God has spoken to the liberals

Anglican Samizdat

John Clarke, the archdeacon of Prince Edward Island region believes that because the vote to approve same-sex marriage passed at general synod, its passing must be God’s will and the Holy Spirit must have guided the members of the synod to vote as they did.

That means God has been misleading every church synod for the last couple of millennia; he is still misleading the Roman Catholic church, the rascal.

I suppose it’s possible that, having thought one way for thousands of years, God has changed his mind and now thinks the opposite, convinced, perhaps, by the pious, saintly behaviour of those participating in gay Pride marches. Or maybe he just wants to be more relevant.

From here:

There are those who would argue that the church is not a democracy, but the Body of Christ in the world, with Jesus Christ as head. True; however, neither is our church a dictatorship. We have put into place reasonable and fair rules to help us collectively discern the will of God in the life of our church. There is no one person ruling the church. It is our collective responsibility to use Scripture, tradition and reason to help discern the will of God in our lives today. We have no option but to take seriously the idea that God’s Holy Spirit might be calling the church to a new thing—a new thing that is reflected in the overwhelming majority of prayerful, careful members who voted yes on the resolution to change the marriage canon.

Since God has clearly spoken, those who oppose homosexual marriage should grit their teeth, shut up and stop disrupting the unity of the church:

It is inappropriate, at this point, for people to oppose the action of General Synod regarding same-sex marriages. The responsibility now lies with those who voted “no” to honestly consider if, in fact, the Holy Spirit is leading our church in a new direction.

The odd thing about all this is that liberals have spent decades sneering at orthodox Christians – fundamentalists or fundies as they are fondly known amongst the dog collar elite – for claiming to hear from God. Now, all of a sudden, it is liberals who have a direct line to God – well, to some sort of god.

Human Identity in Crisis  

By Dr. Peter Jones

A few weeks ago Rush Limbaugh announced that the fastest growing crime in the West is identity theft. It is true that we hear a lot about illegal hacking in the news cycle, as individuals, businesses and even nations have their deepest secrets exposed. But the real crime is the theft of the source of human dignity, namely, the Creator. The removal of God from cultural consciousness, eliminates the true source of human identity. According to a recent study, 91% of adults agree that “the best way to find yourself is by looking within yourself” and 86% say that “to be fulfilled in life, you should pursue the things you desire the most.””[1]  The radicals smell imminent victory. Progressive professor Mark Tushnet, of Harvard Law School declares: “The culture wars are over; they lost, we won….taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers.”[2] There will be no accommodations or exceptions.

In once “Christian” Scotland an evangelical youth group from Texas offered a free concert in a shopping center. National newspapers compared this to Nazi or ISIS indoctrination.[3] In these conditions, we are losing the Christian identity of our Western culture but we are also losing our individual identity.
In these new conditions, liberated from God, people believe they can create their own identity–males who think they are female and females who believe they are males, or a 58-year old husband and father who now is sure he is a six-year-old girl. True human identity now depends on how we individually define ourselves sexually.[4] And just recently Hugh Hefner, creator of Playboy, confirms this, declaring the victory of the sexual revolution that he helped begin in the 1960s.[5]
At truthxchange we have often focused on the rise of homosexuality and the presumed right of same-sex attracted people, some within the church, to self-identify as “gay” and to practice homosexual sex legally, thereby denying the image of God as male and female. (See our conference, October 7-9, 2016). However, this is not the only problem. One of the major causes of identity loss is the massive fixation on pornography-even in the Church!
The statistics for Christian men between 18 and 30 years old are particularly striking: 77 percent look at pornography at least monthly; 36 percent view pornography on a daily basis; 32 percent admit being addicted to pornography (and another 12 percent think they may be).[6] In 2016, the Barna Research Group discovered that nearly 40% of “practicing Christians who actively seek out porn” feel comfortable with how much porn they use. Only “1/3 of practicing Christian porn users” say they “feel a sense of guilt when they use porn.” In the culture at large the results on teenage sexting are equally disconcerting for the rising generation. “Teens and young adults [are] coming of age in a culture…that encourages and rewards the pornographic impulse.” The rising new identity is pornographic.
A sensitive article evaluating the Barna report makes some valid points:
1. Pornography isn’t going away anytime soon;
2. Our moral trajectory is convoluted. “Teens and young adults surveyed said it was worse to not recycle (56%) than to look at pornography (32%)”;

