Archive for May, 2012

We would like to see Jesus

Monday, May 21st, 2012

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus” Jn. 12:21
Sermon by Bishop Bethlehem Nopece of Port Elizabeth, South Africa to the FCA Leaders Conference

(PDF download here)

Alleluia, Christ is risen;
He is risen indeed, alleluia!    In the name of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen….

We consider it a great privilege accorded to me to be able to give this address, for which I am grateful and indebted to you, particularly to Archbishops John and Peter. We become more than convinced that the Body of Christ is wider than we seem to perceive in our own individual corners where God has called us to bear witness to his name through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We bring with us greetings from the Church in Southern Africa, particularly the members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. While we acknowledge the fact that there are difficulties and hindrances in terms of numerical growth of those who boldly come forward to confess the power of Jesus as Lord, the quality of members shows a great determination to propagate and stand firmly on the truth of the orthodox teaching of gospel.

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ according to John the evangelist focuses first on the Jews. He says to the Samaritan woman “You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (Jn.4:22). The inquiry of the Greeks brings his ministry and plan of salvation at a cross roads because the Jews do not believe. He came to his own, and his own received him not, and to all those who believe he gave the right to become children of God (cfJn.1:11f). God’s kairos has come for the salvation of the nations through the cross. Judgment ushers in on the world and its prince, the devil. Unbelief is condemned (cf.Jn.3:18). Salvation of humankind is accomplished through the cross. This must be made known by the confession of the lips and faith of the heart to bring many to fellowship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.10:9-10).

Salvation is inevitable and necessary. Three things come to the fore, namely, the prophetic message, the authentic and orthodox teaching, and the propagation of the Lordship of the risen Christ.

1) Israel as the custodian of God’s Law (Tôrâh) has failed to bring salvation to the world and show forth God’s glory as a result of sin. The prophet Jeremiah says Israel has committed two sins: They have forsaken God, the spring of living water; and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water (Jer.2:13). Their priests did not ask “where is the Lord?” Those who interpret the Law did not know God, except their own reason. The leaders rebelled against the Almighty; the prophets prophesy Baal, exchanging their glory for worthless idols in following the desires and devices of their won hearts. Indeed as Cranmer rightly states “there is no health in them” (Jer.2:8, 11). This is true of our world today. Sadly, more to this is the ‘revisionist’ theology which seeks to strip the power of the gospel for the obscurity of the powerful name of Jesus, his incarnation and resurrection.
2) God sends eye witnesses of his majesty to confess the power of the risen Christ and his coming without any clever and reasonable arguments of human intellect, propagating the Beloved Son of God to those who believe until the morning star shines in their hearts (2 Peter 1:16ff). They prophesied not out of their own intellectual ability, but spoke the genuine Word of God as the Spirit bade them utterance (2 Peter 1:20f).
3) This is the confession of the Word made flesh, and dwells among us full of grace and truth (Jn.1:14). ‘Of grace’ because God ‘so loved and gave’ and did so sacrificially so that those who believe should no perish but have everlasting life (Jn.3:16); ‘and truth’ because human nature is fallen and needs to be redeemed and transformed by the “Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world” (Jn.1:29).

The challenge before us first and foremost is that ‘we have this gospel to proclaim’. This proclamation demands confession of the lips. There is a wise saying that ‘when good people keep silent, evil thrives’.

We are therefore called:

• To assemble the people of God first and foremost to prayer regularly, just as Jesus prayed, especially in Jn. 17 as he puts the unity of believers before the Father;
• In obedience to the Mandate Christ has given us (Mtt.28:16-20), we derive passion for those who are still not ‘in Christ’ for a new creation and new character (cf. 2 Cor.5:17). There is always new life with a new start with our God;
• All false teaching of the ‘new age’ should be abhorred and resisted at all costs by visibility and being vocal in gracious words of witness both in church, learning institutions and communities. Here we must be set to always poke our noses by calling for partnerships, wisely cultivated on our terms in obedience to the Law of Christ ‘love one another’ and ‘God so loved the world’;
• Chastity should be upheld in our teaching, promiscuity and homosexual practice be resisted at all costs and moral code be upheld according to the Scriptures as God commands us in a world where good (agathon) moral behaviour continues to decline and evil (kakon) cherished(cf.1 Cor.6:9-10) Homosexual practice and those affected by the preference should be our compassionate pastoral concern for transformation of character with the love Christ has loved us with;
• Lines of communication and networking should be strengthened by these conferences in particular, on regular basis to strengthen and encourage one another in prayer and sharing of pain and success stories;
• The poor and oppressed will always be our concern in implementing poverty eradication programmes and bring healing, peace and harmony to all God’s people for cherished freedom and better life for all.

