Archive for August, 2010

UGANDA: CAPA Bishops Conference: From My Ear to Yours

Friday, August 27th, 2010

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

If placing means anything then you will be interested to learn that in the line up on the top platform at today’s opening CAPA Eucharist where the Archbishop of Canterbury preached, the placing went like this. From left to right: Bob Duncan (ACNA), Archbishop Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean), Archbishop Rowan Williams (ABC), and Archbishop Henry Orombi (Uganda). Duncan’s presence was publicly recognized by Archbishop Orombi.

The message was clear. Archbishop Robert Duncan, leader of the Anglican Church in North America, is a player whether Williams or the Anglican Consultative Council ever recognizes him or not. No such invitation was extended to Katharine Jefferts Schori who would have felt decidedly uncomfortable among 400 Evangelical African Anglican bishops who have a very different gospel from hers.

Duncan also shared in the distribution of Holy Communion. “The Anglican Church is expanding everywhere in Africa. There are now some 400 dioceses spread across the continent. As Archbishop I am here to learn and to stand in solidarity with this vigorous gospel mission,” said Archbishop Duncan.

While Archbishop Williams told the gathered bishops that the 21st Century may well be the “African Century”, he was met with only polite applause from the Africans who believe he has sided with Western pansexualists and does not hold fast to a biblical view of Christian morality.

He was afforded no special place at the African table, treated as primus inter pares. Later the Primates council met in private with Williams to go head to head with him over the issues. The closed-door session may yield something, we do not know. But what will be on the table is the call for Council (like Nicea 325), but the real question is will all the primates be on board?

Following GAFCON, Williams snubbed their Primates Council’s request to see him so this might be payback time. These African leaders are unfailingly polite, but they are also sticking to their guns about homosexuality – they will have none of it. It is a non starter, dead on arrival and to reinforce that point, the Prime Minister of Uganda made a brief appearance today and poured cold water on any legal changes to make homosexual behavior acceptable to Ugandans. It ain’t gonna happen.

Furthermore with the church growing by leaps and bounds (it is expected to hit 633 million by 2025) why would anybody give Colin Coward of Changing Attitude the time of day bearing in mind that he is about to “marry” a young black man from Nigeria less than half his age and saying he has no intention of being celibate. Coward is 64, the Nigerian is 25.

While there is still no talk of formal schism, it is schism in all but name. Archbishop Orombi said the North American churches (U.S. and Canada) have “walked apart”. He sees no sign of reconciliation (read repentance) by these provinces. It is possible that, in time, the Anglican Communion will simply devolve into provinces doing their own thing, crossing boundaries at will, with the North American provinces adding to the whole area of litigation till the last orthodox parish and diocese has fled.

Archbishop John Chew of Southeast Asia and Archbishop Mouneer Anis of the Middle East are also here to sit with the primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) during their meetings.

*****

Word has it that Trinity Wall Street’s check for $25,000, given to help defray CAPA costs, was politely returned to them. The Province of Uganda said they would pick up the tab for this event.

*****

I traveled with a CMS (Nigerian) bishop from Amsterdam to Entebbe. He wondered out loud to me how it is that a bishop like Charles Bennison could possibly be reinstated after all that the diocese has suffered at his hands both spiritually, financially and for covering his brother’s sexual exploits.

So I asked him what would happen in Nigeria if a bishop like Bennison erupted in one of their dioceses. Simple, he said. If and when the laity rose up and said they wanted their bishop gone, he would be gone. He would be made to step down and that would be the end of it. The laity are the people of God and if they are unhappy, the diocese is unhappy, the churches are unhappy and people leave. The archbishop would find that intolerable and the bishop in question would be made to go. No drawn out lawsuits, no reference to canons, no meeting out of tens of thousands of dollars to a man in temporary exile. He would have to go. The bishop said it had happened twice in his province, the bishop was told to leave and as a result the diocese suffered very little. “I think your diocese will now go into serious decline. People will not stay with a leader like that.”

*****

The agenda for this CAPA conference has a strong social justice thread running through it, but today’s meetings showed that speakers were not afraid to touch hot button issues. Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean all but called for an end to Anglican hostilities saying it is time to move on. I will post his full lecture as soon as I can obtain it. The truth is these African bishops are simply fed up with the West. As far as they are concerned, the only thing left to do apart from formally splitting is to send evangelists westward to re-evangelize the whole messy post-modern, secular west that has virtually dumped the gospel for feel good Christianity.

