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Elections Challenge Christians * GAFCON Lauds Bishop Love * Nigerian Primate Rips CofE & TEC Over Homosexuality * Church of England faces Child Sexual Abuse Criticism; Evangelicals ask if they should stay * POTUS switches Denominations * More

Elections Challenge Christians * GAFCON Lauds Bishop Love * Nigerian Primate Rips CofE & TEC Over Homosexuality * Church of England faces Child Sexual Abuse Criticism; Evangelicals ask if they should stay * POTUS switches Denominations * Welsh Churches Revolt over COVID restrictions

'If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ... Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.' -- Martin Luther

Nothing baffles us human beings more than nothingness and death. The 'angst' of twentieth-century existentialists, is, at its most acute, their dread of the abyss of nothingness. And death is the one event over which (in the end) we have no control, and from which we cannot escape... But nothingness and death are no problem for God. On the contrary, it is out of nothing, that he created the universe, and out of death that he raised Jesus. The creation and the resurrection were and remain the two major manifestations of the power of God. --- John R. W. Stott

The great irony of course is that the Episcopal Church in the US is, like many wings of its mothership in the UK, the Church of England, completing tanking. Age is going up; attendance is going down. If the progressive arm of the Anglican churches were dogs, you'd take them to the vet to have them put out of their misery, so poorly are they performing. --- Stephen McAlpine

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace along the way, and glory at the end all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. --- J. C. Ryle

It is impossible to be a biblical Christian and a universalist simultaneously --- John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
October 30, 2020

AS we approach the upcoming elections, it is appropriate that we cite the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy: Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3

This presidential election is unlike any other I am told, with lines boldly drawn, with no prisoners taken by the winner.

The deeper question is what will become of broken relationships when it is over? Will the winners gloat? Will the losers slink away to fight another day? Will America continue its decline into post-Christian spiritual oblivion. Will COVID allow us to avoid healing broken relationships. Will we just all burn out and watch movies, see family occasionally, eat, drink and try to be merry, but basically give up and walk away from it all?

There is a lot of polling out there that seem to reflect that things will never be the same again. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are we transitioning into something new and glorious? Time will tell.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Is God shouting at us now? Are we deaf?

Will Christians try to restore broken relationships in their love/hate relationship with President Trump? Who knows? It all remains unknown. A mystery.

One blogger wrote this: "To both mourning Christians and celebrating Christians, I wish to remind you that no president or prime minister ever brought in the kingdom. And no president ever will.

"We belong to a kingdom that's not from this planet, yet one which demands our full allegiance, total passion, and very life -- something that many people (Christians even?) have given to a political party or candidate.

"As ambassadors of God's kingdom, we can rest assured that God has everything under control. The prayer of Paul is simply that the political authorities will allow we Christians to live "quietly and peaceably" for our Lord.

"The outcomes of this world's political elections neither mean the salvation nor the demise of the world. They are but specks on the grand radar of time. We are part of a kingdom that will outlast, and eventually overcome, all others."

Amen to that.

***

Last week on October 24, the Rt. Rev. William Love, IX Bishop of Albany, announced that he will resign as bishop on February 1. Under the terms of an accord settled on October 21 between Love and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, he will have a one-month terminal sabbatical, beginning on January 1. The hearing panel which found him guilty of violating his ordination vows also agreed to discharge all further action against the bishop.

No doubt good news for TEC that they have gotten rid of the last orthodox bishop out of their hair and they can pursue their "inclusive" doctrines free of the very person they should have included who upheld the 'faith once delivered'.

Bishop Love's exit caught the attention of GAFCON leaders, who said they were disappointed that Bishop Love has found it necessary to submit his resignation. Bishop Love has clearly stated, "I strongly disagree with the Decision of the Hearing Panel, particularly their belief that I violated my ordination vows..." The Episcopal Church's action has been taken because it has a demonstrated intent to ensure all dioceses (where civil law permits) allow for same-sex marriages. No appeal by Bishop Love will result in a different outcome.

