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Four NC Bishops Condemn State's Bathroom Bill * GAFCON General Secretary says Canterbury Meeting a complete Failure * Future of AC lies with GAFCON * Sex Abuse Scandal at St. George's-Newport RI * ACoC to circumvent Marriage Canon * Va & Liverpoool linked

Truth, the true criterion. Experience must never be the criterion of truth; truth must always be the criterion of experience. --- John R.W. Stott

As people in this country become less religious, moral relativism becomes more prevalent. The absence of moral absolutes, such as the Ten Commandments, leads to much confusion and chaos in society. This will in turn lead to government taking a more active role in managing our lives. A form of dictatorship has to step in to fill the void left by Christian morality and restore some kind of order in society. --- Peter Kreeft, Ph.D.

We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists. --- John Whitehead

Over 50% of gay men's relationships are sexually non-exclusive, while lesbian women are more typically wedded to serial monogamy, which, to the surprise of some, can lead to its own problems. A Ministry of Justice response to my Freedom of Information request for same-sex divorce statistics provides an early indication of a probable trend. For every gay male couple that filed a divorce petition, 3.2 female couples did so. --- Peter McGrath gay BBC presenter

Doing the truth. Everywhere in the New Testament God's truth is something to be *done*, not something only to be believed. It carries with it demands, duties, obligations. The evangelical faith radically transforms those who believe and embrace it. --- John R. W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org
May 6, 2016

It would appear that the sexual lunacy taking place almost weekly in the Episcopal Church, indeed in the liberal Protestant churches of America as they move increasingly away from the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ over doctrine and morals, is being matched by the political madness taking place in this country.

Against all conventional wisdom, Donald Trump has become the GOP's presumptive nominee for president.

But the only consistency in this wild political season has been its unpredictability, in both parties. This has been an election cycle far out of the bounds of political models and establishment control and certainly, conventional wisdom. Very different winds have been blowing in America since the early GOP campaigns launched last year, and over a dozen candidates joined the crowded field by early 2016. Who would have thought back then that it would wind up like this, writes Sheila Liaugminas of Mercatornet news.

"That unforeseen force of nature has caught up American Democrats since Hillary Clinton began what was supposed to be an easy stride to the convention podium this summer to accept the Democratic nomination for president, only to be outshone in popularity by longtime Democratic Socialist, Senate veteran Bernie Sanders. She may well be the inevitable candidate, but it's May, and she's not there yet. That's remarkable.

"It has been a bruising, belligerent, demeaning, undignified and uninspiring battle to date. Conventional wisdom had Ohio and/or Florida, as always, pivotal in putting candidates over the top. This time, all the states played a key role, but it was Indiana that handed Donald Trump the decisive win that, suddenly, turned him into the inevitable GOP candidate for presidency. It also knocked Sen. Ted Cruz out of the race all of a sudden."

Essentially, it shows a matchup of two unpopular candidates, another remarkable reality in this year's election. Donald Trump packed stadiums and arenas and picked up momentum on 'the Trump Train' as time went on, but for all those primary victories, he continually polled behind Clinton in a general election matchup. Until the night of the Indiana primary, said The New York Times.

The bigger story is that polls and predictions haven't meant much this year, as people at the grassroots defied them again and again. The Times article had to fill the analysis with something, so it resorted to conventional wisdom. Which makes no sense. People reacted. We have become a reactionary nation, visceral and impulsive and driven by emotion. How voting polls show one thing in people registering to vote for the first time or first time in a long time, longer lines at many polling places, reflecting engaged citizens, while popularity polls show the 'unlikeability' factor rather high for the now presumptive GOP and Democratic candidate, is beyond reason and virtually beyond precedent.

When I talk to folk in other countries where I travel a lot, they marvel that Americans, especially evangelicals who claim to follow Christ, think that Trump is some sort of earthly savior brought about by God to make America great again. It is truly ironic that Warren Buffet, the wealthiest man in America, thinks this country is already great and will only grow greater with time, regardless of who is president, and he is worth far more than Trump!

Christians I talk with in countries like Mexico, Vietnam, England and Canada to name but a few, are fearful, yes fearful, that if Trump wins, they won't be welcome in America anymore, and so they are not making any plans to come. They are worried that he has his finger on the nuclear button. They further ask how so much wealth can be found in the hands of so few and why a recent Atlantic magazine article revealed that 47% of middle class Americans don't have $400 saved for an emergency! (Frankly I was shocked reading this article). They think they know why Bernie Sanders a, democratic Socialist, is so popular.

