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COVID is taking its Toll * Western Anglican Provinces in Dire Spiritual Straits * TSM President Interview * Anglican Primate Condemns Homosexuality * CofE’s Discipline Scandal * US Christians Depart Core Truths * Multiculturalism has run its course

COVID is taking its Toll * Western Anglican Provinces in Dire Spiritual Straits * TSM President Interview * Anglican Primate Condemns Homosexuality * CofE’s Discipline Scandal * US Christians Depart Core Truths * Multiculturalism has run its course

The principle of simplicity. Materialism is an obsession with material things. Asceticism is the denial of the good gifts of the Creator. Pharisaism is binding ourselves and other people with rules. Instead, we should stick to principles. The principle of simplicity is clear. Simplicity is the first cousin of contentment. Its motto is, 'We brought nothing into this world, and we can certainly carry nothing out.' It recognises that we are pilgrims. It concentrates on what we *need*, and measures this by what we *use*. It rejoices in the good things of creation, but hates waste and greed and clutter. It knows how easily the seed of the Word is smothered by the 'cares and riches of this life'. It wants to be free of distractions, in order to love and serve God and others. --- John R. W. Stott

The Metamorphosis of Jesus Christ from a humble servant of the abject poor to a symbol that stands for gun rights, prosperity theology, anti-science, limited government (that neglects the destitute) and fierce nationalism is truly the strangest transformation in human history. --- Rainn Wilson

By deferring full justification to the end time, N.T. Wright seriously participates in the cultivation of spiritual anxiety in tender souls and he fosters the suppression of Christian liberty and felt confidence in the Savior in the children of God. NTW joins an array of false teachers who perplex the Lord’s people with bold and baffling contradiction of the plain teaching of Holy Scripture. No wonder that John Newton opined, “I get more warmth and light sometimes by a letter from a plain person, who loves the Lord Jesus, though perhaps a servant maid, than from some whole volumes, put forth by learned doctors” (Christian History, Issue 81, 2004). --- Roger Salter

Christians are part of communities where we do want to help the community to try to buttress, to build up, to strengthen and to serve those who are in need. And in particular, the most vulnerable among us who are children. But we must insist on doing that honestly and a part of that honesty is knowing that there is no social structure. There is no bureaucratic program. There is no government entity that can wholly replace a missing parent or an inadequacy in a family. There is no way that any other structure can be equal to the structure that God has given us first and foremost in his plan. And furthermore, there is hope that is also given us in scripture that that which is weak, can be strengthened. And that's exactly what Christians have to do. We have to be committed in policy and politics and in our own personal lives to try to strengthen everything around us, rather than to weaken. That requires moral insight. It also requires moral honesty. – Albert Mohler

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
August 21, 2020

Tis the silly season in journalism, when news media tend to place increased emphasis on reporting light-hearted, offbeat, or bizarre stories. Not so in the Anglican Communion. The divisions in Anglicanism grow daily, helped along, in part by the COVID pandemic. The coronavirus is shaping all our lives, what we do and think and for many it is not pleasant at all.

Loneliness, suicide, drugs and alcohol induced deaths are on the increase. Americans are not comfortable with solitude; they seem to think it is reserved for monks and hermits. Not anymore. Solitude is either pushing us towards God or away from Him. “Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism,” wrote Thomas Merton.

There are many lessons to learn from COVID-19 if we are prepared to listen and hear God’s voice afresh in his Word, even as the sacraments are being denied us. COVID-19 is a wake-up call for all Christians.

***

There is overwhelming evidence that western Anglican provinces are in such dire spiritual straits that unless they are re-evangelized by Global South Anglican evangelicals, they will be lost within a generation.

The Church of England has admitted that there are about 30 separate safeguarding inquiries under way into senior clergy -- bishops or cathedral deans and some retired clergy. There are only 104 active bishops in the whole Church of England and 42 deans. This raises serious questions about the depth of spiritual depravity found in the Church that will not soon go away. It is not just an Anglo Catholic like Bishop Ball and two evangelical leaders, John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher, but massive cover ups of sexual abuse that is ringing alarm bells and causing such harm that it is emptying churches.

