Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Opinion piece on Rowan Williams and Windsor Report


[Catholic World News] November 29, 2004--"Smarting over the refusal of believing Anglicans to rejoice in the predictably vacuous Windsor Report, Dr. Rowan Williams lashes out at the people who saw through the imposture...."

NZ rules out same-sex marriage


[The Age]November 30, 2004--"New Zealand will introduce legislation giving legal status to the relationship of men and women living together but will not recognise same-sex marriages, the government announced today...."

Archbishop of Canterbury appears to chide U.S. Episcopalians’ attitude


[Foster's Online] November 30, 2004--"The archbishop of Canterbury has criticized the attitude of those who have provoked the Anglican Communion’s crisis over homosexual bishops, implicitly taking the U.S. Episcopal Church to task for a lack of repentance...."

Related article:
"US church urged to repent" Los Angelos Times

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Plea for Sexual Purity: Sex, God, and Marriage


Johann Christopher Arnold's highly recommended book on sexual purity is now available on the Internet. It can be downloaded in pdf format free of charge. Among those recommending this book are Richard John Neuhaus, J. I. Packer, Peter Kreft, and William Willimon. J. I. Packer, in reviewing Sex, God, and Marriage, writes:

"This is the work of a very wise man with a very clear vision of God’s ideal for marriage and family. Arnold concedes nothing to the impurity of our time, but looks into sexual matters by the light of Scripture with a restrained forthrightness that is truly ennobling. Simple and short, but deep, this is one of the best books available on handling our sexuality in a way that honors God."

For those who truly follow Jesus Christ sexual purity is an important mark of a Christian character, a character which reveals that the follower of Christ is manifesting the character of Christ himself, the fruit of the Spirit.

View homosexual film or school faces lawsuit!


[WorldNetDaily] November 28, 2004--In the land of the brave and the home of the...urh..."If administrators of Kentucky's Boyd County school district can't find a way to force all students to attend sexual orientation and gender identity "tolerance training," the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to take them to court – again...."

Why "Gay Marriage" Is Wrong


An essay by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

More articles and essays on homosexuality and the Bible by Doctor Gagnon and others are available at his website.

Can We Walk Together?

Commentary by Robin Jordan

Can the member churches of the Anglican Communion continue to walk together? Western Anglican churches have in the past 50 years become increasingly radicalized while at the same time declining. This radicalization can in part be attributed to the growing secularization of the culture of the geographic regions over which these churches have jurisdiction—Canada, Great Britain, and the United States; the assimilation of secular values by these churches; and the strong influence of post-modern and post-Christian thought upon many of their leaders. In the Episcopal Church USA radicals with their own ideological agenda have been seeking to establish their own rival tradition to orthodox Christianity while claiming to represent authentic Christianity. These radicals dismiss orthodox Christianity as a minority view when in fact it is the view of most Anglicans outside of the American Episcopal Church. To this end these radicals draw upon the radical Biblical and theological scholarship of a very small group of individuals who, despite their book sales and media coverage, are not in the mainstream of Biblical and theological scholarship but are on the radical fringes of that scholarship. Their controversial views sell books and attract media attention, creating the false impression that they are leading voices in Biblical and theological scholarship, on the cutting edge of that scholarship. In actuality, they are simply the most radical voices. They represent something like 6% of contemporary Bible scholars and theologians. The work of today’s leading Bible scholars and theologians is for the most part published in scholarly journals after intense review and does not have the popular appeal of the controversial opinions of this tiny group of radicals.

The views of this quite small group of radical scholars particularly holds an appeal for what Philip Jenkins describes as "seekers" and "Jesus-lovers", individuals who reject organized religion for various reasons and have a cafeteria approach to spirituality. These individuals may be nominal Christians but embrace a wide range of diverse beliefs taken from Far Eastern religions, neo-paganism, New Age thought, and occultism. It is individuals in these two groups that the radicals would have become the norm for members of the American Episcopal Church. This is why you hear so much talk among the radicals about doctrinal diversity.

Radical notions of spirituality are not Christian nor orthodox. They are inspired by non-Christian spiritual traditions. This is why a growing number of Episcopalians walk the labyrinth, practice Wicca, and identify themselves with Gnosticism and other ancient heresies. There is a tendency to erroneously view these heresies as alternate Christianities that were displaced by orthodox Christianity. In a number of communities the Episcopal Church has become a church on the radical fringe of Christianity. Radical Episcopalians are apt to welcome and celebrate homosexual relationships and other extramarital sexual relationships as alternate life style options. In recent years the radicals have exercised considerable influence upon the rest of the Episcopal Church. Their views have become increasingly accepted in the denomination. The Episcopal Church has become a church that mirrors the more radical aspects of American popular culture. One factor behind this development in the Episcopal Church is that the denomination has become the home of former evangelicals who fled to the Episcopal Church from more fundamentalist denominations. They have in reaction to the excesses of their former churches been open to the views of the radicals and have moved from one extreme to another.

Despite the influence of the catholicizing movements of the 19th century Anglicanism is essentially an evangelical, reformed faith. Both the 19th century catholicizing movements and the 20th century radical movement have sought to redefine Anglicanism, to remake the Anglican tradition in their own image. The 19th century catholicizing movements endeavored to reintroduce Medieval Roman doctrinal innovations into the Anglican Church; the 20th century radical movement, doctrinal innovations of its own. Both movements claim the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for these innovations.

Anglicanism is "catholic" in so far as it adheres to the teaching of the Primitive Faith, that is to say, the teaching of the Christian Church in first five centuries of existence, where that teaching is not contrary to the holy Scriptures. The Anglican Way is "evangelical" in that it affirms the supremacy of the Bible as "God’s Word written" in matters of faith and practice. Anglicans holds that "it is not lawful for the Church to order anything contrary to God’s written Word." They believe that the Church may not "expound one passage of Scripture so that it contradicts another passage" and further believe that "although the Church is witness and guardian to holy Scripture, it must not decree anything contrary to Scripture, nor is it to enforce belief in anything additional to Scripture as essential to salvation." Anglicanism is "reformed" in that the English Reformers and their successors sought to purify the English Church of non-Biblical innovations in doctrine and worship that the English Church had adopted during the Church of Rome’s domination of Western Christianity in the Middle Ages or inherited from the Celtic Church. While the Anglican Way has permitted some latitude in non-essential matters, it has never encouraged the kind of doctrinal diversity that the radicals espouse. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are a classical statement of Anglicanism stressing as they do five core beliefs—"the inspiration of the Bible, the existence of the one true God as three persons (Trinity), the diety and substitutionary atonement of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the physical return of Christ." Those who, for example, deny the bodily resurrection of Christ are on the fringes of both Christianity and Anglicanism.

The Church of England, the mother church of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, has not escaped the radicalization that affects the Western Anglican churches. In the Church of England the selection of the church’s leading bishops is largely a political decision in the hands of the English government and the political party in power. The Prime Minister nominates the Archbishops of Canterbury and York who are then formally appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. Consequently, at a time when the world Anglican Communion needs strong orthodox leadership, Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair nominated for the office of Archbishop of Canterbury the liberal Archbishop of Wales Rowan Williams who was known to have radical Biblical and theological views and whom the Blair Government thought would be able to relate to Great Britain’s increasingly post-modern, post-Christian culture. Williams has been ineffectual in his response to the crisis in the Anglican Communion precipitated by the Episcopal Church USA’s confirmation and consecration of a non-celibate homosexual as the bishop of New Hampshire and authorization of the blessing of homosexual relationships. While Williams has expressed support for the orthodox view of marriage and human sexuality and urged the American Episcopal Church not to take these radical steps, he has not concealed his sympathy for those involved in homosexual relationships.

