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Russia vs Ukraine a Religious Perspective * Reformation Anglicanism * TEC is Losing Gray Heads * Lutherans and ACNA Bishops Meet * Fallen Leaders Hurt Us All * Nigerian Anglicans Face Continued Killings * APA and TAC in Concordat * ACoC Silent on Truckers

Russia vs Ukraine a Religious Perspective * Reformation Anglicanism * TEC is Losing Gray Heads * Lutherans and ACNA Bishops Meet * Fallen Leaders Hurt Us All * Nigerian Anglicans Face Continued Slaughter * APA and TAC Enter Concordat * ACoC Silent on Truckers Freedom Convoy

Regardless of how one views the priest at altar - in persona christi, in persona ecclesiae, an icon of Christ, the divinely appointed mediator in the pattern of the Mediator, etc., this is not a matter of secondary importance. No synod or jurisdiction has authority to change the received tradition concerning Jesus Christ and his blood shed for the salvation of the world. The priesthood is a sign of that sacrifice. -- Rev. Chuck Collins

C.S. Lewis is correct that when it comes to the Church's received tradition, "We cannot shuffle or tamper so much. With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us." (From "Priestesses in the Church?")

Admittedly, the Anglican Church of Canada does not politicise Christianity. It can't because it has ceased to be Christian. ---- David of Samizdat

So here's a little free advice. Before you get furious at the next thing the conflict merchants want you to get furious about, remind yourself of the simple fact that this is a fundamentally good and decent country, in which all manner of good things have happened and are continuing to happen even though no one wants to tell you about them. More importantly, the only thing that can actually ruin this country is believing the people peddling despair to you for their own power or profit. --- Jonah Goldberg

Seventy percent of normal Americans who aren't super partisan are understandably just tired of national politics, and bowing out of the conversation--which in turn cedes the battlefield to these more extreme figures and ideas. --- The Morning Dispatch

The proximate cause of all this disruption is Trump. But that is not the deepest cause. Trump is merely the embodiment of many of the raw wounds that already existed in parts of the white evangelical world: misogyny, racism, racial obliviousness, celebrity worship, resentment and the willingness to sacrifice principle for power. --- David Brooks

[It is said] we are not a confessional church like Lutherans who have the Augsburg Confession and Presbyterians with their Westminster Confessions. But this is really a pernicious lie. In fact, we are confessional and we have been from the beginning. --- Chuck Collins

All this alphabet nonsense like LGBT is a deliberate smokescreen to obscure the real issue which is sodomy. Does God approve of one man sticking his penis in the rear end of another man --- John H. Lewis, Jr.,

Dear Brothers and Sisters
February 25, 2022

"When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come." Mark 13:7

A war with apocalyptic overtones is raging in Russia over the Ukraine, with a secular media framing it as a war over whether Ukraine should be a part of Mother Russia or should be allowed to go its own way.

"Nyet," says Vladimir Putin, the all-powerful leader of Russia. Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, called Putin "megalomaniacal".

While the secular media tries to guess Putin's motives in Ukraine, one important aspect of the current situation has gone largely ignored: religion, writes Diana Butler Bass.

Kyiv (Kiev) a Christian city since 988, still played an important role in preserving the traditions of Orthodox Christianity, especially at times of domination by Catholic Poland, and later the atheistic Soviet Union.

Kyiv prospered again during the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century. In the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution the city, caught in the middle of several conflicts, quickly went through becoming the capital of several short-lived Ukrainian states. From 1921, the city was part of the Soviet Union; since 1934, as a capital of Soviet Ukraine. In World War II, the city was destroyed again, almost completely, but quickly recovered in the post-war years becoming the third most important city of the Soviet Union, the capital of the second most populous Soviet republic. It now remains the capital of Ukraine, independent since 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

It is in this mix that Putin is trying to re-create an imperial Christian state, a neo-medieval "Holy Roman Empire" -- uniting political, economic and spiritual power into an entity to control the earthly and heavenly destiny of European peoples.

Ironically, he has some support in the U.S. A Western coalition of religious conservatives -- a partnership between American evangelicals, traditionalist Catholics in Western countries and orthodox people under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church is seen as a bulwark against three enemies -- decadent secularism, a rising China and Islam -- for a glorious rebirth of moral purity and Christian culture.

Until recently, it appeared Vladimir Putin had successfully co-opted Orthodoxy into this globalist triumvirate, making for a surprising love fest between American evangelicals and the Russian strongman. Just this week, former Secretary of State and stalwart evangelical, Mike Pompeo praised Putin. Outside observers might think Putin was firmly in control of the future of Orthodoxy vis-a-vis neo-Christendom, says Bass.

Except he wasn't. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had other ideas.

And that's a real problem. Because when it comes to Russian Orthodoxy, Kyiv is essentially Jerusalem.

