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Next Decade Could be Worse * ACNA Archbishop Beach Rips Persecution of Bishop Love * CofE Lesbian calls Conservatives Holocaust Deniers & Rapists * Two TEC Bishops Backtrack on Love Deposition * Scholar says TEC will be OOB in 20 Years * More

Next Decade Could be Worse * ACNA Archbishop Beach Rips Persecution of Bishop Love * CofE Lesbian calls Conservatives Holocaust Deniers & Rapists * Two TEC Bishops Backtrack on Love Deposition * Scholar says TEC will be OOB in 20 Years * One Third of all Canadian Churches will close in 10 years * ABC to take Sabbatical * CofE General Synod Challenges ABC on Love Deposition * Pittsburgh Anglican Diocese to get Interim Bishop

Anglicanism can rightfully claim an ancient lineage and one that is largely independent of Rome. We have no need to become Roman Catholics to be apostolic, catholic, or ancient. It would be a tragedy if Anglicans sold their birthright as an ancient Church with her own beautiful treasures by being ingested and digested by the Roman Church. --- Fr. Charles Erlandson

We are in the middle of a national crisis, and it's a crisis about death. This should be the Church's big moment because the central message of Christianity is that while death is bad -- and we will accompany you through it -- it's not the end. Jesus lived. He died. He rose again. This, Christians believe, is a historical fact, and it's this outrageous claim that converted much of the world to Christ. --- Tim Stanley in The Telegraph

A countless throng. I have always derived much comfort from the statement of Revelation 7:9 that the company of the redeemed in heaven will be 'a great multitude which no man could number'. I do not profess to know how this can be, since Christians have always seemed to be a rather small minority. But Scripture states it for our comfort. Although no biblical Christian can be a universalist (believing that all mankind will ultimately be saved), since Scripture teaches the awful reality and eternity of hell, yet a biblical Christian can -- even must -- assert that the redeemed will somehow be an international throng so immense as to be countless. For God's promise is going to be fulfilled, and Abraham's seed is going to be as innumerable as the dust of the earth, the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. --- John R.W. Stott

A half truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth. --- J.I. Packer

You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. -- C.S. Lewis

Encouragement to Persevere. "I dare say you often feel your heart faith, and are solely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow, you hardly know what to do. But still I say, persevere and press on" -- J.C. Ryle

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
www.virtueonline.org
November 27, 2020

IT MIGHT GET WORSE--OR NOT. The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse: A historian believes he has discovered iron laws that predict the rise and fall of societies. He has bad news. Peter Turchin, a Russian-American scientist, specializing in cultural evolution and cliodynamics--mathematical modeling and statistical analysis of the dynamics of historical societies, says that the year 2020 has been hell for most of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging--to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs.

To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. ("Not all of human history, just the last 10,000 years.") He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an "age of discord," civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020, and that it wouldn't let up until those social and political trends reversed.

The Bible teaches one overarching law of history: humankind is fallen and will only make things worse--or at best, keep things consistently bad--until the Lord shows up. I am generally pessimistic, so I favor pessimistic theories about the universe. H/T Mark Galli

If you have been watching the trajectory of Western Christianity for the last 40 years you might believe there is some truth to all this. The rise of Nones, the decline of mainline churches all bespeak serious decline in both the culture and faith. Catholicism is in serious trouble globally with sexual abuse; a Vatican roiling in a rising homosexual mafia; a Vatican bank misuse of monies and a theologically muddled Pope who seems more accommodationist to modernity than to the historic faith. Evangelicalism (at least in North America) is an embarrassment; much of it overcome by Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The rise of prosperity preachers in the midst of desperate times only confirms that the gullible will clutch at any hope looking for a fast fix, like thinking they can win the lottery.

So where to now? Two books by Orthodox writer Rod Dreher are helping me get through this time; "The Benedict Option: A strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation," and his latest "Live not by Lies" have been helpful in navigating the dark cultural and theological waters we currently inhabit. I recommend both to VOL's readers.

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ACNA ARCHBISHOP FOLEY BEACH took aim at Western Anglican leaders this week for persecuting faithful Anglicans. He cited Albany Bishop William Love for his faithfulness to the gospel and the way he was being persecuted. He said Love has stood alone against a rising tide of ridicule for his biblical positions, positions which have always been held by the Church.

The Chairman of GAFCON accused Anglican revisionists of persecuting godly bishops for what he called their "failed Western Anglican Leadership".

