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Religious Discourse Grows Uglier * Another CofE Bishop Flees to Rome * Covid and Brexit Bishops for CofE * CEEC Weighs Future in CofE * Church Society Director Raises Questions about Future in CofE * Oxford Dean Resigns.$27 Million in Costs Raises Heckles

Religious Discourse Grows Uglier * Another CofE Bishop Flees to Rome * Covid and Brexit Bishops for CofE * CEEC Weighs Future in CofE * Church Society Director Raises Questions about Future in CofE * Oxford Dean Resigns. $27 Million in Costs Raises Heckles * Anglican Primates to Meet * Orthodox Lutherans & Anglicans Unite over WO and Homosexuality

The call to freedom. Our Christian life began not with our decision to follow Christ but with God's call to us to do so. He took the initiative in His grace while we were still in rebellion and sin. In that state we neither wanted to turn from sin to Christ, not were we able to. But he came to us and called us to freedom. --- John R. W. Stott

Given all these tensions, I conclude that the simple adoption of a new set of rules cannot resolve fundamental differences over moral values and that Anglicanism will almost certainly become a two-tier tradition at the international level, though many cross-provincial relationships will endure despite this. --- Prof. John Anderson, St. Andrews, Scotland.

Contemporary liberalism has no way of looking death in the face, no way of answering it back with the words "where is your sting?", no way of singing the Nunc Dimittis. No wonder we are all so afraid. --- Giles Fraser

ON SELF-ACTUALIZATION. There is a natural self-love. But it does mean that without God we cannot love things properly. And if we cannot love things properly, then we cannot love ourselves properly. And if we cannot love ourselves properly then we most certainly should not try to define ourselves nor change the world in which we live. That road is not the road to liberation and self-actualization, it is the road to bondage and self-destruction. --- Anthony Costello

The innovation of women priests has caused great confusion and division in the Church. This has spread from the actions of confused Episcopalians throughout the whole Anglican Communion. This innovation is contrary to the binary pattern of Holy Scripture whereby the "blood work" of women and of men is distinct and never confused. A female standing as a priest at the altar is as confusing as a male standing as a representation of the Virgin Mary. ----. Alice Linsley

In 2020, roughly 40 percent of the people who called themselves evangelical attended church once a year or less, according to research by the political scientist Ryan Burge. It's just a political label for them. This politicization is one reason people have cited to explain why so many are leaving the faith. --- David Brooks

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
February 11, 2022

The religious discourse like the political discourse grows uglier by the week.

Passions are high on nearly every topic one touches on. There is very little if any neutrality any more. Bipartisanship is almost gone in the political field and the same goes for the Church world.

Finding common ground is almost impossible.

Of course, on hard core issues like homosexuality there can be no common ground; you are either for it or against it. Either Scripture is right or the culture is right.

On issues like critical race theory, racism, abortion or any number of woke issues including climate change, Christians are divided. But the exchanges can be vicious and ugly whatever side you are on.

But politics is dividing Christians as it has never done before. Drop the name of Trump or Biden and sparks will fly even in church! Is it any wonder that pastors and priests are disillusioned? How can a twenty-minute sermon on God's love counter hours of watching FOX news or CNN! It's impossible.

The deeper question is why evangelicals are in the vanguard of so much of the hate, fear and division when comes to talk about Trump, feeding the poor, caring for mothers and children, guns, abortion and many other hot button issues?

Our witness to Christ has been so deeply compromised, who will now listen to us? Is it any wonder that Nones (people with no religion) are on the rise and soon to surpass both Catholics and Protestants in numerical growth?

How in God's name did it come to this? Christians I talk to around the globe marvel at how far American Christians have fallen and continue to fall. In Nigeria, Anglicans are dying for their faith with little expectation the government will stop either Boko Haran or Fulani Tribesman from killing them. Rather than railing on about President Muhammadu Buhari, they pick up the pieces and carry on. And the persecution only makes more converts.

Prominent Washington DC pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile, said this week he no longer considers himself evangelical, adding that his beliefs have not changed and that his desire is to pastor his church and to plant others.

