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FUNDAMENTALISM...HOB in Utah...Is ECUSA anti-Semitic?...diocesan news...more

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Fundamentalism. It is the dark and ugly side of the Christian Faith that keeps many of us awake at night wondering if perhaps we are too judgmental with our colleagues, not inclusive enough, legalistic, singularly arcane in not being hip with the latest in diversity trends or hearing, yet again, those awful words "so and so is homophobic."

It rattles almost every thoughtful orthodox Christian I know. The newspapers are full of talk about Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists and making linkages sometimes where there are none. The President of the U.S. has been called fundamentalist in the same breath with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for positions they hold on morality and much more.

It is used as a slur word against people who hold literal positions on such matters as the interpretation of Holy Scripture, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, biblical behavior regarding sexuality and much more.

Calling a person a fundamentalist is a powerful smear word, even and especially when it is not true. But when it is used, it can cower a person into submission, destroy arguments instantly, and when it is used in an ad hominum fashion make people of faith feel that not to be nice or inclusive is to be less than Christian. It is the great silencer.

In the old days a fundamentalist was one who didn't drink (alcohol), swear or go to the movies. Now all that has changed. With television most fundamentalists have seen things they would never have (self righteously) seen in a movie theatre. The issues then were primarily cultural now they have moved to deeper issues of faith.

In the Episcopal Church the word is used by liberals and revisionists at anyone who does not agree with them on pansexuality, women's ordination and various doctrines that have become over time, unpalatable.

Jack Spong uses it to describe and slam evangelicals, especially the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey, while Affirming Catholics like Rowan Williams and Frank Griswold talk about their movement as one which counters "biblical fundamentalism" in the Anglican Communion by pushing biblical feminism, inclusive sexuality and much more. In their official position statement they say they "seek to provide a crucial antidote to the rising tide of biblical fundamentalism that, in many parts of the Anglican Communion, is weakening the historic Anglican commitment to a balanced theology."

In truth in the Anglican Communion there are no fundamentalists; what and who liberals and revisionists are referring too are Evangelicals, quite a different matter altogether. John R. W. Stott, England's leading Evangelical Anglican of the last century used to call
fundamentalists "wooden literalists" and he spent most of his life countering fundamentalism. In a commentary piece on Fundamentalism I have examined this phenomenon at length and in depth. Please feel free to float this story around, especially to Episcopalians who are under siege. I hope it offers some help and relief in these troublous times.

THE USUALLY MODERATE VOICE OF THE LIVING CHURCH magazine has come out with a hard hitting editorial aimed at the upcoming HOB meeting in Salt Lake City.

"Business as usual for the bishops would involve issuing a pastoral letter following adjournment of the meeting which states that the bishops receive thankfully the Windsor Report and commend the theologians who worked so diligently on it. The letter would contain an announcement that says the bishops have met amid prayer and Bible study and have reflected upon the Windsor Report and that they are pleased to commend it to the 75th General Convention in 2006 for further study and response. At this time, the Episcopal Church needs more than that from its bishops. THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHURCH ARE CRUMBLING and the bishops need to provide what the Church needs most - leadership and direction. A recommendation by the House of Bishops could be the foundation upon which the next General Convention will build legislation. It would indicate to the Anglican primates, who gather in Northern Ireland next month, whether the American Church is likely to take the recommendations of the Windsor Report seriously."

Will the HOB provide such leadership and take the recommendations of the Windsor Report seriously to the Primates meeting in February? All the indications are is that they will not. The powers that be at 815, the church's national headquarters are already busy saying there is no Anglican Communion – only autonomous members. Are they now running scared? It looks increasingly like the Global South will have to take the initiative and make some open declaration of their own intentions if they hope for any change from the US Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church in Canada. It seems the Anglican train is about to get hit with its own tsunami. To mend the net now might be too late. It is so full of holes you could drive a mack truck through it. Griswold and the HOB seem bent on pursuing their own extinction on schedule.