With pressure groups in the United Kingdom calling for a liberal successor to the retiring Archbishop of York David Hope, liberal English bishops turning a blind eye to the blessing of homosexual relationships in their dioceses, and eight liberal bishops voting for the enactment of civil partnership legislation giving homosexual couples similar rights to married heterosexual couples, we are likely to see increased tension between radicals and orthodox in the Church of England. These developments are also likely to exacerbate the crisis in the Anglican Communion. The radicals in the Episcopal Church USA cannot be expected to listen to an Archbishop of Canterbury whose own church is divided over the issue of homosexual relationships and whose liberal bishops take actions similar to their radical brethren in the American Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church cannot be expected to rein in its radical bishops when the Church of England’s radical leaders are free to do what they please.

At this stage in the present crisis severing ties with the Western Anglican churches may be the most appropriate step that the global South Anglican provinces, the centre of orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion, can take until the Western Anglican churches put their houses in order. Such an action would leave the orthodox in the Western Anglican churches faced with the choice of remaining in an increasingly radicalized church or separating from that body, forming a more orthodox church, and uniting with other orthodox Anglican churches in a World Fellowship of Orthodox Anglican Churches with the global South Anglican provinces as its core.

These decisions will not be easy ones and will cause a great deal of soul searching. Which is the best road to follow? To try to stay together as a Communion? Or for radicals and orthodox to go their separate ways? If radicals and orthodox decide to walk separately from each other, what shall individual dioceses and parishes do? What should individual orthodox Anglican Christians do? Whatever we choose to do, we need to count the cost. Are we willing to make the sacrifices that each choice entails? To start all over again as a parish? To meet in school gymnasiums, movie theatres, borrowed sanctuaries, malls, storefronts, and houses? What is more important to us? Brass candlesticks, stained glass windows, hand embroidered kneelers? Or following Christ? Do we want to accumulate material treasures for ourselves here on earth? Or store up spiritual treasures for ourselves in heaven? Remember that we can be very poor in the things of this world and yet be rich beyond compare in the things of heaven. To walk with Christ, all we need is Christ.

Note: This commentary was written before the release of Rowan Williams' recent 4-page letter to the leading bishops of the Anglican Communion. William's letter is bound to affect relations between him and orthodox leaders in the Western Anglican churches and the global South Anglican provinces.

Advent pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury


[The Anglican Communion News Service] November 29, 2004--"The 1998 Lambeth Resolution on this subject declared plainly that the Anglican Church worldwide did not believe - because of its reading of Scripture - that it was free to say that homosexual practice could be blessed. But it also declared that violence in word or deed and prejudice against homosexual people were unacceptable and sinful behaviour for Christians. Earlier Lambeth Conference Resolutions had made the same point. Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent. We are bound to ask, with the greatest care, how we best communicate the challenge of the gospel to homosexual persons and how we may free ourselves from unreasoning fear or even hatred...."

3 inner-city Anglican churches closing


[CBC Calgary] November 29, 2004--"The Anglican church is closing three inner-city churches because they can no longer pay their way, and it is removing the designation of "cathedral" from the downtown Church of the Redeemer...."

Diocese defers decision on gay marriages


[CBC News] November 28, 2004--"The Anglican diocese of Toronto decided Saturday to wait until 2006 to reach a decision on whether the church should bless same-sex unions...."

Related story:
"Toronto Anglicans Defer Same-Sex Decision" Associated Press

Williams' call for Anglican unity falls on deaf ears


[The Guradian] November 29, 2004--"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, issued a stern warning to Anglican primates across the world yesterday to avoid the language of hatred for homosexuals and to seek together to heal the divisions within the 77 million-strong communion caused by the gay crisis...."

Related articles:
"Anglican Leader Warns Churches on Gay Hate Message" Reuters
"Anglican Head Warns Against Homophobia" The Christian Post
"Anglican official urges those who've condemned gays to repent" WHOTV.com

Supreme Court declines Massachusetts same-sex marriage fight


[CNN.com] November 29, 2004--"The Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped a dispute over same-sex marriages, rejecting a challenge to the nation's only law sanctioning such unions...."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bishops vote for 'gay marriage'


[The Church of England Newspaper] November 26, 2004--"Eight Bishops voted last week for the government’s civil partnership bill, which critics claim amounts to the legalisation of gay ‘marriage’...."

The Church of England Newspaper Editorial: Our non-inclusive bishops


[The Church of England Newspaper] November 27, 2004--"The question which must be asked is whether we now face an ECUSA-shaped future with such views becoming mandatory, dissentients subjected to legal persecution, and the senior appointments apparatus is evidently committed to the gay programme."

Ndayisenga breaks with African bishops

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

Archbishop of Barundi Samuel Ndayisenga has adopted a conciliatory tone toward the revisionist Episcopal Church USA, pleading the extreme poverty of his people and the great need for the American Church's financial assistance. The Christian Post has hailed this move as a break-through in the growing rift between the Episcopal Church USA and the global South Anglican provinces. How this can be viewed as a break-through boggles the mind. Archbishop Ndayisenga has chosen to place money before principles and is making the right noises so that the American Church will extend to his province its largess. Simply put, Ndayisenga has been bought off.

Archbishop Ndayisenga should remember that there is "good money" and "bad money". The money he is accepting is "bad money". Ndayisenga needs to remember what happened to Israel when Israel chose to seek the help of idolatrous Egypt instead of trusting in the one true living God. The idolaters failed Israel and God permitted Israel's enemies to defeat her. The Episcopal Church USA is an idolatrous church. Instead of worshiping the Holy One of Israel and following His Son, the American Church worships an idol shaped by a particular life style, a life style that is sexually immoral and gravely sinful, and follows a false Christ of its own making. Members of the American Church have also turned to pagan gods whose worship God has forbidden. Ndayisenga would do well to remember what the Bible says about walking with evil men. In allying himself with the American Church he has sold his soul to the devil.

We must not forget that this rift is not just a conflict over beliefs and values, a clash of world views. It is a spiritual conflict. Those who hold to a Biblical worldview know that behind this conflict is the ruler of this present world--Satan himself. It is he who spies out men's weaknesses and tempts them. He well knows how to use money to cause men - especially those in positions of leadership - to compromise their principles. No good will come from Archbishop Ndayisenga's decision to not stand firm with his fellow African bishops.

Synod on Nov. 27 to consider same-sex blessings


[Diocese of Toronto] November 27, 2004--"The Diocese of Toronto’s synod, its governing body, is meeting today to discuss the issue of blessing same-sex unions...."

PROFILE: Bishop Frank Griswold


[PBS] November 26, 2004--The following words of Bishop of Louisiana Charles Jenkins will not go down well with the orthodox Anglicans in his diocese, "I'm willing to say that Frank Griswold is orthodox..." Charles Jenkins is already seen as a weak bishop and a toady of Frank Griswold over whose Council of Advise he presides. Jenkins' remarks reinforce the impression that he is a corporatist who is willing to sacrifice doctrinal truth for the sake of false unity.

Gay issues slowly erode Episcopal membership


[World Peace Herald] November 27, 2004--"Episcopalians aren't making a mass exodus from their church, but dioceses across the country are doing a slow bleed as members realize that a much-anticipated report released six weeks ago has no teeth and that the denomination's ordination of a homosexual bishop will go unpunished...."

Bishops Condemn any Tendency to Label Islam as 'Fundamental'


[The Christian Post] November 27, 2004--"In lieu of the rising fear of fundamental Islam in Europe, Anglican and Old Catholic Bishops in the continent’s mainland released a statement calling for dialogue and against the vilification of any religion...."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Religious right wins abortion victory


[theage.com.au] November 24, 2004--"America's religious right has scored its first legislative victory since President George Bush's re-election by inserting a clause into a spending bill to undermine state laws requiring hospitals to provide abortions...."

Christians picket sex film


[smh.com.au] November 24, 2004--"Conservative groups in the US are outraged over a new film starring Liam Neeson about controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, whom they accuse of being a closet pornographer...."