*****

Chatted with a bishop from Burundi who spent time at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut where he undertook Christian/Islamic studies. He told me how he was invited to preach at an Episcopal parish one Sunday, but when he learned there were activist homosexuals and lesbians in the parish he turned them down. He said he couldn’t preach or take communion with people who were deliberately flouting the Moral Law of God on sexual behavior. From then on his life was made a living hell at the seminary and he was dubbed “Fundamentalist John”. He took it all in good spirits, got his Master’s degree and returned to Africa a wiser man.

*****

Philip Groves, facilitator of the Listening Process is here button-holing bishops with his message that being gay is okay, but we do want to hear your point of view even if it happens to be different from the accepted Western Anglican zeitgeist of one percent of homosexuals in provinces with ASA of less than a million, not to mention Scripture. No one is buying it. The Listening Process is, of course, not about “listening”. It is about desensitizing bishops into believing that if you listen to the whine of Anglican pansexualists long enough, you will just roll over and accept the fiction that God made them that way.

*****

Tonight we all enjoyed a wonderful program of African music and dance put on by our hosts. A stand-up comedian took deposed and now deceased former “King of Scotland” president Idi Amin apart in a number of skits. It was a truly memorable evening that was recorded by Kevin Kallsen of Anglican-TV. When the videos become available, VOL will let you know.

UGANDA: 400 Anglican Bishops Get Set to Address Pressing Issues for African Continent

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Gospel and Social Justice will combine to bring needed change to the area

By David W. Virtue in Entebbe
www.virtueonline.org
August 23, 2010

Some 400 African Anglican bishops including a small group of Western Anglican bishops and leaders of social service agencies, who together represent more than 80 percent of the shared faith of the Anglican Communion, are gathering here to confront Africa’s pressing spiritual and social problems.

The weeklong conference will focus on issues of conflict, poverty, corruption and disease on the continent in the context of the gospel of redemption and change.

“It is a misreading of the conference agenda to suggest that we are all about social change without the gospel being at the heart of it,” a Nigerian bishop told VOL. Changing peoples’ outward circumstances while not addressing peoples’ need for inner transformation by Christ is to misread the agenda here, a Ugandan bishop told VOL.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is here and will be the guest preacher at the opening Eucharist on Aug. 24.

This is the first time he has visited Uganda since he became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. He and Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi do not see eye to eye on the growing liberal direction of the Anglican Communion. Orombi recently resigned from the Anglican Consultative Council saying that as the African primates’ representative he has no confidence in the integrity of the organization and would not attend meetings if representatives from the Episcopal Church are seated.

More recently, Orombi said the Anglican Church is a “dysfunctional family” and “torn at its deepest level.” He proposed that the Church of Uganda engage church structures at a very minimal level until godly faith and order have been restored.

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) is sponsoring the All Africa Bishops Conference. The theme of the conference is “Securing the Future: Unlocking our Potential,” based on the biblical text from Hebrews 12:1-2.

The pan-African conference has drawn Anglican leaders from 12 Anglican provinces in Africa including Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa — as well as Archbishop Mouneer Anis from the Anglican Diocese of the Middle East. Among U.S. Delegates here is Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop Robert Duncan as well as Bishops John Guernsey, Martyn Minns, John Miller, David “Doc” Loomis and Bill Atwood.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is scheduled to address the All Africa Bishops Conference on Aug. 25.

Through vigorous evangelism Christianity in Africa has grown from nine million Christians in 1990 to more than 380 million Christians in 2,000. The World Christian Encyclopedia predicts there will be 633 million Christians in Africa by 2025.

There are also representatives here from the Church Missionary Society, Anglican Communion Office, the African Union, and Five Talents. Also in attendance is Trinity Church, Wall Street, which through its grants program supports projects throughout Africa. They gave $25,000 towards CAPA.

The conference is the second of its kind. The first CAPA gathering was held in November 2004 in Lagos, Nigeria.

END

Same-Sex Marriage and the Insignificance of Men and Women

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
By Dennis Prager

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The left passionately supports the most remarkable and radical change in modern social history — the redefinition of marriage from male-female to include male-male and female-female.

Marriage is the building block of society. Changing its nature will therefore change society. Among other things, same-sex marriage means that because sex (now called “gender”) no longer matters for society’s most important institution, it no longer matters in general.