TSUNAMI RELIEF UPDATE. In the amazing world of Episcopal generosity, a church that bleeds "peace and justice" for gays who insist on having anal sex; women's ministries types who want to morph the bread and wine into twinkies and apple juice, comes word that the national headquarters (Episcopal Relief and Development) is giving (hold your breath) $250,000 for Tsunami relief! WOW. And that's not all, Trinity Wall Street, the richest church on earth with more real estate holdings than Arafat's bank account is giving a massive $100,000! (Even on a matching grant basis it is a piddling amount of money). VirtueOnline has board members who could write out checks for those amounts (and probably have). By contrast the newly formed Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) the relief arm of the Anglican Communion Network has taken in nearly $100,000 in ten days, their executive assistant told VirtueOnline! And that's just for openers. When it is all over that figure could be five times that amount! The liberals bleed about giving money, usually other people's money, the orthodox quietly open their checks books and do it. And to cap it off St. Helena's an orthodox parish in SC announced a $50,000 gift to ARDF to help Tsunami victims this week. And this parish has zero holdings compared to Trinity Wall Street.

IS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH ANTI-SEMITIC? Our actions regarding Israel seem to encourage hostility towards Jews says the Bishop of Northern Indiana Edward S. Little II, writing in a recent issue of The Living Church. He blasts ECUSA's HOB saying that all the official ECUSA media from ENS to Episcopal Life express overwhelming and consistent antagonism to the State of Israel. Bishop Little whose mother was Jewish says the Episcopal Church's hostility has morphed. "Today it wraps itself in the mantle of 'peace and justice'." In a heartfelt plea to the church he writes, "for the sake of Jesus, our Jewish Lord, I entreat you, my Christian brothers and sisters, to help turn our Church away from this disastrous course."

I've got news for you Ed, they are not your brothers and sisters, and they have no intention of turning away from their disastrous pro-Palestinian course. Ally yourself with the Network, there's your best chance of 'peace and justice' and a fair shake for your Jewish friends.

Geralyn Wolfe, Bishop of Rhode Island is another bishop with Jewish ancestry. They are the only two in the HOB. Now The Episcopal Church has consistently taken a pro-Palestinian line on issues relating to the Middle East, and while it says that Israel has the right to exist, its words and actions convey a not so subtle anti-Semitism. I have seen photos of Rowan Williams, Tom Shaw, Bishop of Massachusetts and Frank Griswold doing bear hugs with billionaire Arafat when he was alive, with no reciprocal bear hugs for Ariel or Shimon.

The silence on Islamic terror towards Christians and Israel is outrageous. When Bishop Little and Bishop Wolfe attempted to make a presentation to the House of Bishops concerning its not so subtle anti-Semitic stance, they were told there was not enough time to bring this matter before the House, said Bishop John-David Schofield in a recent address to his diocese. Meanwhile Church publications continue to promote only the Palestinians in the Holy Land.

AND ON NPR RADIO this week orthodox Canon Theologian Kendall Harmon got down and dirty with Ian Douglas, professor of world mission at the ultra-liberal Episcopal Divinity School over the possibility the Anglican Communion might split.

The revisionist Douglas opined about how "painful" and "scary" it is all becoming but then said "God is doing a new thing" and described the new Episcopal world order as a "new Pentecost." The rest of the communion doesn't understand us, he whined. Really.

Harmon fired back that it had more to do with power and that shift had gone from the Global North to the Global South, which ECUSA, who is used to having all the money, power and ability to manipulate, is fast losing. There were no 'signs and wonders' and no flaming tongues of fire to report. One can expect the ECUSA to continue on its death march.

IN WHAT MIGHT BE THE FIRST ORDINATION in the new unfolding reality of the Anglican Communion, some 20 members of St. James Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City who could no longer follow ECUSA and the Oklahoma bishop and who walked away from their building and started over as St James Anglican, are heading to Buenos Aires on March 8th to stand with their new rector Vern Carswell when hands are laid on him by Archbishop Gregory Venables. "We are very excited by this," said an ecstatic layman. "If this is realignment bring it on."

And from the sublime to the sexually ridiculous comes this. In the Discernment Process Handbook of the DIOCESE OF MISSOURI there is a new category under Current Domestic Status: Single Married, and COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP. You don't think…of course not.

AND OUT THE ECUSA DOOR THEY GO. In Rogers, Ohio there's a new startup parish. A new church called the Faithful Anglican Fellowship began meeting on Sunday Jan. 2 at the old fire hall in Rogers Ohio. "We have left the Diocese of Ohio and are mostly from Holy Trinity in Lisbon and St. Stephan's in East Liverpool," said an excited parishioner.

