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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/15 12:10:00 (319 reads)

UK: Easter: judgement and hope

By Andrew Symes
Anglican Mainstream
April 15th, 2014

The first example of a Church of England clergyman entering into a same sex ‘marriage’ took place on Saturday 12 April.

It is obvious that this is the first of many, creating ‘facts on the ground’ which will normalize such relationships within the church. As Andrew Carey says: “If gay marriage becomes relatively widespread among clergy it will become impossible to have discipline. This will amount to a change in teaching and it will then be difficult to resist demands for clergy to be able to solemnise gay marriage.” (Church of England Newspaper, 3 April 2014).

We will come to the question of discipline in a moment. But first, what are we to call these relationships? Those who hold to the traditional teaching on sexual morality are divided over this. For some, the biggest problem seems to be not disrespect to Bishops, flagrant sin, and the violation of God’s created order that has just happened, but the potential of discourtesy from conservatives in the way we put quotation marks around same sex ‘marriage’, or any other expression of concern about the change in the law. However, as Anglican theologian Martin Davie courteously points out: “… saying that the government changed the law in a legally valid way is not the same as saying that the government had the moral right to change the law in the way that it did.”

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/7 13:50:00 (1208 reads)

The Book of Common Prayer Is Still a Big Deal

Alan Jacobs explains why the nearly 500-year-old Anglican prayer book retains its influence, and why it should appeal even to (non-Anglican) evangelicals.

Interview by Jordan Hylden
APRIL 7, 2014

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has had an illustrious and checkered career since Archbishop Thomas Cranmer first introduced it to the Church of England back in 1549, almost five hundred years ago. If you've ever pledged to be faithful to someone "till death do us part," mourned to the words "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," or hoped for "peace in our time," you've been shaped by Cranmer's cadences, perhaps without knowing it.

Alan Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University and former professor of English at Wheaton College, has given us a lively recounting of the old Anglican prayer book's history in this new "biography," part of Princeton University Press's Lives of Great Religious Books series. Jordan Hylden, a doctoral candidate in theology and ethics at Duke University Divinity School, corresponded with Jacobs about the BCP's global reach and its mixed reception by evangelicals.

The Book of Common Prayer is nearly 500 years old. Does it still make a difference for how we worship today?

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/7 11:50:00 (860 reads)

Watch out What You Ask for: ECUSA Gets CA Judge to Call Every Parish Conveyance Since 1979 into Question

April 4, 2014

In 1979, in response to threats by parishes to leave over the issue of women's ordination to the priesthood, ECUSA enacted its now notorious Dennis Canon. The Canon purported to impose unilaterally a trust upon the real and personal property of every single parish, mission and congregation in every single diocese of the Church -- regardless of what State laws said about the requisites for creating a valid trust.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/7 10:30:00 (1116 reads)

Hate to Say I Told You So

April 7, 2014

For years I’ve been sounding the alarm about an impending social, cultural and spiritual crisis, and for years critics have compared me to Chicken Little, discounting my warnings as the ravings of a hysterical, religious fundamentalist. Well, it’s a little late for that now.

Ten years ago, I charted this progression and made this prediction:

First, gay activists came out of the closet.

Second, they demanded their “rights.”

Third, they demanded that everyone recognize those “rights.”

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/4 23:40:00 (1411 reads)


March 5, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been privileged to spend this week in Rome, Italy, from where I am writing you today. I have been here as part of studies I am taking in Canon Law through Cardiff University (Wales UK), which includes interaction between Anglican and Roman Catholic canon lawyers. It has been a magnificent time listening to and seeking to understand the Roman Catholic system of “grace and justice” through the laws and court systems of the Church. I have visited the highest courts of the Roman Catholic Church– the Roman Rota and the Apostolic Signatura.