Anyabwile's announcement on Twitter came three days after a New York Times story quoted him as saying he's "lost 20-year friendships" in recent years due to a changing evangelical and political landscape. The story -- headlined "The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism from Itself" by David Brooks -- referenced three issues that have driven the division within the movement: evangelicals' embrace of Donald Trump, sex abuse scandals, and racial issues.

Anyabwile is not the only one. There are hundreds of pastors and tens of thousands of individuals who have left the evangelical fold for newer spiritual pastures or none at all.

David Brooks in the above-mentioned column took a hard look at evangelicals and concluded that we are our own worst enemy. We are doing to ourselves what no one else is doing to us and we have no one to blame if it all goes down.

"Think of your 12 closest friends. These are the people you vacation with, talk about your problems with, do life with in the most intimate and meaningful ways. Now imagine if six of those people suddenly took a political or public position you found utterly vile. Now imagine learning that those six people think that your position is utterly vile. You would suddenly realize that the people you thought you knew best and cared about most had actually been total strangers all along. You would feel disoriented, disturbed, unmoored. Your life would change."

This is what has happened over the past six years to millions of American Christians, especially evangelicals. There have been three big issues that have profoundly divided them: the white evangelical embrace of Donald Trump, sex abuse scandals in evangelical churches and parachurch organizations, and attitudes about race relations, especially after the killing of George Floyd."

Interestingly, Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler, took issue with Brooks' article, condemning him for his pro-homosexual marriage views. That was a low blow as Brooks said nothing about the issue, focusing solely on what evangelicals have done to themselves.

Tim Dalrymple is president of the prominent evangelical magazine Christianity Today, which called for Trump's removal from office after his first impeachment. "As an evangelical, I've found the last five years to be shocking, disorienting and deeply disheartening," he says. "One of the most surprising elements is that I've realized that the people who I used to stand shoulder to shoulder with on almost every issue, I now realize that we are separated by a yawning chasm of mutual incomprehension. I would never have thought that could have happened so quickly."

Personally, I attest to these sentiments. As a writer with some 35 years writing about Anglican issues, I can state that the last few years have been the worst. If you are not a Trump supporter, you are woke, a Marxist, Leninist, Socialist, America hating pinko. The list goes on and on. My friends in Britain, NZ, Australia, the Middle East, SE Asia and Africa just shake their heads, as most of them live in countries where social safety nets are often better than in the US and the limited availability of guns, means fewer deaths. Democratic socialism are not dirty swear words. One issue that truly irritates them is the freely available vaccine shots Americans can get, yet only 64% have taken the jab and only 27% have had a booster. While other countries beg for the vaccine, we now approach one million deaths!

"Of course, there is a lot of division across many parts of American society. But for evangelicals, who have dedicated their lives to Jesus, the problem is deeper. Christians are supposed to believe in the spiritual unity of the church. While differing over politics and other secondary matters, they are, in theory, supposed to be unified by their shared first love -- as brothers and sisters in Christ. Their common devotion is supposed to bring out the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control," wrote Brooks.

The turmoil in evangelicalism has not just ruptured relationships; it's dissolving the structures of many evangelical institutions. Many families, churches, parachurch organizations and even denominations are coming apart. The question is, will we ever recover from the hate and anger? The jury is out.


THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND is the serious newsmaker of the week. There are now four prominent ex Church of England bishops who have swum the Tiber to Rome over what they perceive is the spiritual lostness of the Church of England.

Gavin Ashenden, a former Anglican bishop outlines why Michael Nazir-Ali, Peter Forster, John Goddard (who converted in 2014) and Jonathan Goodall have fled the CofE. One interesting fact is that they are all prominent evangelicals and not your usual Anglo-Catholic following in Newman's footsteps.

His diagnosis can be found here:
You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/conversion-evangelical-bishops-rome-diagnosis

The real issue is; is Rome the answer to Anglicanism's problems? Not everybody thinks so. I would ask readers to check the comments section that flow from this piece, especially the comments by Dr. Bruce Atkinson. All that glitters is not Vatican gold.