3. Porn destroys sex and marriage. “[P]eople’s perspective on the purpose of sex is moving away from “an expression of intimacy between two people who love each other” and toward “self-expression and personal fulfillment…”;
4. Deception is deadly. Barna found that “if you use porn often, you’re more likely to feel okay about it.”

If porn destroys marriages, what will happen to the general moral tenor of our society? The young people of today will become the public officials of tomorrow, brainwashed into serving their desires and fantasies and unable to make sound judgments.
The Bride of Christ must be above reproach. She must offer wise and serious marital counseling for those caught up in this perversion, and intentionally teach her children from their earliest age to avoid this satanic trap.
Things have changed. The “Four Spiritual Laws” or “Evangelism Explosion” no longer work for many. People are losing their identity. They long for human rights and personal dignity, but these things only come from God the Creator, whom they reject. The Gospel is still the answer, which they unknowingly long to hear. The God who created us in His image restores our fallen identity by the death of His Son, who stood in our place to bear our sin and has become, by grace, our new identity.

[1] The Barna Research Group’s 2016 survey, The Porn Phenomenon.
[2] Laurie Higgins, “Harvard Law Professor to Conservatives: You’re Losers, Live With It,” BarbWire, (June 30, 2016).
[3] http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/christian-youth-choir-likened-to-nazis-isis/#!
[4] See a very useful article on this report by Gareth Kell: http://theaquilareport.com/12-observations-after-reading-the-porn-phenomenon/.
[5] http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2016/07/10/hugh-hefner-declares-victory-sexual-war-republicans/.
[6] A 2014 survey, Proven Men Ministries. http://www.charismanews.com/us/45671-shocker-study-shows-most-christian-men-are-into-porn

Oh Canada! and Oh Scotland!

The campaign by a highly competent and organised global lobby group to change the teaching and practice of Anglican Churches about marriage continues apace.

Evangelicals Now  September 2016 Chris Sugden
Figure Image

Parliament of Canada, Peace Tower | photo: iStock

In July the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) voted to allow its clergy to solemnise same sex marriage. The vote secured a two-thirds majority among the bishops and laity, but initially failed to secure a two-thirds majority among the clergy by one vote. After a recount, the General Secretary was found to have been counted as non-voting. He had been registered as nonvoting throughout the Synod, but was now found to have a vote. The required majority was thus secured.

Bishops’ letter

Six diocesan bishops of the ACoC (out of 32) and one suffragan have written to the Anglican Communion as follows:

‘The entire process, beginning with the hasty vote in 2013 and concluding with the vote and miscount this past week, has been flawed and has inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved. We absolutely condemn homophobic prejudice and violence wherever it occurs, offer pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation, and reject criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

‘Though the change to the Marriage Canon would require a second vote in 2019 in order to come into effect, some bishops have vowed to proceed with same sex marriages immediately, contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.

‘In passing resolution A051 R2 the General Synod has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God’s Word written and imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world. We believe that our General Synod has erred grievously and we publicly dissent from this decision. Resolution A051 R2 represents a change to the sacrament of marriage inconsistent with the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition of the Church Catholic and the Book of Common Prayer. This would be a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican Communion on the doctrine of marriage. Sadly, this complicates relationships within the Anglican Church of Canada and as a Province with the Anglican Communion.

‘We unambiguously reaffirm our commitment to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, his body, the Church Catholic, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Communion, the scriptural, traditional and catholic definition of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman as set out in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services, and the pastoral care of all within our jurisdictions and the communion.