Men and women as distinct entities no longer have significance. Which is exactly what the cultural left and the gay rights movement advocate — even though the vast majority of Americans who support same-sex marriage do not realize that this is what they are supporting. Most Americans who support same-sex marriage feel (and “feel” is the crucial verb here, as the change to same-sex marriage is much more felt than thought through) that gays should have the right to marry a member of their own sex. It is perceived as unfair to gays that they cannot do so. And that is true. It is unfair to gays.

But the price paid for eliminating this unfairness is enormous: It is the end of marriage as every society has known it. And it is more than that. It is the end of any significance to gender. Men and women are now declared interchangeable. That is why, as I noted in a recent column — the “T” has been added to “GLB:” “Transgendered” has been added to “Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual.” “T” does not represent transsexuals — people who choose to change their sex. No one is arguing against such people. “Transgendered” refers to people who are members of one sex and who wish to publicly act as if they are members of the other sex, e.g., men wearing women’s clothing in public. The transgendered who publicly act out are living the cultural Left’s primary agenda: rendering gender insignificant. Your sex is what you feel it is; and if you feel both, you are both. Gender doesn’t matter.

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I’m an atheist but this anti-Catholic rhetoric is making me nervous

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

August 22nd, 2010 Posted in Atheism, Pope Benedict |

By Padraig Reidy, Observer

The messages keep coming: “We Protest the Pope: Want to join us?” asked the first, a few weeks ago. More recently, an invitation came to a Protest the Pope meeting in Richmond, south London, where ideas such as blocking the route of the Pope’s cavalcade during his visit to Britain next month were discussed.

I should not be surprised to receive these invitations. I’m one of the few people in the world who could truthfully put the phrase “professional atheist” on their CV. For three years, I was deputy editor of New Humanist magazine, the publication of choice for UK humanists.

So why do I feel uneasy?

[…..]  With Benedict on his way, the chorus rises. A Facebook invitation asks me to “Give Pope Benedict a lesson in British Values of Equality”. On leading left blog Liberal Conspiracy, one writer, discussing the Vatican’s stance on euthanasia, tells us: “This is, after all, a church that expects its followers to mumble incantations in front of a large statue of a mostly naked European bloke nailed to Roman torture implement and includes an act of ritual cannibalism in its rites… so who’s really obsessed with death here.”

Examine the language here. “Incantations”, “cannibalism”. This is the tone of Ian Paisley’s rabidly anti-papist Free Presbyterian church, not of rational secular debate. The faux-sympathy over child sexual abuse feels similarly galling, used as an opportunity to attack the church rather than express genuine concern for victims. Almost the entire focus on clerical abuse scandals is on sexual attacks on young boys by old priests, despite the fact that most of the abuse detailed in the various inquiries’ reports consists of beating and physical and mental torture.

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Questioning the god of ‘The Shack’

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Lisa Byrnes
August 20th, 2010
Burning Down ‘The Shack’
James B. De Young
2010
WND Books
For more information on this book and the author click here

Burning down ‘The Shack’ by James B. De Young

There are probably few Sydney Christians who haven’t heard of The Shack, the story of a man who finds healing and hope during a weekend encounter with the Trinity. The book has sold in excess of 12 million copies worldwide and countless articles (including my own) and several books have been written discussing the theology it contains. To that group we can now add Burning Down ‘The Shack’ by James B. De Young.

De Young, a Professor of New Testament Languages and Literature, is able to bring a unique insight to the ongoing debate over The Shack, as he knew Young personally in the years leading up to its writing. Their children attended the same school and they founded a Christian discussion group they attended together for several years. It was in this forum that Young announced his acceptance of universal reconciliation in 2004.

Following these events Young dropped out of the discussion group and writing began on the manuscript that was to become The Shack. The manuscript was sent to Brad Cummings and Wayne Jacobsen who were impressed with its potential. They were opposed to the overt universalism however, and spent a year revising and rewriting to remove its traces. But as De Young contends, “The Shack was birthed in universal reconciliation” (page xix) and its errors remain embedded.

It is important at this point to define universalism. There is pagan or general universalism which contends that there are many ways to God and that Jesus is just one of these. Then there is universal or Christian reconciliation, which states that all will come to God through Jesus Christ either before or after death. Hell exists only to purge away unbelief and even Satan will eventually be reconciled to God, at which point Hell will cease to exist.