I have been blessed to find common ground with Roman Catholic judges and canonists who share the same fundamental convictions that we do: namely, that the law of the church (Canon law) necessarily rests upon God’s Divine Law (the Bible) and natural law. In other words canon law is neither a law unto itself nor an end in itself. It must conform in purpose and practice to God’s revelation in Scripture, God’s salvation purposes through Jesus Christ, and God’s design for a people set apart for his purposes– the Church.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/2 18:30:00 (759 reads)

Church at her best when she’s telling the apostolic truth

By Julian Mann
March 31, 2014

At least the vicar in the last episode of the BBC's Johnny Worricker spy trilogy, written and directed by Sir David Hare, is not mendacious and foul-mouthed like the one in Rev. But he is a passive rather than an active character, and thus is fitted to serve at the altar of the morally slippery god of urbane postmodernism.

Benignly, he lets his vicarage be used as a safe house for his old Cambridge friend, disillusioned MI5 agent Worricker, 'a great loss to theology', who is on the run with his girlfriend from the torture-condoning British Prime Minister whom he has set out to expose. As the cleric explains to the character played by Helena Bonham Carter:

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/4/1 15:10:00 (699 reads)

The weekend when Britain changed

By Andrew Symes
April 1st, 2014

Saturday 29th March will go down in history as the day when same sex couples exchanged marriage vows on live TV and radio, and when a large proportion of the debate was taken up by what Christians believe. The official voice of the Church of England, and the establishment-leaning voice of evangelical and catholic orthodoxy were virtually silent on the weekend itself and in the days leading up to it. Revisionist Christian opinions were given free rein in the media, and the fiction of a church united in doctrine was exposed, as was the delusion of basing a strategy of witness to Christ on accommodating to anti-biblical cultural trends.

My own article of two weeks ago, suggesting that Christians disturbed by current developments at this time could turn to prayer, was picked up by veteran Guardian religion correspondent Andrew Brown as an example of swivel-eyed loony reactionary opposition to the march of progress and civilization. I was grilled about my article on Premier Christian Radio, formerly a strong voice for evangelical Christianity but now sadly increasingly a mouthpiece for the views of Steve Chalke and Brian Maclaren.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/31 6:50:00 (1697 reads)

Nashotah House: 2777 Mission Road and the Ghosts of the Past, Present and Future

By the Rev. Charleston D. Wilson
Special to Virtueonline
March 31, 2014

It was Charles Dickens, that Anglican author of the nineteenth century, who, in the opening words of A Tale of Two Cities, summed up what we all instinctively know to be true; namely, that our most transformative experiences always begin as case studies in extreme contrasts. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” said Dickens, and“it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” Out of opposing forces, decline and angst – all of which cause something of an existential whirlwind or centrifuge – radical transformation is often born.

Looking back over my almost four year love affair with Nashotah House (first as a seminarian and now as the outgoing Associate Dean of Institutional Advancement), I have come to see Dickens more as a prophet than a literary figure. In fact, it is the transformation one of his most famous characters, Ebenezer Scrooge, that most often comes to my mind when I ponder what I witnessed at the House over the last three years. Once a declining, introspective and exhausted grump – "self-contained and solitary as an oyster," as Dickens describes him – with failing health and bitterness in his heart, Mr. Scrooge leaves the stage, in the end, truly transformed, exclaiming, "I am as light as a feather. I am as happy as an angel. I am as merry as a schoolboy and I am as giddy as a drunken man!”

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/26 5:20:00 (661 reads)

Even Mean Speech is Protected

By Harry M. Covert
Special to VirtueonLine
March 26, 2014

The matter of free speech surely, completely and without exception is certainly alive and well. Contrarians and other questioners need only remember the name of Fred Phelps.

Phelps is the odious man who masqueraded as a Baptist preacher. He pushed the limits of saying what you want, when you want, no matter where you are or who you hurt. To the utter astonishment, but truly proper perhaps, the U. S. Supreme Court backed up his railings.

I have known, met and worked with hundreds, probably thousands of ecclesiastical types all of my life from all sorts of denominations.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/25 11:40:00 (728 reads)

Canon Neill on Original Sin

Irish Gazette
March 25, 2014

CANON STEPHEN NEILL quite understandably says that Article 9 (of Original Sin) should be open to discussion(Gazette,14thMarch) and that his article (7th March) was an expression of "faith seeking understanding".