‘The Resolution as carried does not provide adequate protection for the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations. We are concerned for all those of a traditional conscience on marriage within the Anglican Church of Canada. We call on our Primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek ways to guarantee our place within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion.”

Secular Western values imposed

The statement is a model of its kind. David Virtue points out the internal contradiction the vote represents for the Anglican Church of Canada. It has long advocated the rights of Canada’s First Nation people. David Virtue writes: ‘Native Americans oppose same sex marriage as a Western behaviour not approved by them, their understanding of the faith or their culture.’ Some bishops who signed this dissenting statement have many such people in their dioceses in the North of Canada who regard this as an imposition of secular Western culture on their land and churches. No conscience clause has been allowed.

Vinay Samuel points out that this contradiction is embraced under the ideology of social progressivism by which same sex marriage is the inevitable direction in which history and culture is moving and those who resist, however poor, marginalised and vulnerable, are bigots whose views must be steamrollered by the march of progressivism.

Oh Scotland!

In June the Scottish Episcopal Church voted that a change to its Canon Law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the Church’s seven dioceses ahead of a vote at the 2017 synod.

Some of the largest churches in the Episcopal Church of Scotland are evangelical. But ‘evangelical’ now no longer necessarily entails being biblically orthodox on marriage, or regarding biblical teaching on marriage as fundamental Christian teaching. Before the Shared Conversations at the York Synod of the Church of England in July, in Journeys in Grace and Truth – Revisiting Scripture and Sexuality edited by Jayne Ozanne, Bishop Colin Fletcher (Area Bishop of Dorchester in the Diocese of Oxford) and Bishop Bayes of Liverpool, both ‘evangelicals’, explain why they have moved towards an ‘affirming view’ of same sex relationships.

GAFCON UK wrote to the Scottish Anglican Network in the light of the vote: ‘the GAFCON UK Panel of Bishops offers to provide alternative episcopal oversight, and thereby your recognition as faithful Anglicans by the worldwide GAFCON movement, which represents the majority of Anglicans worldwide.’

Bishop Tom Wright points out in Good Disagreement, Grace and Truth in a Divided Church, edited by Atherstone and Goddard, that biblical teaching and practice on marriage was one requirement of the Jerusalem Council when the Gentiles were welcomed into the church. The Revd Dr Rollin Grams, a New Testament scholar and priest of the Church of Uganda working in the United States and South Africa, has collaborated with Donald Fortson to publish Unchanging Witness, The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition. They liken many arguments brought forward by the advocates of gay marriage to substitutes brought on to the field of play when earlier players get worn out.

And they do get worn out against the unchanging witness, both of the Bible and the Christian community throughout history, that views which bless behaviour which God calls sinful, are in fact claiming to be superior to the teaching of Jesus.

https://www.e-n.org.uk/2016/09/world-news/oh-canada-and-oh-scotland/

In memoirs, ex Pope Benedict says Vatican ‘gay lobby’ tried to wield power: report

By Philip Pullella | VATICAN CITY

Former Pope Benedict says in his memoirs that no-one pressured him to resign but alleges that a “gay lobby” in the Vatican had tried to influence decisions, a leading Italian newspaper reported on Friday.

The book, called “The Last Conversations”, is the first time in history that a former pope judges his own pontificate after it is over. It is due to be published on Sept. 9.

Citing health reasons, Benedict  became the first pope in six centuries to resign. He promised to remain “hidden to the world” and has been living in a former convent in the Vatican gardens.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, which has acquired the Italian newspaper rights for excerpts and has access to the book, ran a long article on Friday summarizing its key points.

In the book, Benedict says that he came to know of the presence of a “gay lobby” made up of four or five people who were seeking to influence Vatican decisions. The article says Benedict says he managed to “break up this power group”.

Benedict resigned following a turbulent papacy that included the so-call “Vatileaks” case, in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters and other documents that alleged corruption and a power struggle in the Vatican.

Italian media at the time reported that a faction of prelates who wanted to discredit Benedict and pressure him to resign was behind the leaks.

