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Ft. Worth Anglo-Catholic Diocese Wins Court Battle Over Properties * ACNA College of Bishops issue Sexuality and Identity Pastoral Statement * Anglican layman Counters Statement of ACNA Bishops * Three New Anglican Movements Formed * New Anglican Entity

Ft. Worth Anglo-Catholic Diocese Wins Court Battle Over Properties * ACNA College of Bishops issue Sexuality and Identity Pastoral Statement * Anglican layman Counters Statement of ACNA Bishops * Three New Anglican Movements Formed * 16 Episcopal Dioceses Face Financial Disruption * Evangelicalism Questioned by Seminary President * New Anglican Entity Formed in Europe

We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God -- John R. W. Stott

There are two views of the Christian life, two very different ways of viewing salvation. The most common way is to see life as a journey towards God: some sort of awakening, followed very quickly by the occupations of working the spiritual disciplines in order to make moral progress (what we do, climbing Jacob's ladder). This pietistic view focuses on the hope of one day reaching a heavenly state. In its crudest form it is salvation by sanctification. It views human nature as mostly dead, but revivable with a good dose of get-up-and-go prayer, Bible reading, tithing, church attendance and the works.

The second view focuses on "it is finished" and "he is not here; he has been raised." Its hope is founded on what Christ has done for us, not what we can and should do for him. St. Paul boldly announced that Christians, by definition, have been put into Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom 6), and that we have been blessed IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). "You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), he says. This must mean that our full salvation, sanctification and glorification is ours already, a free gift to be received (and experienced). This redefines the Christian life as becoming what we already are IN CHRIST. Salvation is not a repair job, it's a new life.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not opposed to prayer and Bible reading. But the spiritual disciplines are either the means by which we reach God, or they are a joyful response to a gracious God who has already reached us. And Christianity is either primarily about our performance, or about Christ's accomplishments on our behalf when we didn't perform well (Be ye perfect!), and the death he died as our substitute when we deserved to die because of our sin. Christian living is either a self-improvement project, or life after death: a new creation. --- Rev. Chuck Collins

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
February 26, 2021

The big news of the week came Monday February 22nd when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth's appeal of a state court ruling, leaving more than $100 million of diocesan property in the hands of the legitimate property holders, that is, those who built and paid for the churches. It also forces six of the diocese's congregations to vacate their buildings. U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal to a May 2020 decision issued by the Texas Supreme Court.

The diocese separated from the Episcopal Church in 2008 and is among the founding jurisdictions of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), organized in 2009.

"Today's decision marks a turning point for us as a Diocese," Bishop Ryan Reed (Jack Iker's successor) stated in a diocesan press release. "After directing so many resources to this dispute, we can now put our entire focus on Gospel ministry and Kingdom work."

Fort Worth Provisional Bishop Scott Mayer acknowledged "disappointment" that the nation's highest court let stand the Supreme Court of Texas' May 2020 ruling against his diocese.

The Episcopal Church partnered with the Diocese of Fort Worth throughout the litigation process. Litigation costs ran in to the millions of dollars, but the resolution had a happy outcome for orthodox Anglicans.

You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/fort-worth-anglicans-win-episcopal-property-battle

You can Jeff Walton's fine take on the Ft. Worth decision here: https://virtueonline.org/fort-worth-anglicans-win-episcopal-property-battle
And here: https://www.christianpost.com/news/episcopal-church-reacts-to-losing-100-million-property-lawsuit.html

Canon lawyer Allan Haley pronounced the Dennis Canon dead, and you can read his take here: https://virtueonline.org/dennis-canon-dead-texas

*****

Then a bolt of theological and ecclesiastical lightening hit the Anglican Church in North America this week with the publication by the College of Bishops on Sexuality and Identity: A Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops. It sought to address at least three pressing questions:
• What should our biblical and pastoral response be to those within our Church who self-identify as Christians with same-sex attraction? This raises two more related questions:
• What is the biblical vision for transformation with regard to same-sex attraction?
• What is the most helpful language to employ in describing the reality of same-sex attraction?

The statement was primarily pastoral not theological in tone. It affirmed the need for understanding and compassion for those caught in this aberration but affirmed the Scriptures absolute and binding position on human sexuality. That is, no sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. The bishop's statement was irenic and carefully thought through. Their statement was neither judgmental on the one hand, nor did it compromise the Scriptures' clear prohibition against homosexual behavior, found primarily in the teachings of St. Paul, on the other.

