Archive for July, 2010

US University tells Christian to change beliefs

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
A Christian student in the US has been told she will not be permitted to graduate unless she changes her beliefs.

Jennifer Keeton, 24, is studying for a degree in counselling at Augusta State University in Georgia.

But University chiefs say her beliefs about sexual ethics do not conform to the prevailing views of the counselling profession, and she must change or get out.

Re-education

She has been ordered to undergo a re-education plan involving “remediation” assignments and “diversity sensitivity training”.

She must report back on how the re-education has influenced her beliefs. If she refuses, she has been told she faces being thrown off her degree course.

She has also been urged to attend a homosexual parade in Augusta.

Aid

American pro-freedom group, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), has come to the student’s aid.

Supported by the ADF, she is suing the University for interfering with her religious liberty.

“Jennifer Keeton has not been accused of mistreating a client,” pointed out ADF Senior Counsel David French.

Change

“She’s being told, ‘You must change your beliefs or we’ll deny you a degree’”, he continued.

Each month, she would be required to write a report on how the re-education assignments have influenced her beliefs so the faculty can “decide the appropriateness of her continuation in the counselling program.”

Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley, an associate professor at the University and a named defendant in the lawsuit, said that the faculty was concerned about some of the counselling student’s beliefs pertaining to LGBT issues.

Biblical

However, the student has stated that she understands the need to reflect her counselling clients’ goals and allow them to work through their own solutions.

“I know I can do that”, she stressed. But what she can’t do is alter her beliefs.

In an ADF video, she said: “I’m not willing to, and I know I can’t, change my Biblical views”.

Expulsion

According to ADF, the 24-year-old’s threatened expulsion is part of a trend among universities to apply “religious and ideological litmus tests” in university departments teaching “education, counselling, and social work”.

ADF is also currently representing Julea Ward, a counselling student at Eastern Michigan University who was expelled because she would not say that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable.

Recently, ADF successfully resolved a case at Missouri State University where social work student, Emily Brooker, was punished for declining to support homosexual adoption.

Shifting the Deck Chairs: the ACC’s Standing Committee In-Action

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010


July 27th, 2010 Posted in Anglican Consultative Council |

By A S Haley

In  the Anglican Communion Office’s report of the second day of proceedings at the meeting of the ACC’s “Standing Committee”, we find this paragraph:

A proposal from Dato’ Stanley Isaacs that The Episcopal Church be separated from the Communion led to a discussion in which Committee members acknowledged the anxieties felt in parts of the Communion about sexuality issues. Nevertheless, the overwhelming opinion was that separation would inhibit dialogue on this and other issues among Communion Provinces, dioceses and individuals and would therefore be unhelpful. The proposal was not passed, and the group agreed to defer further discussion until progress on Continuing Indaba project had been considered.

Dato’ Stanley Isaacs is a Malaysian attorney, and one of only two lay persons serving on the fifteen-person Committee. The next meeting of the ACC will be his last, because he has already served at the two previous meetings. The fact that his motion did not pass is a reflection of the composition of the Committee, as discussed in this earlier post. Its membership now comes largely from ECUSA and those provinces sympathetic to it.

Read here

Anglican Orthodoxy: the ‘Top Five’ questions?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Hat tip – the Ugley Vicar

