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America is Secularizing * CofE Rolls from Crisit to Crisis: Immigration; Safeguarding; LLF; Rave in the Nave * Anglican Theologian's Gruesome Report on Israel * Anglican Woman Bishop Meets Pope * Sola Scriptura in Anglican Communion * Lenten Reflection

America is Secularizing * CofE Rolls from Crisit to Crisis: Immigration; Safeguarding; LLF; Rave in the Nave * Anglican Theologian's Gruesome Report on Israel * Anglican Woman Bishop Meets Pope * Sola Scriptura in Anglican Communion * Lenten Reflection

The finality of Scripture. Just as the Old Testament canon is closed because it witnesses prophetically to Christ, and Christ has come; so the New Testament canon is closed because it witnesses historically to Christ, and Christ has come. The finality of Scripture is thus due to -- is, indeed, one aspect of -- the finality of Jesus Christ. --- John R. W. Stott

According to data from Gallup, Pew, and PRRI, the percentage of Americans who identify with any religion is in steady decline, as are those who believe in God, the devil, Heaven, Hell, or angels; who say religion is a very important part of their life; maintain membership in a church or synagogue; or attend church regularly.

"There are now some 2.6 billion Christians in the world - more than the populations of North America and Europe combined. And there are more Christians in Africa today than there are people in America. It's time for us in the West to listen to the Global South and learn from them." --- Rick Warren

The most subversive aspect of the He Gets Us campaign (Superbowl ad) may be how it inverts the message of Christ, making "us" the focal point instead of Him. This reflects the therapeutic ethos that defines contemporary liberal culture, and is the antithesis of Christ's call to forsake ourselves and follow him. --- Nate Fischer

We know that true freedom comes by being slaves to Christ. We know that there is strength in weakness. We know that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We know that there is no glory without the cross. We know that we can only receive when we relinquish everything. -- J. C Ryle

"The category of White Evangelical increasingly contains Americans who rarely or never attend church. Being a conservative Christian, in other words, is rapidly becoming less about theological beliefs or religious practice, but rather a commitment to partisanship and political ideology. American Christians who are concerned about the future of their faith should take warning. Planting your beloved faith in the welcoming soil of partisan politics is like burying your loved one in Stephen King's Pet Cemetery. What returns is neither living, nor dead, but something else entirely. Potentially the stuff of horror movies." --Sam Perry, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma

"Bad political flag-waving means foregrounding partisan politics in settings where they do not belong -- for example, in Christian worship. Making the case for a party's political platform belongs, for example, at the national convention of the party. That's where you can wave your flag properly, but not in Christian worship." -- John Piper is an American Reformed Baptist theologian, pastor, and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary.

Flying the Pride flag is not a way of saying that LGBT people are welcome in the church: it is a way of saying that Christians holding to the truth of Scripture are not welcome. The only people attracted to the church by such a display are those who want to transform, even destroy, the church -- Campbell-Jack at the Grain of Sand blog

A brutal analysis published by Fr. David Goodhew of Middlesbrough, England, a respected voice on Anglican statistics, noted that "usual Sunday" attendance plunged from 950,000 in 2000 to 549,000 in 2022 -- in a national church that claims 26 million members. With children, Sunday numbers fell 23% percent between 2019 and 2022. The Canterbury diocese had 1,600 children in worship in 2019, a sobering number that fell to 1,000 in 2022. -- Terry Mattingly

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
February 16, 2024

AMERICA IS SECULARIZING. The evidence is clear. The question of why is a little more murky. And for American Christians, one likely cause should be sobering--especially during election season.

First, the facts. According to data from Gallup, Pew, and PRRI, the percentage of Americans who identify with any religion is in steady decline, as are those who believe in God, the devil, Heaven, Hell, or angels; who say religion is a very important part of their life; maintain membership in a church or synagogue; or attend church regularly.

In fact, Americans are increasingly aware of religion's waning cultural authority. Since 2010, Gallup shows nearly 74% of Americans on average believe religion is losing its influence on American life. Over the previous ten years, that average was closer to 55%.

It's hard to overstate this point. In 1990, just seven percent of Americans were non-religious -- 30 years later, the "nones" had quadrupled. And new data indicates that nearly half of Generation Z has no religious affiliation.

For decades Episcopalians were known for being the Republican Party at prayer with scores of senators and not a few presidents claiming the mantle of Episcopalian.

Andrea Valentino writing for The Critic says this; "What was once nicknamed the "Republican party at prayer" is now amongst the most progressive churches in the world. In 1976, it explicitly allowed the ordination of women. By 2003, Gene Robinson had become the first openly gay bishop in any major Christian denomination. Transgender ordination was permitted in 2012. Three years on, Michael Curry was elected the church's first black presiding bishop. Same-sex marriage is another area of flux: the church's current stance, formalized in Resolution B012, states that bishops can reject unions in their own dioceses, but must point couples towards more amenable colleagues."