POPE’S DIARY

The Church has maintained its centuries-long opposition to homosexual acts.

But rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican and Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support each other’s careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy.

Benedict, who now has the title “emeritus pope,” has always maintained that he made his choice to leave freely and Corriere says that in the book Benedict “again denies blackmail or pressure”.

He says he told only a few people close to him of his intention to resign, fearing it would be leaked before he made the surprise announcement on Feb. 11, 2013.

The former pope, in the book-long interview with German writer Peter Seewald, says he had to overcome his own doubts on the effect his choice could have on the future of the papacy.

He says that he was “incredulous” when cardinals meeting in a secret conclave chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul II in 2005 and that he was “surprised” when the cardinals chose Francis as his successor in 2013.

Anger over the dysfunctional state of the Vatican bureaucracy in 2013 was one factor in the cardinal electors’ decision to choose a non-European pope for the first time in nearly 1,300 years.

Benedict “admits his lack of resoluteness in governing,” Corriere says.

In the book, whose lead publisher is Germany’s Droemer Knaur, Benedict says he kept a diary throughout his papacy but will destroy it, even though he realizes that for historians it would be a “golden opportunity”.

(Corrects date of resignation in paragraph 3.)

(Editing by Andrew Heavens)

LGBTI proposal for Anglicans ‘rattling the hinges’ – Mpho Tutu

Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu and Professor Marceline van Furth. (Supplied)
Cape Town – A proposal that would see a far warmer welcome for the LGBTI community and those in same-sex unions will go before decision-makers in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa next month.

The motion, tabled by the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, proposed the provision of pastoral care for those who identified themselves as part of this community.

“More controversially, the motion also proposes that clergy who identify as LGBTI and are in legal same-sex civil unions should be licensed to minister in our parishes,” said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.

“It also suggests that ‘prayers of blessing’ should be able to be offered for those in same-sex civil unions. However, it specifically rules out the possibility of marriage under church law.”

 It accepted that clerics unwilling to provide such pastoral care were not obliged to do so.

Reverend and theologian Mpho Tutu van Furth elicited condemnation from some Christians when she married her long-term partner Marceline van Furth late last year.

As a result, the daughter of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu can no longer preach in South Africa’s Anglican Churches and does not conduct table ministry.

She was asked on Thursday what she thought of the proposal going before the provincial synod next month.

“When I married my wife prejudice slammed a door of opportunity in my face. With this proposal we are ‘rattling the hinges’,” she replied succinctly in an email.

In July, she told News24 that she thought the Anglican Church had come “too far” to turn back on the issue of homosexuality.

“There’s a point at which we can’t turn around. That closet door has slammed so we can’t go back into that closet.”

Christianity 911

By Ladson F. Mills III
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org
Walker Percy in his novel The Second Coming describes present-day Christians as nominal, lukewarm and hypocritical or if fervent, generally offensive or fanatical; but not crazy. He sees the present day-unbeliever as being all of these things and crazy as well. Percy may have identified the root cause of our cultural insanity. A society left to its own devices without a sane moral compass is destined to implode. The world today is in desperate need of the Christian Gospel.

The two candidates for President of the United States are just the latest reflection of the mounting insanity. One is reckless with national security and has told so many lies that she can no longer keep them straight. The alternative’s reckless, bombastic, rhetoric scares even his supporters and has produced more unforced errors than the 1962 New York Mets Baseball Team. (Sorry Mets fans) As the cartoon Shoe recently pointed out the choice is not between the lesser of the two evils but the evil of the two lessers.

Perhaps the most despicable example was the manner in which both political conventions paraded families who have lost children defending the country in order to attack the other candidate. Then both cried foul at the push back.

As a father who has watched his son go to war three times I cannot fathom the pain if he had not come home. But I know exploitation when I see it. I also learned a long time ago that whenever a public stance is taken there will be others who think differently and will quickly make their displeasure known. In the vernacular don’t give what you are unwilling to take.