"Sadly, we continue to hear reports from around the Communion of faithful, orthodox, biblical followers of Jesus being persecuted for their adherence to the teaching of the Scriptures," wrote Beach. You can read what he says here: https://virtueonline.org/archbishop-foley-beach-blasts-western-anglican-leaders-persecuting-faithful-anglicans

***

JAYNE OZANNE, a leading Church of England Lesbian activist, lashed out at conservatives who hold to the Bible's clear teaching on sexual ethics. She accused them of being Holocaust deniers and rapists.

In an article for the gay news website Pink News, Ozanne attacked those who 'teach that LGBT lifestyles are sinful' and explain biblical teaching on singleness and celibacy.

Her remarks followed the publication of the Church of England's controversial resource on relationships, Living in Love and Faith, which encourages people of differing views to "listen and learn" from each other.

Ozanne, a General Synod member and LGBT activist ripped their views, saying that churches holding to Bible's teaching on sexual ethics are "Holocaust deniers" and "rapists".

A statement issued by the Ozanne Foundation, of which Jayne Ozanne is the founder and director, welcomed the resource. But the activist was outraged that LGBT people should be asked to "listen and learn" from "conservative communities of faith".

She said: "Would one invite a survivor of the Holocaust to sit down and listen to the rantings of a Holocaust denier?

"Would one ask a rape victim to sit down with a rapist and understand why they want to rape people? It is not only ridiculous -- it is downright dangerous!"

Ozanne also called for a ban on what she called "gender identity 'conversion therapy'".

You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/church-england-lesbian-activist-lashes-out-conservatives-likening-their-views-holocaust-deniers-and

***

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH announced this week that it will postpone its 80TH General Convention till July 2022, but will still meet in Baltimore. The reason, of course, is COVID, which is affecting nearly all major gatherings. These gabfests which draw some 10,000 Episcopalians, cost upwards of $10 million to hold. One wonders at this point why they bother? TEC has brokered in all the sexual perversions imaginable under the nomenclature LGBTQ. Of course, there will be lots of talk about racism, the environment, calls for more justice for the dispossessed. Without saying it, most conventioneers will applaud that Trump is out and Biden is in. Prayers will be offered for the new president.

Excommunicated Albany Bishop Bill Love's name won't come up, but it might hang like a Damoclean sword over the convention, if just to remind everyone that "beloved community" is minus a beloved bishop. Violating homosexual marriage is verboten. Thou shalt be cast into outer darkness.

Ironically, this week two TEC bishops, Dorsey W. M. McConnell, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of Long Island came out saying the report misrepresents the actions of General Convention regarding B012 in the Bishop Love hearing.

The first error is obvious. In its initial summary, the report describes B012 as properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP as expressly provided for in Constitution Article X (b). (Report, p.3). B012 did not revise the Prayer Book. B012 merely set the terms for the trial use of the liturgies in question as specified in Article 10. Indeed, later in its report, the Panel concludes that Resolution B012 was properly passed as a proposed revision to the BCP. (Report, p.41). This is correct. The wording of the summary should be understood in the light of the later wording, that B012 established a proposed revision, not a revision per se."

The second error is a bit more subtle. The panel states that B012 requires Rectors or Clergy in charge to make provision for same-sex couples, where civil law allows, to use the liturgies in their local congregation or worshipping community. (Report, p.11). You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/two-tec-bishops-say-report-misrepresents-actions-general-convention-regarding-b012-bishop-love

Was this a sudden attack of conscience? Probably not and their hitting the pause button changes nothing. Bishop Love is still gone.

A NEW REPORT on the true state of the Episcopal Church reveals that TEC will be severely diminished and heading into oblivion in 20 years. Ryan P. Burge, who teaches political science at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, writes that, "The Data is Clear -- Episcopalians Are in Trouble". In a series of scholarly graphs, he shows "The Episcopal Church will be dead in the next 20 years."

Some observations: Age. Episcopalians are old. In fact, of the twenty largest religious traditions in the 2017-2019 CCES, the ECUSA has the highest average age of any of those traditions. In 2018, the average respondent to the CCES was 48 years old. The average member of the Episcopal Church was a full ten years older (58.7).

Of the oldest five religious traditions, four of them are from the mainline flavor of Protestant Christianity (ECUSA, UMC, PCUSA, and ELCA). The average Catholic is 50, the average nondenominational evangelical is 49, the average atheist is 42.