What is truly devastating is the spiritual and moral insanity in America that mirrors the political craziness. It led this week to evangelist Franklin Graham saying that because of America's decadence and ever-spreading rejection of God, along with the "unrelenting assault" on Christians and their beliefs, this nation "is in deep trouble and on the verge of total moral and spiritual collapse -- unless God intervenes." Franklin Graham is the son of world-renowned evangelist, Billy Graham.

He added that the United States may be in a situation like that of the Babylonian king Belshazzar, who saw the mysterious handwriting on the wall foretelling his doom, but did not change his ways.

King Belshazzar was judged by God and "found wanting" and his kingdom was "handed over to a new world power," said Franklin Graham, in his May 1 commentary in Decision magazine.

"I wonder if the handwriting is now on the wall for America," said the Christian evangelist.

*****

What is certain is that The Episcopal Church is certainly doing its best to lead the way to hell. This week, four North Carolina Episcopal bishops said they opposed their state's ban on transgendered bathrooms over a "bathroom bill" which, they say, prohibits them from fulfilling their own baptismal covenant promise "to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being," arguing that "The practice of discrimination by a state or institution limits, even prohibits, us from respecting the dignity of another human being."

Somehow, in the twisted minds of these bishops, their baptismal vows demands they support transgendered bathrooms, even though to do so could see children become the victims of sexual predators. Furthermore, how does one "respect the dignity of men and women" forced to watch Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) taking a pee in a public bathroom, dressed in a Christian Dior gown that looks just like the one you bought your wife. Your sex life might never be the same again!

There are times when one wonders if sexual lunacy in The Episcopal Church can possibly reach new depths. Apparently, the answer is yes. We have gone from two unbiblical sexualities (male and female homosexuality) to full blown bi-sexuality, (sex with both male and female) to transgendered (overruling the sexual identity God gave them) and intersex (whatever that is) with a small handful of Episcopal priests declaring themselves to be of one sex, when they were actually born another.

What wiser political heads in NC said is that biological sex, the physical condition of being male or female, should determine which bathroom you head into on I-95 if you have to make a pit stop to excrete nitrogenous waste, and that what is stated on your birth certificate should determine what bathroom you go to if the tourist bus you're on parks for a few moments at a rest stop.

Now, if you are not quite sure what sex you are, I suppose you could always ask a friendly North Carolina state trooper to help you, presuming of course that in dropping your pants, he does not arrest you for indecent exposure.

No matter, the four horsemen of the sexual apocalypse (the four Episcopal bishops) have decried the "bathroom bill" as a "hasty enactment" that will have ramifications for equality in that state and beyond. (They never said if "beyond" might include eternity.)

So, one's vow to uphold clearly sinful behavior in the name of a "baptismal covenant", trumps Scripture, which recognizes only one form of sexual behavior as legitimate, namely marriage between a man and a woman. All other sexual expression is called sin. You can read my full account of this in today's digest.

*****

Sex abuse scandal erupts at St. George's School-Newport RI. More than 40 former students come forth with their nightmares and stories of horror.

The Boston Globe made headlines in 2002 for uncovering a massive pedophile priest scandal within the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. Uncovering the archdiocese's cover up, eventually brought Bernard Cardinal Law to his knees, shed light on the pedophilia priest problem in the Catholic Church and earned the Massachusetts' newspaper a coveted Pulitzer. The Globe's journalistic achievement was also turned into an Academy Awarding movie -- Spotlight.

Now The Globe is shining its investigative laser on St. George's School, an elite Episcopal boarding-day school in Middletown, Rhode Island. The story, which ferreted out a decades-long abuse by clergy and teachers, broke in December, making St. George's one of a growing list of Episcopal educational institutions to be recently entangled in sex scandals; some alleged abuse dating back decades.

A partial list of prestigious educational institutions with now tarnished reputations with or without Episcopal Church ties includes: St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire; Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire; St. John's Military Academy, Salina, Kansas; Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts; Horace Mann School, the Bronx, New York; Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts; Hotchkiss School and the Indian Mountain School both in Lakeville, Connecticut; as well as St. George's.

The first inkling that St. George's was keeping a deep dark secret, slowly started to come to light a year ago. On April 7, 2015, Headmaster Eric F. Peterson and Board of Trustees Chairman Francis S. Branin, Jr. wrote to the members of the St. George's Community: "We write to you today to share a sad and difficult matter with all members of the St. George's community. In response to information provided by alumni who attended the School in the 1970s and 1980s, we have come to believe that at least one former employee of the School may have engaged in sexual misconduct with students in those years. Though the events in question took place many years ago, it is tragic and deeply troubling that anything like this could have occurred in our community."

