Archive for November, 2014

Anglican Communion may be beyond repair says Welby

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

welby
Justin Welby
During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.

A Flourishing Communion

First of all, and this needs to be heard very clearly, the Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries. There has been comment over the last year that issues around the Communion should not trouble us in the Church of England because the Communion has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. Not only does it exist, but almost everywhere (there are some exceptions) the links to the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding its Archbishop, are profoundly valued. The question as to its existence is therefore about what it will look like in the future. That may be very different, and I will come back to the question.

Secondly, Anglicanism is incredibly diverse. To sit, in the space of a few months, in meetings with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Primate of Australia, the Primate of South Africa, the Moderator of the Church of South India, the Primate of Nigeria and many others is to come away utterly daunted by the differences that exist. They are huge, beyond capacity to deal with adequately in the time for this presentation. Within the Communion there are perhaps more than 2,000 languages and perhaps more than 500 distinct cultures and ways of looking at the world. Some of its churches sit in the middle of what are literally the richest parts of the globe, and have within them some of the richest people on earth. The vast majority are poor. Despite appearances here, we are a poor church for the poor. Many are in countries where change is at a rate that we cannot even begin to imagine. I think of the man I met in Papua New Guinea who is a civil engineer and whose grandfather was the first of his tribe to see a wheel as a small aircraft landed in a clearing in the forest.

At the same time there is a profound unity in many ways. Not in all ways, but having said what I have about diversity, which includes diversity on all sorts of matters including sexuality, marriage and its nature, the use of money, the relations between men and women, the environment, war and peace, distribution of wealth and food, and a million other things, underpinning us is a unity imposed by the Spirit of God on those who name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This diversity is both gift and challenge, to be accepted and embraced, as we seek to witness in truth and love to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about. We need to hold on to that, there is a prize, the quest for which it is worth almost anything to achieve. The prize is visible unity in Christ despite functional diversity. It is a prize that is not only of infinite value, but also requires enormous sacrifice and struggle to achieve. Yet if we even get near it we can speak with authority to a world where over the last year we have seen more than ever an incapacity to deal with difference, and a desire to oversimplify the complex and diverse nature of human existence for no better reason than we cannot manage difference and dealing with The Other. Yet in Christ we are held together. In Christ the barriers are broken, peace is held out to us as a gift established, which needs living. In Christ there is hope of a life that provides hope of peace.

Fourthly, the Communion is extremely active. Let me give you a few examples. In Mexico, a small community abandoned by all, of people who had lost their homes and were living in the bad lands, where a priest (otherwise unoccupied apart from a full-time career in a professional area and running another church, as well as being unpaid) was sent by his bishop, to start a church, something he thought might well cost him his life. But there he went, to the poorest of the poor, and a community has been established with numerous baptisms, growing spirituality and a love and concern and compassion for one another that speaks of the living presence of Jesus among them.

Another example, a conference in Oklahoma City, in which from people around The Episcopal Church, with patience and courtesy to one another, there was discussion over the issues around the use of firearms and the meaning of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, in practice in the modern-day USA.

The South Sudan, and after a day spent burying the dead of a great massacre, the Archbishop stood up with extraordinary courage and called for reconciliation. Those from the rebel group would already have opposed him, those from his own group would not necessarily have been impressed. To do that puts any of our struggles into a real perspective.

In England a church in the middle of an extraordinarily mixed area of religious faith, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, active in its worship, lively in its preaching, yet being the centre and focus of religious leadership in the area so as to enable difference to be handled well.

There are so many others that merit a presentation of its own.

We live in a community that exists, that is deeply engaged with its world almost everywhere, that is diverse and argumentative and fractured, but yet shows in so many places both known and unknown the power and love of Christ through His Spirit at work in our world. We live in a Communion which merits celebration and thanksgiving as well as prayer and repentance.

A flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.

I do not want to sound triumphalist. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.