This has created tension between Ukraine and Russia for centuries, in some ways brought to a head in the Soviet period, with rival forms of Orthodoxy either choosing to resist communism or cooperate with Moscow. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine had several different Orthodox churches, only one of which was in close relationship to Moscow.

In 2018, two of those Ukrainian churches and some of the Moscow-leaning Orthodox parishes joined in a union and created a newly unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a fully independent national ecclesial body under no control from Moscow. Its head lies in the ancient seat of Orthodoxy in Kyiv.

Putin and the Moscow Russian Orthodox church authorities protested. They've been claiming the 1,000 years of Kyiv Christianity as their own -- basically appropriating Ukraine's church history -- to the point of erecting a gigantic (and controversial) statue of St. Vladimir outside of the Kremlin. Putin wants the weight of tradition on his side and St. Vladimir validates both his religious and political aspirations. There should be no doubt that Putin sees himself as a kind of Vladimir the Great II, a candidate for sainthood who is restoring the soul of Holy Mother Russia. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, would like to remind the Russians that they were the birthplace of both Orthodoxy and political unity in Eastern Europe, writes Bass.

The conflict in Ukraine is all about religion and what kind of Orthodoxy will shape Eastern Europe and other Orthodox communities around the world (especially in Africa). This is a crusade, recapturing the Holy Land of Russian Orthodoxy, and defeating the Westernized (and decadent) heretics who do not bend the knee to Moscow's spiritual authority.

If you don't get that, you don't get it. Who is going to control the geographical home, the "Jerusalem," of the Russian church? Moscow? Or Constantinople? And what does claiming that territory mean for Orthodoxy around the world? Will global Orthodoxy lean toward a more pluralistic and open future, or will it be part of the authoritarian neo-Christendom triumvirate?

We don't know how this is going to unfold. But -- here's the key point -- economic sanctions are unlikely to work if you believe your side is divinely sanctioned. That's what Putin thinks he's got: the approval of God, says Bass.

Now you also know why Western Protestant groups inside Russia and the Ukraine are not welcome. A message put out by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), a day after its appeal to Putin went unanswered. The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) conveyed its support to the UCCRO's appeal for peacemaking initiatives. Also not welcome are Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals.


Still and all, a number of Western evangelical churches and ministries inside the Ukraine are appealing for prayers for their situation.

The Langham Partnership has received reports from five church leaders with stories of Russian missiles destroying air defenses, airfields, airports, military units, and army command posts. Civilians are also dying. Three such strikes were inflicted on the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx region. I live close to the airport and xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, so there is a need for special protection from the Lord for my family.

From another leader; "At the moment, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is safe, we heard blasts from afar. A number of military bases and objects were attacked. Thank God, all the employees and remaining students are safe. Some employees are preparing for evacuation. I am taking measures to assure that everyone is safe and have everything to survive. For the next month we relocate all the educational sessions to the online format. Please keep us in your prayers. We do need them. Trust the Lord and keep walking His way.

And this: My prayer today is that the church of Ukraine (and Russia) would use missiology and the mission of God as the primary hermeneutic tool to interpret society and politics and other social-political challenges. And that we as the children of God would not devalue, depersonalize, and dehumanize each other in the context of hybrid and political and informational wars as the disciples of Jesus. The love of the Cross is practiced not in a peaceful neighborhood, but in the context of the challenges and temptations and brokenness. It is where the power of the Holy Spirit for spreading the Good News and the relationships of the love and trust and care of the Kingdom of God is needed by Ukrainian Christians (and the Russian as well)."

"In fact, in recent years, especially in 2014-2015, we have been expecting invasions from Russia a few times. However, this situation is much more threatening, given the size of troops on our borders and the level of anxiety in the capitals of the world's leading countries. It is difficult to say what awaits us. Nobody knows for sure how far Russia will go, whether it will dare to occupy part of the country, whether there will be rocket attacks on our cities or whether Russia will try to capture Kyiv. Its goal is not just to conquer part of Ukraine, but to control the whole country, to establish a puppet government here that will be entirely under Moscow's control. These circumstances create an atmosphere of tension, fear, and uncertainty."

Church leaders across the globe are calling on people everywhere to join in praying for peace in the Ukraine.

The Pope called on political leaders to show restraint and to refrain from doing anything that would bring more suffering to people or destabilize the peaceful coexistence of nations.

He urged those "with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war, who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies".