Missionaries in about-turn as African priests go West


[smh.com.au] November 25, 2004--"Africa could ease the acute shortage of Catholic priests in Europe by sending clergy to 're-evangelise the West' under new proposals that have received Pope John Paul's blessing...."

A hymn to Christianity rings out in remote China


[asahi.com] November 24, 2004--"Despite years of persecution, a tiny village clung to the faith and now they worship openly in the church they rebuilt...."

Living in sin to filter true love


[smh.com.au] November 24, 2004--"In the 1970s it was called 'living in sin'. But the couples who flouted convention back then mostly married each other before two years were up. Now that cohabiting before marriage is the norm, it is much less likely people will marry the first person they live with, a new study shows."

Tasmania calling – send help!


[sydneyanglicans.net] November 24, 2004--"Tasmanian church goers are crying out for Sydney to help reach a population swelled by settling families...."

American and African Anglicans Begin Mending Relationship


[The Christian Post] November 23, 2004--Archbishop of Barundi Samuel Ndayisenga - a weak link?

Schools are distorting Thanksgiving


[townhall.com] November 24, 2004--"...when it comes to political correctness, no holiday is safe. Having turned Christmas and Hanukkah into amorphous winter festivals, now some school districts want to rob Thanksgiving of its historical roots."

For some Episcopal churches, it's a struggle to remain open


[The Star-Ledger] November 24, 2004--Newark Bishop John Croneberger plans closures--blames economy.

Episcopal Bishop Tries to Win Back Breakaway Parishes


[The Christian Post] November 24, 2004--Who is Jon Bruno trying to fool?

For What Can We Be Thankful?

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

At the recent African Anglican Bishops Conference representatives of Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, showed up without an invitation. According to these representatives, Trinity has had a change of heart. It will provide financial aid to any interested African church, no strings attached. What accounts for this shift in policy, this new attitude of altruism on the part of Trinity—a movement of the Holy Spirit? Or something more sinister? What do police and district attorneys warn the public about con artists? If the offer sounds too good to be true, it is not! What does Trinity and the Episcopal Church USA gain from giving money to those African provinces willing to take it. Revisionists in the ECUSA have long held the belief that while the African bishops will loudly protest revisionist doctrinal innovations, the Africans will eventually acquiesce to these innovations "We are the wealthiest church in the Anglican Communion," they say, "The African churches need our money. The whole Communion needs our money." The motive behind Trinity’s change of heart would appear to be to encourage African dependence upon American money. Some African churches like Burundi have displayed a willingness to accept that money. The revisionist strategy is to drive a wedge between the African provinces and to win support for their cause among the African bishops.

This strategy has worked with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who is dependent upon money from the ECUSA to run his office and to fund his pet projects. He has demonstrated that he has no qualms about accepting funds from 815 or slipping across the Atlantic to raise funds in the United States. While Williams might claim that no impropriety is involved in his acceptance of money from the ECUSA or fund-raising in this country, what he is doing has the appearance of impropriety. The political scandals of the last two decades have taught Americans that those who wish to lead us must not only avoid improper conduct but the appearance of that conduct. It is also hard to imagine that the ready availability of money from these sources does not have some kind of influence upon Williams’ thinking and his attitude toward the ECUSA. Money has the power to corrupt.

Williams, it must be noted, while he is not as direct in promoting revisionist views, shares those views with the American revisionist bishops. He is a leader of the Affirming Catholic movement in the Church of England. He has published essays advocating homosexual relationships. He himself has ordained to the priesthood a gay man without investigating whether this man was celibate. An oversight? Or indifference? Williams signed off on the controversial appointment of a leading Church of England "gay rights" advocate Jeffrey Johns, a gay man of questionable celibacy, as the bishop of Reading. He later asked Johns, an Affirming Catholic movement leader and long-time friend, to step down when news of the appointment elicited a strong adverse reaction from Oxford evangelicals. He gave his approval to the subsequent appointment of Johns as dean of St. Albans, itself a controversial appointment. After calling an extraordinary meeting of the Anglican primates in response to the reaction of global South Anglicans to the election and confirmation of a non-celibate gay man as the bishop of New Hampshire, he forced Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola to receive communion with ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, threatening to not meet with Akinola and the other global South bishops who did not want to receive communion with Griswold. Griswold, after signing a document in which he agreed with the other primates that the consecration of V. Gene Robinson should not proceed, flew home to preside over that consecration, claiming that it was expected of him. Rather than take disciplinary action against the ECUSA as mandated by Scripture, Williams appointed the Lambeth Commission on Communion under the chairmanship of the Bishop of Amargh Robin Eames, a revisionist. This commission produced the toothless Windsor Report, a report which both revisionist and orthodox Anglicans have rejected. Williams also failed to attend the historic first African Anglican Bishops Conference even though he had been invited to this conference on two occasions by the conference organizers and the conference itself had been planned for at least a year. He claimed that he was too busy and sent a representative in his place. Williams barely escaped a vote of censure at the African Anglican Bishops Conference over what the African bishops viewed as a deliberate snub. Williams clearly has lost the trust of many Anglican evangelicals in the ECUSA and the Church of England and that of many global South Anglicans. Without this trust he cannot expect them to follow his leadership.

The growing pressure in the Church of England for a liberal Archbishop of York to replace the outgoing David Hope does not bode well for a successful resolution of the present crisis in the Anglican Communion. The appointment of a liberal to that see is likely to further alienate the Anglican evangelicals and the global South Anglicans, the two largest groups in the Anglican Communion. It may lead to the further withholding of funds from the Church of England by evangelical parishes. The global South Anglican provinces can be expected to re-evaluate their ties with the Church of England.

The February Primates Meeting is being held in Ireland. As one commentator David Virtue has pointed out, this is Robin Eames’ home turf. In a recent commentary Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, he writes, "…this writer knows, from history, that African Archbishops will never offend the Primate of a country whose hospitality they are enjoying. That is culturally unacceptable. Will they politely decline and quietly leave when the Eucharist is passed to them? One can only admire the brilliance and the gall of the Anglican Consultative Council mandarins that pulled this one off." [1]

This meeting is doomed from the outset. Nothing of merit can be expected to come out of it. In the meantime the ECUSA revisionist representative on the Lambeth Commission, Mark Dyer, is claiming that nothing is wrong in the ECUSA. The South African revisionist representative on the Commission is claiming that the Anglican Communion is in the process of reception in regards to the blessing of same-sex unions and "gay marriage". In the Anglican Church of Canada the House of Bishops have adopted a scheme of episcopal oversight for dissenting parishes that treats the wide-spread blessing of same-sex relationships in that church as a foregone conclusion. The Diocese of New Westminster has announced that a seventh parish will begin blessing same-sex partnerships. In the ECUSA revisionist bishops continue to ordain non-celibate homosexuals and to authorize same-sex blessings. A number of these bishops have commissioned rites for these blessings.

While the orthodox are often accused by the revisionists of being power-hungry and seeking to engineer a take-over of the ECUSA, such accusations seem to be designed to draw attention away from the ongoing efforts of the revisionist in this direction. Having gained control of most of the ECUSA dioceses, the revisionists are seeking to consolidate their control of these dioceses while endeavoring to gain control of those that are divided or outside their sphere of influence. Via Media, a church-wide network of revisionist clergy and lay persons and their corporatist allies, portraying itself as a "Grassroots movement," has been involved in efforts to replace outgoing bishops in a number of dioceses with revisionists or those sympathetic to the revisionist cause and to reverse the actions of diocesan conventions repudiating the actions of the 2003 General Convention, withholding funds from the national church, and affiliating the diocese with the Anglican Communion Network. Orthodox clergy and congregations have been prohibited from joining orthodox bodies like the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network by revisionist bishops. A number of orthodox clergy and congregations have sought the oversight of orthodox global South bishops and are involved in litigation over parish property. A number have chosen to leave the property behind and to minister without it. The revisionists show no sign of reversing course. The ECUSA House of Bishops is preparing a defense of its confirmation and consecration of Gene Robinson. The revisionists see themselves as champions of marginalized groups in the Anglican Communion, spearheading much needed progressive reforms in that body. Those who reject their views on solid Biblical grounds they dismiss as motivated by prejudice and homophobia. While often accusing the orthodox of arrogance, their claims of intellectual and moral superiority betray their own arrogant attitude.