Our divisions may be too much to manage.

In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.

In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world as we should, must affect our actions and our words.

A Communion under threat

There is persecution in the Communion, in many, many areas. We are a poor, and a persecuted Church.

We are well aware of that and need to remember it constantly. In very many parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa and the Middle East, but also South East Asia, persecution comes from jihadist attacks which have killed many, many Anglicans, other Christians and in largest number Muslims, over the last few years. Not a day goes by without some report being received of the suffering and persecution of churches around the world, and of cries for help and requests for support. Not a day goes by without something which should break one’s heart at the courage and the difficulties involved.

There is immense suffering in the Communion. The terrible spread of Ebola, indescribable, a Black Death sweeping through three Dioceses of West Africa, is by itself a catastrophe of historic proportions. I was briefed on it two weeks ago in Accra, and the suffering of people in the afflicted countries makes the blood run cold. We must help, pray and call for more help.

In the South Sudan the human created food shortage threatens to turn into a terrible famine. In DRC the war continues with the utmost cruelty, usually including rape.

The list could go on and on, especially in the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, the Levant and the Euphrates valley.

Where do we go?

So what do we do? Where does this extraordinary, fractious, diverse, argumentative, wonderful, united, ferocious, peaceful, persecuted, suffering body that is the Communion go, and what is the impact on us here in the Church of England?

First, as I have said nothing we say is heard only by us.

Secondly, we should rejoice in being part of this monumental challenge, of this great quest for the prize of being a people who can hold unity in diversity and love in difference. It is almost unimaginably difficult, and most certainly cannot be done except with a whole-hearted openness to the Holy Spirit at work amongst us. It comes with prayer, and us growing closer to God in Jesus Christ and nothing else is an effective substitute. There are no strategies and no plans beyond prayer and obedience.

Thirdly, the future of the Communion requires sacrifice. The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours. Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient. Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree. What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.

In this Church of England we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world. We must speak the truth in love.

In practice that has to mean the discipline of meeting with those with whom we disagree and listening to each other carefully and lovingly. It means doing that as much as when we meet with those with whom we do agree, whether it is during sessions of General Synod or at other times. It means celebrating our salvation together and praying together to the God who is the sole source of our hope and future, together. It means that even when we feel a group is beyond the pale for its doctrine, or for its language about others or us, we must love. Love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemy. Who in the world is in none of those categories?

All of us prefer being with those whose tradition we know and in which we were brought up. I am as much part of that as anyone else here. But I have gained far more in my own walk with Jesus Christ through being willing to meet with others whose traditions I did not find sympathetic, and be as transparent with them as I am with my closest friends, as from anything else that I have ever done.

And for the future of the Communion? I have not called a Primates’ Meeting on my own authority (although I could) because I feel that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to develop a collegial model of leadership, as much as it is necessary in the Church of England, and I have therefore waited for the end of the visits to Provinces.

If the majority view of the Primates is that such a meeting would be a good thing, one will be called in response. The agenda for that meeting will not be set centrally, but from around the Primates of the Communion. One issue that needs to be decided on, ideally by the Primates’ meeting, is whether and if so when there is another Lambeth Conference. It is certainly achievable, but the decision is better made together carefully, than in haste to meet an artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. A Lambeth Conference is so expensive and so complex that we have to be sure that it is worthwhile. It will not be imposed, but part of a collective decision.

The key general point to be established is how the Anglican Communion is led, and what its vision is in the 21st century, in a post-colonial world? How do we reflect the fact that the majority of its members are in the Global South, what is the role of the Instruments of Communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what does that look like in lived out practice? These are great decisions, that must be taken to support the ongoing and uninterrupted work of ministering to a world in great need and in great conflict. Whatever the answer, it is likely to be very different from the past.

