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Corona and Judgement * Racism in TEC? * TEC Bishop gets the boot * Covenant struck between Alabama Bishop and Advent Cathedral * ACNA Numbers remain steady in Coronavirus Storm * Nigerian Anglicans Dedicate New Cathedral * CofE Bishop-gender neutral canon

Corona and Judgement * Racism in TEC? * TEC Bishop gets the boot * Covenant struck between Alabama Bishop and Advent Cathedral * ACNA Numbers remain steady in Coronavirus Storm * Nigerian Anglicans Dedicate New Cathedral * When "oppressed" become the Oppressors * ACNA Bishop Examines Abuse Allegations * CofE Bishop Pushes for 'gender-neutral marriage canon'

I wish they knew that obedience is not the answer, that right behavior follows position-in-Christ, and not the other way around. Someone please tell them! Christians who teach an obedience-based, performance-based righteousness teach a different gospel which, it turns out, is not good news at all. No one can do enough. The disobedience that matters is failure to enter into the rest of God (Heb 4:11). It's nothing more than moralism that is never enough, and it brings about more angst before robbing us of assurance. Its focus is on "me" and "my improvement," not on God and his perfection. It should be in the self-help sections of book stores, not under "Christianity." -- Rev Chuck Collins

"We have to decide if we want our convention primarily to be a political voting bloc or if we want it to be a Great Commission people. ... Whenever the church gets in bed with politics, the church gets pregnant, and the offspring does not look like our Father in heaven. America is important, But America is not the whole picture for believers striving to build churches around the world. God has not called us primarily to save America politically. He has called us to make the Gospel known to all," --- SBC President J.D. Greear

When we renounce our right to ourselves, when we forget all the outrages that have been committed against us and ours over the years, when we give up our right to be treated fairly and to retaliate in kind, we are in effect dead. We are no longer concerned with the past: our race, our family, our heritage, our gifts, our handicaps. When we identify with Christ's death, we become free to identify with his interests in others. --- Robert B. McLeod.

Dear Brothers and Sisters.
July 2, 2021

CORONA AND JUDGMENT. Is the coronavirus the judgment of God on a sinful and rebellious world? Short answer: it certainly could be. God can and does use plagues, sickness, disease and related measures as acts of judgment. It is at the very least being allowed by God. Perhaps the reality of it, seems to me is how have we responded.

But how have individuals responded to this crisis? There would be plenty of different responses but let me focus on just one area. If the coronavirus is in fact a means by which God is judging the earth, or at least trying to get our attention, then one would have to say that most folks are not responding very well at all.

Now divine judgment can have at least two main purposes. One, it can simply be the judicial penalty and punishment for sin. It is about people getting what they deserve -- about receiving their just deserts. We are all ripe for divine judgment, and God is under no obligation to spare us sinful and disobedient rebels of it.

But often it is also an act of God's mercy and grace. It can be used to drive people back to God. It is hoped that God's judgments will help sinners (which we all are) see the evil of their ways, repent, and turn back to God. So, judgment and mercy often cohere.

But the question is: are we seeing any waves of repentance and revival so far? Not that I can see.

Even great calamities and disasters are no guarantee that people will turn to God and that sinners will repent. Often, they will keep right on living their sinful and selfish lifestyles. Scripture certainly bears this out. Some of the most shocking and alarming passages found in all books of the Bible come from the book of Revelation in this regard.

The book is of course in large measure all about the judgment of God on unrepentant mankind. Heavy duty judgments are dished out by God, but still people do not repent! Consider what we find in Rev. 9:20-21: "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."

But it is not just individuals who need to repent. In the past, entire nations have sought God together to deal with calamities. For example, if widespread drought or famine or war was impacting a land, good leaders would often make a covenant with the people to seek the Lord. They would even proclaim national days of prayer and fasting.

So, prayer and repentance is the order of the day. It does not matter if we know for sure that corona is a definite judgment of God. We still all need to seek God's face and ask for his mercy and deliverance. Individuals and nations should both be involved in this. H/T Bill Muehlenberg


RACISM. Is it really an issue in The Episcopal Church? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry seems to think so and has called for a "Truth and Reconciliation" commission to examine the issue. His model, of course is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa following the end of apartheid in 1995 to bear witness to, record, and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, as well as offering reparation and rehabilitation to the victims. Of course, it was mainly a Black and White issue. Whites were forced to confront their racism and in doing so, let healing begin.

The question is, is that the same situation in The Episcopal Church? Who needs to be reconciled to whom exactly and what truth needs to emerge that we don't already know about?