A wealthy American church trying to buy the support of poor African provinces.
A liberal Archbishop of Canterbury who cannot be trusted.

Growing pressure for a liberal Archbishop of York.

The relentless revisionist assault upon orthodox Anglicans in the ECUSA.

A toothless report.

Leading African bishops too polite to take strong measures.

For what then can orthodox Anglicans in the ECUSA and outside that church be thankful?

We can be thankful for orthodox global South primates like the Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Rwanda Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of Uganda Henry Orombi, and Archbishop of South East Asia Yong Ping Chung who have come to the aid of embattled orthodox Anglicans in the ECUSA.

We can be thankful for orthodox Anglican bishops like John Rodgers, T. J. Johnston, Chuck Murphy, Bill Wantland, and Bob Duncan who have stood in the gap.

We can be thankful for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins and the new life which is ours by faith in him.

We can be thankful for the words of the Bible and the sacrament of the Holy Communion, by which our faith is quickened and strengthened.

We can be thankful for the discovery that a church is not a building but a group of faithful Christians walking together in Christ, united by his Holy Spirit, and committed to the Great Commission.

We can be thankful for those brothers and sisters in Christ of other denominations who have offered us their sanctuaries for our worship, who have provided us with encouragement and practical help in innumerable ways.

We can be thankful for the adventure of sharing Christ with others, the challenge of being on the front lines in the advancement of God’s Kingdom. We can be thankful for the fresh purpose God has given to our lives. We can be thankful for the sense of fulfillment we experience when we are carrying out the Great Commission, reaching the lost for the Lord and making disciples of them.

We can be thankful for the spiritual growth that comes with being a Great Commission Christian. We can be thankful for the revitalized Scripture reading—the "fresh glimpses into God’s character and truth," the growing intimacy with God. We can be thankful for the renewed prayer life and the heart-felt worship. We can be thankful for our heightened awareness of our need for personal purity. We can be thankful for the fresh insights we have received into how our church can help us grow; how our church may need to change in order to become more up-to-date, efficient and productive; and how our church needs to hold onto abiding truths.

We can be thankful for our strengthened confidence in our beliefs. We can be thankful for the growing ability to articulate our faith. We can be thankful for the "enduring investments" that we are making in heaven.

We can be thankful for the honor of being God’s agents, of speaking on His behalf, of being His ambassadors. [2]

We can be thankful for the sudden awakening from our spiritual lethargy. We can be thankful for the adversities in which we find ourselves, which God has permitted in our lives so that we can become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ--Great Commission Christians. We may loose our 200 year old church buildings but we will gain the Kingdom of God!

O Lord, we give you thanks for all your gifts to us. Especially we give you thanks for the gift of a new life in Your Son. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

End Notes:
1. David Virtue, Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat (VirtueOnline: November 2004)
2. Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg, Becoming a Contagious Christian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1994) 26-36

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Killing fields now ripe for harvest


[sydneyanglicans.net] November 23, 2004--"Cambodia, a country once devastated by a cruel cultural revolution, is set to be transformed by a growing number of keen Christian graduates...."

Beneath the Veil


[The New Yorker] November 16, 2004--"This week in the magazine, Jane Kramer writes about the French 'veil law,' which prohibits the display of religious symbols, including Islamic head coverings, in French public schools. The law, which protects the 'sacred secularism' of French schools, has ignited controversy both in France and in the United States, where secularism in schools has recently come under fire. Here Kramer talks to The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman about what brought her to the story and what she took away from it...."

Toby Keith and the lie of risk-free promiscuity


[BP News] November 22, 2004--"Toby Keith has earned a reputation for political incorrectness that makes him wildly popular...."

Congress OKs pro-life, anti-discrimination abortion measure


[BP Press] November 22, 2004--"Congress has approved a measure to protect pro-life doctors, hospitals and health care entities from government discrimination...."

United Nations delays action on human cloning ban


[BP News] November 22, 2004--"The United Nations has delayed action on a human cloning ban...."

Robinson’s first year


[The Advocate] December 7, 2004--Commentary by a leading national gay & lesbian newsmagazine Web site on the controversial episcopate of non-celibate homosexual V. Gene Robinson; the crisis his election, confirmation and consecration engendered in the Anglican Communion; and the report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion appointed in response to this crisis.

Unfinished Business: Windsor Report Fails to Repair Anglican Schism


[Agape Press] November 23, 2004--"The results of a year-long study by an Anglican commission, convened to resolve the rupture over the issue of homosexuality, failed to satisfy either side of the dispute, giving new life to fears of the denomination's ultimate disintegration...."

Recommended Reading: Articles from VirtueOnline Digest

The following articles were included in the VirtueOnline Digest for the week of November 22, 2004.

Learning Lessons from the Dutch (2004/11/20)
Snatching Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat (2004/11/17)
NEWPORT BEACH: Seceding churches might be sued as one (2004/11/18)
Bishop Parsley attempts to muzzle Uganda Primate - by Mark D. Wilkerson (2004/11/20)

More articles are available at the VirtueOnline website. Readers also can subscribe to the VirtueOnline Digest at the same website.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Da Vinci Code desperation


[smh.com.au] November 21, 2004--"...Until recently village mayor Jean-Francois L'Huilier seemed to be winning the battle against fortune-seekers who tried to disinter bodies and dynamite holes in the walls of its 11th-century church looking for relics.

But now Rennes-le-Chateau has become the latest victim of The Da Vinci Code fever. Since its publication 20 months ago, Dan Brown's mix of fiction, fact and legend has sold more than 9 million copies in 42 languages...."

Registration required.

Papal contender attacks secularism


[smh.com.au] November 22, 2004--"A leading contender to become the next Pope has launched a fierce attack on the forces of secularism, arguing that they were fostering intolerance in Europe and forcing Christianity underground.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 77, one of the Vatican's most powerful figures, said that liberal consensus had now evolved into a 'worrying and aggressive' ideology.

As a result, 'Catholic and Christian religion' had been pushed out of the public debate and was being 'driven into the margins'...."

Holy smoke - the air for prayer is not so fair


[smh.com.au] November 22, 2004--"Going to church may be good for the soul, but some Dutch researchers say it may not be so healthy for the lungs...."

Registration required.

Moderate Muslims hide when they see the cross Bush has to bear


[smh.com.au] November 22, 2004--"Relations between the West and the Islamic world are moving closer to collapse, writes Amin Saikal...."

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Blessings for same sex relationships increasing in C of E


[Ekklesia] November 22, 2004--"The Church of England is "yielding to increasing pressure" to conduct blessings for gay partnerships as the Civil Partnerships Act recognising same-sex unions comes into force next year, reports the Times newspaper...."

Human Sacrifice Redux


[Christianity Today] November 22, 2004--"Responding to persistent reports of human sacrifice last August, police raided several shrines of African traditional religionists in Okija, Anambra state, in largely Christian southern Nigeria. The reports had understated the problem. To their horror, authorities recovered more than 80 skulls and 50 fresh corpses. In these shrines, the police recovered three registers. They list 1,258 visitors who had allegedly come to offer human sacrifices in the past five years...."

Morris Cerullo: I'm Amazed About How God is Using Nigerians


[allAfrica.com] November 21, 2004--"...So those people are opening their ranks to homosexuality; endorsing priests who have homosexual experiences and are coming out and saying; 'I am homosexual,' and so they are ordaining them. That is true, but you have to be able to discern the difference. You won't find them among the evangelicals, you won't find that among those that really believe that the Bible is the Word of God...."