So, the good news. The Communion exists and is doing wonderful things. The bad news. There are great divisions and threats. The challenge. There is a prize of being able to develop unity in diversity and also with deeper and deeper ecumenical relations demonstrating the power of Christ to break down barriers and to provide hope for a broken world. We must grasp that challenge, it is the prize of a world seeing Christ loved and obeyed in His church, a world hearing the news of his salvation. So let us here, in the Church of England and above all in its General Synod, be amongst those who take a lead in our sacrificial, truthful and committed love for the sake of Christ for His mission in His world.

A Bit of Martin Luther for Reformation Day

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

If you have never read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, you have missed out on some of the most brilliant and historically pivotal expositional writing in the last 500 years. Even my Roman friends, though disagreeing, might want to read it to better understand the kind of indexthinking that drove the Reformation forward. I first read Luther’s Galatians commentary many years ago in my mid-twenties when I was contemplating a move toward Roman Catholicism. It, along with Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Calvin’s Institutes, a healthy dose of RC Sproul, and, ironically, EWTN, persuaded me to remove my toes from the Tiber’s bank. Here, to celebrate the day, is one of my favorite sections from Luther’s Galatians commentary:

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Ghost is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Ghost, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, “Amen.”

We must learn that forgiveness of sins, Christ, and the Holy Ghost, are freely granted unto us at the preaching of faith, in spite of our sinfulness. We are not to waste time thinking how unworthy we are of the blessings of God. We are to know that it pleased God freely to give us His unspeakable gifts. If He offers His gifts free of charge, why not take them? Why worry about our lack of worthiness? Why not accept gifts with joy and thanksgiving?

Right away foolish reason is once more offended. It scolds us. “When you say that a person can do nothing to obtain the grace of God, you foster carnal security. People become shiftless and will do no good at all. Better not preach this doctrine of faith. Rather urge the people to exert and to exercise themselves in good works, so that the Holy Ghost will feel like coming to them.”

What did Jesus say to Martha when she was very “careful and troubled about many things” and could hardly stand to see her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening? “Martha, Martha,” Jesus said, “thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” A person becomes a Christian not by working, but by hearing. The first step to being a Christian is to hear the Gospel. When a person has accepted the Gospel, let him first give thanks unto God with a glad heart, and then let him get busy on the good works to strive for, works that really please God, and not man-made and self-chosen works.


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4 comments

So powerful, thanks for sharing Matt.  Happy Reformation Day!

[1] Posted by Karen B. on 10-31-2014 at 05:22 AM · [top]

I like that Pastor Scotty Smith has posted today a prayer in gratitude for the Gospel and the Reformation

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/10/31/a-prayer-of-gratitude-for-the-gospel-on-reformation-day/

here’s an excerpt

On Reformation Day 2014, I gladly affirm that my hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other than your blood and your righteousness. On you, Lord Jesus, the solid and saving Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. Keep bringing me back to the gospel, Jesus; keep bringing me back to the gospel plus nothing. So very Amen I pray, in your most holy and gracious name.

Amen and Amen

[2] Posted by Karen B. on 10-31-2014 at 05:27 AM · [top]

Hand that out to the trick or treaters tonight!

[3] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 10-31-2014 at 10:19 AM · [top]

Amen Karen, thanks for reminding us of this wonderful hymn.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness hides His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood,
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, May I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

[4] Posted by Betty See on 11-5-2014 at 01:34 AM · [top]

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Pansexual agenda hailed as Episcopal Church’s only university dumps last vestiges of Christian morality

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

SEWANEE: University of the South Celebrates National Coming Out Week

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org

With the words “Pan[sexual] and proud” written on her back, one sophomore came out to her friends through Snapchat. “It’s the most passive way I can think of doing it,” she wrote. She had been trying to figure out when to come out for some time and decided National Coming Out Day was probably a decent opportunity.

The University of the South, the one and only university of The Episcopal Church, is now unofficially no longer a Christian university with Christian moral values, but a university that allows and recognizes those in the LGBTQA+ community, that is people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, asexual, or non-binary sexuality, who can “come out to the community” (if they have not already done so), and celebrate their sexuality publically.