It is now very apparent that The Archbishop of Canterbury is a sniveling, groveling managerial fop, and the Church of England has become so incredibly embarrassing that GAFCON bishops will have nothing to do with it or him. I have blamed Welby, as I have done on occasion, for being a thin-skinned, theologically lightweight chancer who should never have been given the keys to Lambeth Palace. He now faces a safeguarding inquiry himself; he has publicly endorsed and embraced the most corrupt archbishops and bishops in the Church of South India; he has privately flailed against George Carey and he has betrayed his own evangelical roots. He has caused brilliant evangelical minds like Melvin Tinker, Peter Sanlon and Gavin Ashenden to leave the Church of England. You can read my entire article here: https://virtueonline.org/why-global-south-anglicans-will-have-re-evangelize-west

***

I had the privilege this week of interviewing the Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry, the Rev. Dr. Laurie Thompson. He reflected on theological education in a time of COVID-19.

You will find his answers both enlightening and candid. The school serves four groups of students from four different denominations: TEC, the ACNA, EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian) and the NALC (North American Lutheran Church).

Here is a response to one question I asked him about how things are working out: “It is working well both in theory and practice. In respect to vision and values, the Board of Trustees has worked with me to adjust the articulation of who we are, in order to state clearly that our first priority is the Anglican Church in North America, serving their lay and clergy leadership. In practice this is expressed in many ways. The Book of Common Prayer 2019 is the instrument of our liturgical norm, and this has been enthusiastically embraced by faculty, staff, and students. Another evidence of our ACNA identity is the enrollment itself. Most of our master's degree level are from the ACNA. Discussion continues with our Board of Trustees who are enthusiastic about our alignment with the ACNA and want to further strengthen this identity and alignment. “

VOL: You are The Episcopal Church's only evangelical seminary that does not condone homosexuality or homosexual marriage. Are you getting pushback from any TEC bishops for your stand? Are any of TECs progressive bishops allowing potential ordinands to study at your seminary?

THOMPSON: We are getting less and less pushback from TEC bishops; those who know of us are aware of who we are and for what we stand. Some appreciate the gap we fill in what we can offer their ordinands and clergy. Recently, we graduated a student from a very progressive diocese who knew little about us. The student did well, and the bishop told me that the student received an outstanding formation that he could not have gotten elsewhere, and which was affordable. You can read the full interview here: https://virtueonline.org/tsm-dean-president-reflects-theological-education-time-covid

***

The polarization of Anglicanism continues apace with no sign of a let up soon, if ever. The new Anglican primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba says that homosexuals and law breakers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Without mentioning names, this would include the two lesbian bishops and three practicing homosexual bishops in The Episcopal Church. These include Vicky Gene Robinson (formerly New Hampshire), Mary Glasspool (New York, formerly Los Angeles), Thomas Brown (Maine), Bonnie Perry (Michigan) and Deon Johnson (Missouri).

At a press conference in Abuja, Ndukuba blasted the state of affairs in Nigeria and stated that anyone who is involved in corruption, whether in the church, mosque, government, or in any office, is an enemy of God and the people. Ndukuba stressed that according to the scriptures, no corrupt, immoral or violent person, no homosexual, will be an inheritor of the kingdom of God.

These are not words that Episcopal PB Michael Curry or Archbishop Stephen Cottrell of York or the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby want to hear. It offends their new-fangled doctrines of inclusion and diversity. They would no doubt prefer it if the Nigerian Primate would rail on about racism and white privilege. Apparently, that is not on his agenda. Sin and salvation are. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-anglican-primate-says-homosexuals-will-not-inherit-kingdom

***

American evangelicalism truly got a black eye this week when Jerry Falwell, Jr., was photographed with his hand around a young woman’s waist, both with their zippers partially down and a drink in one of his hands.