With Bishop Love, we continue to call on the Episcopal Church to return to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures and to order its life and practice in obedience to God's revealed word, said the GAFCON leaders.

Of course, that won't happen. Bishop Love will go. It is written, but we will not forget what this Church has done to its faithful over the years. The irony should not be missed. Even as they push the last faithful bishop out the door, current figures reveal a Church that is dying with its own reporters saying the situation is "dire". What this says in effect is that pansexuality was worth destroying the Church over! Future historians will marvel at the stupidity and cupidity of a wealthy Church that had a pre-eminent place in American history pissing it all away. What a tragedy that the Episcopal Church will be remembered for its columbariums and not its churchly columns; its sexual sins and not its synods, for sodomy and not its saints.

Archbishop Justin Welby had nothing to say about Love's departure, characteristically not wanting to offend his "love" friend, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. No surprise there.

***

If you think the Anglican Communion is deeply polarized and the breach unrepairable, then you would be reinforced in your views by the new Primate of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba.

He tore into the Church of England and the Episcopal Church over their acceptance of homosexuality. He said his province would resist the invasion of homosexuality, lesbianism and occultism in the Church of God.

Archbishop Ndukuba ripped both churches at his Church's recent General Synod, saying that he would "stand against the revisionist strange doctrines that deny the authority of the Word of God, the Bible and its power to order and guide our lives and practice."

"We will continue to uphold the orthodox faith in Christ Jesus, the authority of the Scripture and the Anglican heritage, as we have received it. We shall resist the invasion of homosexuality and lesbianism and occultism in the Church of God. We shall not yield to the shrewd or subtle appeal of the Church of England or America or their agents to compromise the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

The new Anglican Primate said his Church would continue in its defense of the gospel. "We are totally committed to contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Together with all bishops, clergy and laity we shall stand against the revisionist strange doctrines that deny the authority of the Word of God, the Bible and its power to order and guide our lives and practice." You can read the full story here, which now approaches 80,000 hits on Facebook! https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-anglican-primate-rips-church-england-and-episcopal-church-over-homosexuality

***

The Chinese Communist Party and the Episcopal Church have more in common than you think.

Pastors in China report that they've been forced to integrate President Xi Jinping's words into the biblical account of Jesus feeding the five thousand, as the Chinese Communist Party increasingly pressures church leaders to infuse their sermons with political ideology.

According to the Italian-based magazine Bitter Winter, the CCP has continued to use the novel coronavirus pandemic to further control and politicize religions.

In September, the Two Chinese Christian Councils of Quanzhou, a prefecture-level city in Fujian's southeastern province, demanded all Three-Self churches integrate President Xi's ideas on curbing food waste into their sermons, so that "the policy reaches everyone in society."

Now I remember an Episcopal bishop by the name of Charles E. Bennison of PA who said because the church wrote the Bible, we could therefore rewrite it. This is the same bishop who advocated a Visigoth rite for marriage. Of course, the Episcopal Church has rewritten scripture to force homosexual marriage onto the Church though the Bible offers no such sanction.

Mercifully, the revisionist bishop has disappeared and of course the Episcopal Church is on schedule to disappear within a generation. Perhaps a remnant TEC can move to China where, having denuded the Bible of all its supernatural content, they would feel right at home. Sour religion washed down with mouthfuls of sweet and sour soup.

***

Recently VOL reported on the Diocese of Huron's decline with the closure of some 55 churches (up from 50 when last I wrote). Well now St. Andrew's Memorial Anglican Church has found a new way to lure people into its so-called sacred spaces. The parish is hosting a discussion group on George A. Romero's 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. Apparently, the film has something to say about racism, so, having given up on Christianity, it's an obvious choice for an Anglican All Saints study. The word "zombie" is derived from "Nzambi", a West African voodoo snake-deity, so it fits nicely into diocesan theology. While this event is connected with St. Andrew's Memorial Anglican Church in Kitchener, it's open to anyone of goodwill! [Viewer/parental discretion is advised.] h/t Samizdat

***

An independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its report on the Church of England two weeks ago, sending a chill wind up many a cassock.