This year, the Spectrum, the Gender and Sexual Diversity House, the Women’s Center, and the Cornerstone Initiative collaborated to celebrate National Coming Out Week at Sewanee. The events kicked off on October 8. The week included a panel on breaking down stereotypes, a performance from transgender comedian Ian Harvie, an LGBT-BBQ, and culminated with a Rainbow Rave on National Coming Out Day, reported in “The Sewanee Purple” the bimonthly campus newspaper.

According to Kathryn Willgus (C’16), co-president of Spectrum, “The week went better than I anticipated. The events were well-attended and not just by the folks who are regularly involved with Spectrum.” However, there’s still a lot more to National Coming Out Day that Willgus wished she had been able to emphasize. “Looking back on it, I wish I could have done more in recognizing that coming out is extremely difficult and talking about the reasons that some people choose to wait longer than others, or some that don’t want to come out at all. Coming out is hard and not every person is going to necessarily want or need a national holiday to enable them to come out. But even if just one person feels empowered and supported by our solidarity and celebration of the coming out experience — that’s why we do what we do.”

VOL has reported on the sexual hijinks of this allegedly and professedly Christian university over the years, but it is clear that is following the bell curve of the national Episcopal Church in matters of faith and morals.

In late October, the university held SEX WEEK with a “Let’s talk about it, Sewanee” theme. Included was a screening of “How to Lose Your Virginity” with sex auxiliary talks titled “Sex Positivity” and “Justice in Bed: Sex at Sewanee”.

Other “lectures” included, “It’s your Sex Life: Healthy sexuality and you; Queer Sex: A dialogue by and for the Queer Community and Queer Consent: A conversation”.

To drive the point home, discussion was initiated on addressing Sewanee’s immunity to change, a conversation about changing Sewanee’s culture around gender and consent, facilitated by a Dean Hartman.

More lectures included such things as IUDs, Implants and Pills, Oh My! And finally Radical Self Love, celebrating and conversation promoting self love surrounding sex, our bodies, and sexual orientation and talking about different methods of contraception, condom giveaway and sharing professional knowledge and peer experiences.

The “Justice in Bed” talks, program designed to explore the cultural and moral implications of the hook-up culture of Sewanee and today’s world, Lam Ho, a writer with “Sewanee Purple” noted.

A seminarian at the School of Theology, Sarah Miller, wanted a safe place for these conversations to occur. While some conversations revolve around religion, she said she wanted hers to encompass the differing views of sex and the most comfortable way to navigate the sexual realm.

Miller said she was inspired by her undergraduate experience at Sewanee. During her four years here, she says she found herself with one script for navigating sex on the Domain. She was also faced with the question of sexual violence and how culture plays a part in it. “I heard more and more about the awful things that had gone on, on campus, and I felt helpless. For ‘Justice in Bed’, the mission is all about creating a healthier sex culture at Sewanee,” she says.

“Ideally, people will walk away with a working vision of the kind of ‘sex life’ that they want. I say ‘working vision’ because I don’t think the goal is for someone to arrive at the answer or the finish line and never revisit that again. We’re always growing and changing our minds and beliefs, and that affects everything. So I hope people go to the program and come out saying, ‘I have some sense of who I am and how all of those best parts of myself and how these things influence what I’m gonna do in bed with other people,'” said Miller.


This past summer proved to be a monumental season for Sewanee and All Saints’ Chapel, as two alumna Kathryn Kendrick and her partner, Eva Walton, had their marriage blessed in All Saints’ Chapel, following a lengthy and complex deliberation by the University’s leaders.