In conclusion let me say, as Keating rightly points out, it is not so much what we do but what we are that allows God to be visibly live in the world. When the presence of God emerges from our inmost being into our faculties, in whatever we do, whether walking down the street or drinking a cup of soup, an opportunity for divine life to pour into the world is created. It is therefore, up to us to make maximum use of it. Christ must be made known for transformation and salvation of the world, again and again, as the Spirit bids us utterance. History encourages us that this church has been saved by mission and evangelical call to be on track again in obedience to the demands of the gospel as handed down to us by our forebears (cf. Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, etc).
“Sir, we would like to see Jesus”, said the Greeks.

May the Lord bless you as he blesses his Church!

UK: Female churchgoers sign petition against women bishops

Monday, May 21st, 2012


The General Synod is to hold a final vote on the creation of female bishops in July

BBC News
http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18135098

More than 2,000 female members of the Church of England have signed a petition opposing the ordination of women bishops.

The signatures were collected by Proper Provision, a group calling for a better deal for traditionalist parishes who do not want to be overseen by a woman.

It will be handed to Church leaders considering measures to introduce women bishops, at a meeting in York.

It is the final chance to change Church law before a final vote in July.

The petition was signed by 2,200 women.

Its organisers claim it was supported by churches that are mostly growing, and have young congregations, with women well represented in leadership roles.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said it was designed to counter any impression that opponents of women bishops consist mainly of male traditionalists with a negative view of women clergy.

Own authority

Although the petition included only a very small proportion of Anglican churchgoers, the group claimed it showed that opposition to women bishops was not an outdated view of a few diehard traditionalists, our correspondent said.

Proper Provision wants traditionalist parishes overseen by women bishops in the future to have the right of access to a male alternative operating under his own authority.

Under draft legislation, future women bishops have discretion over the activities of male bishops called into their dioceses.

Senior Anglican bishops are meeting in York later to decide whether to alter this.

The meeting is the last opportunity for any change to be made in the Church law before a final vote on the creation of female bishops is held in July.

The earliest the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, could give final approval to legislation on women bishops would be in July.

It needs a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod – of bishops, clergy and laity.

If approved there, it would be sent to Parliament for approval and Royal Assent.

The earliest likely date for a woman bishop to be appointed would be 2014.

The denominational magazine of the largest Protestant denomination in Canada features a bisexual triad

Monday, May 21st, 2012

This glowing portrayal of a non-religious bisexual family in the United Church of Canada’s ‘United Church Observor’ indicates how profoundly both the denomination and sexual norms have changed, and the future of at least this branch of Protestantism. When will TEC follow suit?  Will it launch a Listening Process for discriminated-against bisexuals?  .

By Pieta Woolley, ucobserver

For the past five years, computer techie John Robert Bashinski has shared his Montreal row house with two partners — one female, one male — and the trio’s kindergarten-aged daughter. It’s a polyamorous relationship — on the surface, hard to distinguish from polygamy, but in many ways, the polar opposite.

Egalitarian, secular and non-institutional, the family’s relationship is founded on the personal freedom of each of the three partners, he says. All three adults see other lovers outside their primary unit. Weekly, the partners also rotate on date nights, a two-adult romantic evening, while the third does childcare. It’s just your average three-parent “open” relationship, in other words. Bashinski reports they’re very public about it yet never harassed in their progressive, family-oriented neighbourhood.

The household’s vibrancy is a relief for Bashinski. For 20 years between 1980 and 2000, he endured a marriage that ran out of steam soon after it began. Work brought him from the United States to Montreal. That’s when he met his current partners, and the new arrangement got his groove back. More sex, more love, more life.