You can read VOL correspondent Mary Ann Mueller's fine analysis about all this in today's digest or here: http://tinyurl.com/h7ppfu6

*****

A companion link between the US-based Episcopal Church's Diocese of Virginia and the Church of England's Diocese of Liverpool took a step further this week when the Suffragan Bishop of Virginia was commissioned to serve also as the Assisting Bishop of Liverpool.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes, was at the Shrine Mont Retreat Centre in Orkney Springs, Virginia, for the history-making event this week. With the blessing of the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, Bishop Bayes presented letters commissary to the Bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, confirming Bishop Susan Goff's new appointment.

Bishops Bayes and Johnston prayed over Bishop Goff. Bishop Goff will continue to reside and minister in Virginia but will make trips to Liverpool for her new role. Her first responsibilities in Liverpool will include sharing with Bishop Bayes in the ordination of priests in June, and speaking at the diocesan clergy conference in July.

*****

How to get around the marriage canon vote in the Anglican Church of Canada. The motion to change the marriage canon to accommodate same sex couples is unlikely to pass at the Anglican General Synod in July, so liberal Anglicans are looking for ways to circumvent the vote.

Canadian blogger Michael Coren, who may or may not have inside information on the machinations of the post-Christian contingent of the Anglican Church of Canada, has elucidated a hitherto unexplored way of twisting Scripture to justify the unjustifiable:

He writes: "In Canada, the most plausible hope is probably some sort of creative compromise where the canon is amended to allow for a marriage liturgy that would include same-sex couples, based around a theology inspired by Acts 10. This is the passage where the Roman centurion Cornelius is accepted by St. Peter, who says, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." The Kosher laws are no longer required; God's plan extends to all. Applied to sexuality, God's love is for all: Jew and gentile, straight and gay.

"It's far from ideal, but the reality is that equal marriage simply won't be achieved in the short-term. If an amendment satisfies enough people and is purely optional, it might, just might, be acceptable to all sides. As such it could enable the Canadian church to avoid the treatment handed to the Americans."

*****

The Diocese of Montreal has entered a new mission field: Debt Collection. Parishes in the Diocese of Montreal owed the diocese $519,758.72 at the end of 2015. Matthew 6:24 notwithstanding, Mammon is near and dear to the heart of the Anglican Church of Canada, so parishes that have not paid their protection dues will receive a visit from members of the Diocesan Overdue Account Management team, who will encourage them to develop a viable strategic plan. That way, no legs will be broken.

From the diocese comes this: "Outstanding accounts receivables owed by congregations to the Diocese for diocesan-paid parish stipends, assessments, insurance, and benefits stood at $519,758.72 at year end of 2015 with an outstanding balance remaining for 2015 of $338,898.76 as of March 31, 2016.

This is in addition to the year-end diocesan deficit and other categories of outstanding diocesan receivables. Often, the same four or five parishes account for the majority of these repeated unpaid invoices over several years, indicating that strategic planning assistance is required in these cases.

Therefore, as a further measurement of when diocesan intervention is required, the Diocesan Council also adopted a new policy for Diocesan Overdue Account Management.

This policy essentially requires a congregation, in consultation with Diocesan leadership, to develop a plan for repayment of its outstanding accounts, including a strategy for future mission and sustainability.

Source: David of Samizdat

*****

Anglican-Catholic dialogue is coming to Toronto. ARCIC talks have been going on for nearly half a century and have gone nowhere. But hope springs eternal, and Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen and Anglican Bishop Linda Nicholls, will be among those speaking on Anglican-Catholic dialogue in Toronto on May 11.

ARCIC is the official ecumenical dialogue between the world's 85 million Anglicans and 1.3 billion Catholics set up by the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1969.

The two churches have been trying to square the circle over ethical questions for five decades to little or no avail. They have discussed such contentious issues as the importance of the Pope's role as guarantor of Christian unity, Mary's role in the life and the devotion of the Church, the centrality of the Eucharist and the Church's self-understanding that it is first and foremost a communion in Christ.

ARCIC documents include: The Gift of Authority, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, Life in Christ, Morals, Communion and the Church, The Church as Communion and Salvation and the Church. While the theologians continue to talk, there have been sharp, public disagreements over women and homosexuality.

When Episcopalians, the American branch of the Anglican Communion, ordained an openly gay bishop living with his partner, Pope John Paul II shut down the dialogue in 2003. Ordination of women, particularly as bishops, prompted Cardinal Walter Kasper to accuse the Anglicans of forsaking apostolic tradition. Then the move by Pope Benedict XVI to create a means for entire Anglican congregations to be received into the Catholic Church while retaining elements of Anglican liturgy, gave offence to many Anglicans.

