to be engulfed in the demonic flood of hate directed toward us by the powers of Hell.

Our shepherds have downplayed damnation, ignored the precepts of God, allowed hundreds of millions of souls to walk away from the One True Faith, stoking the notion that all religions are worthy of belief and lead to God. They do not. We surely deserve the divine judgement of God that will befall many of us, just as it did in the days of Noah.

When the Apostles were unsuccessful at driving out a particularly onerous demon, our Lord told them that "these kind can only be driven out with prayer and fasting."

The future of the world is at stake, and more importantly, the future of countless millions of souls. We are at a time of prayer and fasting.

*****

Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh signaled that there would be no compromise with Western Anglicans, promoting 'Another Gospel'. In his monthly GAFCON address, Okoh, said the Western church is engaged in 'ideological slavery' promoting teachings to overturn Bible and offer a false gospel.

He specifically called out the Archbishop of Canterbury for inviting US Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to be part of a delegation to meet the pope, when he was told specifically that Curry should not be involved in representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical or interfaith relations.

"This incident is just the most recent of many failures which the Cairo Communique describes as 'the inability of the existing Communion instruments to discern truth from error and take binding ecclesiastical action'. We need alternatives. GAFCON already has its five yearly conference and its Primates' Council which provide ways for the Communion to relate on the solid basis of the shared doctrinal commitments of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and I was greatly encouraged by the willingness of those of us gathered in Cairo to work together and not be divided by culture, personality clashes or secondary issues," said Okoh in his monthly pastoral letter.

The evangelical African Primate of the largest province in the Anglican Communion, said it is increasingly clear that the Church of England is becoming the place where pressure for compromise has become most intense and he is encouraged that 88 evangelical Anglicans leaders from varied backgrounds have come together this month to sign an open letter to the English House of Bishops, calling on them 'not to depart from the apostolic inheritance with which they have been entrusted'.

*****

The Bishop of Los Angeles, J. Jon Bruno, may yet get his comeuppance. A hearing panel of the national Episcopal Church in Chicago on Friday, denied a motion filed by the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles, J. Jon Bruno, to dismiss misconduct charges filed against him by a Newport Beach congregation that has been left without a home after the bishop sold the church building to a developer and locked out members.

The five-member panel consisting of three bishops, a priest and a layperson, also set March 28-30 as dates for a disciplinary hearing to be held against Bruno in Los Angeles.

Robert Williams, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, declined to comment "since both civil litigation and canonical proceedings continue in these matters."

The congregation of St. James the Great church in Newport Beach, has been locked out since 2015. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

A Chicago priest has become the first black woman to be elected as a diocesan bishop in the US-based Episcopal Church (TEC). Bishops Barbara Harris and Gayle Harris were the first black women to serve as suffragan bishops within TEC; but after Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows receives the necessary consents from the wider church, she will become the first black woman diocesan bishop when she is consecrated in April. The bishop-elect will be consecrated in Indiana's Butler University in April, 2017.

Baskerville-Burrows was elected bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis on the second ballot, in a five-candidate election. She received 67 clergy votes and 82 lay votes. The election came at the end of a two-year discernment process to find a successor to Bishop Catherine Waynick, who will retire in Spring 2017.

*****

After quietly removing panes bearing the Confederate flag from its stained-glass windows, leaders of the Washington National Cathedral are now wondering what to do about remaining images of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

"How can you justify having those windows in a house of God?" challenged Riley Temple, a former board member of the Washington National Cathedral's foundation.

Temple was one of several audience members who spoke on Wednesday (Oct. 26) during a series of discussions the cathedral is holding on racial justice. Also present was a scholar of Civil War history and an expert from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The stained-glass window debate comes at a time of soul-searching in America over the legacy of slavery and renewed calls to purge public places of the Confederate flag that is, for many, a symbol of oppression.

*****

The Church in Wales has elected its first female bishop, a little over three years since the Province passed legislation opening the episcopacy to women. The Rev. Canon Joanna Penberthy, currently the Rector of Glan Ithon in Llandrindod Wells, in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, was elected as the next Bishop of St Davids on the second day of an Electoral College that was locked inside the diocese's historic cathedral. Wales joins a growing list of Anglican provinces to have appointed female clergy to the Episcopate. Archbishop Barry Morgan made the announcement to a huge crowd of NINE people and a baby, who clapped and cheered the announcement. You can watch it here and laugh...or cry. http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2016/11/02/announcement-wales-first-female-bishop-attracted-quite-crowd/

*****

In the decade 2005-2015, the general population of England increased from 60,210,000 to 64,716,000, however the number of Church of England funerals plummeted by almost 30 per cent over the same period? Is it because of increased religious pluralism? The free market in faith diversity, asks blogger Archbishop Cranmer. Or, perhaps, because there is more unbelief? Does it stand to reason that if church attendance has declined 14 per cent over a decade, the Anglican manner of dispatching the dead to the happy hunting ground will tumble at twice the rate? Why should that be, when it is mainly the elderly who are snuffing it? You'd think they'd want a standard BCP affair -- '..man that is born of woman.. ashes to ashes, dust to dust..' etc,. etc., and a couple of well-known hymns, of course. The Lord's my shepherd... or don't their children and grand-children know these hymns?