With the leftward swing of the denomination, Episcopalians are more likely to be Democrats, repudiating Christian nationalism, favoring a slew of woke issues, jumping on board LGBTQI issues and homosexual marriage; issues that old school Republicans feel decidedly uncomfortable with and which many reject.

Orthodox Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) have generally made a point of steering clear of partisan political issues; focusing on the gospel, apologetics, church growth, skirting the culture war on politics. They are firmly pro-life; firmly opposed to gay marriage, and opposed to sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. What is harder to gauge is just who evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans will vote for in the coming election. Theological conservatism does not necessarily equate to political conservatism. But it is best perhaps not to speculate.


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND rolls from crisis to crisis, seemingly unable to get it right, or control the narrative.

From the dragged-out issue over whether to bless same-sex unions; a failed safeguarding program, Archbishop Justin Welby faces an enormous backlash over Britian's migration policies. One wonders if he will ever get off his depression meds. Most unlikely.

One headline from The Times screamed; "UK: Church allows asylum seekers to exploit it. CofE is naive about motives of migrants who convert yet watches real believers be persecuted."

The story of Abdul Ezedi illustrates the policy black hole that is Britain's asylum system. It also illustrates the moral black hole that is the Church of England, writes Melanie Phillips.

Ezedi, who is suspected of throwing a chemical at a mother and her two young children, is an Afghan asylum seeker who in 2016 was smuggled into Britain in a lorry. His asylum claim was turned down twice, the second time after he was convicted of sexual assault and indecent exposure.

Later, however, he was given permission to remain in Britain after he claimed to have converted to Christianity and a priest vouched that he was "wholly committed" to his new religion. In fact, those who know him have described him as "a good Muslim" who would regularly buy halal meat and who wanted to go back to Afghanistan to find a wife.

Since Christians are persecuted in Afghanistan, Ezedi could claim he would be endangered if he was sent back there. In other words, he underwent baptism in order to game the system. The church says don't blame us for this, we baptised him in good faith and it's the government's job, not ours, to deal with asylum.

This is disingenuous. There's a history of asylum seekers using baptism to boost their claims. Nearly one in seven of the 300 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge are currently converting to Christianity.

Former ABC, Lord Carey, launched into the debate saying, "My disagreement with the archbishop and bishops in the House, therefore, is not with their compassion and Christian care for others, but their blindness to what migration is doing to our country -- our culture, our infrastructure and our common life."

Matthew Firth, a former CofE ordinand who moved to better spiritual pastures, expostulated that the Church of England has become 'conveyor belt for asylum seeker fake conversions'. He accused Church leaders of turning a blind eye to 'extraordinary' number of migrants manipulating the system.

A number of British judges wrote that asylum seekers dupe church leaders to avoid deportation. Islamic 'converts' to Christianity claim they face religious persecution in their own country because of their new faith.

The misguided rave in the nave: You can read it here:

All in all, the Church of England has gotten it wrong...again. You can read the full story and links here: https://virtueonline.org/uk-church-allows-asylum-seekers-exploit-it

On the subject of the LLF and General Synod, Evangelical theologian Ian Paul had this to say. Is it 'all fouled up' or 'beyond repair'?

Summary: The new paper for February's General Synod lifts the lid on much that has previously been kept under cover in terms of both significant decisions by bishops and the content of legal advice. What it reveals is not a pretty sight and brings to light the depths of the problems. Drawing on a fuller narrative account, this article highlights 7 disturbing features evident in relation to the process and the actions of the House of Bishops. These cumulatively suggest we should no longer simply resign ourselves to the problems with LLF/PLF being a case of SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) but rather admit we are now, perhaps even systemically, at the stage of FUBAR (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair) given the evidence of:

Concealing decisions from General Synod;
Concealing advice from General Synod;
Misleading General Synod;
Disregarding General Synod;

Can the CofE sink to new levels of duplicity and division? The Church of England's Evangelicals (CEEC) weighed in with President Bishop Julian Henderson asking, why is alternative spiritual oversight needed and why now?

He said the suite of prayers for the blessing of same sex couples, as part of Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) is a watershed moment marking a departure from the biblical, historic and apostolic teaching of the Church of England on the place for sexual intimacy, the abandonment of the authority of Scripture in its teaching about relationships and the embrace of today's culture on marriage.

"The result is a divided Church at every level -- from the House of Bishops to General Synod, to the local parish. There are a lot of people who are angry, sad, shocked and disappointed by this -- on both sides of the debate, because it either goes too far or does not go far enough. This decision has put the Church of England in a very vulnerable place, where in every local parish church there is now likely to be a difficult, a charged, an emotional discussion about these issues. This is not good news for the Church of England, for its future, for its witness or its relationships locally."