The little church that left


[kitsapsun.com] November 21, 2004--A Poulsbo parish in the Diocese of Olympia quietly cuts ties with the Episcopal Church USA.

Church shift protested


[Press-Telegram] November 21, 2004--Pro-gay protestors march on All Saints Anglican Church in response to the parish's decision to reaffiliate with the orthodox Anglican Church of Uganda and make unsubstantiated charges of homophobia, prejudice, and the expulsion of gays from the parish.

Episcopalians table official position on gay bishop


[The Post Standard] November 21, 2004--"During the 136th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, delegates voted overwhelmingly to refer to a diocesan committee a resolution that called on Bishop Gladstone 'Skip' Adams to lead the diocese in 'expressing regret' for supporting the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson...."

Activist Judges in Jesus' Nazareth Orders Spousal Rights for Homosexual Couples


[LifeSiteNews.com] November 15, 2004--"The Nazareth District Court ruled 2-1 yesterday that Israel is required to recognize inheritance rights between homosexual couples. The court ruled that since the inheritance law makes an allowance for non-married common-law couples to have inheritance rights, homosexual couples must also be allowed those rights...."

Anglican leaders opt to allow 'flying bishops'


[CBC News] November 22, 2004--"Anglican bishops have voted to let 'Episcopal visitors' – often traditionalists who reject same-sex blessings – intervene in dioceses that are divided over the controversial issue...."

Lutheran, Episcopal churches merge


[news-press.com] November 22, 2004--Merger with larger Lutheran congregations may be the future of many struggling Episcopal congregations.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"Whose side are you on?!"

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

On NPR's Friday evening All Things Considered Daniel Zwerdling gave a report on the negotion of a peace deal between the central government of Sudan and the Sudanese Liberation Army. At one point in the report Zwerdling referred to the Sudanese Liberation Army as "Christian". He paused as if to emphasize what he was going to say and then said "Christian" in a very incredulous tone of voice. The report itself was so worded that it it seemed to suggest that the central Sudanese government is the wronged party in this struggle. The report even suggested that the Sudanese Liberation Army in requiring a strict accounting of the revenues that the central government had obtained from the oil wells in southern Sudan was quibbling over some insignificant detail. The report failed to mention that the Arab Muslim central government used these revenues to finance its genocidal campaign against the predominately black south of Sudan, the population of which is largely Christian or animist. On NPR I have never heard any sympathy expressed for the black Sudanese killed, raped, tortured, sold into slavery, and driven into exile by the radical Islamic central government and the Muslim Arab tribes that it armed to conduct its genocidal campaign in the black south--except for the black population of Dufour, which is Muslim.

In the wake of the recent presidential election and the adoption of eleven state constitutional marriage amendments I expect the tone of the NPR's news reports to become more stridently anti-Christian because of the obvious sympathy of the NPR editors and news staff for the "gay rights" movement and "gay marriage". Conservative Christians have been leading the backlash against "gay marriage" and a number of NPR's reporters have barely concealed their animosity toward conservative Christians over this issue. Their hostility can be explained in part by by the liberal views of the NPR editors. A number of NPR's news staff are themselves gay. The days of impartial journalism are long past.

Like many liberal intellectuals on university campuses, the liberal media shows a tendency to be pro-Palestinian, pro-Iraqi, and pro-Muslim. This arises from the tendency on the part of liberals to support those they view as the underdog. Once they pick an underdog to champion, they selectively ignore or minimize the dark side of the group or movement that they are championing. At the same time they exaggerate the actions of those they view as oppressing this underdog. They display a great deal of naivety in their choice of those whom they choose to champion. The Iraqi insurgents are made up of elements of the Sadaam Hussain's intelligence service, Republican Guard, and Baathist Party. They are seeking to restore the oppressive Baathist regime in Iraq. This regime showed no sympathy for liberalism or liberal causes. The Islamic jihadists fighting in Iraq, like the Afghan Taliban, are not know for their tolerance of liberal views or homosexuality. If the jihadists succeed in establishing a radical Islamic state in Iraq, that state is not likely to tolerate liberalism or gays. This is an underdog that can be expected to turn around and bite them. In their opposition to the US pacification of Iraq US and European liberals, if successful, may help bring about the establishment of such a state.

Liberals react to the presence of US troops in Iraq, the collateral casualties from the fighting--those caused by the US forces and their allies and not by the Iraqi insurgents and the Islamic jihadists--the occasional failure of discipline among US troops--not uncommon in war, and the samll number of US casualties. They seem unable to think ahead to what would follow a US withdrawal if Iraq has not been pacified, a stable government has not been established, and economic reconstruction is not underway at the time of the withdrawal. We can debate until doomsday whether the US should have intervened militarily in Iraq. The fact remains that the US did and we must deal with the consequences of that intervention. We cannot simply "bug out". We live in a shrinking world and a policy of isolationism is no longer a realistic option. If the jihadists succeed in Iraq, they will grow bolder.

The jihadist movement in Islam is not going to disappear. Indeed we can expect Islam to become more radical and more militant in the 21st century. The 21st century is likely to see more armed conflicts which have a decided religious dimension, enough of a religious dimension where it may be possible to characterize the 21st century as "a century of religious wars". We have only to look at the religious wars of the past to know how bloody these conflicts can be.

Islamic militancy is already generating something of a backlash in Europre against Muslims. Liberals in their indiscriminate siding with Muslim groups may find themselves the object of that backlash. If such a backlash gains momentum both in North America and Europe, liberals may find themselves being asked, "Whose side are you on?!"

Whatever liberals may think of Christianity, the Christian religion in its teaching is much less oppressive than Islam or Hinduism. In many Muslim countries a woman cannot go outside unless she is wearing a burka and is accompanied by a male relative.In India widows were burned alive with the corpse of their husband until the 19th century. While the practice or custom of suttee has been outlawed, Indian widows are treated by their families as if they were dead. They are denied food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Their children, their relatives, and Indian society will have nothing to do with them. The Judeo-Christian Bible does not confine women to the home even though some readers of the Bible have misinterpreted it to do so. The Judeo-Christian Bible encourages children, relatives, and the community to take care of widows. Much of the freedoms that we take for granted have their roots in our Juedeo-Christian heritage. In rejecting that heritage for greater "diversity", liberals may be actually undermining those freedoms.

Gettin' high on - ur - "pot"


[PBS] November 19, 2004--"... shift in public opinion is one reason an increasing number of churches are giving their blessing to medical marijuana -- among them, the Episcopal Church...."

Does a 'God gene' propel the leap of faith?


[Lexington Herald-Leader] November 20, 2004--One of a number of articles on the Internet about the controversial claim of Dean Hamer to have discovered a "God gene". Hamer has also claimed to have discovered a "gay gene".

PA Diocese Votes to Ignore ECUSA's Non-Scriptural Acts


[Agape Press] November 19, 2004--"During its convention, the diocese also approved a new partnership with Uganda Christian University in Africa. The Bishop of Uganda and other African Anglican bishops have expressed sympathy and support for conservative Episcopalians who disagree with the direction of the American Episcopal Church...."

Religion and the vote


[The New Zealand Herald] November 20, 2004--"Anglican Bishop David Coles says New Zealand doesn't have enough religious conservative Christian groups 'to push us in the same direction as the United States'.

But he acknowledges the strength of the evangelical section of the Anglican Church - a strength also evident in other mainline churches...."

Why novel has struck a chord


[smh.com.au] November 21, 2004--"Disappointment with the church has fuelled a willingness to believe the theories about Christianity in the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, last week agreed with the premise that people were willing to believe theories in the book because they were so unhappy with the church...."