The College of Bishops spoke about sexual identity and invited Anglicans "to discern these matters within their own diocesan communities and ministries."

Then a salvo was let loose by a layman from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, one Peter Valk who tried to parse the document to make it appear that homosexuals were not being treated fairly by the Church. He issued a DEAR GAY ANGLICAN letter in which he made false claims about reparative therapy and more. The statement was supported by some 50 clergy and academics, attempting to nuance what the bishops proclaimed. Valk later took down his letter at the request of Bishop Martyn Minns, but the damage was done. All hell broke loose and ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach got ripped by at least three GAFCON provinces. Beach blasted back at the Valk statement saying his bishops are not going to back down on their conclusions "which we worked on, received input from all over the province, edited, reviewed, edited, reviewed, and edited."

With clinical precision, theologian, Dr. Gerry McDermott hammered the Valk statement saying this: "This letter is the thin end of the wedge that suggests ever so subtly that marriage should NOT be always between a man and woman, because some are not made that way. They are fundamentally SSA, that is part of their identity. And if we would not be biblicists one could plausibly argue, we should let them follow their God-given identity and be joined in body as well as spirit to their beloved."

"It denies, either explicitly or implicitly, what the catholic great tradition has taught, that SSA is disordered. It is interesting that the very beginning of the letter denies the efficacy of therapy to redirect and help deal with SSA. It uses bad stats. I have friends who have been helped significantly by such therapy. The letter's attack on this therapy suggests that they think God made them this way, and that they should celebrate their SSA as fundamental to the way God made them. If God made them this way, then how could it be disordered? And their attack on this therapy suggests that the plain sense of 1 Cor 6.11 must not be true."

You can read my full account of it here.
https://virtueonline.org/critics-acna-bishops-pastoral-statement-same-sex-attractions-have-got-it-all-wrong

You can read what Archbishop Beach said here: https://virtueonline.org/archbishop-beach-writes-diocese-south-about-dear-gay-anglicans-open-letter

You can the 'Dear Gay Anglican' statement here: https://virtueonline.org/acna-college-bishops-pastoral-statement-sexual-identity-comes-under-challenge

*****

In the ever-evolving world of Anglicanism, three new Anglican movements made their way into the history books this week; set to challenge the Church of England's hegemony.

Two of the movements are orthodox, one is progressive and, taken together, they could, in time, undermine the Church of England's dominancy, even as demographics, declining church attendance and COVID tear the Mother Church apart.

You can read my full story here: https://virtueonline.org/three-new-anglican-movements-challenge-church-englands-hegemony

*****

The fallout from the Ravi Zacharias revelations of sexual abuse, rape, false credentials and much more, reached a new and more dangerous level this week. There were charges that Ravi was little more than a spiritual poseur, an apologetic fraud.

Canadian theologian Dr. John Stackhouse took Ravi's apologetic method apart, revealing it for what it really is. Here is what he said in an interview:

"Ravi Zacharias started out as an evangelist, and he remained an evangelist--rhetorically speaking. His breakout lectures at Harvard, the beginning of the Veritas Project, are excellent examples of a style of speaking popularized most by Billy Graham. RZ spins out a kind of mood, a cloud of references to pop culture, classical culture, current events, and a key scripture or two to make the basic point: "The world is in trouble, and so are you." Then, yes, Jesus is the answer.
He never became a competent apologist...I can't think of a single distinguished expert in the fields he made his own that endorsed him as a serious player. And his complete lack of publications in academic journals and presses underscores the point."

Another Ravi observer said this; "For five years I have had to deal on an almost daily basis with Ravi Zacharias fans. I am absolutely convinced that his biggest and most long-term legacy will be having dumbed down Christian philosophy to Fortune cookie sized bites. Easy to swallow, but utterly lacking in nutrition.

"Without exception, and I have had perhaps 1000 exchanges, many of them preserved over at YouTube comment fields, Robbie fans have been unable to present a coherent argument in his defense. In fact, I don't recall any of them ever trying. They are a textbook case of fallacious thinking and personal attacks.
The standard line now is that even though Ravi was a bad guy his books are still worth reading and he has benefited so many people with his ideas. Bull s**t..."