To support the couple, Kendrick’s former roommate, Hayley Robb Brantley created a group called “Rethink This, Sewanee”. The group’s Facebook page quickly expanded to more than 2,600 members that peacefully rallied behind Kendrick and Walton’s efforts to approve same-sex marriage blessings at All Saints’. University Chaplain and Dean of All Saints’ Chapel, Reverend Tom Macfie noted, “We tried to listen to all opinions, and we respect them. Our focus was to be true to the policies of the University, the direction of the Episcopal Church and the laws of the state of Tennessee.”

After continued consideration, Sewanee granted Kendrick and Walton’s request to have their relationship blessed in the University chapel. Rethink This. Sewanee held a follow up event called “Behold How Good”. In order for civil union blessings to occur in Episcopal churches and chapels, the denomination had to approve a new liturgy, which came to pass in December 2012. This liturgy allowed for blessings of same-sex marriages, even in states where gay marriage is illegal, such as Tennessee.

The Sewanee Parents Council, which serves in an advisory capacity for the University, apparently sees nothing wrong with any of this. “Our goal is to build up the connections between the constituency of parents and Sewanee, and to support the University’s mission of providing our sons and daughters with a superior undergraduate experience, wrote Gail and Dean Rushton. They hope to raise generous gifts from Sewanee families to the tune of $3.7 million “to help Sewanee continue to grow as an incomparable place of higher learning.”

One wonders if the parents of these students really know what is going on at Sewanee, how their money is being spent or what they are being taught about The Faith and Biblical morality.

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The World’s Most Hated Preacher

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

So who qualifies as the most annoying, the most irksome, the most controversial, and the most rejected preacher of all time? While many might come to mind, there are many who certainly would never fit the bill. There are many who are so well-liked, so loved, and so adored, that one could never think of them as causing any trouble or raising a ruckus.

Many of our big-time preachers today, including those in the biggest churches in the West, are so committed to men-pleasing, to telling people what they want to hear, and to never rocking the boat, that they are perpetually loved and adored by the masses.

jesus 23It could never be said of them that they made enemies, caused division, provoked anger, and caused great disturbances wherever they went. They are so wishy-washy in their preaching and so intent on keeping the crowds happy and so docile that they will never utter a hard word, never take a stand for anything controversial, and never seek to upset anyone.

In the most marked contrast imaginable, there was a preacher who did all these things – and for that he was crucified. The world’s most troublesome preacher without a doubt was Jesus Christ. He is so utterly unlike so many of today’s popular men-pleasing preachers.

I am once again struck by this as I reread the gospels. As I am going through John right now, let me simply focus on this one gospel, and take only one part of it. But the verses contained here make it overwhelmingly clear how different Jesus was from so many preachers of today.

I will look at just John 5-12. These chapters are jam-packed with explosive confrontations, hard-core power encounters, and cases of incredible controversy and conflict. Jesus seemed to have this impact wherever he went. He sure knew how to provoke a reaction.

And so often that was a very negative reaction. He seemed to make enemies readily! Of course this is spelled out for us at the very beginning of John’s gospel. In John 1:11 we read: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

Thus very early on we are informed that Jesus was not going to have an easy ride, but would be causing controversy and getting folks upset. In these eight chapters of John we find this occurring repeatedly. Consider the way Jesus was constantly causing division amongst the people:

-John 7:12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”
-John 7:30-31 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd believed in him.
-John 7:40-43 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
-John 9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.
-John 10:19-21 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
-John 11:45-46 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
-John 12:37-43 Some people believe, some don’t.

And it was not just the crowds who were divided because of Jesus. Even his own disciples were divided, with some choosing to no longer follow him. John 6:60-67 makes this very clear:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

His words were so hard and non-negotiable that his own followers finally had enough. And the scale of negative reaction continues to rise. Plenty were mumbling and grumbling about what he said and did. We already saw this above, and in John 6:41-43 we read about how the Jews began to grumble about Jesus. And as also already seen, some critics accused Jesus of being demon-possessed. Other texts also speak to this:

-John 7:20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered.
-John 8:48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
-John 8:52 “Now we know that you are demon-possessed!”