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a pastoral letter to the clergy and people of the Church of England asking them to pray for peace in Ukraine, urging prayer for peace and the laying down of weapons. You can read it here: https://virtueonline.org/attack-ukraine-act-great-evil-statement-archbishops-canterbury-and-york
Two other stories; one by Jeff Walton of IRD and Mary Ann Mueller, VOL Special correspondent highlight the situation in the Ukraine. Episcopalians and Quakers: 'Spirit Must Intercede' for Peace in Ukraine, writes Walton. Episcopalians and Quakers have offered statements of solidarity and sympathy for Ukrainians, in which pacifist and humanist declarations were at times painfully at odds with the reality of an impending Russian invasion unfolding later the same day. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/episcopalians-and-quakers-spirit-must-intercede-peace-ukraine

Mary Ann Mueller explores why we should pray for Putin and highlights The Book of Common Prayer for prayers for peace. You can read her piece here: https://virtueonline.org/war-comes-ukraine-why-not-pray-vladimir-putin

Bishop Martyn Minns, Interim Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh rightly observes that the first thing that we must acknowledge is that, in spite of all of the remarkable progress we have made in technology, healthcare, transportation, etc., we are still confronting the same issues of human sinfulness and the resulting conflicts between peoples and nations that we have confronted from the beginning. This makes the ministry of Gospel proclamation and reconciliation, to which we all have been called, forever relevant. It also reminds us that while our hope is secure in the Lord of the Universe, we will always be disappointed if we put our ultimate trust in the leaders of the nations. We must also heed the warning that Jesus gives -- all of these events are preliminaries to the time when the whole world as we know it will come to an end.


IN OTHER NEWS, The Anglican Communion's identity is up for grabs. One man who thinks we can recover its identity is the Rev. Canon Chuck Collins, Director of the Center for Reformation Anglicanism. I interviewed him about what he saw are the central issues confronting the Anglican Communion today.

Here is a sample; "The truth is that Reformation Anglicanism has very serious scholarly proponents, here and around the world, but only a few popular voices. I love this tradition that is grounded in Holy Scripture, and that's preserved in the Edwardian and Elizabethan Settlement, and Anglican's historic formularies. I sometimes describe Anglicanism as a Protestant expression that is thoroughly biblical, theologically reformed, pastorally generous, and liturgically beautiful. I write and speak about these things because the expression that I hear from many Anglican pulpits and seminaries, and even from church leaders, has no real tie to traditional Anglicanism. And I fear that one of the casualties, perhaps the biggest casualty, in the confusion over our identity is the gospel itself: justification by grace through faith alone as God's free gift for undeserving sinners. I simply want to encourage anyone who will listen to continue in a gospel-centered expression of our Anglican heritage." You can read my interview here: https://virtueonline.org/could-reformation-anglicanism-save-anglican-communion


The Episcopal Church should take note, they are losing their gray heads. A research article in Christianity Today made the stunning and disturbing pronouncement. There was a time when pastors would look down from the pulpit at the gray-haired congregants sitting in the pews and consider them safe bets. These were the people whose faithfulness they didn't worry about.

But according to Barna, some of the biggest declines in church attendance over the past three decades have been among adults 55 and older. "We can't just blame the young people for the drop in church attendance," said Savannah Kimberlin, Barna's director of research solutions.

Barna found that the percentage of people reporting weekly church attendance in America between 1993 and prepandemic 2020 reached a high of 48 percent in 2009 then plummeted to 29 percent in 2020. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-should-take-note-mainline-churches-are-losing-their-gray-heads


A group of orthodox Lutheran visitors from the European Baltic States came to the US and met with a number of ACNA Bishops. The occasion was brokered by REC Bishop Ray Sutton, who rolled out the red carpet. An in-depth piece by Mary Ann Mueller, VOL's special correspondent, details this historic encounter which garnered over 10,000 reads when it hit Facebook.

Lutheran Archbishop Jānis Vanags and his entourage made a two-and-a-half-day stopover in 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. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/lutherans-came-visit-and-met-acna-bishops


The Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer, one of two remaining overtly evangelical dioceses in TEC, announced his plan to retire in 2023 and called for the election of a Diocesan Bishop to succeed him. This gets interesting. One name that will surely pop up as a candidate will be Anglican blogger and priest George Conger, who tried unsuccessfully to be the next Bishop of Springfield. Conger is resident in this diocese. The presenting issue is of course Resolution B012 on homosexual marriage which is now fully embraced by TEC. If Conger wins, what will he do? Will he obtain consents from the HOB if he doesn't play along with B012? Of course, he could adopt the Pontius Pilate Principle (PPP) washing his hands and allow a progressive bishop to come in and do the dirty deed. We know how Pilate died, he was executed by the Emperor Caligula, with his body thrown into the Tiber River. Conger will live and face a higher court for his compromise. God will assuredly be tougher than Caligula. A former Bishop of Central Florida, John W. Howe finally saw the light over B012 and fled TEC for the ACNA.