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An International Coalition for Anglican Orthodoxy

[Anglican Mainstream] November 19, 2004--We are delighted to announce that Anglican church leaders from across the world meeting recently in Oxford have agreed to set up a new global coalition to facilitate the work of existing networks working to promote the world-wide gospel ministry of the Anglican church. The new coalition, to be known as Anglican Mainstream International, will have close links with organisations and networks committed to promoting and defending the scriptural truths upon which the Anglican Church was founded. Only on the basis of those truths can our mission and service to a hurting and needy world flourish. Supporting organisations so far include Anglican Mainstream UK, the Anglican Communion in New Westminster, the Essentials Federation and Network in Canada, the Anglican Communion Institute and Anglican Mainstream South Africa. The network will also have Primatial advisers. AB Drexel Gomez of the West Indies is a Primatial adviser.

Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes and President of the Church of England Evangelical Council said “At this critical moment in the life of the Communion it is vital that those of orthodox faith and practice should work together and network on a Communion-wide basis. This is essential for the mission and evangelism to which we are called. I warmly and enthusiastically welcome this essential development.”

The work of the new coalition will be overseen by an international steering committee, consisting thus far of Dr Philip Giddings (UK), Mrs Diane Knippers (USA), Canon David Anderson (American Anglican Council USA), Revd David Short (Anglican Communion in New Westminster, Canada), Bishop Wallace Benn (UK), Professor Oliver O’Donovan (Oxford, UK), Professor Christopher Seitz (Anglican Communion Institute) Rev Charlie Masters (Essentials Federation and Network, Canada), and Canon Dave Doveton (Anglican Mainstream South Africa)

We are delighted also to announce that Canon Dr Christopher Sugden has been appointed as full-time Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream International. The board of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies has agreed to grant him leave of absence so that he can undertake this important role. Anglican Mainstream International is deeply grateful for the generosity of the OCMS board in agreeing to release him for this work. Canon Sugden is a Canon of St Luke’s Cathedral in Jos, Nigeria and Commissary for the Diocese of North East Caribbean and Aruba in the West Indies. Dr Sugden will be based at Eynsham in Oxfordshire in the UK. Contact details for him are below.

Dr Philip Giddings Convenor, Anglican Mainstream UK
Tel 0118 378 8207 (office), 0118 954 3892 (home)
E-mail p.j.giddings@ntlworld.com

Canon David Anderson
President American Anglican Council
1110 Vermont Avenue NW
Suite 1110
Washington DC 20005

Canon Dr Chris Sugden
Anglican Mainstream International
21 High Street
Oxfordshire OX29 4HE
Tel 01865 883388

Thanksgiving Message from American Anglican Council

“… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Thanksgiving was first conceived by Presidential fiat at a time of great national distress – a time when many were weary and needed renewed strength. This year, as American Anglicans, we have a great deal for which we can be thankful: a nation which still chooses to take on difficult and seemingly impossible tasks; our connection to the Anglican Communion that is deeply concerned for the preservation of Anglican Orthodoxy in the USA; to be part of a world which calls us to give our best in the work of the Kingdom of God.

When our hope is in the Lord, God stands in the gap between our energies and the high calling of His Holiness. When our hope, joy and thanksgiving are directed to Jesus Christ, then we can truly soar on eagles wings, running and walking in faith that never tires. Like many national holidays, the reason behindThanksgiving can be easily lost, but this does not have to be so. This year, as you gather with family and friends on ThanksgivingDay, I ask you to give thanks to God for both the blessings and challenges in all our lives. In so doing, we will feel the soar with the eagles and run with the saints.Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you.

The Rev. Canon Ellis E. Brust
Chief Executive Officer, AAC

Friday, November 19, 2004

China attempts to improve image while simultaneously suppressing Christians


[BP News] November 18, 2004--"When outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Chinese officials at the end of October, they assured him they were willing to re-open a dialogue on human rights abuses in their country and Powell left saying relations between the United States and China were the best they've been in more than 30 years. But recent reports of increased persecution of Christians may construct a different assessment of the communist nation...."

Vietnam's Church Thriving Despite Intensified Persecution


[Agape Press] November 17, 2004--"A representative of a ministry to the persecuted Church says Christianity is growing at a rapid rate in Vietnam, despite increased harassment from government officials....."

Muslim Company Accused of Illegally Evicting Christian School


[Agape Press] November 17, 2004--"A Christian school in Florida has filed a lawsuit alleging it was wrongfully evicted by a radical Islamic group...."

Liberty Counsel Files Brief in California Marriage Battle


[Agape Press] November 18, 2004--"Pro-family groups have filed a legal brief in the case of Thomasson v. Newsom in an effort to defend the constitutionality of California marriage laws...."

The Heart of Sports: Cowardly Condemnation


[Agape Press] November 19, 2004--"When a nude Nicollette Sheridan leapt into Terrell Owens' arms, the resulting fallout included shock, outrage and, above all--moral indifference...."

1 year later: Mass. marriage ruling sparked national backlash


[BP News] November 18, 2004--"One year ago this month, Massachusetts' high court handed down its historic ruling legalizing same-sex "marriage," sparking a nationwide backlash that is still being felt...But many homosexual activists are wondering if GLAD and other homosexual groups pushed too far, too fast. When the year began, only four states had constitutional amendments banning same-sex "marriage." Now, 17 states do. Amendments went 13-for-13 this year, passing with an average of 70.8 percent of the vote...."

Islamists shift focus to Europe as jihad enters third phase


[The Guardian] November 18, 2004--"...the age of jihadism is far from over...the battleground may be shifting to Europe..."

Seventh New Westminster parish may bless same sex unions


[The Diocese of New Westminster] November 17, 2004--The diocese of New Westminster ignores Windsor Report's call for a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions.

Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchins spins the Windsor Report


[The Anglican Church of Canada] November 16, 2004--The Anglican Church of Canada's new liberal primate in his second webcast gives his views of Anglican Church history, the nature of the Anglican Communion, the relationship of the Anglican Church of Canada with that body, and the report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. Having seen how successful orthodox Anglicans and Episcopalians have been in using the Internet to promote the cause of orthodox Christianity and Anglicanism, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison decided to try his hand at shaping opinion within the Anglican Church of Canada and the larger Anglican Communion. Readers should bear in mind that Archbishop Hutchinson's views do not necessarily represent those of Anglicans worldwide.

New Zealand Responds to Windsor Report


[The Christian Post] November 18, 2004--"Exactly one month after the Lambeth Commission released the Windsor Report on homosexuality and unity within the Anglican Communion, the bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia issued a pastoral letter and response. The letter, released by the Anglican Communion News Service on Nov. 18, acknowledged the significance of the report, and called on all its member congregations to reflect and study the report rather than be swept by the debate triggered on the Internet by the media...."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The next 'Massachusetts'? Washington high court to hear 'gay marriage' case in March


[BP News] November 17, 2004--If homosexual activists have their way, then sometime next year Washington state will become the second state in America to legalize same-sex "marriage."

No-confidence vote victory


[Church of England Newspaper] November 19, 2004--In a move that foreshadows political trouble for the Archbishop of Canterbury at the February meeting of the Primates in Ulster, Dr Rowan Williams narrowly survived a vote of no confidence at last month’s Africa Anglican Bishops Conference.

TV Vicar Steve Chalke is warned about his theology


[Church of England Newspaper] November 19, 2004--Leading evangelicals this week hit out at one of their number after perceiving an attack on a widely held doctrine regarding the crucifixion as claiming Calgary amounts to ‘cosmic child abuse’.

Pressure mounting for liberal successor at York


[Church of England Newspaper] November 19, 2004--The next Archbishop of York should welcome change in the church’s policy on homosexual priests and women bishops according to a round of consultation in the Diocese of the York conducted by the church and Downing Street civil servants responsible for senior appointments.

A Church in Conflict

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

What we see going on in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion is a struggle to define the nature of what is happening, to define one’s self and one’s part in what is happening and to define the other parties involved and their part. These dynamics we see in troubled marriages and troubled families. One spouse or family nature will seek to force his or her perceptions of difficulties of the marriage or family upon the other spouse or family members and to persuade those outside the marriage or family of the legitimacy or rightness of his or her perceptions. Tension develops in the marriage or family as the other spouse or family members resist this individual’s definition of the difficulties of the marriage or family and offer their own definition of the marital or family difficulties. As well as there being conflict over who defines the difficulties of the marriage or family, there will also conflict over the part each spouse or family member plays in these difficulties. There may be conflict over whether there are any difficulties at all.