In Burning Down ‘The Shack’ De Young works through The Shack chapter by chapter discussing the story and the theology presented. He points out what Young has done well and pinpoints areas of concern or error. It is fascinating to see time and time again the concerns that have been raised by other reviewers being laid at the door of universal reconciliation. The emphasis on God’s love over his holiness; the assertion that there is no eternal punishment for sin; the lack of emphasis on sin, evil and Satan; the assertion that reconciliation is effective without faith; the rejection of the church and the sidelining of the Bible. All these De Young points out are tenets of universal reconciliation. Whereas some reviewers have noted these and have given Young the benefit of the doubt, saying that “he surely doesn’t mean …,” De Young with his intimate knowledge of Young’s universalism is able to say “he surely does mean ….”

De Young consistently points to the Bible as he critiques Young’s book. He writes graciously, precisely and at length. I don’t agree with everything in this book, but I enjoyed it very much and consider it a book that deserves to be widely read. Perhaps Burning Down ‘The Shack’ is even the definitive book on The Shack. Indeed De Young, with his acquaintance with Young and his theological knowledge is the only person who could have written it.

Burning Down ‘The Shack’ concludes with the warning that The Shack “has the potential to damage Christian theology for several generations.” (page 205). With Young and his former colleagues Jacobsen and Cummings now mired in lawsuits over royalties and authorship, the long-term legacy of The Shack is uncertain. We can only hope and pray that those who have found the god of The Shack appealing will return to the complex and ultimately more satisfying God revealed in his Word.

Fiddling with God

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The real danger is that God is being refashioned into something which we — or at least the clergy and bishops in Scotland — find more agreeable than God as previously made known. There is a word for this. It is ‘idolatry’.

It has been a long time coming, but a mainstream denomination in these islands has finally authorized the elimination from one of its liturgies gendered language referring to God.
The body in question is the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the changes, which affect its 1982 Eucharist liturgy, have been permitted by its College of Bishops, pending a complete revision currently in hand.
The list of alternatives is quite short:
“God is love and we are his children” may become, “God is love and we are God’s children”.
“We love because he loved us first” may become, “We love because God loved us first”.
“Heal and strengthen us by his Spirit” may become, “heal and strengthen us by the Holy Spirit”.
“Peace to his people on earth” may become, “peace to God’s people on earth”.
“It is right to give him thanks and praise” may become, “it is right to give God thanks and praise”.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is gracious” may become, “Give thanks to our gracious God”.
“And his mercy endures for ever” may become, “whose mercy endures for ever.”
Moreover, references to the Father have been allowed to remain. Nevertheless, this covers every usage of gendered language for the godhead as a whole. And though the changes may seem small, we should be in no doubt as to their significance.
There will be those who would regard this as no more remarkable than the ‘de-gendering’ of language for humankind (which is also addressed by the same permissions). However, whilst undoubtedly arising for much the same reasons, the two issues ought not to be confused, for in the one case we are talking about ourselves, in the other we are talking about God.
And the differences between the two are not merely of scale, or even of theological importance. Rather, first and foremost, I would suggest they are differences of what may be known and how we may know it.
If we say something about anything we ought first to establish that we have a reason for doing so — that, in simple terms, we know what we are talking about. In this regard there is some justification for saying that we are more aware today of the equality of men and women than were previous generations, and that we seek to reflect this awareness in the language we use. (I happily concede there is room for debate, but I simply wish to establish the correlation between language and understanding.)
But on what grounds can we say that we know something about God in this regard that was not known, for example, by the compilers of Scottish liturgies way back in 1982?
Can we point to new knowledge? And if so, where, and from what source does it arise?
One of the first appeals in such cases tends to be to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is being credited today with many innovations in the church’s understanding and practice. (I am not saying that this is what drove the findings of the Scottish bishops. Actually they seem to have gone more on what was said by their clergy in response to a questionnaire.) Yet I am unaware of any means by which the Spirit may verify that these claims are true.
Surely we are entitled to know how we can know what the Spirit is saying to the churches, most especially if it seems to differ from what the Spirit formerly said.
There are others who will say that the difference between using “his” and “God’s” is trivial. Yet if that is the case we must ask why it would then be necessary. Still others will say it reflects our greater awareness of feminine imagery used for God in Scripture. To them I would say both that this imagery is rare and that Scripture nevertheless uses unrelentingly ‘masculine’ language about God, from which we can only deviate by consciously distancing ourselves from Scriptural usage.
Above all, we must recognize the fact that the masculine language Scripture uses about God does actually say something. Indeed, the fact that language says something is surely the whole point of this innovation. What the language currently says is no longer regarded as adequate. Instead, it is felt we must be saying something else.
The problem, which scarcely seems to be recognized by the Scottish College of Bishops is that if we say something else we are either saying something more than Scripture or making a contradistinction from Scripture.
Either way, we are into fundamentally serious theological territory, and therefore we may, once again, ask how this is justified.
The real danger is that God is being refashioned into something which we — or at least the clergy and bishops in Scotland — find more agreeable than God as previously made known. There is a word for this. It is ‘idolatry’.
John P Richardson
21 August 2010