“Polyamory seems to be on the upswing in the zeitgeist,” says Bashinski, who is a spokesperson for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA). “There may not be way more people publicly doing it, but it is becoming more visible, and more people are thinking of it as a valid option.”

Read here

New Church of England Evangelical Council statement on marriage explodes popular modern heresy

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

By Peter Saunders, CMF

The Church of England Evangelical Council has published a statement on marriage which is well worthy of study.

The St Matthias Day Statement (14 May 2012) is an update of the 1995 St Andrew’s Day Statement on homosexuality and seeks to help Anglicans understand their church’s teaching in the area of marriage and sexual relationships and its relevance today.

It does so by providing a five-fold summary of that teaching based in Scripture and Anglican tradition under the following headings:

1 – God’s love and call to love
2 – God’s Word and Church
3 – God’s gift of marriage
4 – God’s grace and call to holiness
5 – God’s people united in and by God’s word

As would be expected the statement takes a very high view of Scripture and is unambiguous about taking the whole of Scripture seriously.

I was particularly struck by the principles in section 2 which need far wider promulgation, especially 2b which addresses a major heresy in the church today.

The essential flaw of this heresy is that it tries to affirm ‘God is Love’ (I John 4:8) whilst ignoring ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments’ (I John 5:3).

The commandment to love our neighbours (Exodus 19:18) cannot be used to justify sexual sin.

Read here

Pretoria church closes after death threats: report

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

A man reads a Bible. File photo.
Image by: Sydney Seshibedi

The Anglican cathedral parish of St Albans in Pretoria has closed its doors because of death threats, confrontations, disruptions and allegations of corruption against its bishop, according to a report on Saturday.

One priest who feared for his life had already resigned, the Saturday Star reported.

The church leadership under Bishop Johannes Seoka wrote to parishioners informing them of the closure and suspension of all forms of worship with immediate effect on Thursday.

“Unfortunately the action will affect all those whose intention it is to disrupt the cathedral worship and the innocent ones,” the church was quoted as saying.

On Friday, members of the cathedral vowed to fight the closure and urged parishioners to come and worship outside the premises.

According to the report members were also consulting with lawyers to seek an urgent court order to force Seoka to reopen the church gates before Sunday.

The bishop, who is also the president of the SA Council of Churches, was accused by church members of misappropriation of cathedral funds, dishonesty, breach of trust, corruption and fraud.

The accusations were contained in a letter signed by two priests, two church wardens and a parish councillor and sent to Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the newspaper reported.

They alleged that Seoka had used R500,000 of the Diocese of Pretoria to pay for a mortgage bond for him and his wife. They also claimed that Seoka had misappropriated R162,000 to be used to fund legal representation against a church dean.

Seoka said the allegations had nothing to do with the closure.

Controversial funding pot “catastrophic” for CofE

Friday, May 18th, 2012

by Marcus Jones, Premier Christian Media

“We have to fund a true gospel and not a false gospel – if people want to go down a false gospel route they’ll have to fund that themselves.”

That’s the message of Revd James Paice – one of the Directors of the Southwark Good Stewards Company.

The organisation’s been set up take away money from a pot normally used to distribute funds to struggling places of worship across the Diocese of Southwark in London.

Instead, it’ll only give financial help to those who sign up to a set of orthodox teachings.

Depending on how many churches sign up, a large number of financially struggling liberal churches could be hit hard.

Those behind the scheme aren’t happy with changes being made which they feel are making the Church of England too liberal.

Revd Paice, who’s the vicar at St Luke’s in Wimbledon, said: “It’s a concern about revisionism.

“A good number of people are worried that it will lead to decline in the state of the Church.

“This is what we’ve seen in America – we’ve seen two Cathedrals close, the Church is in freefall, people are leaving in droves.

“That’s where revisionism leads – it doesn’t lead to spiritual life.