In a troubled family one family member may ally himself with another against a third family. Each spouse or family member in a troubled marriage or family may seek the support of sympathetic outsiders in the struggle over who determines what is happening in the marriage or family, who is to blame, who is the "victim," and who is an "innocent party." This dynamic is evident in the Episcopal Church. The revisionists seek the support of like-minded individuals and groups outside the Episcopal Church in the liberal community in the United States and other countries. The evangelicals and conservative Catholics seek the support of like-minded individuals and groups in the evangelical and conservative Catholic communities. Both sides appeal to the larger Anglican Communion and both have supporters in that body.

Let us take a look at the two sides in this struggle. This will give us a better idea of what is at stake.

[1] The theology of the evangelicals and the conservative Catholics in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is determined largely by the Bible and Christian tradition. The theology of the "revisionists" is determined by humanistic values. What is happening in the Episcopal Church happened in the Unitarian-Universalist Society in the United States in the early second half of the 20th century. Humanism came to dominate Unitarian-Universalist thinking.

[2] Evangelicals and conservative Catholics, while they may disagree on how certain passages of the Scripture should be interpreted and how authoritative Christian tradition is, view the Bible as having a divine author. To them the holy Scriptures are divinely-revealed truth. The revisionists view the Bible as the work of human writers. Evangelicals and conservative Catholics recognize the holy Scriptures as having their own intrinsic authority. The revisionists only view the Bible as authoritative in so far as humans give authority to certain passages of the Bible. They therefore feel free to accept some passages of Scripture, to read their own meanings in others, and to disregard the rest.

[3] Evangelicals and conservative Catholics in the Episcopal Church define the denomination’s difficulties to include apostasy and heresy on the part of the revisionists. They point out that the revisionists have departed significantly from the Bible and Christian tradition in their teaching and have embraced beliefs and ideas that the Christian Church has historically viewed as dangerously heterodox if not out-rightly heretical. Revisionists, on the other hand, see what they regard as a need to make the Episcopal Church more "inclusive" of those whom they view as "marginalized" peoples and with this need what they see as a need for "fresh" views of the Scripture that are "friendlier" to these "marginalized" peoples. To this end they have come up with their own "alternative interpretations" of various passages of Scripture, interpretations that often ignore the plain natural meaning of the text, torture the text to make it fit their own particular brand of theology, and so forth.

Part of the impetus of the revisionist movement is an effort to redefine the Christian faith and the Anglican way to not just incorporate revisionist views but to make their views the prevailing views. Hence one hears revisionists like Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asserting that their views represent authentic Christianity and Anglicanism. They talk about "reclaiming" the Bible and the mainstream of Anglican thought. They, of course, do not admit that the Bible and the mainstream of Anglican thought were never theirs in the first place. Those they dismiss as "extremists" represent authentic Christianity and Anglicanism.

[4] Evangelicals and conservative Catholics in the Episcopal Church see Anglican comprehensiveness as extending to non-essentials, to matters which have no bearing upon human salvation. Revisionists argue that classical Anglicanism has always embraced a broad latitude in doctrine and theology. They also define as non-essentials matters which evangelicals and conservative Catholics believe have bearing upon our salvation. They seek to redefine the boundaries of Anglican comprehensiveness and to include inside these redefined boundaries doctrines that are contrary to the Bible and Christian tradition.

[5] Evangelicals and conservative Catholics believe that practicing non-Christian spiritualities is incompatible with being a Christian. They point to those passages of Scripture that warn against worshiping other gods, encouraging and leading others in the worship of such gods, sharing the table of the Lord and the table of demons, and practicing various forms of occultism such as divination and witchcraft. The revisionists, however, see no incompatibility. To their way of thinking all religions lead to God. A number of revisionist bishops are leading advocates of syncretism—the combination of different forms of belief or practice.

[6] The evangelicals and the conservative Catholics in the Episcopal Church, while valuing Church unity, do not believe that this unity should be maintained at the expense of doctrinal truth. The revisionists have adopted the dubious position that "schism is greater than heresy." However, their view of schism is not Biblical. They frequently make reference to Jesus’ prayer that all believers should be one. They disregard the fact that those of whom Jesus is speaking in that prayer are those who believe in him through the message of the apostles. The revisionists reject the message of the apostles as not truly their message and substitute for that message a message of their own devising—the gospel of inclusivity. The revisionists label as "schismatic" the evangelicals and conservative Catholics in the larger Anglican Communion who, taking their guidance from Scripture, call for the shunning of the Episcopal Church due to its apostasy and its heretical teaching. These same evangelicals and conservative Catholics point out that the revisionists have already caused deep divisions in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with their apostasy and heretical teaching and are widening these divisions with their intransigence. The revisionist with their doctrinal, theological and moral innovations are the actual schismatics. They are the ones who have chosen to walk separately from the larger Anglican Communion in fact if not by a formal vote of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The evangelicals and the conservative Catholics also point out that the votes of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in support of the confirmation of the election of a practicing homosexual as the bishop of New Hampshire and the practice of blessing and celebrating homosexual partnerships was tantamount to vote in support of separation from the Anglican Communion. Those Anglican provinces that declared a state of impaired or broken fellowship with the Episcopal Church did so in recognition of what already existed.

[7] Evangelicals and conservative Catholics seek to maintain a distinction between Christian moral values and those of what the New Testament refers to as the "world"—the changing norms of wider society. Sociologists refer to this characteristic of movements or groups as "low-grid." The revisionists, on the other hand, seek to accommodate and even adopt these norms. This characteristic sociologists refer to as "high-grid."

Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have a strong corporate identity, make a clear distinction between ingroup and outgroup; maintain clear sets of boundaries separating the two; and have a clear set of normative symbols defining, expressing, and replicating group identity. Sociologists describe movements with these characteristics as experiencing "strong group." Revisionists have a rather nebulous group identity—very individualistic; make fuzzy distinctions between ingroup and outgroup—except in regards to evangelicals and conservative Catholics, both of which are regarded as members of definite outgroups; have highly porous sets of boundaries between interfacing groups and few or too many non-normative symbols defining, expressing, and replicating group identity. The revisionist movement can be described as experiencing "weak group." Their perceptions of Anglican Christianity reflect their particular characteristics as a religious movement. Evangelicals and conservative Catholics view the episcopal Church of England and the churches of similar faith and order in communion with it as historically embodying a "strong group" experience. The revisionists view Anglicanism as having been characterized by a "weak group" experience like their own movement.

Sociologists point out that successful movements demonstrate a high degree of "group strength" than less successful ones. Movements that do not maintain rigorous group boundaries tend not to be successful. Islam, despite its internal divisions, is an example of a movement with a high degree of "group strength." For this reason and other reasons Islam must be viewed as Christianity’s chief competitor in the 21st century. Most of the "group strength" of the revisionist movement in the Episcopal Church is focused upon the cause of homosexual inclusion. The movement maintains fairly open boundaries. The revisionists believe that their movement will prevail due to increasing secularization of the world. But is questionable whether it has enough "group strength" to compete with a resurgent Islam. Indeed, it may be contributing to the success of Islam.

This process of defining and redefining is going on at all levels in the Episcopal Church—at the national church level, at the diocesan level, and at the local level. We see it in the pronouncements of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. We see it in Bishop of Pennsylvania Charles Benisson’s dismissal of the Melnyks’ pagan involvement as harmless and his readiness to blame evangelicals and conservative Catholics for the controversy surrounding this involvement. We see it in the comments of various revisionist clergy published in new reports and articles. From a family system perspective the Episcopal Church is unhealthy and dysfunctional. It is an extremely troubled church. Those who see nothing amiss are like the spouse or family member who is in denial about their troubled marriage or family.