Over the past 145 years (since 1874) there have been 44 Black Bishops consecrated in The Episcopal Church. These Bishops hail from the African Diaspora, as well as Africa. The African Diaspora includes those people of African descent living throughout the world in the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and other countries. I have examined this in some detail and believe it is much virtue signaling as anything else. You can read what I write here: https://virtueonline.org/truth-and-reconciliation-not-remedy-what-ails-episcopal-church


Another TEC bishop got the heave ho this week. Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr., has resigned from leading the dioceses of Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, the dioceses announced June 28. Hougland nears completion of his one-year suspension after admitting to an extramarital affair.

"Over the last several months, the bishop and leadership of the two dioceses have undergone a period of mutual discernment that has led us to this current moment," said a news announcement. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/whayne-hougland-resign-bishop-western-eastern-michigan-after-suspension-infidelity

It's a pity the bishop didn't announce that he was a homosexual running off with Julio Pasquale. He would be hailed as a hero for being true to his real self. There is, after all, precedent for such behavior.


The TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh has a new bishop and in keeping with the Presiding Bishop's desire for more people of color and sexualities, they elected the Rev. Dr. Ketlen Solak to succeed retiring Bishop Dorsey McConnell. Solak, who is black, will be installed as the ninth bishop on November 13, 2021. She succeeds the moderately orthodox Bishop Dorsey McConnell. She was elected in the third round of balloting with 56% of the clergy vote and 54% of the lay vote. Paula Clark, who is also black, is bishop-elect in the Diocese of Chicago.


In Birmingham, Alabama, a Covenant was struck between TEC progressive Alabama Bishop Glenda Curry and theologically conservative Advent Cathedral, allowing the latter to stay in TEC and move forward without further acrimony.

According to the Rev. Canon R. Craig Smalley, Interim Dean and Rector, the Covenant allows "ultimate security" and "makes a way forward together". In April, Dean and rector Andrew Pearson resigned over tensions with The Episcopal Church. Pearson said he could no longer serve as the spiritual leader of the Advent. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/birmingham-al-covenant-allows-diocese-and-advent-cathedral-move-forward


Contra expectations, Anglican numbers largely held steady in 2020. Anglicans are reporting better-than-expected numbers for 2020. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) kept the same number of congregations from 2019 to 2020 (972) and only saw slight declines in membership and attendance.

Membership dipped from 127,624 in 2019 to 126,760 in 2020, a loss of 864 persons (0.68%), while attendance dropped from 84,310 in 2019 to 83,119 in 2020, a loss of 1,191 (1.4%). In-person attendance was measured during the months of January and February due to COVID restrictions that limited in-person church services for much of the remaining year. A larger drop had been expected, explained ACNA Director of Communications the Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, as the customarily well-attended holy days of Christmas and Easter were not included. Unlike in the Episcopal Church, ACNA dioceses can geographically overlap and transfer congregations from one to another, which can result in a one-time increase or decrease. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/contra-expectations-anglican-numbers-largely-hold-steady-2020


Nigerian Anglicans dedicated a new cathedral in Houston this past week. More than 500 mostly Nigerian Anglicans packed Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Houston on Saturday for an African style dedication of a new cathedral. Abuja-based Nigerian Primate, Henry Ndukuba, archbishop of the largest province in the Anglican communion, officially dedicated the new $5 million structure. You can read more here. https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-anglicans-dedicate-new-cathedral-houston The realignment continues and is heating up across the communion. Despite all the hand wringing and anger from progressives, it will not be stopped. This is just another example; more can be expected.


In keeping with the growing hatred of progressives/liberals/revisionists towards orthodox Anglicans, I penned the following this week: When the "Oppressed" become the Oppressors. In it I argue that the worm has turned and that those who felt oppressed have now become the oppressors.

"The crime that dare not speak its name" is now being shouted from the housetops by flag waving, pride filled homosexuals, strutting their sexuality down the nation's main streets. Indeed worldwide, the pansexual revolution has swept all before it, demanding full embrace and acceptance while meting out punishment to anyone who dares oppose the new moral zeitgeist. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/when-oppressed-become-oppressors


An ACNA bishop, Stewart Rich of the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest, issued a statement regarding abuse allegations by a former lay leader Mark Rivera. He said concerns were raised by a survivor on social media identifying herself as a victim of sexual violence and raising important questions and concerns about the diocese's investigative process. The bishop said he had contracted with an independent firm, Grand River Solutions (GRS), and has asked them to carry out a thorough review. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/diocese-upper-midwest-statement-abuse-allegations


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND has set the dial on auto destruct. The C of E should recognize same-sex weddings, says Bishop Paul Bayes of Liverpool, who is pushing for 'gender-neutral marriage canon' and church ceremonies. Bayes is the most senior C of E figure to explicitly back a change in church law and teaching. Such ceremonies in church would break with centuries of Christian teaching.