It is time to close this whole farce down. The two churches are actually growing further apart with each new declaration and each new departure by Anglicans from 'the faith once for all delivered to the saints.'

*****

A sharp-eyed Episcopal priest was doing his sermon preparation this past week and he had to make another one of those curious lectionary decisions that usually go completely unnoticed by Episcopal pewsitters.

Here is a reminder about last week's reading for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, which was Revelation 21:1-6,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more;

And the one who was seated on the throne said, 'See, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.' Then he said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Rev 21:1-6

This week's reading for the Sixth Sunday of Easter is Revelation 21:10, 22:1-5

And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day--and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 21:10, 22:1-5

Notice that between the two Sundays by jumping to Rev 21:10 on May 1, a few verses get passed over, presumably not to offend TEC's pansexualists that like to soft peddle chapters of the Bible that mention sin, damnation, or things that are particularly imprecatory in nature. These omissions eliminate a lot of things that would otherwise cause unpleasantness for Sunday preachers and church visitors, but the long-term spiritual effects of being fed a diet lacking in essential Bible verses is not healthy for shepherds or for their flocks.

Revelation 21:7-9: Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.' Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' Revelation 21:7-9

In all my 25 plus years in the Episcopal church, listening to thousands of sermons, not once was Hell fire and brimstone discussed in a sermon except in a negative sense, nor for that matter did I ever hear a sermon on the spiritual and medical dangers of homosexual behavior, and these were either evangelical or Anglo-Catholic parishes!

Seems to me that any Church that follows the Revised Common Lectionary may be in peril of being sliced, diced, and roasted if they treat their pewsitters to a Gospel that has been sliced, diced, revised, and sanitized.

*****

More than 4,000 people packed into St Barnabas' Provincial Cathedral in Honiara, on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands last month, for the enthronement of the Most Rev. George Takeli as the sixth Archbishop of Melanesia.

The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, and the Island's Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui and his wife, Lady Kabui, joined a large number of national and international guests who had travelled to the Pacific to welcome the new Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM).

The Archbishops of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, the Most Revd Philip Richardson and the Most Revd Clyde Igara, headed a list of Anglican guests which included bishops, clergy and laity from Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA, as well as members of the Melanesian Mission Trust Board and Melanesian Mission, UK.

*****

Brian Stiller is global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. His newly released book, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Thomas Nelson), is an important read for those concerned with accuracy in global religious trends.

Here is some of his distilled thoughts in an interview he had with missiologist Ed Stetzer.

Stetzer: So how many Evangelicals are there?

Stiller: About 600 million.

Stetzer: Where do Evangelicals actually fit in the broader Christian tradition?

Stiller: There are three basic categories: Roman Catholics are 1.2 billion. The World Council of Churches (which includes the Eastern Rite and Orthodox) are 500 million and the World Evangelical Alliance represents 600 million.

Stetzer: Where do Pentecostals fit, since they "spill over" into other traditions?

Stiller: There is a debate as to where they fit, as members of the Evangelical clan, but most scholars see them as part of the Evangelical family. Although, with their influence in other Christian communions and the wider Charismatic groupings both within the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities, as a group, it is estimated to be around 300 million.

Stetzer: How did you go about the project?

Stiller: I assembled three outstanding scholars and writers: Todd Johnson, Director for the Center for the Study of Global Christianity as Associate Editor; Mark Hutchinson, scholar and writer from Australia, as Area Editor; and Karen Stiller, editor of "Faith Today" magazine in Canada, as Managing Editor.

Then we scoured the earth, looking for writers who knew about their region or about a topic we saw as being critical. That wasn't easy as so often they are busy, but in the end we were so pleased with the quality of research and writing.

*****

More global responsibilities for the primate of Nigeria this week. The Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh will take up his new role as chairman of the GAFCON council of Primates, succeeding the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The leadership of GAFCON in the context of the present doctrinal and liturgical challenges in the Anglican Communion calls for fervent prayers. The election of Archbishop Okoh to lead the GAFCON Primates' Council is an eloquent testimony of his exemplary leadership in ensuring that the Anglican Church remains faithful to Jesus Christ and the Bible in her teachings and practices. Archbishop Nicholas D. Okoh had earlier served as the Chairman, Theological Resource Group of GAFCON, said a news report from Nigeria.

*****

We are in the midst of our spring fund appeal drive and I hope you will take a few moments to put a check in the mail to support VOL's vital ministry. Regardless of size every penny helps. You can also send a donation via PAYPAL at the link here: http://www.virtueonline.org/support-vol/

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Thank you for your support.

David

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