LAST WEEK a group of Lutheran, Evangelical Catholic, and Anglican bishops met in Georgia as authorized by their respective Churches and canonically established the Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion ("AECC" or "this Communion").The Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion is an Evangelical Synod of Churches. This group stands in the Evangelical Catholic tradition arising from the Reformation. They want to gather all Evangelical Catholic Churches (both Lutheran and Anglicans) who agree with the Doctrine of this Communion, into one Catholic Communion of Churches for the worship of God, the proclamation of the Gospel and for common witness and service to humanity. The official blurb is that "this Communion does not seek to be an end into herself. She seeks to stand with all Catholic, Evangelical, Anglican and Orthodox Churches, who uphold the traditional Creeds of the Church, to proclaim to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through worship of God and care for humanity.

The current member Churches of the AECC include the following: The Athanasian Catholic Church of the Augsburg Confession, The Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran, The Holy Cross Anglican Communion, The Lutheran Orthodox Church. In addition to these Churches, they are in active discussions with additional member Churches in the AECC. "We welcome other Churches to consider membership in our new Communion. (In addition to full members, Churches who agree with the Doctrine of this Communion may become Affiliated or Associated Churches of the AECC.) The AECC seeks to eventually become a Church "sui iuris" in union with the Church and Bishop of Rome in the same manner as the various Eastern Catholic Churches are in union with Rome."

DEATH OF A GIANT. The Reverend Professor Carsten Thiede died on December 14 aged 52. He was one of the foremost New Testament scholars of his era and a true pioneer in his field. As conscientious in his methods as he was controversial in his claims, Thiede issued a magnificent challenge to the liberal orthodoxy which had prevailed in his field for generations. He will be remembered for his dramatic re-dating of the Gospels of St Matthew and St Mark, his insistence that certain Christian relics merited serious scientific analysis, and - most recently - a dramatic archaeological find in the Holy Land.

In his famous book "Quest for the True Cross" Stephen Trott who writes devotionals for the Church of England Newspaper says: "For more than a century, on the basis of analysis of the known texts, New Testament scholars have sought to demonstrate the unreliability of these texts as evidence for what they claim, and to establish them as the work of communities several decades after the events they describe. This remarkable book shows the potential of modern scientific and archaeological studies, to demolish the speculations of these scholars, who have made claims only on the basis of their own suppositions about the texts, not only in relation to the New Testament itself, but also to the surviving physical evidence for the earliest Christian sites and relics. It is of course deeply embarrassing for those who have purported to use "scientific" methods in order to discredit the biblical texts, to see the results of genuine scientific studies and the collapse of their school of literary criticism." You can read his obituary in today's digest.

A DAY OF COURAGE for Episcopalians in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina will be held February 5, 2005 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Greenville, South Carolina at Second Presbyterian Church. Registration Fee: $25 per person (includes all presentations and box lunch) Make your check payable to SANCTUARY (Write "February 5 conference" on the memo line) and mail it to: Sanctuary c/o York Feitel, 125 Winfield Drive Spartanburg, SC 29307.

In today's digest you can read how one courageous priest in the DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE will publicly stand up and protest the consecration of Jeffrey Steenson the new bishop there if Frank Griswold shows up and lays hands on him.

AS WE LEAVE THE OLD YEAR I would like to publicly thank all those reporters and writers, clergy and laity who sent stories and news tips to VirtueOnline in 2004. A special vote of thanks to Owen, Shari, Hughs, Brian, Lekan, Stephen, Mike, Terry, Odessa, Frederica, Uwe, Robert, Dick to name but a few. If I have omitted someone it is by accident. Also a special note of thanks is due my attorney Mr. John H. Lewis Jr. for keeping me on the legal straight and narrow. His skills are more than just legal. To my webmaster Mr. Robert Turner a special thanks for making the web so accessible to you all. THANK YOU.

To all of you who sent a gift in 2004 thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made it possible for this writer to go places, take on much needed staff, write stories and be there, so you could read all about it over coffee, often times the next day. More than 4.3 million hits have been registered at the website, with tens of thousands of readers all over the world reading a weekly digest of stories. I am grateful for your support both prayerfully and financially.

This coming week I will be in Myrtle Beach to cover the AMIA annual conference and will send stories from there. Go to the website www.virtueonline.org for daily reports.

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