If you think there is still hope for America's churches, then you might want to read this piece: How the Left and Right are Destroying Churches in America. I wrote about two true life stories of how the woke left and the Trump right are destroying the very spiritual foundations that have kept churches and this nation on an even keel for three centuries. A sad, but true read. https://virtueonline.org/how-left-and-right-are-destroying-churches-america


HOW FALLEN CHRISTIAN LEADERS HAVE HURT US ALL. The year 2021 will go down as one of the worst years for fallen Christian leaders.

Ravi Zacharias, Jerry Falwell, Jr., (was he ever a Christian?), Mars Hill leader Mark Driscoll, Kanakuk Kamps, John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher (the latter two in England), to name just a few. One could add a plethora of American mega church pastors and lesser evangelical fish, but the cumulative effect has been overwhelming and devastating on millions of ordinary Christians. Furthermore, the politicization of the Gospel has made many Christians cynical as to what it means to be both an American and a Christian. You can read my take here: https://virtueonline.org/how-fallen-christian-leaders-have-hurt-us-all

Ironically, the Zacharias story continues to unravel with newer revelations that Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) spent nearly $1 million to defend its founder and namesake against allegations of sexual misconduct in 2017 and then lied about it. This report is according to an RZIM-funded assessment obtained by CT. You can read more here: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/february/rzim-board-donor-money-guidepost-report-ravi.html


While the world's attention is focused on the Ukraine, the Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Henry Ndukuba has condemned in the strongest term the continued killings and bloodshed in some parts of Nigeria.

Preaching a sermon at the Dedication of New Cathedral Umuokanne of the Anglican Diocese of Ohaji/Egbema last Sunday, the primate expressed regret over failure by those that know them to expose the perpetrators of crimes and criminality in the society.

He said that some members of the Anglican Church were killed in the North, yet those behind this dastardly act of killings are moving freely without being exposed. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/anglican-primate-condemns-killings-bloodshed-nigeria


An Anglican minister who fled Iran six years ago because of constant harassment by intelligence agents and multiple arrests has now been told he is to be deported back to Iran from his city of temporary residence in Turkey.

Pastor Hekmat Salimi, who is 72 years old and severely disabled, his wife Mahindokht, 66, and their daughter Sama, 35, have been living as asylum-seekers in Zonguldak, five hours' drive east of Istanbul, since 2016. They were told last week they must leave the country within seven days or face forcible deportation. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/anglican-minister-and-family-face-imminent-deportation-back-iran


CONTINUING ANGLICANS continue to make the news. A full communion agreement has been reached between the Anglican Province of America and the Traditional Anglican Church (TAC). The concordat was unanimously approved by the TAC College of Bishops on 3rd February 2022 and by the APA House of Bishops on 11th February 2022.

This full communion agreement advances the growing unity of Continuing Anglicans worldwide, and links two greater portions of the Continuing Church together for the first time, expanding upon the existing full communion agreement between the Anglican Province of America and the Anglican Church in America (the American Province of the Traditional Anglican Church). It is also the first agreement establishing full communion between another Continuing Anglican jurisdiction and the entire global Traditional Anglican Church. You can read more here: https://virtueonline.org/full-communion-agreement-between-anglican-province-america-and-traditional-anglican-church


All is not quiet on the Canadian front. The Anglican Church of Canada remains mostly mum as the Freedom Convoy makes headlines.

Canadians have been dealing with harsh governmental COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions which have resulted in closed businesses, shuttered churches, rescheduled weddings and funerals and baptisms, travel restrictions, and vaccine passports.

It's the Canadian truckers who have said "Enough is enough!" and have banded together to encourage the national, provincial and local governments to roll back crippling restrictions on themselves and their fellow countrymen.

Where is the Anglican Church's episcopal voice? Why hasn't the Anglican Church of Canada's Archbishop Linda Nichols said anything either for or against the truckers and -- for the most part -- their peaceful convoy, or Bishop Andrew Asbil (XII Toronto), or Bishop Michael Oulton (XII Ontario), or Bishop Shane Parker (X Ottawa). You can read Mary Ann Mueller's excellent take on all this here: https://virtueonline.org/all-not-quiet-canadian-front


Good reads on theology and the culture wars can be found at these links:

Francis Collins on COVID-19 politics: 'The culture is literally killing people.' https://virtueonline.org/francis-collins-covid-19-politics-culture-war-literally-killing-people
One-stream Anglicanism by Chuck Collins is an excellent read: https://virtueonline.org/one-stream-anglicanism
Wonders of the Living World: Alister McGrath -- exploring the landscape can be accessed here: https://virtueonline.org/wonders-living-world-alister-mcgrath-exploring-landscape

A Desister's Tale on transgenderism by Lisa Selin Davis can be read here:
The Stupidity of Self-Actualization And How To Get Truly by Anthony Costello is an excellent reflection on the dangers of self-actualization. You can read it here:


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