In the light of recent developments, and further to my own suggestions on this blog, I have been wondering how one might reasonably and responsibly examine the orthodoxy of Anglican ministers or candidates for ministry.
In the spirit of the lists compiled by Rob Fleming, the hero of Nick Hornsby’s High Fidelity, I have come up with my ‘top five’ issues, all taken from the Thirty-nine Articles.
This is a completely serious suggestion, by the way. When our Benefice was recently interviewing for a new vicar, although I was (rightly) not allowed a vote in the final decision, I was allowed to question the candidates and to give my reflections. Amongst other things, therefore, I asked each of them for their take on Article VII, ‘Of the Old Testament’.
Rather than looking for ‘yes or no’ answers (“Do you believe in the resurrection?”, “Duh, yeah!”), it is better to allow people to show their ability in handling theological issues, so I would give an opportunity to respond to a statement, not simply to say whether they agreed with it or not. It is also important to have a limited list, and therefore it is impossible to cover every topic.
Nevertheless, I offer the following as Anglican statements of doctrine with which it would be perfectly reasonable to expect Anglican ministers to show some familiarity and conformity. You may wish to suggest alternatives. The only requirement is that if you add one in you must take one out.
So here are my ‘Top Five’ questions to establish Anglican orthodoxy. Try them yourself, or try them on your vicar (or bishop!).
Give your response to the following statements (adapted from the 39 Articles):
1.         “Christ … truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of people.”
2.         “Original Sin … is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man … whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil … and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.”
3.         “We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings: Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine.”
4.         “Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.”
5.         “It is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.”
What one would be looking for in the answers would be, amongst other things, an absence of ‘nuancing’. The Declaration attached to the Articles in the Book of Common Prayer says that,
… no man hereafter shall either print, or preach, to draw the Article aside any way, but shall submit to it in the plain and full meaning thereof: and shall not put his own sense or comment to the meaning of the Article, but shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense.
Obviously they were wise to people ‘hedging’ their responses even in those days!
The more, therefore, someone’s answers show that they are, as we now say, ‘comfortable’ with the Article, the more we can be similarly ‘comfortable’ with them — and, I suggest, vice versa.

John Richardson
13 July 2010

HERNDON, VA: Nigerian Archbishop Rips Episcopal Church’s Revisionist Agenda

Monday, July 26th, 2010

The West is disinheriting its Heritage. Gospel Proclamation must be restored, says Metropolitan Okoh
Marriage only between a man and a woman

“The Good News that is proclaimed in the Gospel is the most powerful tool any person can carry.”

By David W. Virtue in Virginia  www.virtueonline.org
The Anglican Primate of all Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh said the Episcopal Church’s revisionist agenda in the Anglican Communion has weakened the church and “altered” time-honored theological positions resulting in some ecumenical friends now doubting our reliability, and suspect our fellowship.

Addressing the fourth annual Council of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), the recently installed Anglican Metropolitan of some 20 million Anglicans – the largest province in the Anglican Communion – also ripped the West for abandoning its Christian inheritance.

“Perhaps this is the easiest road to take. But it is certainly not the right road. As I look at the West, I see great nations with wonderful histories and the power to do so much good but they do not allow Christ to be present in these measures. If we do not give Christ the authority to transform our actions and our society, then the good of the West will be short-lived.

Marriage

“The clear intention of Scripture is that marriage is a monogamous, lifelong, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman. All other sexual relationships are a sad reflection of our brokenness, self-centeredness and continuing rebellion against the expressed will of the Almighty God for which we need repentance. Let there be a change.

On America

“As Americans you occupy the lofty height of the world’s civilization and material glory. But as a prophet, let me humbly encourage you to remind yourselves of the rise, the reign and the fall of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known, the Roman Empire. It will do you good to avoid certain pitfalls, as you struggle to retain your enviable position as the world’s number one nation.”

Okoh cited President George Washington, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

The 59-year old archbishop blasted corruption both in the USA and Nigeria. “The world economic meltdown which is hardly over was partly a fruit of this fact. I wish to observe that humankind’s rebellion against God’s absolute authority to order out lives for the highest good is clearly continuing here, and those bold enough to differ are being persecuted.

“Scripture is the key to keeping Christ present in our actions. We must uphold Scripture. We must live according to its authority, and spread the Word through faithful preaching and teaching in our churches.”

Okoh also called on preachers to avoid selective preaching. “We must avoid dressing sin in a new garment of words in order to neutralize its offensiveness before those we pastor, thus hindering their chances of repentance. I see this as an attempt to escape the focus of a TV camera.

“This is the greatest challenge you face. The Western world has become afraid or is unwilling to acknowledge that there is right and wrong — that there is good and evil. The Western Church led the world toward Christ for almost 2,000 years. But now it has cast aside its leadership and finds itself leaving Christ’s path and following its own road.”