The modal age of an Episcopalian in 2019 was 69 years old. That means, if you took the membership rolls of every ECUSA church in the United States and grabbed a random person from that spreadsheet, the most likely age of that person would be 69. For a Mormon, the modal age is 29. For a Southern Baptist, it's 60.

On replacement. As older people die off, they are replaced by children in the congregation moving into adulthood. But in the case of the ECUSA, that seems incredibly unlikely. Here's why: 55% of all members of the Episcopal church are at least sixty years old. If life expectancy stays around 78 years old, that means that the average Episcopal church would lose half its current membership through death by 2040. Are there enough children to make up for those losses? Again, the data says that is unlikely. You can see it all here: http://religioninpublic.blog/2020/11/23/t

Present ordinands might want to think long and hard. If their careers are killed off in 20 years, they will be looking long and hard for a new line of work; flipping hamburgers and fast-food workers will always be needed.

***

THE DIOCESE OF FT. WORTH was briefly back in the news. An article by Anglican Ink ran a misleading headline saying that the Fort Worth property case is headed to the US Supreme Court - "TEC asking US Supreme Court to overturn Texas Supreme Court ruling in favor of the diocese."

Suzanne Gill, who does PR for the (Anglican) diocese, said it was never contacted regarding the story and said the headline was misleading. SCOTUS has notdecided to grant a hearing on the appeal. The Petition for Certiorari may be dismissed again, as it was previously in this case.

"After we file a Brief in Opposition in late December, the TEC parties will have some time to answer with a reply after the New Year. Any response from the justices would be likely to come in late January, but courts move in their own time, so it is hard to be definite." She said the TEC parties are simply exercising their right to appeal.

***

CANADA: One third of faith buildings in Canada could close their doors in the next 10 years. The Community Space, Faith Place or No Space for Community two-year study gathered new data through surveys of existing nonprofit organizations and groups that make use of faith-building space. This data examined a series of core questions about how faith-building closures may impact community user groups including: Where will twelve-step groups, social services, services for equity-seeking communities, food banks, blood donor clinics, arts groups or community meetings go in the absence of faith buildings?

With the funding support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Toronto, a collaborative team of institutional members designed and executed a survey project to learn more about the impact of faith-building closures on nonprofit and community groups at a local level. We await the outcome.

Nonprofit organizations and community groups rely on faith communities to access space and facilities to carry out their activities, often at free or below-market value rates. The future of this community service is under threat. Approximately one third of the 27,000 faith buildings in Canada could close their doors in the next ten years, according to the National Trust for Canada.
There are more than 170,000 nonprofits and charities serving communities across Canada. Finding affordable space is a common challenge for nonprofits across Ontario. In major cities, the issue is often affordability, while in rural Ontario, the lack of spaces from the closure of many schools has left residents without local space or requiring travel of long distances to attend public gatherings. Faith buildings include churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras.

Nonprofits and community groups use faith spaces for a variety of local services, such as children's programs, foodbanks, blood donor clinics, arts performances, senior services and sports clubs. They are also an important connection to government and democracy, such as locations for election polling stations.

According to a 2014 Angus Reid National Household Survey, attendance at religious services at least once per year has dropped to 21%, from 50% in 1996. This has resulted in financial challenges for many faith communities to maintain facilities.

IN OTHER NEWS, two Canadian bishops have come down with COVID. Both are expected to survive.

***

The decision to oust Bishop William Love made it to the General Synod of the Church of England this week. Mrs. Sarah Finch (London) asked the Chair of the House of Bishops:

"Has the House of Bishops responded, on behalf of the Church of England, to the recent resignation of Bishop Bill Love from the Diocese of Albany (New York, USA), who adhered to the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion as set out, for example, in Lambeth Conference 1998 resolution 1.10? If no response has so far been made, will one be made, and with what content?

The Archbishop of Canterbury came up with, 'let's dodge the question' saying
this; "Division in the Body of Christ is always a cause of lament. The House of Bishops would not wish to make statements on individual cases such as this, not least as it is a matter under the jurisdiction of another autonomous Province of the Anglican Communion. I have arranged to have a private conversation with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and others on this matter so as to better understand the situation in hand."

One blogger noted that it was an example of "Pilate washing his hands", but then what would you expect from the ABC, who told Anglican Archbishop Foley Beach he was not welcome as an Anglican bishop at Lambeth Conference in 2022.