Speaking at a conference of Mosaic, a grassroots church body that advocates inclusivity, Bayes said that some within the C of E saw discrimination on the basis of sexuality as acceptable. "The fact is that ... increasingly in the area of racial justice and disability justice, and overwhelmingly in this area of sexuality, as well of course as in the area of secrecy and abuse, the arc of the moral universe keeps on bending towards justice."

The C of E does not recognize same-sex marriages and forbids clergy to bless same-sex unions. Homosexual and lesbian clergy are permitted to be in relationships so long as they are celibate.

Pushback was strong and earnest. Theologian Martin Davie ripped Bayes apart in an article titled: WHY WE NEED TO HAVE SEX ON THE BRAIN -- A RESPONSE TO BISHOP PAUL BAYES. There are five major difficulties with his argument, he says. You can read his full-throated response to Bayes here: https://virtueonline.org/why-we-need-have-sex-brain-response-bishop-paul-bayes

You can also read Peter Mullen's piece: Gay marriages in Church? Don't tell St. Paul: https://virtueonline.org/gay-marriages-church-dont-tell-st-paul

Word just in that Bayes has announced that he is to retire in March 2022.

A source close to all this told VOL that in some ways there's nothing new about this. Bayes has been saying the same things for years. The issue is, how are the orthodox responding? Some ignore it. You could tell many senior leaders in large evangelical churches that Bayes has said this, and they would say "who's Paul Bayes"? I guess orthodox folk in ECUSA would have been similarly ignorant of Spong in the 1990's.

There are those who challenge it, like Cranmer here and also Ian Paul https://anglicanmainstream.org/should-the-church-let-the-world-set-the-agenda-on-ethics-and-doctrine/

"They are convinced that the C of E is basically orthodox, and that Bayes et al are just bad apples - we can take them and the revisionists on and win the argument. They are confident that Synod will never get enough of a majority to change church doctrine and liturgy on marriage as Bayes and lesbian Jayne Ozanne et al want."

"But there are also those who believe that Bayes is simply echoing the dominant secular thinking which is vastly more powerful that what happens in the church, and has infiltrated the church to a point of no return. Contrary to what Cranmer says, schism is not inevitable if the C of E changes its marriage canon like TEC, or more likely, gradually moves the goalposts so that 'blessings' are happening in most parishes by means of 'pastoral accommodation', and eventually the canons and liturgy catch up to enable full SSM. Most clergy and laity will never leave the C of E even if we have full on same sex marriage. We will not mirror north America- instead, over here, the vast majority will constitute our version of 'communion partners', while a tiny remnant leave for a GAFCON jurisdiction."

Liberal Evangelicals and Affirming Catholics who are wedded to the spirit of the age are retiring to await widowhood at an increasing rate. They are being replaced by a more conservative and much more numerous generation of clergy, who expect the Church to maintain its teaching. Bayes himself will be retired before the vote can take place.


The Methodist Church in the UK has voted to adopt same-sex "marriage" and to enable its ministers to officiate at such ceremonies without restriction. It has become indistinguishable from secular society in many respects since World War II, with the result that it has already sold off most of its chapels and is even now planning another fire sale. Plenty of bargains to be had on Zoopla!


WHAT OF THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND? Here is what a source told VOL. "In the unfortunate event that the forthcoming General Synod elections return a radical cohort determined to overturn B30, (one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side), there won't be a schism. All of the assets and endowments belong to the institutional CofE, and won't be divided. What will happen is another significant loss of experienced and orthodox clergy, a significant loss of income from reduced giving in the pews, and a sharp downward spiral of decline by a Church which is ever more aligned with the Devil's program, disappearing ever faster from more and more parishes, and largely forgotten by the current generation since it no longer has the capacity to make things salty. Without a faith to hand on, what remains of the assets will be consumed by the dying Establishment before it vanishes for all practical purposes from English history. As the two Archbishops are currently attempting to do." There you have it.