CANA

The outspoken archbishop praised the work and ministry of CANA even as The Episcopal Church has failed Episcopalians and to spread the gospel. “CANA is an important mission of The Church of Nigeria and we take seriously our responsibility to Anglicans in North America who are no longer in a position to find a spiritual home in The Episcopal Church. The relationship between the Church of Nigeria and CANA is a reminder of how God’s Church is a worldwide body and we in the Church of Nigeria are blessed to have CANA as part of our church family.”

Okoh said the church’s main thrust must always be the proclamation of the Gospel, the “faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). The Great Commission must be pursued vigorously, in spite of deliberate obstacles being erected by some States and cultures against the spread of the Gospel. Evangelism is a mandate and a responsibility of any Christian community. This is not only the verbalizing of the Gospel, but includes also a crucial aspect of teaching and disciplining those who have come to profess the faith.

“That is our great calling, a calling we share with Christian brothers and sisters around the world: to bring people to faith in Christ, so that their lives can be transformed and, in turn, transform our communities.”

The Anglican leader praised the early missionaries who arrived in Nigeria by sea in the 19th Century.

“When that Good News came to my nation, it transformed our people and our society. The missionaries came to Nigeria and they brought the Lord’s teachings of love and salvation. They brought Bibles and they widened our understanding of what was right and wrong in God’s eyes. What these missionaries did was difficult. They looked at us and told us we needed to change — to transform our lives and our civilization.

“The missionaries taught us that these rituals were wrong. They opened the eyes of our nation to the transforming light of Christ. By doing so, we were transformed by the Holy Spirit. This transformation is a continuing experience. Like those missionaries, we are all called by Christ to do what is right — not what is easy.”

Okoh said his own nation was undergoing transformation. “As Nigeria prepares to celebrate her 50th anniversary of independence, there is a great deal for my country to celebrate. We have a nation to call our own. We have survived a three-year bloody civil war. Democracy has been restored after a prolonged military rule. Our county has made remarkable progress in contributing to world peace through her peacekeeping operations. However, we continue to face many challenges: Crime is at an all time high. Poverty continues to be a major concern for a nation that has been blessed by God with vast natural resources. We are confronted by the challenges of religious/ethnic intolerance and violence between Christian and Muslim communities, especially in Nigeria’s north which has caused much unnecessary suffering and loss of life. We are trying to make Christians responses to these serious challenges.”

The Good News that is proclaimed in the Gospel is the most powerful tool any person can carry.

National debate prompts breakup at flagship Episcopal church

Monday, July 26th, 2010
By Abe Levy – Express-News

Web Posted: 07/19/2010 12:00 CDT

The Rev. Chuck Collins greets Susan and Bill Galbreath after Collins’ last service at Christ Episcopal Church in late May. He retired over concerns about the national Episcopal Church’s liberal changes, including approval of gay and lesbian clergy. JERRY LARA/glara@express-news.net


In its storied 99-year history, Christ Episcopal Church has fashioned itself into a pillar of orthodox beliefs, Anglican heritage and charismatic fervor for spreading Christian salvation worldwide.But in recent years, a gut-wrenching question has tested the bonds of this spiritual family.

Should it leave its parent organization, the Episcopal Church, for making unwelcome liberal changes by accepting openly gay and lesbian clergy and modernizing time-honored theology?

One group had enough.

They walked away from the 2,400-member parish in Monte Vista last month to forge a new one — free of potential intrusion from national leadership but one that will meet, at least for a while, in less ideal facilities.

A larger group remains in the parish, and while equally disturbed about the direction of the national church, it is resolved to carry on the parish legacy despite the shifting winds.

The unraveling began in earnest in May when the parish rector, the Rev. Chuck Collins, announced plans to retire for a future outside the Episcopal priesthood. Most of the lay governing body resigned the next month to organize the new church, including architect Rick Archer, a 22-year member and former junior warden.

