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CANADA: The Fate of those Orthodox Dioceses and Bishops who continue to stay in the ACoC

CANADA: The Fate of those Orthodox Dioceses and Bishops who continue to stay in the ACoC


By David W. Virtue DD
July 16, 2016

There is a stubborn determination by those orthodox bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada that they must stay in the ACoC, because collegiality is more important than anything else. This was echoed by the conservative Bishop of Saskatchewan, Michael W. Hawkins, who said that, while they do not support changing the marriage canon to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples, they will work for unity regardless of the vote's outcome. "What unites us is our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. While these disagreements are painful and distressing, we need each other."

This presupposes a number of things.

First, it presupposes that liberal, progressive bishops are, in fact, Christians, and not unregenerate men and women dressed up with miters and staffs, strutting around playing the game of church.

Secondly, it is very clear from a number of scriptural passages, that unity is not more important than truth. 2 Thessalonians 3:6, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us." Romans 16:17, "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them." Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, writes that we are to separate ourselves from constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, and, later, in 2 Timothy 3:5, of holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

Thirdly, there is overwhelming evidence that if they stay in the ACoC, that, over time, they will be beaten up by an aggrieved pansexualist priest, who will demand marriage, and, if denied, he and they will take their conservative bishop to ecclesiastical court to get their way, and, when that happens, the bishop will fold or face inhibition and possible deposition.

Fourthly, there is evidence that, sooner or later, when that bishop retires, his or her place will be taken by a liberal bishop.

Allow me to cite a number of instances of this in The Episcopal Church.

When Terence Kelshaw, the solid low-church evangelical bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, retired (he later died), his place was taken by the divorced and very liberal Michael Vono, who parachuted in from Rome, and became the next bishop of that diocese. He, of course, allows homosexual marriages. Kelshaw's evangelical legacy was destroyed. Today, there is an ACNA diocese in the area under Bishop Felix Orji (CANA -- West), as the true orthodox alternative.

A second example is the now the retired Bishop of Northern Indiana, Ed Little, who was, indeed, orthodox in faith and morals, but following his retirement, the diocese fell into the hands of the Rt. Rev Douglas Sparks, who will go along with the TEC resolutions on same-sex marriage.

A third example is the Diocese of Central Florida, once a solid evangelical stronghold under Bishop John Howe, is now in the hands of the weak, prevaricating Greg Brewer, who has compromised twice on homosexuality. The first by agreeing to baptize the child of two openly homosexual men and then saying he would not prevent homosexuals and lesbians from taking communion, but he would not ordain a homosexual to the priesthood...for the moment. It is the thin end of the wedge, of course. For his sins, he was forced off the board (he chose to resign) from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, an institution he once taught at.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, once a solid evangelical catholic diocese, first under Bishop Bob Duncan, then, once the diocese left TEC, it had two liberal bishops, the most recent being the Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell, who claimed an evangelical conversion from atheism, but has now rolled over on sodomite marriage.

The Diocese of Texas was once in the hands of a succession of godly bishops in the persons of Maurice M. Benitez (1980-1995), Claude E. Payne (1995-2003) and Don A. Wimberly, (2003-2009). It is today in the hands of Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, whose diocese recently voted to remove a canon that said its clergy "are to abstain from sexual relations outside Holy Matrimony" and defined matrimony as "the physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman." So, fornication is okay, and, parenthetically, so is straight marriage! Then he said parishes that wish to do so, may bless same gender relationships. Fiat Lux.

It was thought for a long time that West Texas Bishop, Gary Lillibridge, was faithful on sexuality issues. But that bishop shifted his focus on same-sex blessings, saying he would authorize same-sex marriage. Now he sees through rainbow colored glasses.

The one ray of light is the Diocese of Dallas under Bishop George Sumner, who took over from Bishop Jim Stanton, an evangelical, following the latter's retirement. This is still a solidly evangelical diocese on faith and morals...for the moment... but who knows what will happen down the line.

The lesson in all this is, that if you play in the devil's sand box, don't be surprised if one of his angels kicks sand in your face and tells you that you are homophobic, lacking inclusion and diversity. Bishops, even orthodox ones, don't like to feel left out in the cold and the magnetic pull of the HOB club is strong and powerful. Furthermore, there is always a lesbian like the (Rev.) Susan Russell, ready to cry "institutional homophobia" against any orthodox bishop who won't roll over.

Canada does have options. The lead option is The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) with three bishops; Charlie Masters, Stephen Leung and Trevor Walters.

Following the actions of the ACoC, they issued the following statement:

"We the Bishops of the Anglican Network in Canada are truly saddened by the decision made by the Anglican Church in Canada at their 41st General Synod to change the Canon (and definition) of Marriage. This action is clearly in contrast to the scriptural teaching of marriage and moves the Anglican Church of Canada apart from the Anglican Communion worldwide.

"To knowingly vote to change the Canon of Marriage only months after the Archbishops of the Anglican Communion have voted to impose sanctions on the United States' Episcopal Church for making the same decision is clearly in defiance of biblically faithful Anglicans worldwide -- to say nothing of the evident disdain for the authority of God's Written Word.

"Having lived through this tearing of the Anglican fabric, our hearts go out to all biblically faithful Anglicans in Canada."

Could they be any clearer?

Seven conservative bishops still in the ACoC, came out with this statement, saying the entire process was "flawed and has inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved."

"Though the change to the Marriage Canon would require a second vote in 2019 in order to come into effect, some bishops have vowed to proceed with same sex marriages immediately, contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies." No surprise there. The Canadian liberals learned that 'local option' lesson from TEC bishops.

They said that "in passing resolution A051 R2, the General Synod has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God's Word written and imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world. We believe that our General Synod has erred grievously and we publicly dissent from this decision. Resolution A051 R2 represents a change to the sacrament of marriage inconsistent with the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition of the Church Catholic and the Book of Common Prayer. This would be a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican Communion on the doctrine of marriage. Sadly, this complicates relationships within the Anglican Church of Canada and as a Province with the Anglican Communion." So this begs the question, if that is the case, why stay?

If you believe that the faith and order of the Church has been that thoroughly compromised, why are they staying?

They also said the Resolution as carried does not provide adequate protection for the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations! Really.

Of course, Archbishop Fred Hiltz will not stop a bishop performing same-sex marriages, because he is entirely sympathetic to the idea. As David of Samizdat writes, "A plea of impotence is rather convenient for him since he hopes it will absolve him from any culpability that could result in consequences imposed by the next up the chain in ecclesiastical eunuchs, Justin Welby."

"As primate, I have no authority to say to a bishop, 'You can't do that and you must not do that,' " he said. How convenient. The resolution must still be ratified in 2019. The GAFCON Primates will have no difficulty seeing through that.

No, it is time for the remaining orthodox bishops in the ACoC to gird up their loins and have the courage to leave and join the ANiC and form a more perfect union with the ACNA. That's where their future lies, it no longer lies with the ACoC.

Marriage is not merely a human social construct, an institution that we created and are therefore at liberty to recreate and redefine as seems right and expedient, writes Bishop Dan Martins, of Springfield.

"The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that marriage was "instituted by God in creation" (p. 423). Marriage is not merely historic; it is pre-historic and pan-historic. We find it in Genesis at the time of creation, and we find it in Revelation at the consummation of redemption--the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In the meantime, Jesus also directs our attention to the essential "male and female" component of marriage (Matthew 19:4-5). It is an act of rather breathtaking hubris, an abuse of common sense. We have played with fire, my brothers and sisters, and we will quite possibly yet be burned in some way we cannot presently imagine."


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