But then a group of 50 ministers who graduated from Liberty University sent a letter to school leadership demanding that President Jerry Falwell Jr. be “permanently removed” from office.

Falwell agreed to take an “indefinite leave of absence” earlier this month. The letter was sent to Liberty’s board of trustees and acting University President Jerry Prevo, according to Faithwire.

The alumni told the university that the Lynchburg, Virginia-based evangelical Christian school needed “new leadership that represents the heart of Liberty University's mission.”

***

The Church of England’s clergy discipline scandal is symptomatic of a deeper problem. A new report which has branded the Church of England's disciplinary system "toxic" will come as no surprise to everyone who has been following the story.

The paper by Dr. Sarah Horsman, warden of Sheldon -- a retreat center and clergy support organization -- described the C of E's Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) as symptomatic of a wider "toxic management culture". It also called for any replacement system "to be much more distinctively Christian, wiser, more transparent and... simply kinder".

The report's findings included the shocking facts that more than a third of clergy undergoing a CDM, considered suicide; only 18 per cent felt they were treated as innocent until proved guilty; and just about half "strongly disagreed" with the statement "I felt supported by the diocese through the process". You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/cofes-clergy-discipline-scandal-symptomatic-deeper-problem

***

Abuse by two prominent British evangelicals – Jonathan Fletcher and John Smyth (since deceased) – is raising eyebrows in England, coming as it is from two prominent evangelical priests who were formerly in the CofE but have now left.

A much-anticipated 'lessons-learnt' review into the activities of former church minister, Jonathan Fletcher, will be published in September. The independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, has been carrying out the review.

Fletcher, an influential evangelical, was last year said to have been involved in physical beatings, massages and other activities which he called 'light-hearted forfeits' -- a claim dismissed by other evangelicals, including Melvin Tinker and Pete Sanlon, Justin Humphreys, chief executive of Thirtyone:eight, has now withdrawn as a speaker at the Anglican evangelical ReNew Conference on 14 September, saying it would cause victims further distress.

Meanwhile the Church of England is also investigating the Archbishop of Canterbury's handling of allegations of abuse by the late John Smyth QC, who was well-known to Fletcher. All three were involved in the Iwerne Camps for top public schoolboys.

An "outrageousness of the silence" by senior evangelicals over Fletcher and Smyth are claims made by Melvin Tinker and Peter Sanlon respond to Evangelicals Now's report on the Jonathan Fletcher affair. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/fletcher-findings-way

***

Uganda's President said this week that his government will rebuild a demolished Church. Godfrey Olukya, VOL’s African Correspondent said President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will meet all the costs associated with constructing St. Peter's Church in Ndeeba, Kampala, recently demolished by fire. "Whoever was behind the demolition of St Peter's Church in Ndeeba, Kampala, will be arrested and charged,” President Museveni said. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/ugandas-president-said-government-will-rebuild-demolished-church

***

A North India bishop, The Rt. Rev. Basil B. Baskey, Bishop of Chotanagpur says that his diocese has seceded from the denomination in a dispute about the administration of church property. "I have already declared the diocese as an autonomous church and have no link with the CNI to follow its order," the Northeastern Indian bishop told the Union of Catholic Asian (UCA) News on July 22, adding that all 52 of the diocese's pastors support his decision.

The Church of North India's synod responded to Baskey's July 17 declaration by asking him to go on and leave. They described his declaration as "an act of serious indiscipline and insubordination" in a formal statement issued on July 21. The synod also appointed the Rev. Joljas Kujar, the secretary of Chotanagpur Diocese, to serve as "moderator's commissary," assisted by a committee, until more permanent arrangements can be made.