“We miss the people the most,” said Archer, 53. “Being in that place with that body of believers — young and old — is my fondest memory. But at the same time, we’re not trying to re-create it. We’re trying to understand what it is God wants of us.”

Both groups have kept hostilities in check. Many still meet for Bible study and restaurant meals and respect each other’s consciences. Yet both face new challenges.

Will those who left succeed in uncharted waters? Who will lead them, and what new Anglican network will they join?

HERNDON, VA: CANA Bishop Blasts Episcopal Church. TEC Fails Faith and Order Test

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

ABC’s Prescription for Unity Doomed to Fail, says Martyn Minns

By David W. Virtue in Virginia
www.virtueonline.org

Citing the gulf oil crisis, a North American Anglican missionary bishop under the ecclesiastical authority of the Anglican Church of Nigeria likened that crisis to the moral and spiritual pollution brought on by The Episcopal Church which threatens the whole Anglican Communion.

“When the decision was taken, years ago, to ignore the plain teaching of the Bible on the unique role of Jesus the Christ as the only Savior; to disregard the delicate balance of relationship between men and women that God has established and promote disobedience to the revealed Word of God … all hell was let loose,” Bishop Martyn Minns told delegates to the Council of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

“It didn’t look that way at first. No one imagined the devastation that would erupt – some people still don’t. They still don’t believe it will affect them. They think that they can continue to live in their own little worlds. After all it was miles away and years ago. How could it possibly affect them? Just a few innovations in the name of progress and enlightenment. But now the cost has become clear. No one can avoid the stain. Everyone is affected by it. A church that was renowned for its aesthetics in music and liturgy, a beautiful church with a love for history and a global vision is now seen as the church that has lost its way and forgotten its message. A church that was full of life and missionary zeal is now shrinking rapidly and struggling to survive.”

Minns noted that in the midst of the tragedy God is at work doing amazing things.

“One of the most rewarding developments this past year has been the formation of two new dioceses in the Great Lakes Region and around Atlanta. CANA has been at the forefront in both of these initiatives and I was delighted that both these new structures were recognized as full-fledged dioceses at the ACNA Provincial Council. They are made up of congregations and clergy that come from CANA and other partner organizations that make up the Anglican Church in North America. It not only strengthens our effectiveness for local mission and ministry but also makes clear that despite our differences we are growing in unity around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I expect to see other regional structures and relational networks forming in the coming months and years.”

Minns said CANA, the five-year old American branch of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion, now has over 90 congregations and 230 clergy scattered across 34 states plus the District of Columbia and Canada. CANA is one of the founding partners of the Anglican Church in North America.

Minns said CANA has a ministry of “incubation” – developing new churches and regional structures until they are mature and ready to be recognized by the ACNA Provincial Council. “We have also pioneered what we call a ministry of dual-citizenship whereby clergy and congregations can become fully part of the emerging Province in North America while maintaining their canonical ties with the Church of Nigeria. This is not an altogether new idea since we have several other examples around the Communion including the Diocese of Liberia, which is both a part of the Province of West Africa and also of The Episcopal Church in the USA. Dual citizenship is not intended to be a requirement or a burden but simply offered as a gift to those who wish to take advantage of this generous provision.”

CANA has been at the forefront of innovative ministries such as establishing a Chaplains Deanery with some 49 chaplains, a cause of some anguish to liberal Episcopalians. Minns described the ministry of CANA as one of radical inclusion, profound transformation and inspired service.

The Anglican Communion

Minns said the worldwide communion is going through “an unprecedented season and rather chaotic period in its life,” and that the church has lurched from one crisis to another. “The various Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops have proven to be incapable of restoring the Unity of which we were once so proud.”

Minns blasted The Episcopal Church saying the decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and more recently Mary Glasspool as Assistant Bishop in Los Angeles have been the most provocative actions and confirms that TEC does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He said this analysis was offered by Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, at the June 18 meeting of the TEC Executive Council. “That this verdict was received with disbelief and dismay says a great deal about the level of denial among TEC leadership. It is one thing, however, to acknowledge this division it is quite another to deal with it.”