The Archbishop of Canterbury announced this week that he is taking a three-month sabbatical for 'spiritual renewal'. Lambeth Palace says Justin Welby will study the concept of reconciliation during time off. One can only imagine GAFCON bishops waiting with bated breath for his "concept" of reconciliation, in "deep" anticipation that it will resolve all the difficulties in the communion.

***

PITTSBURGH: The ACNA has announced that Bishop Martyn Minns will serve as Interim Bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh until a new Diocesan Bishop has been duly elected. This is expected to be 12/15 months. He replaces Bishop James Hobby, who stepped down for failing to report sexual shenanigans by one of his priests. To be clear, Hobby was not implicated in any of the misbehavior. Minns has an excellent resume for the job. He served as Missionary Bishop of CANA from 2006/2013 and as Executive Director of GAFCON from 2011/2014.

He told VOL that his duties will include: Officiating at ordinations, confirmations, reaffirmations and receptions as requested by rectors of parishes in the diocese. He will also provide advice and counsel to the Standing Committee which retains all ecclesiastical authority. He will also provide pastoral care for diocesan staff and clergy and any congregations that have special needs.

***

AUSTRALIA. The House of Bishops' of the Anglican Church of Australia issued a statement in response to the Opinions of the Appellate Tribunal saying it does not authorize Anglican clergy to officiate at weddings other than those between a man and a woman.

Decisions of the Synods of the Dioceses of Wangaratta and Newcastle to enable the liturgical blessing of couples who have been married according to the Marriage Act 1961, including same-sex couples, brought forth their response.

We recognize that the Appellate Tribunal Opinions affirm it is possible for clergy, in some contexts, to exercise this ministry. It does not authorize Anglican clergy to officiate at weddings other than those between a man and a woman, said the HOB.

We recognize that there is not a common voice. With pain we recognize that there is not a common mind on these issues within the House of Bishops.

Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies wrote to his clergy saying he finds the opinion "hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible."

Dr. Davies said the effect of the Appellate Tribunal's opinion is that "it has declared that a service purporting to bless a same-sex marriage, as the Diocese of Wangaratta had developed, is consistent with the doctrine of our Church, because they narrowly define doctrine as that teaching which is necessary for salvation. Since marriage is not necessary to salvation, the majority of the Tribunal opined, then blessing a lawful marriage under the Marriage Act 1961, would not be a breach of doctrine -- that is, with respect to what is necessary for salvation."

"In my opinion the effect of the majority opinion's legal interpretation undermines the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby dishonours God." You can read what he says here: https://virtueonline.org/australian-general-synod-consider-legal-opinions-same-sex-blessings

***

NEW ZEALAND NEWS. GAFCON Bishop Jay Behan, whose enthronement I attended in Christchurch last year, reports that the number of congregations has grown from 12 to 17, with four new parishes started in the North Island. This puts him in the forefront of one of the fastest growing dioceses in GAFCON!

***

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled that a ban on therapy for unwanted sexual attractions violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In the decision, two of three justices, U.S. Circuit Judge Britt Grant and Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, agreed with the plaintiffs, therapists Robert W. Otto and Julie H. Hamilton, that a prohibition on therapy aimed at "reducing a minor's sexual or romantic attraction (at least to others of the same gender or sex), or changing a minor's gender identity or expression" violates their "constitutional right to speak freely with clients."

"We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial," wrote Circuit Judge Grant. "But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech." Amen to that.

If you would like to read another excellent article on "The Causes of Homosexuality Revealed" by David Kyle Foster, you can read it here: https://virtueonline.org/causes-homosexuality-revealed

"The world would have us believe that people are born gay and that there is no brokenness involved. Yet, such a stance has no science behind it despite the fact that millions of dollars has been invested in attempts to prove the assertion. In truth, just the opposite is true."

There is also what I call the "Judas Church" which would have you believe that homosexual behavior is natural, healthy and holy. So-called "gay and affirming theologians" preach this false doctrine despite many biblical references that homosexual behavior is an abomination to the Lord, (see Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10), though as forgivable as any other sin when remorse and repentance are involved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 1:9).

Foster is one of the most knowledgeable persons on the subject that I know.

***

VOL is beginning its end of year drive for funds to carry us forward into 2021. As the Anglican Communion continues to roil in controversy and renewal of ancient heresies, we will, with our correspondents, keep you informed of the news. There is also plenty of good news. ACNA is growing, GAFCON is growing. The Global South is flexing its muscles, demanding that its voice be heard, even as the Church of England looks to fully embrace homosexuality and homosexual marriage. The actions of the CofE will be a game changer.

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In Christ,

David

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