Some years ago in my role as a Navy Chaplain I stood over the grave of Marine Corporal Rusty Washam who had been killed in Iraq three days after his 21st birthday. He left behind a wife, two children and devastated parents.

Scott County, Tennessee, home of Brushy Mountain State Prison, which gained fame for housing the convicted killer of Martin Luther King, Jr., is rough country. But not on the day I was there. The entire county had turned out to honor Rusty Washam. There were firetrucks with giant American Flags and flashing signs that said We love you, Rusty. I suspect county officials felt no need seek permission to close schools or public offices. They closed and came.

His two bother’s, one a soldier wounded the previous year and another an Air Force Sergeant were there. Every local official was present to pay respects including the Marine Corps Staff Sergeant who had recruited Rusty. It may have been the largest funeral I ever attended.

But I can tell you who was not present that day. There were no Senators, Congressman, or candidates for national political office. But this is an election year and grieving families make powerful photo opportunities.

We live in an age of the continual election cycle. Depending upon which politician is speaking we are only one election away from total destruction or utopia. And of course our personal check will make the difference. If an army travels on its stomach the American politician travels on our wallets.

University of Delaware sociologist H. T. Reynolds observed the important issues that face Congress never come to any point of decision but are more likely to be stalemated rather resolved… the American public has been reduced to the role of passive spectators cheering the heroes and booing the villains, but taking little or no direct part in the action…increasingly alienated and estranged from politics…

Inside the beltway commentators admit that unlike the past there is no motivation for investigation into scandals. National political leaders are held in such low repute the public is no longer outraged by their behavior.

It has become very popular to label anyone challenging political correctness as a Nazi. Conveniently overlooked is Stalinism which was known for its rewriting of history and the altering of inconvenient facts.

Joseph Stalin perfected the practice of removing evidence of those who dared to hold alternative opinions. Official photos removed the offender’s image. Books were altered to reflect Stalin’s official version of history. As one historian noted there came a time when his was the only version of history remaining

Today we remove statues and flags because they remind us of our failings. Instead of celebrating and building on progress we punish people for reaching the right conclusions.

Christianity is the only alternative to where the world is heading, because it is the only place where there can be no reconciliation without repenting. It is the only place that can frame divisions in a way that is redemptive. It will be difficult because we are failing the culture that we have been called to transform.

Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew. During his Vice-Presidential campaign in 2000 he was asked if his religion was a detriment in the Christian Evangelical South. He responded that the emerging divisions were no longer over denominations or religion but between people of faith and those with none.

Keith Ward, retired Regius Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford addressed this issue in his book, God, Faith & The New Millennium. He proposes seven areas of framework which include: cooperate for good with all who are committed to the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness, however different the paths we follow… Christians should be clear, however, that universal salvation of all-if they do not finally reject God- through their coming to share in Christ and the Spirit, does not depend on the Church becoming universally dominant, as though one could only be saved within the Church…All that is required is that is required is that the distinctive witness of the Church turn out to be true.

During the 1994 conference on The Church in a Violent Society sponsored by the Washington Cathedral, panelist George Stephanopoulos, then senior advisor the President Clinton for policy and strategy, stated government cannot be the sole answer, but it can be a partner.

Twenty years later that same government no longer ask for partnership. It has proven itself incapable of doing anything.

It is time for Christianity 911.

Ladson F. Mills III is a priest with over thirty year’s pastoral experience. He is retired and lives with his wife in South Carolina. He currently serves as Scholar in Residence at the Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island. He is a regular contributor to VIRTUEONLINE.

Footprints: The bishop from Karachi

nAZIR aLI

SITTING in his office overlooking the famous Wimpole Street in Westminster, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who in 1994 became the first non-white diocesan bishop at the Church of England and was among the final two candidates to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, remembers with fondness the Karachi of his youth.

The city was home to large communities of Goans, Anglo-Indians, south Indians, and Sindhis. His experience of growing up among Muslims, Hindus, Parsis and Christians equipped him to facilitate interfaith dialogue. “I remember attending Shia commemorations,” he says. “Rather than hostility, there was a desire to learn about various beliefs and practices.”