Minns also criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury saying he made no appeal to the revealed truth of Scripture, the historic teaching of the Church or the recognized views of the vast majority of Christians throughout the world and throughout all the ages in dealing with the church’s problems. Instead he writes, “We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.” and proposes more and more meetings for mutual exploration. This prescription seems doomed to failure.”

He opined that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost Letter, sanctioned only a handful of people.

Minns criticized the Archbishop’s letter for its “curious omission” of the emergence of the Anglican Church in North America. “While I admit that this is a development about which he is not exactly thrilled surely the emergence of a new Anglican Community in North America that embraces approximately 100,000 believers is worthy of at least a small mention? After all it is larger than a third of the current thirty-eight provinces, including Scotland and Wales.”

The Episcopal Church

The reaction of TEC leadership, however, has been one of outrage, disbelief and much hand wringing on the Internet. More insidiously, they have redoubled their efforts to look for support and to spread their revisionist views around the Communion. They are using a variety of means including their considerable financial clout to seduce and divide the orthodox Provinces. Some African bishops have been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for much needed projects if they will deny their convictions and embrace the TEC viewpoint. Most stand firm but some give way. It is an agonizing time for so many of our sisters and brothers and yet the leadership of the Communion seems unable or unwilling to act in any substantive way according to Minns.

Reformed Episcopal Church

The missionary bishop praised the leaders, of the Reformed Episcopal Church that even though they have been a separate church with their own seminaries and structures for more than 130 years have been in the forefront of finding ways to collaborate with CANA. He said they given almost $400,000 in support to a number of Nigerian clergy and congregations.

Minns praised the Roman Catholic Church in New England that has worked creatively to allow the newly formed Anglican Diocese in New England and its diocesan bishop, Bill Murdoch, to buy All Saints Cathedral – a large church and school complex in Amesbury, Mass. This is in marked contrast to similar dealings with the Episcopal Church that has steadfastly refused to sell any of its properties to Anglican groups.

Church of Nigeria

Minns said the Church of Nigeria plants entire dioceses faster than most denominations plant churches. “It does this in the face of considerable opposition from militant Islam and the growing tide of materialistic secularism.” Minns praised the legacy of former Archbishop Peter Akinola.

REDEMPTION IS CHRIST’S BUSINESS NOT CAESAR’S

Sunday, July 25th, 2010


Underlying the sense that prison is not working is the question whether Caesar’s job is to punish criminals or rehabilitate them. He could find the Church of England’s historic liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), enlightening if challenging to his liberal presuppositions.

The BCP is crystal clear as to the State’s job in relation to criminals. Reflecting the teaching of the New Testament that the State is ‘the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil’ (Romans 13v4 – AV), it includes the following intercession at Holy Communion: ‘And grant unto her (the Queen’s) whole council, and to all that are put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently (impartially) minister justice, to the punishment of wickedness of vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue’.

The theology of the Church of England’s 39 Articles of Religion, which underpins the BCP, is clear that the ‘true religion’ being referred to there is the evangelical Christian one.

Caesar cannot rehabilitate people. He should leave redemption to Christ. His job is properly to punish those who offend against the life and property of members of the public. Only the grace of God can change individuals’ moral inclinations, whether the special grace of God in spiritual regeneration through faith in Jesus Christ or the common grace of God, active when criminals come to realise that they are better off being law-abiding.

The State, when it fulfils its God-given function, can assist the operation of the special and the common grace of God by magnifying the spectre of the consequences if any of us is tempted to commit crime.

In a nutsell, Caesar needs to regain the moral confidence to put the fear of God into potential criminals and to execute His justice upon those who do commit crime. Essential to that is the restoration of capital punishment for murderers.

But for other offenders prison could work if the experience was unpleasant – not brutal but grim. The Victorians criticised by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke may have erred towards brutality, though that was the century in which Christian-inspired penal reform made considerable progress.

The Victorians, instructed by the BCP when on their knees, got the grim bit right and that is one of the reasons why in the first six decades of the 20th century Britain was a low-crime society.