You can read my final take on Zacharias here: https://virtueonline.org/ravi-zachariass-behavior-provokes-outrage-across-world-and-internet

You can read the interview with Dr. Stackhouse here: https://virtueonline.org/john-stackhouse-ravi-zacharias-and-general-state-modern-evangelicalism

*****

Some 16 Episcopal dioceses are in serious financial trouble over COVID-19. The Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is having to bail them out with emergency assistance to keep them afloat.

What is surprising is that the Diocese of Virginia, the second largest diocese measured by attendance within the Episcopal Church in TEC is proposing budgetary cuts "in virtually every area."

Bishop Susan Goff, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese in the absence of a diocesan, has called for a special convention in April for the sole purpose of passing a budget for the current year. The unusual move comes after the regular annual diocesan convention in November was unable to enact a budget. That should tell you all you need to know.

A source told VOL that it is widely understood that a lack of money was among the reasons that the diocese could not pursue a bishop provisional after Johnston's sudden retirement. One possible speculation is all the money spent on litigation negotiations with Truro over a property sale and the litigation with Falls Church, emptied their coffers.

Successive presiding bishops have argued that the lawsuits for properties was necessary for future generations of Episcopalians. This is laughable when you see the decline in ASA year over year, but still the lie is perpetuated. The Diocese of Colorado is another example of lost monies. Bishop Rob O'Neill's pursuit of one priest, Don Armstrong, has cost that diocese dearly. The millions spent pursuing properties in Peoria, Ft. Worth, and South Carolina to name just three can never be recovered.

*****

The state of evangelicalism in America is seriously in question. Part of the problem is that the media can't tell the difference between fundamentalism and evangelicalism. During the years of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell (Snr) co-opted the term and was never challenged either by the media or, for that matter, by serious minded evangelicals. That failure has cost evangelicals dearly.

Now it is all coming unraveled with many evangelicals no longer willing to use the term or to describe themselves as evangelical. One such person is Dr. Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary. He argues that 'Evangel' not 'Evangelicalism' is the way Forward in a post Trump Era.

Labberton gave a webinar in which he said if evangelicals have a future in America, it will have to focus on the 'evangel' (gospel) and rid itself of evangelicalism as traditionally understood. Globally, the word has different a meaning than US evangelicalism and this is causing confusion among the brethren. Labberton said there was a big difference between American evangelicalism and global evangelicalism.

"It is as confusing inside evangelicalism and outside evangelicalism in the U.S. Here in the U.S. we have no institutional core only a defuse set of voices, perspectives and histories." Labberton described the situation as "very problematic."

A number of scholars reading the article at VOL's website believe that Fuller Seminary has gone woke and is at the progressive end of the evangelical scale; its president should not be fully trusted on the subject. I leave it to readers to make up their own minds.

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/fuller-seminary-president-says-evangel-not-evangelicalism-way-forward-post-trump-era

*****

A new Anglican entity was commissioned under GAFCON Bishop Andy Lines this week. It will be known as the Anglican Convocation in Europe (ACE). The ACE is authorized, authenticated and under the authority of GAFCON as part of the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE).

The ACE will provide a home for historic, orthodox, biblical, confessional Anglicans in Europe - regardless of churchmanship - expressing gospel generosity within the bounds of the Jerusalem Declaration.

Initially these churches found a home within the GAFCON Missionary District for Europe, provided by the Anglican Church in North America through the Anglican Network in Canada. Now this self-governing entity under GAFCON, will draw on the GAFCON example by bringing together, under the authority of the Bible, faithful Anglicans, united in substance, yet diverse in expression, rooted in tradition, yet contemporary in practice.

This should be a wake-up call to Archbishop Justin Welby that an evangelical noose is slowly being tied around his neck, encroaching on his soil, even as his church is embroiled over sexuality issues that look like they are going remarkably in the direction The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have gone . Welby will learn that the pansexualists will brook no opposition. They will push and push till they win. We have seen the beginnings of this push with the lesbian Jayne Ozanne now being enabled by a number of CofE bishops. The issue rattled the ACNA Church cage this week but was mercifully pushed back. But I can assure VOL readers that they will never give up, ACNA's bishops and archbishop got a taste of it this week. They had better be vigilant forever and a day because the push for full inclusion will surely come again and again and again.

*****

HATE. It has become the woke word of the left and sadly now of the right. My wife and I were parked outside of our Walmart this week and we saw a flag that read "F**K BIDEN" waving from a car. Apparently, the election is not over for some people.