A Covid Bishop is on the way in the Church of England. But this would seem to be the last thing the CofE needs. The leaking in The Times of a confidential, in-house paper on radical restructuring of the Church of England is yet more worrying news. It contains all the management-speak that we have become accustomed to under Justin Welby, but also new details about a diocese merger and specialist episcopal non-geographical appointments, including a 'Brexit Bishop' and a 'Covid Bishop'. How this is supposed to help vicars on the ground is hard to see.

"As a vicar of twenty-five years, I despair at the creeping corporatisation of the national Church. Since the mid-1970s, there has been a persistent push from the centre to reject our Anglican sensibilities of subsidiarity and parochialism, resulting in an increasingly politicised Church. A command and control governance overseen by a myriad of Anglican policy czars (usually to the Left) is only going to alienate the laity further and fail to energise the base," said Daniel French.

"There is an unhealthy paternalism in the Church of England that seeks to present the clergy as the fonts of all knowledge. It smacks of clericalism. Our job is to get our own house in order first, say our prayers, and achieve theological consensus before we attempt to tell the rest of the country what to think. We utterly failed to achieve this during the pandemic, instead morphing from priests into public health officials at a time when our congregants wanted God. We became, as historian Tom Holland warned, a second-rate version of the Liberal Democrats."


Internally, the Church of England faces an even bigger crisis. At the Church of England Evangelical Council's (CEEC) annual meeting recently, they considered their future in the Church of England. To stay or not to stay, that is the question.

The future of the Church of England hangs in the balance following the conclusion of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process. This formed an important part of discussions at the Church of England Evangelical Council's (CEEC) annual meeting.

The Council will continue to work for unity, but agreed it was time to prayerfully consider a range of options, should the Church of England decide to move away from its current teaching on conclusion of the LLF consultation. Friends from Wales and Scotland were present, as well as those from the wider Anglican Communion, to tell their story. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/london-ceec-considers-future-church-england-its-annual-meeting

Weighing in on all this, the Rev. Dr. Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society calls for action. He lays out six possible options including exclusion from the Anglican Communion.

1.) Full acceptance of gay marriage in the Church
2.) Pastoral Accommodation
3.) The Status Quo
4.) No change in doctrine. Enforcement of proper discipline.
5.) No doctrinal change. Enforcement of discipline, including internationally.
6.) No doctrinal change. Enforcement of discipline. Call to repentance.

You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/director-church-society-calls-action-lays-out-six-possible-options-including-exclusion-anglican

Gatiss still holds out hope, but sadly his English insularity fails to see the big picture. The CofE is following in the footsteps of The Episcopal Church, which resulted in schism and the birth of the ACNA. Justin Welby and TEC PB Michael Curry are tied at the hip and where TEC has gone the CofE will surely follow. The Church of England's leading homosexuals and lesbians will have it no other way. They are totally committed to winning the culture war on this issue and they will never stop till they have won.


Internally, the Church of England saw the end of a nasty battle in Oxford over Dean Martin Percy. The Rev Jonathan Aitken, a Christ Church alumnus (1961-64); blasted the end of the four-year civil war at Christ Church. Here is what he said:


The four-year civil war at Christ Church is over ("Peace at last in Christ Church battle", Feb 5). But many questions remain, starting with: which trustees on its governing body are now going to resign? Some must go because the charitable funds of the college have lost an estimated £20 million during this dispute. More than £6 million is thought to have been wasted on the legal and PR costs of the repetitive attempts to oust the dean. About £12 million will have been lost out on as a result of cancelled donations and legacies. An estimated £2 million will be the cost of reimbursing the dean's legal fees, his compensation settlement and the expenses of the mediation. Some of this astronomical expenditure has been the subject of complaints to the regulators that it was not properly authorised in accordance with the Charity Commission's requirements. Has any educational charity ever blown £20 million so stupidly and so shamefully?

While Percy is no friend of theological conservatives, clearly an injustice was done him that has now been rectified. I will write more fully about this at a later time.


Archbishop of Canterbury will visit Canada to meet with Indigenous leaders, according to a news release from the Anglican Church of Canada. He is coming in response to an invitation from Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate, and National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Mark MacDonald. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will visit Canada between April 29 and May 3. He will meet with Anglican Indigenous people and Indigenous leaders in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario; and finally, Toronto, Ontario.