COWARDLY WEDDING: Anglican Vicar to Wed Younger Male Model

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

by Kilian Melloy
http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=&sc3=&id=109400
August 20, 2010

Bobby Egbele and the Rev. Colin Coward

The news that an Anglican vicar in England intends to wed a male model less than half his age has created a stir in the U.K.

Though legal marriage is not available to gay and lesbian families in Britain, civil partnership is. But what has caused a fuss is the intention on the part of the vicar to have his union blessed in the church.

The issues of gay clergy and the question of blessing same-sex unions have roiled the Anglican faith since 2003, when openly gay U.S. Episcopalian cleric V. Gene Robinson was made a bishop. Prior to that, the church was already under strain by the question of women being ordained as clergy. Branches of the Anglican faith in other parts of the world–most notably in Asia and Africa–objected strenuously to gays being allowed to serve as clergy, and to same-sex unions being blessed, but some Episcopalian churches in North America have proceeded with such blessings.

Robinson’s elevation was followed earlier this year by the ordination of a lesbian cleric, Mary Glasspool, to the position of suffragen bishop in Los Angeles, an ordination that ended a moratorium in North America on the election of gays and lesbians to such positions within the church.

U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail reported in an Aug. 20 article that Rev. Colin Coward, 65, intends to wed his boyfriend, 25-year-old Nigerian model Bobby Egbele. Coward, who serves as a priest in Wiltshire, further provoked controversy by declining to issue a promise that the union would be celibate–a stipulation that the Anglican Church in England requires of partnered gay and lesbian clergy.

Coward has been a clergyman since 1976. He came out as gay in 1991 and then, four years later, created the GLBT-supportive group Changing Attitude, which “work[s] for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Anglican Communion,” according to text at the group’s website. Coward also maintains a blog at the site, where he details his work in the global Anglican community to promote greater acceptance of the GLBT faithful.

Coward acknowledged that the union would ruffle feathers, but he also expressed the hope that it would further the cause of full legal and social equality for gay and lesbian families. “Clearly the blessing is going to be quite a sensitive issue. I know that many people will see it and view it with horror,” he told the British press. “But we are both deeply committed Christians so it would be unthinkable for me not to do it in church and not to do it with the congregation and with all of our friends.” Added Coward, “I hope my wedding will inspire others and set a visible example to the church that we are not afraid.”

The reverend noted that the “blessing” of his union would skirt the technical requirements of the traditional blessing offered to couples–a blessing that same-sex couples are denied in the Anglican tradition. “Churches are not supposed to bless civil partnerships,” said Coward, going on to observe that blessings could be performed for “almost anything else–animals, bombs, battleships, armies going to war, but gay couples? No. So our church blessing has to be carefully worded in so far as it does not use the word ‘blessing’ in the context of the two of us in relationship.”

Coward also spoke of the church’s requirement that partnered gay clergy remain celibate within their relationships. “What we’re allowed to do, as a gay couple, is what this is all about, and certainly those in ordained ministry are not supposed to be sexually active,” Coward said. “But in practice, some bishops absolutely will give their approval knowing that a couple is in a civil partnership, and that they are sharing the same bed, and will encourage them to do that.”

“A Eucharistic service celebrating friendship is what has been sanctioned in this case,” a church spokesperson told the media. “This is entirely separate from any civil partnership ceremony.”

The article said that the two met in Togo, West Africa, three years ago while attending a Christian event. Egbele, the article said, is the proprietor of online clothes store Bobafrique, where Egbele appears as a model in photos of the designs sold by the store.