There was a song we used to sing, which sadly we no longer can, that ran; "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord"? The lyrics are very simple, with the repeated refrain, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love." Today, we might want to change that refrain to "they'll know we are Christians by our hate, by our hate." We have become terribly disfigured in recent years, in many ways, the opposite of God's intent. How on earth did this happen?

Columnist Michael Brown says that Christians are known now by their hate, and it is not going to get better any time soon.

He writes, "If you don't believe me, visit some of our personal, Bible-affirming, Jesus-believing, social media pages, where we savage each other and attack each other and spread hearsay and even lies about one another with reckless abandon. They are hate-filled pages, pages filled with venom and poison, yet pages that ultimately reflect what is in our own hearts. I ask again: how on earth did this happen?"

You will recall that a so-called prophet Jeremiah Johnson wrongly prophesied Trump's reelection and got a torrent of hate mail of the basest sort, almost all of it from professing Christians. Johnson apologized, and that was his "mistake."

Is this the fruit of the Spirit? Is this the result of our fellowship with God? Is this what happens when we are changed into the likeness of Jesus? Obviously not, writes Brown.

"Yet I see this every day. We are vile. We are vicious. We are mean-spirited. We treat each other with disrespect and disdain. There is little honor. Little humility. Little grace.

"Perhaps worse still, we have been taught to hate and we have found justification for our hatred. After all, the Democrats (or Republicans or whatever people have our ire at the moment) are downright demons. They are Satan incarnate. They are pure evil. They deserve nothing but damnation. They are worthy of our ridicule.

"To treat them with even a modicum of decency is beneath our high Christian calling, a calling we now demonstrate by our condescending, cruel, mocking, and merciless attitudes. Oh, how holy we have become!

"The truth is that we can hate sin without becoming hateful. We can stand against corruption and evil without becoming vile. We can even be righteously indignant without becoming venomous Are we getting the message?" You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/and-they-will-know-we-are-christians-our-hate

*****

The Anglican Church of Nigeria House of Bishops is calling on the Government to improve security and rebuild churches destroyed by terrorists.

In a Communique from their annual episcopal retreat held recently, the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, led by The Most Rev. Henry C. Ndukuba, Primate of all Nigeria expressed grave concern that there is nowhere in Nigeria that is currently safe. Danger exists either from the paths to the highways, from the home to the school, from the street to the market place, or from the office to the farm due to the unabating killings by the Boko Haram insurgency, the untamed Fulani Militia attacks, kidnappings, banditry, armed-robbery and ritual killings.

The Retreat, called on the Government to tighten its security noose so as to guarantee the security of life and property in the country.

The House of Bishops observed with great concern that since the insurgence by Islamic fundamentalists and other militias, many monumental buildings and structures had been destroyed. While the Government has intervened in the reconstruction of many structures destroyed by these unpatriotic elements, many Churches are still left in ruin. The House called on the Government to rebuild those Churches to provide a spiritual fulcrum-place of gathering for Christians in the affected areas.

*****

I would commend to all VOL readers during this season of Lent, this very fine article by the Rev. Dr. Duane W. H. Arnold. It is simply titled "The Wilderness of Lent".

"The idea of Lent is remarkable in that it is perhaps one of the best-known portions of the Christian Year while, at the same time having its origins somewhat hidden from view. While we know from the historical record that most early Christians engaged in fasting prior to Good Friday and Easter, the time and the severity of the fast seems to have widely differed. When Irenaeus (c. 130 - c. 200) wrote concerning the celebration of Easter he indicated that while there were diverse opinions regarding the solemnity of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter, there were also varieties of practices concerning fasting."

"Now, while I think there can be merit in a fast-involving food and drink, I think the Lenten season is about more than, "I gave up cream in my coffee for Lent". I believe it is something far more profound.

"Lent is a season in the wilderness. Lent is a season of reflection and repentance.

To be in the wilderness is to give up power. It is a time to reflect and repent, knowing that we do not possess the power to save ourselves. We will not be saved by our politics, by our theories or by the force of our arguments as we seek to convince others concerning our point of view, no matter how right we believe that we are in those theories, arguments and viewpoints. Lent is not about giving up some things, it's about giving up everything... it's about giving up power in exchange for a cross." You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/wilderness-lent

VOL wishes all its readers a very blessed Lenten season, even as we climb ever so slowly out of COVID.

In Christ,

David

PS. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to this vital ministry as VOL depends on its readers for financial support. You can do so via check or credit card. Details can be found at http://www.virtueonline.org/support.html

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