A number of clergy and/or Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) now feel in impaired fellowship with their bishops as a result of their bishop's support for the Prayers of Love and Faith, he said.

He concluded his remarks by saying; "We know that for the next two or three years the CEEC needs to be pursuing 'structural differentiation' with the House of Bishops, if they continue to move away from our Anglican inheritance. Some form of differentiation will need to be created within the life and structures of the Church of England so that orthodoxy and biblical Christianity is secured going forward on a permanent basis."

You can read more here: https://ceec.info/why-is-alternative-spiritual-oversight-needed-and-why-now-bishop-julian-henderson-president-ceec-explains/

However, one noted British journalist wrote VOL about this option saying; "It seems the CEEC have given up on any meaningful idea of episcopacy -- seeing the alternative as someone to offer an occasional pep talk and maybe visit once a year. Lord have mercy."

To round off the insanity, the Church of England synod will meet later this month in London to discuss the biodiversity agenda of the church's overall environment program, racial justice, and Prayers of Love and Faith that ask for God's blessing for same-sex couples. None of this will touch the ordinary citizen who will probably never hear the Good News of God's forgiveness and grace. Your average Brit looking up and seeing a cathedral loaded down with solar panels is hardly likely to shout, "I have seen the light."

Meantime the queer (married) Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Rev. David Monteith, held a rave in the nave complete with booze for all, which Frank Wright of LifeSiteNews described as 'Desecration': Canterbury Cathedral hosts alcohol-fueled 'silent disco' near tomb of English martyr.

Critics, including Christian Dr. Cajetan Skowronski, protested against the desecration, warning of plans to extend similar events to other cathedrals across Britain.

The cathedral, a destination for millions of Christian pilgrims, hosted the two-night "silent disco" serving alcohol to revelers in headphones.

The events, described in advance by one Catholic writer as "dancing on the grave" of the martyred "Saint" Thomas Becket.

The current dean says he has a reported interest in "getting the youth into church." Really.

Archbishop Welby finally weighed in with a petition and said everyone likes a Silent Disco, but its place is in a nightclub, not in Canterbury Cathedral. The most important Christian church in England.

"The site of the martyrdom and relics of "Saint" Thomas Becket. The repository for the mortal remains of kings, princes and bishops. The destination of millions of pilgrims for centuries, past, present and future. The inspiration for our greatest early work of literature. And most importantly, the epicentre of countless prayers and sacraments -- the House of God. Do not profane this holy site of which you are custodian."

Dr. Gavin Ashenden, a former Anglican bishop, now in the embrace of Rome, slaughtered the event and the behavior of the Dean for allowing this sacrilegious event. You can watch his video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2E2MOiGb6U

BREAKING: Rave Faces Scrutiny: https://www.christianpost.com/news/canterbury-cathedral-faces-scrutiny-for-hosting-silent-disco.html


North American Anglicanism is not without its problems especially when it comes to the Anglican Province of Nigeria. A Nigerian Anglican bishop here sued the Nigerian Primate, Henry Ndukuba for libel seeking reinstatement after being suspended from his position.

Charging he was unjustly suspended from ministry and libeled by the Primate of of Nigeria, the Rt. Rev. Olukayode Adebogun says he will seek $707,000 from Archbishop Henry Ndukuba if he is not immediately reinstated.

"Bishop Adebogun was suspended from 2 positions: The Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM), Missionary Bishop of Canada and as a Bishop of Nigeria because of "utterances and actions" attributed to him. The Primate of the Church of Nigeria and its General Synod claimed these sought to undermine his authority and the church's mission in North America and Canada."

In a letter VOL received; Femi Falana of the Law Firm of Falana & Falana, argues that there is not a "scintilla of evidence" that the bishop made the alleged utterances and actions and that no basis exists for the suspension.

The archbishop hastily set up a panel to investigate charges against the Adebogun, a North American bishop in charge of dioceses and parishes in the US and Canada and said the lawsuit was "premature." We'll keep you posted.

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-anglican-archbishop-suspends-north-american-bishop and here: https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-primate-sets-panel-investigate-suspended-nth-american-bishop


THE WAR IN ISRAEL continues to bedevil Christians and secularists alike. There is continuing anti-Semitism; rails against Israel as the purveyors of genocide; with PM Netanyahu digging his heels in, saying the IDF will not stop till Hamas are gone or surrenders and all the hostages released.

One wonders if the whole thing was reversed and the IDF were hiding in tunnels and Hamas was breathing down their necks would the UN demand a halt to the war and for the Hamas hostages to be released? I doubt it.