Of course the negative reactions soon bubbled over into hatred. As we read in John 7:5-7: “For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil’.” And as we read later, Jesus told his disciples that just as the world hated Jesus, so too it will hate his followers (John 15:18-25).

And this hatred became so intense that it led to a deep desire to kill him:

-John 5:16-18 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
-John 8:59 They picked up stones to stone him.
-John 10:31-39 The Jews try to stone Jesus for blasphemy.
-John 11:8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
-John 11:53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
-John 12:10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well.

Remember, this is just one of the four gospel accounts, and these are just some of the chapters from that final gospel. But from this small sampling of the evidence, it is crystal clear that Jesus always made an impact on people. Sometimes they loved him, but just as often they hated him.

Neutrality was certainly not an option it seems. He stirred people up big time, and so often people went absolutely ballistic over him and his words. It is obvious that Jesus did not have the slightest intention of pleasing people and making everyone happy. He was determined to speak truth, knowing that it would produce a ferocious negative response from so many.

So let’s get this straight: here was the most loving man to ever walk the earth. He was also the most gracious, the most compassionate, the kindest and the humblest preacher ever known. Yet he was also the most reviled, the most hated, the most attacked, and the most rejected.

So why in the world do we think we will get a better reaction than Jesus did if we faithfully and fearlessly proclaim his word? The world hated Jesus and it will hate us as well. That is guaranteed. As Leonard Ravenhill put it, “Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this: “You can really test what is being preached by one particular criterion, and it is this: the gospel of Jesus Christ is always offensive to the natural man. . . . If you find the natural, unregenerate man praising either the preacher or his message then, I say, you had better examine that preaching and that preacher very carefully.”

Or as George Whitefield remarked, “It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” It is time we started earning a few lessons from Jesus, the greatest preacher who ever lived.

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Anglicans invited to round two of Vatican’s fight on the family

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Author:

George Conger

Round two of the Catholic Church’s debate on human sexuality and the family has been set for 17 Nov 2014 at the Vatican in Rome. But among the speakers at this session will be the primate of the largest church of the Anglican Communion and two leading bishops of the Church of England.

 

Less than a month after proposals to change the Catholic Church’s doctrines of marriage, human sexuality and conciliar authority brought

BIshop Nazir Ali

BIshop Nazir Ali

Archbishop Okoh

Archbishop Okoh

conservatives to the brink of open revolt, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria will speak along with Bishops Michael Nazir Ali and N.T. Wright at the a three day conference.

Sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Councils on Interreligious Dialogue and the Family, the gathering will focus on “complementarity” of men and women in the family, in marriage, and in the life of the Church.

Pope Francis will deliver the opening address to the Humanum conference, which will include speakers from a cross section of denominations and religions. In addition to the three Anglican invitees, among the other 32 speakers from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths are Pastor Rick Warren, Cardinals Gerhard Müller of the CDF, Kurt Koch the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Jean-Louis Tauran of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

According the meeting’s website, the purpose of the gathering is to focus on “complementarity” of men and women.

The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

Witnesses will draw from
 the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
 of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.

One of the organizers of the event, Prof. Helen Alvare, told Anglican Ink the decision to include non-Catholic speakers at the colloquium was that marriage was not solely a Catholic concern.

The Holy See offices who chose these speakers believed that they would have a strong interest in looking closely at the relationship between the man and the woman in marriage.  In nearly every culture around the world, and most religions too, the question of what is true, what is beautiful, what is the lived experience of this relationship we hold to be “image of God” and crucial to learning love/the meaning of life, …is often discussed but still too little understood. The matter is usually discussed only under the headings of the sexual relationship between men and women, or “why people despair” this union. This gathering, it is hoped, will answer a need to find beautiful, new, creative language and images to attract people to the beauty of the relationship that is the heart of the family…one hopes to attract those even who despair of it, or who believe it is nothing special anymore.