If you think things are bad in North India, look at the Church of South India where corruption among bishops is pandemic. Here is a brief summary of the bishops’ crimes. “CSITA is selling / Mortgaging valuable church properties using forged and illegal power of attorneys. I estimate the CSITA scam does allegedly include misappropriations of money and the abuse of lands and properties by the company officers and Power of Attorneys themselves for their private interest committed over a period of 20 years. Further CSITA (incorporated on 26 September 1947) is said to be rooted in a Culture of Non-Compliance leading to many corporate failures and misbehaviours, gross FCRA violations, Active Concealment of Facts and material Information in their annual financial statements, no free and frank disclosures, lacks corporate formalities, misuses of exemptions accorded to sec. 8 companies and a management which breaks all corporate governance rules. The legality of its structure is highly questionable. CSI members see that the CSITA is sinking in corruption, bribery, money-laundering and financial irregularities. Its activities are judged by the authorities as unlawful and fraudulent and they do not seem to serve the public interest. The Company is in need of thorough Investigation by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) which is a statutory corporate fraud investigating agency set up by the Indian Government.

***

There’s nothing like instant celebrity for an Episcopal bishop. The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Diocese of Washington got the attention of Joe Biden after she rebuked President Donald Trump for using tear gas to stage a photo op at one of her churches.

She was invited to give the benediction for the second night of the Democratic National Convention. She began her 1:03-minute prayer by quoting pastor and peace activist William Sloane Coffin:

May God give you the grace never to sell yourself short;
grace to do something big for something good;
grace to remember the world is
too dangerous now for anything but truth
and too small for anything but love.

She should talk. The Episcopal Church is being destroyed by bishops like her. One can only think ‘pot and kettle’.

***

An alarming new survey reveals that US Christians are increasingly departing from core truths of a Christian worldview. The survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.

As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center's American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings -- exploring perceptions of sin and salvation -- from George Barna, the group's director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns.

Sixty-eight percent who embrace that notion identify as Christians, including 56% of self-described evangelicals and 62% of those who identify as Pentecostals. Sixty-seven percent of mainline Protestants and 77% of Catholics also embraced that idea, the findings show. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/us-christians-increasingly-departing-core-truths-christian-worldview-survey-finds

***

The American Worldview Inventory 2020 (AWVI) is an annual survey that estimates how many adults have a biblical worldview. This year's results are depressing.

"A majority of people who describe themselves as Christian (52%) accept a “works-oriented” means to God’s acceptance. More shocking, huge proportions of people associated with churches whose official doctrine says eternal salvation comes only from embracing Jesus Christ as savior believe that a person can qualify for Heaven by being or doing good. That includes close to half of all adults associated with Pentecostal (46%), mainline Protestant (44%), and evangelical (41%) churches. A much larger share of Catholics (70%) embrace that point of view. The research also shows that the relevance of sin is on the wane..."

There is no absolute moral truth (58%);• basis of truth are factors or sources other than God (58%);• right and wrong is determined by factors other than the Bible (77%);• the Bible is not the authoritative and true word of God (59%);• people are basically good (69%);• and the personal definition of success is not based on consistent obedience to God (79%)

“If you look at some of the dominant elements in the American mind and heart today, as illuminated by the Inventory, we find that most people say that the objective of life is feeling good about yourself; that all faiths are of equal value; that entry into God’s eternal presence is determined by one’s personal means of choice; and that there are no absolutes to guide or grow us morally,” explained the author of numerous books about cultural conditions and development.

“'That philosophy of life contradicts a fundamental basis of what may be the two most significant documents to the longevity and success of America – the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. Those documents agree that this nation will only be healthy and fruitful if it is populated by moral people,' Barna concluded. By abandoning our moral standards and traditions, and replacing them with inclusive and conditional preferences, we are losing the foundations that have enabled the ‘American experiment’ to succeed for more than two centuries. We can only hope that our critical moral institutions – particularly the family and churches – will wake up and help the nation to get back on track.” H/T The Underground Pewster

***

The largest dataset on sex-reassignment procedures revealed this week that the procedures do not bring the promised mental health benefits. People who experience a gender identity conflict should be treated with respect and compassion; they deserve to know the truth. “We need to find better, more humane, and effective responses to those who experience dysphoria,” said a report. To read more, click here: https://virtueonline.org/transitioning-procedures-dont-help-mental-health-largest-dataset-shows

***

Multiculturalism has run its course, and it is time to move on. It was a fine, even noble idea in its time. It was designed to make ethnic and religious minorities feel more at home, more appreciated and respected, and therefore better able to mesh with the larger society. It affirmed their culture. It gave dignity to difference. And in many ways, multiculturalism achieved its aims. Britain is a more open, diverse, energizing, cosmopolitan environment than it was when I was growing up.