The Church of England's Statistics for Mission 2015 paint a curious picture. Yes, the decline in attendance continues, but CofE funerals have been hit particularly hard, seemingly to the benefit of civil celebrants. Is this at the recommendation of funeral directors? Do they suggest that church funerals are only for 'religious' people? Is it because the bereaved now tend to prefer balloons and cuddly toys to 'In Loving Memory' wreaths and po-faced vicars? Is it because the local vicar doesn't want to bury non-believers? Why would a grieving family want to hear that their loved one might be languishing for all eternity in hell? What CofE vicar would preach that? What pastor of any church anywhere would not seek to grieve and weep with those who grieve and weep, living their faith in a feeling community? Do secular celebrants empathize better than Anglican clergy? Is it that vicars are cold, aloof, austere and don't return phone calls, while civil celebrants are all a bit like Bruce Forsyth or Mary Berry?

The Church of England is there for everyone. When you lose a loved one, the church pledges to be with you every step of the way, "giving support before, during and after the service, for as long as it's needed". That's quite a good deal for £178.

*****

A rallying cry for clergy opposed to same-sex relationships to "stand up and be counted" has been issued by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

Guarding the deposit argues all gay relationships are a "disorder" and will "attract the eternal judgement of God". The 19-page discussion document was sent to all CofE bishops and evangelical leaders earlier in October and published last week.

The forthright statement comes as CofE bishops meet to discuss whether to offer some form of welcome or acceptance to gay couples in official liturgy.

But the document denies this compromise between full acceptance of gay marriage and the Church's current position would work. It would be a "recipe for continuing conflict" the CEEC said and insists allowing "the blessing of same-sex relationships would be a de facto change of Church of England doctrine".

Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, is president of the influential council, and other bishops, including Rt Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, and Rt Rev Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, are members.

Together with all senior bishops in the CofE, they will bring forward a recommendation to the ruling general synod at its next meeting in February.

"The best way forward" would be to restate the Church's position that any sex outside heterosexual marriage is sinful, the document says. "Effective sanctions" also need to be taken against clergy who go against this teaching, it argues, slamming "years of drifting" where several gay vicars have married without consequences.

*****

The new homosexual bishop of Toronto will be consecrated in St. Paul's, Bloor Street in Toronto, an evangelical church stronghold and one of the few remaining in Canada.

The Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson, an active homosexual, was one of three clergy elected to the position of bishop in the Diocese of Toronto in September. The other two were women. The diocesan paper notes: The bishops-elect will officially begin their duties on Jan. 1, 2017. They will be consecrated on Jan. 7 at St. Paul, Bloor Street.

St. Paul's, Bloor Street, is one of the largest Anglican Church of Canada parishes in Canada and it is evangelical. If any conservatives remaining in the ACoC think they can quietly continue without the church's gay agenda being thrust in their faces, think again. St. Paul's is being compelled to host the consecration of a bishop whose domestic arrangements are flagrantly contrary to the convictions of the congregation, of Scripture and history.

VOL wrote to the Rev. Dr. Barry Parker to ask him about this, and he said, "The service was booked by the Diocese of Toronto months ago, long before any list of nominees was booked. In our polity (at least for the Diocese of Toronto), the archbishop holds title and hence ownership of the Church proper. As there are three consecrations happening in one service, and as St. Paul`s is the largest Church in the Diocese by a large amount--I was told it would be held here. Otherwise it would have certainly been at the Cathedral. The Diocese has been very clear that it is their service--not St. Paul's.

*****

British Columbia's top court has upheld the right of Trinity Western University to operate a law school, setting the stage for the Supreme Court of Canada to weigh the religious freedom of a small, private university with the rights of LGBTQ people.

The school's community covenant, which opponents say is discriminatory because it forbids sex outside heterosexual marriage, has also prompted legal challenges in two other provinces -- including one in Ontario that is already the focus of a potential hearing at the country's Supreme Court.

In BC, the province's law society initially accredited the university's law school, but reversed that decision after facing backlash from its members. In a unanimous decision released Tuesday, five BC Court of Appeal judges said the law society was wrong to reverse its original decision.

"A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society -- one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal," wrote the judges, as they upheld a lower court decision that also sided with the university.