The Windsor Report itself reflects the struggle over who defines what is happening in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. This is why to many evangelicals and conservative Catholics the report does not go far enough in identifying the problems that need to be addressed or how to address them. Both the teaching of the Bible and Christian tradition call for disciplinary action against those who diverge too greatly in their teaching from the Bible and Christian tradition. This disciplinary action is not intended to punish them but to restore them to Christian orthodoxy. Without disciplinary action the Episcopal Church will continue down its present path. Except by divine intervention there is little likelihood of reform within. The revisionists are squarely in control of the Episcopal Church. They control most of the dioceses. They control most of the local churches. They control all but two of the seminaries. Turning back the tide of revisionism in the Episcopal Church is a greater task than the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network can imagine

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Anglican Bishop N.T Wright on Radio National: Full Transcript


[The Religion Report] November 18, 2004--"The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, is one of the leading intellectuals in the Anglican Church today, a New Testament scholar who describes himself as 'a good Calvinist'. He speaks about what St Paul understood about homosexuality, and what he meant by 'Justification' and Christ being 'the end of the Torah'."

Push to bar hate sermons in Arabic


[The Australian] November 18, 2004--"Islamic preachers in Germany have been told they may be ordered to deliver their sermons in German instead of Arabic, in an effort to halt racist diatribes...."

Film about Alfred Kinsey neither "fair" nor "balanced"


[Christianity Today] November 15, 2004--"Movie about sex researcher gets religious organizations riled up...."

Bishops agree on 'shared' ministry


[Anglican Journal] November 17, 2004--"Two bishops voted against the document, for different reasons. Larry Robertson, suffragan (assistant) bishop of the Arctic, told Anglican Journal he believes the document 'assumes and promotes' the blessing of same-sex unions and 'I can't accept it.' Keewatin's David Ashdown said he is still uncomfortable with the concept of crossing diocesan lines...."

A sorry state of affairs


[Anglican Journal] November 17, 2004--Anglican Journal editor Leanne Larmondin tells the global South bishops to back off! Let the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church USA "deal with the episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities in their way." One shudders at the thought!

Brum bishop in frame for top job


[Birmingham Post] November 17, 2004--"The Bishop for Birmingham, the Rt Rev Dr John Sentamu, is among the people whose names have been mentioned as a possibility to become the next Archbishop of York...."

Muslim reformists threaten the faith


[Sydney Morning Herald] November 17, 2004--"Islam can adapt to the modern world without heeding calls for fundamental change, writes Amir Butler."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

An Open Letter to the Bishops of the CPSA


[Anglican Mainstream Southern Africa] November 2004--"Anglican Mainstream Southern Africa (AMSA) has to date held three meetings. Delegates (including Bishops, clergy and laity) from seven Dioceses in the CPSA have attended these meetings. We believe that there are significant numbers of Anglicans in all the Dioceses who share our views...."

Contemporary culture evidences ‘Darkness at Noon,’ Mohler says


[Baptist Press News] November 15, 2004-- "Christians must prepare to withstand a pervasive darkness that is producing a post-Christian culture in America, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during a Heritage Week address at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary...."

What you won’t see in the ‘Kinsey’ movie


[Baptist Press News] November 15, 2004-- "Brace yourselves. The movie, “Kinsey,” opened in theaters Nov. 12, introducing a new generation of Americans to the infamous "father" of sex research in America. Yet the movie is really not a true portrait of Alfred Kinsey at all. Instead of portraying the twisted and tormented mind of this propagandist for the sexual revolution, the movie presents Kinsey as an angel of light who brought America out of repression and darkness...."

US election has polarised our nation, says Presiding Bishop


[Church Times] November 12, 2004-- "The part played by the religious Right in re-electing President Bush continued to be analysed in the wake of the exit poll in which 22 per cent of voters put 'moral values' as the issue that had affected most the way they had voted."

How shall 'gay' activists now live?


[WorldNetDaily] November 15, 2004-- "In the stillness of the night, what does a homosexual activist believe in now? "

Tuesday Edition: Holy Communion and the Flu


[Poynter Online] November 16, 2004-- "Last Sunday I was poking fun at my wife (who is a United Methodist minister as well as a shrink). There on the altar next to the Communion elements was a bottle of that hand-washing gel. It seems, she said, that it gives the congregation some comfort, especially during flu season, for them to see her wash her hands before serving Communion...."

European Muslims and the Quest for the Soul of Islam


[FrontPage magazine.com] November 16, 2004-- "It should be noted that the creators of modern Jihadism - people like Sayyid Qutb, Ali Shariati or Mawdudi — were very much influenced by Marxism-Leninism. Like the communists, who believe in a global conspiracy of capitalist imperialists aided by native compradors, Jihadists think that the Islamic world's poverty and weakness are the result of a great conspiracy of the West and their local agents. According to this line of thinking, to redeem the Islamic world one needs to strike at "the oppressors" rather than work to raise education levels, productivity or health standards in Muslim societies."

Monday, November 15, 2004

James Morrow: Criticism no reason for murder


[The Australian] November 15, 2004--"Meanwhile, Islam, which is as much a political system as a religious one and is predicated on the idea that the state must always be subservient to religious law, is given victim status and rendered immune to criticism..."

Pell comments portrayed as anti-Muslim slur


[Cath News] November 14, 2004. A prominent muslim leader responded to reported comments of Cardinal George Pell by asserting that Islam should not be compared with godless communism...

Pell says Islam could be the new communism


[CathNews] November 11, 2004--"The small but growing conversion of native Westerners within Western societies to Islam carries the suggestion that Islam may provide in the 21st century the attraction which communism provided in the 20th, both for those who are alienated or embittered on the one hand, and for those who seek order or justice on the other."

Christian beheadings may be inspired by Middle East killings


[Sydney Morning Herald] November 13, 2004--More Muslim atrocities in Indonesia.

ECUSA Head: Preliminary Response to Windsor Report Incomplete


[The Christian Post] November 11, 2004-- The head bishop of the ECUSA, who initially suggested the church would not change its position on homosexuality, said further reflection and response is needed....

New York's Episcopalians move beyond gay ordination


[The Journal News] November 13, 2004-- Bishop of New York Mark Sisk says that the bishops of the Episcopal Church are "trying to figure out" what the Windsor Report asks of them. He says that the Episcopal Church is preparing a report to explain its rationale for consecrating an actively homosexual bishop.

Question persists after key report: Can 77 million Anglicans avoid an eventual crackup?


[North County Times] November 15, 2004-- Is the Anglican Communion headed toward an eventual crackup? The situation doesn't look particularly hopeful, based on reaction to the work of an emergency commission whose goal is preserving the worldwide body of 77 million Christians....

Prelate from Chicago must deal with a divided church


[The Union Tribune] November 15, 2004-- The Rev. James Mathes, the favorite of liberals in the diocese, was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego in a hotly-contested election. He will replace retiring Bishop Gethin Hughes who voted against the Robinson consecration.

Pope says Anglican decisions over homosexuality are barrier to unity


[Ekklesia] November 15, 2004-- The Pope said at the weekend that Christians should be committed to seeking unity of their divided Churches but, in a reference to the row over homosexuality in the Anglican communion, said new ethical obstacles had surfaced....

Suspended priest in Batavia sues Episcopal Diocese


[The Buffalo News] November 15, 2004-- A Batavia priest suspended from ministry is suing the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, contending that the diocese retaliated after he accused another priest of sexual harassment...

Bishop withholds his consent after Niagara approves same-sex blessings


[Anglican Journal] Toronto, November 15, 2004--The diocese of Niagara in mid-November became the second Canadian diocese to approve the concept of blessing ceremonies for gay couples, but Bishop Ralph Spence declined to endorse such action, saying that the diocese needed to discuss it further....