Not only in Evangelium Gaudii, but also in the Synod documents it was offered that because marriage is a human institution experiencing real suffering, the Church should interact with cultures and religions, each of which has knowledge of this human institution, has a theology with reflections on marriage, has charisms respecting the treatment of marriage, has practical wisdom and insights. This is an inspiration for the gathering.

Each session of the conference will open with the screening of a short film, the organizers say, that will examine men and women and marriage from round the world. “Each film features a variety of illuminating interviews with young and old, single and married, women and men, lay and religious, from many cultures, continents and religions. Topics range from the beauty of the union between the man and the woman, to the loss of confidence in marital permanence, to the cultural and economic woes that follow upon the disappearance of marriage.”

Asked by Crux magazine to comment on the apparent conservative orientation of the invited guests, Prof. Alvare said Anglo-American political labels were not appropriate. Those invited to speak were chosen by the Vatican because of their work in this area.

“[W]hen you start knocking on doors, asking who’s working on this, you end up with people who look to those who use this political categories, I think, incorrectly, as conservative,” she said. “But those doing the groundwork don’t see their work on this regard in this particular way. Their work crosses across all political labels.”

Englandistan and Western Self-Immolation

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

The West once prided itself in celebrating freedom and promoting genuine diversity. But this is no longer the case. England for example may well be gone. So thorough and so consistent has the Islamisation of the once great Britain been that one is left wondering if it will soon become the first Western locale with a Muslim majority and full Islamic law.

Evidence is everywhere, and it certainly does not look very good. Every day the headlines inform us that England is on the verge of becoming a Muslim nation, and those who don’t like it can just pack up and leave. The numbers alone tell us the story.

islam 29For years now we have known that demographics is radically transforming England. Between immigration and high birth rates for Muslims, the nations is being transformed right before our very eyes. And in the meantime Englishmen are aborting themselves out of existence.

New census figures bear this out. Consider this headline: “The changing face of Britain: A child in Birmingham is now more likely to be a Muslim than Christian”. The article begins:

There are more Muslim children than Christian growing up in Birmingham, figures show. The latest statistics, extracted from the 2011 Census, give an insight into the fast pace of demographic change across Britain. They pinpoint several parts of the country where traditional religious beliefs are being eclipsed for the first time.
In England’s second city of Birmingham, of 278,623 youngsters, 97,099 were registered as Muslim compared with 93,828 as Christian. The rest were of other faiths such as Hindu or Jewish, or none. A similar trend has emerged in the cities of Bradford and Leicester, the towns of Luton, in Bedfordshire, and Slough in Berkshire, as well as the London boroughs Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, where nearly two-thirds of children are Islamic.
Last night experts said more must be done to ensure that society does not become polarised along religious lines. Professor Ted Cantle, of the ICoCo Foundation, which promotes community cohesion, said: ‘What we are seeing are several trends running together. There is a long-term decline in support for the established religions, notably Christianity; continuing immigration from the Asian sub-continent; and higher fertility among the Muslim population, which has a considerably lower age profile.

And with so much Islamic influence, no wonder we hear Muslim leaders slamming Western values while pushing for sharia law. Check out this excerpt from a recent article:

British Islamist Abu Rumaysah said he wants to see every woman in the UK “covered from head to toe.” Rumaysah and his Islamist confidants patrol the streets of East London, chastising British citizens for not complying with Islamic law. In a series of videos, they can be seen harassing women for inappropriate dress, rebuking men for drinking alcohol, and calling a man “dirty” on the suspicion that he is gay.
“Ultimately, I want to see every single woman in this country covered from head to toe,” Rumaysah told 60 Minutes correspondent Clarissa Ward. “I want to the see the hand of the thief cut. I want to see adulterers stoned to death. I want to see sharia law in Europe, and I want to see it in America, as well. I believe our patrols are a means to an end.”
Rumaysah told Ward that Western Democracy was a “barbaric” system and that he should be free to “choose” Islamic law and enforce it as he sees fit. He even told Ward to cover herself up.
“Why can’t I tell you to cover up? Am I free to say that?” Rumaysah asked. “So, cover up. Wear the hijab.” Rumaysah is in the inner circle of radical Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary. Both men were arrested in September on charges of inciting young British Muslims to engage in terrorism.