It found that "the church's neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favor of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable".

The church duly pre-emptied the report with a flurry of announcements designed to, er, protect its reputation. Besides establishing a fund to help survivors, it launched a "Safe Spaces" helpline to counsel victims -- which was first promised in 2014, has been endlessly delayed ever since, but was somehow magically ready for lift-off in the very week the IICSA report was published (Eye 1511).

Archbishop Justin Welby reacted to the IICSA report by issuing the customary press release saying he was even more appalled/ashamed/determined to do better than he had been the last time he was appalled/ashamed/determined to do better, and the time before that. You can read the full report here, which includes a report on a shadowy figure in the person of William Nye. https://virtueonline.org/william-nye-shadowy-figure-behind-child-sexual-abuse-church-england

***

Church of England evangelicals now face a historic challenge to 'contend once for all for the faith delivered to the saints', writes David Baker, a priest and editor of several evangelical publications. Ineffectual or half-hearted leadership will not suffice. If we are still, in line with Dad's Army, thinking of military metaphors, the New Testament tells all Christians to be soldiers of Christ.

So the sort of leadership we need -- and that many evangelical clergy are crying out for -- involves a clarion call to arms, a clear battle plan, an array of alternative plans if needed, efficient communication, visionary inspiration and blood-sweating perseverance. Now, which of our leaders will rise to the challenge? You can read his full report here:
https://virtueonline.org/what-church-englands-evangelical-leaders-have-common-dads-army

But should evangelicals stay in the CofE? Anglican Mainstream editor Andrew Symes asks should evangelicals consider leaving the Church of England? This question has been asked ever since the middle of the sixteenth century. In every generation the arguments to "stick with the ship" (Ryle's phrase) have prevailed; most have stayed and only a few have left. More recently, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones clashed in 1966 over whether the time had come for faithful, bible-believing evangelicals to leave the mainline churches and form a new denomination. Stott's call to 'stay in' again carried the day with all but a small group of Anglican evangelicals. His call paved the way for more intentional evangelical involvement in the Church of England.

A direct result of this is that today, according to Joshua Penduck in a recent article in CEN (23 October), "Never before has evangelicalism been as institutionally well represented within the Church of England as now. We have an Archbishop, a multitude of Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops, a flurry of Archdeacons, burgeoning theological colleges, and key figures sprinkled like salt in various committees and boards." And yet the same question remains. Evangelicals in the C of E are "close to the cliff edge of schism" over how to relate to the institution of the CofE. You can read more here: https://anglicanmainstream.org/

For a truly feisty look at the Church of England's archbishops, Dr. Judi Sture has called on UK Anglican Primates 'to act justly and honestly'.

In a hard-hitting piece, she writes: "I've been trying to avoid bishop-bashing over the last few months of Covid, but there is only so much a person can stand before having to vent frustration again. Once more we find the Boys in Miters speaking out on all the topics that they are attracted to, rather than the topics that they should address.

Specific helpful suggestions in Parliament to assist the poor, the hard-pressed and the weak of the UK? Nope. Politics? You bet. And always in an anti-Brexit, pro-left direction. In case you missed it, chaps, you lost the Brexit argument. Isn't it time you got over it?

How about speaking out instead like true representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ? He never missed a chance to support the weak effectively and addressed the politicians of his day with far more wit and accuracy that any of you can dream of. Some hope, I fear. You can read her rip here: https://virtueonline.org/uk-anglican-primates-called-act-justly-and-honestly

***

An article in Christianity Today says President Donald Trump has become the first president since Eisenhower to change faiths while in office. POTUS now identifies as nondenominational.

Trump told Religion News Service last week in a written interview mediated by spiritual advisor Paula White-Cain (a prosperity preacher) that he doesn't consider himself to be Presbyterian. He was confirmed in the church and has called himself Presbyterian numerous times over the years. But no more. "I now consider myself to be a non-denominational Christian," Trump said in the statement.