"This case demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism, can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in fact intolerant and illiberal."

The university quickly applauded the ruling.

*****

The BBC has been accused of acting recklessly after targeting children as young as six with a program about a schoolboy who takes sex-change drugs.

Parents are angry that the show, available on the CBBC website, features a transgender storyline inappropriate for their children.

And concerned campaigners said it could 'sow the seeds of confusion' in young minds. The program, Just A Girl, depicts an 11-year-old's struggle to get hormones that stunt puberty, making it easier to have sex-change surgery in the future.

One mother, writing on the Mumsnet website, said her daughter had become worried after seeing the video. She said her girl, who likes wearing boys' clothes and playing football, had 'asked me, anxiously, if that means she was a boy'.

Tory MP Peter Bone said: 'It beggars belief that the BBC is making this program freely available to children as young as six. I entirely share the anger of parents who just want to let children be children.

'It is completely inappropriate for such material to be on the CBBC website and I shall be writing to BBC bosses to demand they take it down as soon as possible.'

*****

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, the new XVI Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, sent out a missive offering grand hope for reviving a moribund diocese laid waste by Charles Bennison and his successors. One memorable line is this, "I believe a Shepherd should smell like the sheep", which makes one wonder if he grew up on a farm. He talked a lot about "transformation" and "the Kingdom", but failed to mention PB Michael Curry's, Jesus Movement stuff. The real corker though was this, "It was disheartening for me to learn that some of our congregations have not had a visit from the Diocesan Bishop in over six years." Wow. Then what were three former bishops doing on weekends, hanging out in bars on Penn's Landing? Clearly this bishop has his work cut out for him. He did do the honors this week at the funeral of a dear Episcopal priest friend of mine, the Rev. Brewster Hastings, who died suddenly at the age of 55 while undergoing heart surgery. Brewster was a VOL board member, and a very, very dear friend. At the funeral, I met Pamela, his wife, who hugged me and said, "Brewster loved you. I know, I loved him. I have no words."

*****

The Smithsonian now has its first religion curator since the 1890's. The WASHINGTON POST reports that Peter Manseau, the son of a priest and a nun, is the Smithsonian's first curator of religion in more than a century. He will remind Americans of their nation's religious history, in all its diversity, messiness, import and splendor. "You can't tell the story of America," he said, "without the role of religion in it."

The Smithsonian, the nation's museum, hired Manseau to curate new exhibits on American religious history and to collect important religious objects to add to the museum's expansive holdings. In this new position, underwritten by a $5 million grant from the nonprofit Lilly Endowment, he'll lead a five-year series of events and exhibitions. The position was last held by someone in the 1890's, Manseau said.

"It's the first time in generations that we look at religion in a holistic, comprehensive way," Manseau said about the new exhibit, and he prides himself on the wide range of faiths he'll be highlighting. "It's taking a very broad view of religion in America, including and welcoming to all, without any obstacles."

*****

A Christian nursing home in Geneva, Switzerland, may lose its tax status if it doesn't allow assisted suicide. Over the last few years, Christian leaders have grown increasingly alarmed at the push within euthanasia circles not just to legalize assisted suicide, but also to force dissenting doctors and medical institutions to be complicit in the killing, a phenomenon I have branded "medical martyrdom."

We see that now in Switzerland, where a Christian nursing home has been threatened with loss of charitable tax status if administrators refuse to permit assisted suicide on premises.

From the CP World story comes this: A Christian nursing home run by the Salvation Army in Switzerland has been told that it must either allow assisted suicide despite its religious beliefs, or lose its charitable status.

The nursing home mounted a legal challenge against the country's new assisted suicide rules which require charities taking care of the sick or elderly to offer assisted suicide when a patient asks for it, Catholic Herald reports.

But a Swiss court ruled against the nursing home earlier this month. Other Christian charities across Europe, including a separate case in Diest, Belgium, have also been fined and punished for refusing to allow euthanasia on their grounds.

*****

Several readers have pointed out to me my bias against Donald Trump in this upcoming presidential election in various stories I have posted. In fact, we have posted three stories about both candidates, none of which are very favorable to either of them. The most recent concerned Clinton's delving into the occult world, which should be scary enough. VOL takes no position on who you should vote for.

*****

We are fast approaching the end of the year when funds are needed to help us jump start the New Year. We urgently need a budget for 2017 as we go into the last two months of the year. I have travelled extensively this past year and we have had some extraordinary expenses. Would you partner with VOL to give us a working budget for 2017? We sure could use it to keep VOL coming into your e-mail box. Our work is encouraged by your giving. Your donation is tax deductible. It helps us believe that all we do is worthwhile. Our hard-working team of reporters and commentators feel the encouragement when you give.

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David

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