The same documentary found these leaders fully shrilling for ISIS victories overseas:

There are at least 500 U.K. citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq and every week, according to British police, another five recruits join the fight. British jihadis have been on the front lines with ISIS from the very beginning. In the group’s recent videos showing the executions of western hostages, the masked man holding the knife speaks with a London accent. The spike in western fighters may be in part due to this man, Anjem Choudary, a British-born lawyer turned Islamic preacher, who lives in London and has for years been asserting his democratic right to call for an end to democracy.

And the English government seems to be doing its best to aid and abet this Islamic takeover:

Anyone who criticises Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an “extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission.

Hey, I am criticising sharia law right now. I guess I better stay away from England. Mind boggling. And even English men and women overseas can be in very real danger. Consider this:

A British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Iran after trying to attend a men’s volleyball match has been sentenced to one year in jail, local media says, quoting her lawyer. Ghoncheh Ghavami, a law graduate from London, was arrested in June at a Tehran stadium, where Iran’s national volleyball team was to play Italy. The 25-year-old went on trial last month.

Since we are speaking about women and Islam, this new headline also is most telling: “Study: 19 of 20 Worst Countries for Women Are Muslim-Majority Countries”. The story begins:

It’s official. According to the latest data, 19 of the 20 worst places in the world to be a woman are Muslim-majority countries. That’s too strong a correlation to be a coincidence. (Note: The only country in the top 20 that isn’t a Muslim-majority country is Ethiopia, where more than a third of the population is Muslim.) Meanwhile, Muslim organizations like CAIR continue to silence anyone who criticizes the treatment of women in Muslim lands, and gullible American “feminists” are converting to Islam.

Wow, what a mess. If these six examples of creeping sharia, stealth jihad and intolerant Islam don’t convince you of the way the West is dying while Islam is on the ascendency, I don’t know what will. England especially seems just about gone.

And even more tragic is that most Westerners and most Christians are sleeping through this whole thing. We really seem to deserve our fate.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2755654/The-changing-face-Britain-A-child-Birmingham-likely-Muslim-Christian.html
freebeacon.com/culture/uk-islamist-i-want-to-see-every-single-woman-in-this-country-covered-from-head-to-toe/
www.cbsnews.com/news/recruiting-for-isis-60-minutes/
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11202290/Sharia-law-or-gay-marriage-critics-would-be-branded-extremists-under-Tory-plans-atheists-and-Christians-warn.html?fb
www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-02/iran-jails-woman-for-watching-volleyball-supporters-say/5861238
www.answeringmuslims.com/2014/10/study-19-of-20-worst-countries-for.html

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Gafcon comes of age: Archbishop says

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

 

Author:

George Congerhttps://fcasa.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/bp-eliud.jpg

Gafcon has become a de facto instrument of unity for the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala said on 24 Oct 2014 in a pastoral letter to the global Anglican reform movement. Recounting his visit to Atlanta to install Archbishop Foley Beach as the second primate of the ACNA, Archbishop Wabukala wrote that Gafcon was “emerging as a new and effective ‘instrument of unity’ for the Anglican Communion. … that reality was underlined at the investiture of Archbishop Foley Beach as the second Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America by the Primates gathered in Atlanta, representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South, receiving him as a Primate of the Anglican Communion.” Archbishop Beach’s “investiture demonstrated that the realignment of the Anglican Communion is now established and unstoppable,” he said, and “Anglicans around the globe are now affirming this fact.”