But there has been a price to pay, and it grows year by year. Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation. It has allowed groups to live separately, with no incentive to integrate and every incentive not to. It was intended to promote tolerance. Instead the result has been, in countries where it has been tried, societies that are more abrasive, fractured and intolerant than they once were.

Liberal democracy is in danger. Britain is becoming a place where free speech is at risk, non-political institutions are becoming politicized. A combination of political correctness and ethnic-religious separatism is eroding the graciousness of civil society. For more, go here: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/01/25/whither-multiculturalism/

***

ANGLICANISM AND JUSTIFICATION. For a great series of articles on Justification; Luther or N.T. Wright, The Rev. Roger Salter, a regular contributor to VOL has written a seven-part series which can be found here: A CHOICE OF PASTORS: LUTHER OR N.T. WRIGHT? -- Part 7 https://virtueonline.org/choice-pastors-luther-or-nt-wright-part-7 You can back track from this final piece to other parts of the series at the VOL website. www.virtueonline.org and scroll down to the theology section. Great reading which puts N.T. Wright in his place.

***

For another eminent piece on Feeding the Flock and Fighting the Wolves, I would point you to a brilliant piece by Melvin Tinker. Here is a sample paragraph: “The solemn task of the pastor to promote the kindness of orthodoxy and counter the cruelty of heresy is an onerous one. It requires diligent study and careful communication. It will draw opprobrium in a culture where 'it is forbidden to forbid' and the unholy trinity of pluralism, relativism and subjectivism hold sway so that truth, like beauty, is considered to be in the eye of the beholder. It will almost certainly be a barrier to 'preferment' in the established church.” You can read more here:
https://virtueonline.org/genuine-ministry-feeding-flock-and-fighting-wolves

***

If you want to know the direction of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of the four “instruments” or authorities of the Anglican Communion, then read Canon Phil Ashey,’s THIN GRUEL FOR THE SOUL. Ashey’s work outlines the non-biblical approach of the AAC.

“Sadly, you will find no answers to these questions in What do Anglicans Believe: A Study Guide to Christian Doctrine from Anglican and Ecumenical Statements, published by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC),” writes Ashey.

“This academic study with selective citations of ecumenical and Anglican sources does not, however, speak for the vast majority of Anglican disciples of Jesus Christ in the Global South and elsewhere who find answers to the four questions above from our primary authority, the Bible.”

“When we begin with our own context, we begin by listening to ourselves rather than to God. Instead of looking at our context through the lens of Scripture with Jesus always in the center, we look at the Bible through the lens of our own context and experience. In the end, this approach does not rescue us from our own ruined hearts full of self-centeredness but may actually reinforce them

If you want to find out what orthodox Anglicans really believe, read the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2008) [www.gafcon.org/jerusalem-2018/key-documents/jerusalem-declaration]. Read Section 1, the Doctrinal Foundation - Fundamental Declarations in The Cairo Covenant (2011) [www.globalsouthanglican.org/images/uploads/GSA_Covenantal_Structure_(adopted_on_11_Oct_2019).pdf]. If you are an Anglican in North America and want to understand the marks of following Jesus in the Anglican way, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest Article 1- the Fundamental Declarations of the Anglican Church in North America...” To read Ashey’s fine evaluation click here: https://virtueonline.org/thin-gruel-soul

***

VOL wishes all its readers a restful August and safe travels. Please wear a mask as your governing leaders dictate and practice safe distancing; it is the other person’s life you might save.

In Christ,

David

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