Trump did NOT change faiths, he changed denominations. If he had changed faiths, he would be a Buddhist, or Jew, like his son-in-law. The writer Daniel Silliman lived up to his name. Trump has also dallied with Norman Vincent Peale for a while, where his theology on 'the power of positive thinking' excited Trump more than denominational affiliation.

The Episcopal Church anointed a new bishop recently. The Diocese of Oregon elected The Rev. Dr. Diana Akiyama to be its next bishop. She has the distinction of being the first Japanese-American woman Bishop in The Episcopal Church. Ah, diversity.

TEC leaders are pushing for everyone to vote, but carefully saying nothing about who to vote for. Reading between the lines, it doesn't take a brain surgeon that they want everyone to vote Democrat. Of course, Curry and Crowd dare not say that out loud because they know that the folk who pay TEC's bills are rich old Republicans.

***

WALES. A group of church leaders has written to the Welsh assembly, challenging the decision to forcibly close all churches for worship over the coming weeks.

The group is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

The firebreak lockdown bans all worship services for the next three Sundays. In their pre-action letter, the leaders argue that the action is an unjustified interference with their freedom of religion and warn that they will seek judicial review if the ban is not reversed.

The letter states: "The forced closure of churches by the state is an extreme interference with Article 9 rights. Such a far-reaching and large-scale intervention may only be justified by the most compelling scientific evidence of a resulting benefit to public health."

There is no evidence that we are aware of that points to virus outbreaks occurring due to church services in the UK. With the recent daily death toll from Covid-19 peaking at 11 in Wales, the Welsh Assembly is being asked to provide substantial evidence that it is necessary to force churches to close.

The letter asks the Welsh government to engage constructively with the church leaders' concerns. If the ban remains, the Christian Legal Centre is ready to support the group as they seek to overturn it through judicial review.

***

TWO NOTABLE LAWSUITS occurred this week. The first was Jerry Falwell Jr., who said he was suing Liberty University, alleging the evangelical school founded by his late pastor father damaged his reputation in a series of public statements that followed his resignation as president and chancellor in August amid a series of scandals.

In another lawsuit, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham said he was taking legal action against UK entertainment venues that cancelled his appearances. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is suing venues in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Wales for breach of contract. Franklin Graham told the Guardian that he was "being denied [a platform] because of religious beliefs".

Somehow the apostle Paul's injunction to the Corinthian believers to not go to court against one another (1 Corinthians 6:1-8) was forgotten. For Christians not to forgive each other and reconcile their own differences is to demonstrate spiritual defeat. Why would someone want to become a Christian if Christians have just as many problems and are just as incapable of solving them? And how do they think this will play out to a watching world hardly in love with evangelicals these days.

***

Trinity School for Ministry announced this week that the Rev. Dr. David Ney has been promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor of Church History. The Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson III, dean and president, stated, "David's humble spirit, incisive mind, broad perspective of church history, and creative imagination in teaching has strengthened our curriculum, and further establishes our identity as a seminary like no other." Dr. Ney's primary area of research is the history and thought of eighteenth-century Anglicanism. His broader interests include science and religion; history and philosophy of science; history of biblical interpretations; theological interpretation of Scripture; and Christian apologetics in historical perspective. TSM
is an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition. Begun in 1976, the seminary has trained more than 1,100 graduates and many others who serve in ministries all over the world.

***
Censorship! A story I wrote on Race and Covenant; are reparations for slavery the right way to go, featuring distinguished scholar and theologian Dr. Gerry McDermott was prevented from wider circulation by Facebook. In the supposed age of toleration and anti-hatred, this is a form of hatred, refusing to listen to opposing points of view; it is the opposite of liberalism. Facebook is reactionary. You can read the story here: https://virtueonline.org/are-reparations-slavery-right-way-go

***

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In Christ,

David

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