Will Boris Johnson, British PM be allowed to continue in his role appointing bishops by advising the Queen? The question arose in Parliament after his marriage in a Catholic church. A Roman Catholic prime minister would be barred from having a role in Episcopal appointments. It has now been officially denied that Johnson has converted to Catholicism and will be passing on his duties to the Lord Chancellor.


In the ongoing saga of Bishop Tim Dakin of the Diocese of Winchester, the Church of England newspaper reports the following, "Terrible stories of alleged mismanagement, dismissals and great injustice during Tim Dakin's period as bishop." In particular, there have been numerous non-disclosure-agreements, apparently costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, preventing those who have been dismissed or treated poorly from going public. Lay people and senior clergy all report the same sorts of behaviors which have been going on for too long. There are too many credible complaints for him to hang on. Two senior figures in the diocese say that if he insists on remaining as diocesan bishop, many parishes will withhold their parish share.


The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, this week dismissed politician Matt Hancock's adultery as "a bit of a fling". Blogger Archbishop Cranmer noted that two marriages have broken down, with all the heartache, tears and loneliness of the innocent parties. One wedding ring has been thrown to the floor in the passion of betrayal; another still worn in the sorrow of defiance. It has been a very public humiliation, and six children are now crying every night in their brokenhearted beds. The pain is deep, and their scars will last a lifetime.

But the Bishop of Manchester refers to the lies, deception and unfaithfulness and as "a bit of a fling". He isn't overly worried about illicit love, the agony of despair: his concern is that Matt Hancock breached his own Covid regulations. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/manchester-bishop-dismisses-matt-hancocks-adultery-bit-fling


In one of those 'Oh God not again...please', the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued his umpteenth apology, this time over a Welsh bishop's 'never trust a Tory' comment.

Welby admitted his "deep embarrassment" for the "absolutely unacceptable" behavior of a bishop who told her congregants to "never trust a Tory".

In a letter to the Government, Welby said he was "truly sorry" for the behaviour of Dr Joanna Penberthy, the Bishop of St David's. He said it was "intolerable" to "be trolled in this way". You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/archbishop-canterbury-apologises-over-bishops-never-trust-tory-comment


While I have no interest in pushing Rome's cause, this might interest some of you about what is really going on in the Vatican. I can think of no better take than that of Dr. Jules Gomes, Church Militant's man in Rome. You can watch it here:


BOOKS. I had the privilege of reviewing a book FIRST and the LAST The Comfort of the Triune God in Revelation by Melvin Tinker.

Over the course of listening to sixty years of sermons, I have never heard a preacher fully engage with the Book of Revelation. Preachers avoid it; its apocalyptic language, end of world scenario, its signs and symbols seem not to relate to our contemporary situation and are difficult to engage an audience for meaningful life change.

Theologian Melvin Tinker has grabbed this book by the horns, bringing to life its mysterious language to us. He demystifies the signs and symbols, unfolding the deep complexity of the book to the modern reader. He reveals God the Father, who was and is and is to come; God the Son, the Lion who is the Lamb; and God the sevenfold Spirit. This is not a light read but a book worth reading if the Book of Revelation has your attention. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/first-and-last-comfort-triune-god-revelation

I am reading and will review two new books that have appeared on my desk. One is on Romans by the Rev. Robert B. McLeod, who describes himself as The Definitive RogueCleric Commentary Using Tools of Hebrew Rhetoric.

The other is REFORMATION ANGLICAN WORSHIP by Michael P. Jensen with contributors Ashley Null and John W. Yates III.


The Church of Jesus Christ thrives amidst persecution. Persecuted Christians are feeling the effects of Iran's change to the law which recently changed to criminalize "deviant education or propaganda", and it is already being used to persecute Christians.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the new law is being used by the authorities to target "wrong cults" - groups that deviate from Twelver Shiism, the faith basis of Iran's Islamic Republic. Violations carry prison sentences of between two and five years, a voting ban of up to 15 years, and heavy monetary fines. repeated sentence...

Christians of Iran have played a significant part in the history of Christian mission. Currently, there are at least 600 churches and up to 1,000,000 Christians in Iran.

The World Evangelical Alliance reports that Nepal in the 1960s had few Christ-followers, numbering a handful at best. In the space of two generations, the number of Christians is estimated at around three million -- roughly ten percent of the entire population. Nepal is arguably the fastest growing church in the world, and largely without the imposition of foreign mission agencies and denominations exporting their models. The Christian church in Nepal is not only viable but thriving, Nepalese Christians are committed to serving their poor and suffering in the Name of Christ, seizing this opportunity as the church's finest hour.


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