Anglican theologian Dr. Gerry McDermott made a visit to Israel and brought back a gruesome account of what he saw near Gaza. "I joined a group of Christian leaders, hosted by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, who came to support Israel in its time of war. We saw blood-spattered walls and bullet holes in baby nurseries on the Gaza envelope. We saw hundreds of burned cars stacked thirty feet high and thousands of others riddled with holes from bullets and rocket-propelled grenades. Baby seats, children's toys, and vacation gear were strewn amid the carnage." You can read his full account here: https://virtueonline.org/devils-face-gaza

You can read my own take on why the two-state solution won't work amidst cries by the US Govt. and other Middle East countries calling for it. Anglican theologian Dr. Gerry McDermott, wrote VOL to say that the so-called two-state solution presumes that there is a "good" Palestinian leadership committed to living in peace side-by-side with the Jewish state. But this is a political fantasy. Only ideologues believe it. Opinion polls run by credible Palestinians show that a vast majority of Palestinians on the West Bank reject it and would vote for Hamas tomorrow if Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (the PA) permitted free elections (which they will not because they know they will lose).You can read it here: https://virtueonline.org/two-state-or-not-two-state-solution-question


POPE FRANCIS seems bent on following parts of the Anglican Communion on homosexuality and, it would seem, accepting the possibility of women deacons, perhaps, down the road, women priests.

The Roman Catholic Church has demonstrated its enviable talent for casuistry in recent statements on same-sex marriage.

A same-sex blessing is blessing the person not the relationship. The fact that the two people in the same-sex marriage are being blessed together is purely coincidental; it has nothing to do with the relationship. Nothing at all, writes David of Samizdat, tongue in cheek. One wonders why Anglicans didn't think of that!

The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reports that the Pope met with a number of Church of England bishops to discuss the role of women in the church.

The Rt. Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, the Anglican Communion's deputy secretary general and bishop for episcopal ministry, attended a meeting with Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome.

Two other women also were invited to address the meeting: Linda Pocher, a Salesian sister and professor at the Pontifical Auxilium; and Giuliva Di Beradino, a consecrated sister and teacher from the Diocese of Verona in Italy.

According to the Vatican Press Office, Pope Francis and the cardinals are continuing to deepen "their reflection, begun last December, on the role of women in the church." This meeting was part of a series of four seminars, during which they are seeking to listen to diverse voices and issues on the subject.

Based on what we know here, we can safely say we know where all this is going. The slippery slope of sodomy ends up with women in the pulpit and boys in the bed. Just ask 'call me Ted' Cardinal McCarrick; he's had first-hand experience.


SOLA SCRIPTURA IN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH. I have posted an excellent interview between Canon Phil Ashey and Dr. Ashley Null on this topic. It makes for substantive reading on the subject.

Null is a friend of the American Anglican Council, (and a personal friend) and the interview comes on the heels of a recent controversy surfacing online through various articles regarding the place of sola scriptura in Anglican theology and in the upcoming Global South Assembly. How do both sides come together to create a structure that will preserve biblical-faithfulness in the midst of theological controversies that continue today? Dr. Null helps explain the foundations of Anglican thought and the place of sola scriptura in Cranmer's thinking. You can read the interview here: https://virtueonline.org/sola-scriptura-anglican-church


STDS IN THE USA. According to a recent CDC report, cases of syphilis are rising in the United States. The report offers an interesting window on contemporary American culture.

First, it features the usual exceptionalism for health issues that are a part of the progressive remaking of society. Just as smoking a cigar is bad but puffing on a joint is OK, so spreading illnesses by being unvaccinated is evil while spreading disease through sexual indulgence is a mere technical problem. And it cannot be addressed in terms of any broader moral framework beyond that provided by "experts"--typically not moral philosophers or theologians but scientists, writes Carl Trueman in FIRST THINGS.

AIDS would be wiped out in a decade if men stopped indulging in anal sex, and bisexuals could not pass it along to women. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/stds-usa


Deep Anglicanism: A Brief Guide Paperback -- February 12, 2024
by Gerald McDermott (Author). You can purchase this latest effort by the well-known Anglican author and theologian here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CVLJM25D/



He gets us, or does He?: https://virtueonline.org/screwtape-whispers-he-gets-us-lure-us-away-jesus
He Saves Us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV3AnTUPiDY
Why we should resist the Conversion therapy ban: https://virtueonline.org/why-we-should-resist-conversion-therapy-ban


LENT is a great season for us to intentionally, consciously, remind ourselves that God is God and we are not...we are called to serve and to give of ourselves and to give of our possessions and to recognize the limits of who we are as human beings before God... The greatest joy is in that... in being reminded that we are people living towards death and living in our limits towards death and that Easter is this radical in-breaking of God into the order of things. Lent is the order of things. Easter is the exceptional thing. My hope is that we would fully enter into Lent so that we can fully enter into the joy of Easter. --- Bishop Chip Edgar, Anglican Bishop of SC.

More here: https://virtueonline.org/ash-wednesday-should-lead-us-guilt-grace-gratitude


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