Read here

We should elect our chair, say Primates

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

by Ed Thornton

Instrumental: Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs GAFCON, gives his keynote address on Monday PHOTOS GAFCON

 

THE Primates of Nigeria and Kenya suggested this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury should no longer chair the Primates’ Meeting. The chairman should instead be elected by the Primates themselves, they said. The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, and the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, suggested the idea at a press briefing on Monday, shortly before the start of a leadership conference of the Fellow­ship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, in London (News, 6 April). A spokesman for the FCA said that dele­gates from about 30 countries were at­tending the conference, representing about 55 million “of all churchgoing Anglicans”. Archbishop Okoh said: “My thought is that it will be better to have an Archbishop [of Canterbury] who is respected, honoured, for historical reasons, but that the Anglican Com­munion eventually should think about organ­ising itself around a chairman, who will have a tenured office, of four or five years, and then hand over to another person.” He continued: “It seems that the Church of England is not carrying along everybody in the Communion, and that is why you can see there is a crisis; if we will solve the problem, we have to change the system.” Archbishop Okoh noted the way that the Commonwealth now elects its leadership. “It is the same thing; the Church of independent countries — no longer the British Empire — must make some changes. It is not something that should remain permanent that the Arch­bishop of Canterbury, whether he understands the dynamics in Africa or not, remains the chair, and whatever he says, whether it works or not, is an order.” The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who was chairing the press briefing, sought to clarify that the Primates were suggesting the election of a chairman of the Primates’ Meeting, not “some sort of super-leader of the Anglican Communion. . . We’re not talking about a chairman of the Anglican Com­mun-ion, but a chairman of the Primates’ Council, and one therefore able to gather the Primates.” Asked if any Primate, such as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, would be eligible to stand as chairman, Dr Wabukala said that the position should be open to “those who subscribe to what the Anglican Communion stands for”. Asked to elaborate further, he said that the Jerusalem Declaration, which was drawn up at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in 2008 (News, 4 July 2008), “captures exactly what almost every­body is looking for”. When asked about Primates who would not endorse the Declara­tion, Dr Wabukala said: “That means self-exclusion. It’s not a covenant to sign to ex­clude you, but it is the faith that people pro­fess to which you may not be comfortable.” He went on: “Of course, the fact that one [chair­man] is elected, that means he is ac­cepted by all of us.” Spokespeople for Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office both declined to comment on the idea suggested by the two Primates. The two Primates’ Meeting was set up in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan, and has met regularly since, each time at the initiation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Primates also announced plans for a second meeting of GAFCON, which will take place in May next year, at a venue that is as yet unspecified. A statement from the FCA said that the meeting would be “a dynamic force for restating the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of revisionist attempts to change basic doc­trines, and turn Christianity merely into a movement for social betterment”. Dr Jensen said that GAFCON 2 “reflects something about the new state of the Com­munion”. He said that the Lambeth Conference was “premised on the 19th-century sailing ships, bringing together once every ten years”. He said that the Lambeth Conference was “just bishops”, whereas GAFCON was “for all in the Church”. Question of the Week: Should the Archbishop of Canterbury cease to chair the Primates’ Meeting?

 

“GAFCON is for all”: the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen

THE Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabu­kala, said on Monday that the Anglican Communion’s leadership should no longer “be focused on one person or one Church”, and that “orthodox leaders” should “de­velop new structures”, writes Ed Thornton.

 

In a keynote address to the leadership conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), of which he is chairman, at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, Dr Wabukala said: “Orthodox leaders must now do more than simply stay away. We have to go back to the basic principles and develop new structures while remaining firmly within the Anglican Communion. . .

 

 

“Our Communion has come of age, and it is now time that its leadership should be focused not on one person or one Church, however hallowed its history, but on the one historic faith we confess.”

 

 

Dr Wabukala said that there had been “unprecedented challenges to Anglican identity forced upon us by the revisionist scriptural interpretation”. This had enabled members of the FCA “to rediscover the dis­tinctive reformed catholicity of our Com­munion as shaped so profoundly by the wit­ness of the 16th-century Anglican Reformers.”

 

 

The Global Anglican Future Conference, which will meet for the second time next year, “was launched as a rescue mission for the An­glican Communion”.

 

 

The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by C of E dioceses (News, 30 March) showed “that institu­tional remedies for the crisis have failed, and that the problems we face are far too deep-seated to be dealt with by merely managerial and organisational strategies”. The “heart of the crisis” in the Communion “is not institu­tional, but spiritual”.