Bishop Michael was ordained as an Anglican priest at the age of 20 while he was still in Karachi. “At the time, there was a great interest in finding remedies for poverty in Pakistan and Marxism was extremely popular on campuses. Personally, I found Marxism to be characterised by a degree of historical determinism and instead saw joining the church as a means of serving the poor,” he recalls.

During the 1980s, Bishop Michael witnessed Gen Ziaul Haq’s ‘Islamisation’ of Pakistan. He found himself disagreeing with certain measures that were being taken by the government. As a Christian, he says, he could not support laws prescribing punishments that mutilate the human body. The Christian view on punishment takes account of the need for retribution but also makes room for reform and rehabilitation, he explains.

His activism against the Zia government eventually forced him out of the country. Bishop Michael used to be active with the Women’s Action Forum (WAF). In February 1983, WAF and the Women Lawyers’ Association demonstrated outside the Lahore High Court, a few metres from the Lahore Cathedral where Bishop Michael served as priest. When the police started a baton-charge, the cathedral opened its gates for the protesters. “We then shut the gates to protect the demonstrators. That did not sit well with the authorities,” he recalls with a wry smile.

Bishop Michael was also involved in helping brick-kiln workers get educational opportunities. And that did not sit well with the brick-kiln owners. “I am not entirely sure who was responsible but I started getting harassed,” he says.

He decided to move to the UK, where he studied at the University of Cambridge. In 1994, he was appointed the Bishop of Rochester. He has published 12 books on various topics, including comparative literature, comparative philosophy of religion and theology. Since his retirement in 2009, he has been heading the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue. He has also led his church’s dialogue with Al-Azhar University in Egypt and, more recently, with Shia clerics in Iraq.

Interfaith dialogue, he insists, must tackle difficult questions and go beyond socio-political issues to include theological and spiritual questions. In his own work, he has highlighted the relationship between Islamic and Christian mysticism. He explains that Sufis in Egypt and Syria were well acquainted with Christian monasticism and early Sufi literature mentions meetings taking place between Sufis and monks. Sufis refer to the image of monks praying through the night and the light in a monk’s cell is symbolic of illumination in Sufi literature. Jesus Christ is similarly seen by Sufis, especially Maulana Rumi, as the ultimate example of sacrifice, suffering and renunciation.

Asked about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Bishop Michael says that the law not only exacerbates the sense of insecurity for many communities, but also contributes to an atmosphere of mistrust and hatred. “Initially, when Christians expressed concerns about the blasphemy law, they were told that the law was made to target a certain other community. I warned a presidential adviser that no matter who the law is intended for, it would affect justice and freedom and no one would be exempt. And this is what happened,” he says.

Bishop Michael contends that he does not think of himself as a minority but as a Pakistani citizen. For him, “our goal should not be minority rights but the creation of a polity where all citizens are equal before the law”.

But social exclusion, he admits, is more difficult to address than legal and official discrimination. He worries about the growing ghetto-isation of communities in Pakistan and says that when people no longer live among neighbours who hold different religious beliefs, it is detrimental to national cohesion.

He laments that the nationalisation of Christian institutions over the last 40 years has left Pakistani Christians socially and economically disadvantaged. “Nationalisation, as was done with Kinnaird College and the Forman Christian College in Lahore, must be reversed,” he says. “Institutions such as Gordon College in Rawalpindi and Murray College in Sialkot remain under government control and this prevents social mobility for young Christian Pakistanis.”

Despite all, Bishop Michael remains optimistic. He says that Christians supported the creation of Pakistan and believed that the new state would guarantee their rights as its founders shared the experiences of being a minority community. “I was born two years after independence and at the time Christians and Muslims worked together to contribute to national life,” he muses. “There were disagreements over religious beliefs but it did not prevent anyone from going to the same schools, hospitals and neighbourhoods. I do not see why this can’t happen again.”

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2016