You can be sure of one thing. Welby will apologize for what happened decades ago. Welby is good at apologies. I think this is about his tenth, but who's keeping count. The deeper truth is, does anybody really care?


From the Anglican Communion Office, we learn that next month's meeting of Anglican primates -- the senior archbishops, moderators and presiding bishops from the 42 churches of the Anglican Communion -- will be held March 28-31 in London, England. The meeting had been planned to take place in Rome, Italy. However, COVID-related travel restrictions in Italy meant that around half of the church leaders would not be eligible to fully participate.

The meeting, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will take the form of a spiritual retreat, with the church leaders praying and studying the Bible together. The primates will also discuss the latest plans for the Lambeth Conference -- the decennial meeting to which all Anglican bishops from around the world are invited. The next Lambeth Conference, postponed from 2020, will take place in Canterbury, England, July 26-Aug. 8.

Interpretation. This is called softening up the primates NOT to deal with Lambeth Resolution 1:10 later in July, and to talk about climate change instead. Perhaps Welby can persuade them that when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai that the seventh commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" includes homosexual fornication. Perhaps Moses had a "climate" moment, and misheard God.

The Primates will be royally feted, perhaps even meet the Queen, but it will be Welby's numbing fingerprints on the primates to steer clear of anything controversial. God forbid.


The big VOL story of the week was the meeting of a group of orthodox Lutherans with ACNA Bishops, brought together by REC Bishop Ray Sutton, who rolled out the red carpet for the unique gathering.

Lutheran Archbishop Jānis Vanags and his entourage made a two-and-a-half-day stopover (Jan. 28-30) to Dallas as they travelled around the United States, touching bases first in Indiana and Wisconsin -- with a visit to Nashotah House -- and a quick trip to Washington, DC, for the ProLife March. Upon leaving Texas, the Latvian Lutherans headed to Florida for a scientific lecture in Miami.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) leadership was in the United States to interact with fellow Christians and to help foster ecumenical ties.
Both ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach and Bishop Sutton are deeply committed to ecumenical interaction and dialogue. They have travelled far and wide, individually and together, to seek a commonality with their Christian brethren and foster the preaching of the undiluted Gospel while remaining true to their Reformation Anglican roots. This is evident in their involvement with GAFCON, which is the largest gathering of traditional Anglicans in the world.

Both groups affirmed that they did not support the ordination of women to the priesthood and homosexuals should remain celibate. When I posted this story written by Mary Ann Mueller to Facebook, it went viral. Women's ordination remains a hot button issue for Anglicans and while not all ACNA dioceses see it that way, it remains an issue that could divide even the ACNA somewhere down the line if not fully resolved. You can read the full story here: https://virtueonline.org/lutherans-came-visit-and-met-acna-bishops


Conversion or reparative therapy is now a serious hot button issue. While 13 countries have some form of national ban on conversion therapy, and many other states, cities and provinces have introduced legislation to protect their citizens, the UK Government is still undecided and has launched a consultation on banning conversion therapy in England and Wales.

Some 4210 Christian leaders oppose 'Conversion Therapy' laws. The Archbishops' Council member, Rev Dr Ian Paul set out in a Christian Institute public webinar the reasons why over 4000 Christian pastors, workers and church members have signed a letter to the Government expressing their willingness to go to jail rather than conform to the proposed legislation on 'Conversion Therapy'.

While the case is made that people should be able to express their sexual feelings freely as a matter of human rights, he asked about the human right to think differently, for Christians, Muslims and Jews to follow their religious convictions, and to adopt a disciplined approach to sex. He noted that while campaigners for the law argue that sexual identity is not fixed, like race, but fluid, the proposed legislation bars any attempt to enable people to change, but they also argue that sexual identity is innate and yet campaign for people's bodies to be surgically interfered with to align with interior sexual feelings. He concluded that the legislation was motivated by an explicitly anti-Christian ideological agenda opposed to the orthodox mainline Christian view of sex and marriage. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/4210-christian-leaders-oppose-conversion-therapy-laws-consultation-closes-february-4th-1145-pm


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