It is a time-honoured principle of interpretation that, for Christians, discussion, faith and understanding will be shaped by a plain reading of Scripture. In his original article, Canon Neill suggests that we should celebrate Eve for her bravery rattler than condemn her for leading Adam astray.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/22 12:40:00 (737 reads)

Texas Supreme Court Denies Rehearing in ECUSA Cases

News Analysis

March 21, 2014

The Texas Supreme Court has denied the losing parties' petitions for rehearing in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court had delivered its opinions in the two cases last August 30. In the first case, the Court had sided with Bishop Iker's Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker's Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a "neutral principles of law" analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court's judgment in the case.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/21 10:50:00 (1231 reads)

The Episcopal Church: "The Earnestness of Being Important"

By Ladson F. Mills IIII
Special to Virtueonline
March 21, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a "sometime thing" to borrow a phrase from "Porgy and Bess." It is not capricious to be used in affirming those we like while condemning those we do not. The moral authority of the Gospel which leaders of the Episcopal Church once relied is now replaced by a dependency on restrictive canons and legal manipulation which has been designed to control and punish dissenters. It is not surprising to learn that the presiding bishop now finds herself under Title IV investigation for multiple violations of the Constitution and Canons. The only surprise is why it has taken long.

Over the last several months I received inquiries as to why I hold the "old school liberals" of the church in such high regard. I miss them because in spite of wrong thinking they were a moderating influence of genuine love for others which included the orthodox. Sometimes overly sentimental and often simplistic they were at least willing to engage in debate and consider that they might be wrong. Today those calling themselves liberals are not liberal at all but agenda driven ideologues who are willing to use any method to impose control. The neo-liberals are recognized, by the ever present outrage and an accusatory tone toward those who would dare to disagree with them. They seem especially fond of throwing around the word "hater" for those who stand in opposition. Authenticity and a motivation based on love have been replaced by an earnestness of being important.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/20 12:40:00 (948 reads)

NEW YORK: Being a Pastor in Binghamton

By Matt Kennedy
March 14, 2014

Since moving to Binghamton in June of 2002 I've come to think of this as perhaps the best possible place to preach the gospel in North America. It's hard ground not only because of economic depression, apathy, and statist regulation, but there is also a spiritual darkness over the place and underneath it, driving the apathy.

There are lots of churches here, one or two on just about every corner. But many, if not most of them, are empty or emptying, worn down husks that serve mostly to remind those who pass by of a time when people cared about such things.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/20 9:30:00 (734 reads)

Choose to Love Your Spouse - Don't Let Divorce Be An Option

By The Rt. Rev. William Love
Special to Virtueonline
March 20, 2104

"We are stuck together. We can choose to be miserably stuck or lovingly stuck, but we are stuck together for life - divorce is not an option." I remember saying this to Karen early in our marriage during the heat of an argument. While rather crude in its interpretation, it captures the essence of the permanence intended in the marriage vows that Karen and I made 30 years ago when we stood before God and His Church and solemnly promised to one another: "In the Name of God, I, (William/Karen), take you to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow." (BCP)

As I look back on our 30 years of marriage, as wonderful as it has been and continues to be, there have been times where I was so angry, hurt, confused, overwhelmed, exhausted, impatient, selfish and frustrated that I just wanted to say, "I quit. I'm out of here." - thinking at the time how much easier it would be if the "until we are parted by death" clause wasn't there.

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Posted by David Virtue on 2014/3/19 17:40:00 (723 reads)

How A Sermon Prompted Me To Start This Column

By Mike McManus
March 19, 2014

In 1972 my wife and I happened to hear Rev. Everett (Terry) Fullam preach his second sermon at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Darien, CT. "I believe the Lord has led me to come here," he announced. "That means God will act in our lives together. And where God acts, He changes people. Everyone here will be changed."

At age 9, Terry began going blind. His mother urged him to memorize huge hunks of the Bible. She prayed for his recovery. Eventually his blind spells ceased. But his memory of Scripture made him a riveting teacher and preacher who always spoke without notes.

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