Archive for October, 2015

Who Put God In A Box?

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Who Put God In A Box?

Fr. Dale Matson
http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/

The Word of God is both a mirror and a light. It reveals our inner nature to us, both saint and sinner. What I was impressed with in writing a devotional was my own lack of humility when in God’s presence and how often I fall short of His call to live a pure and holy life.

I am also impressed with how God has been turned into a charitable friend by our modern churches. We do have a friend in Jesus but He is so much more than that. He is also the transfigured and ascended Christ, Who is also God. He is also the Christ who was a co-creator with the Father. In the 1979 BCP lectionary readings, we see the compassionate human Christ but the righteous Christ Who threw the money changers out of the temple is downplayed. Christ demands that we follow Him, yoked to His pain, joy and holiness. We will all drink from His cup of suffering until we put on immortality.

One cannot walk away from the experience of writing a Lectio Divina format devotional without being bathed in the light of Scripture. What has been missing for me is the obvious Divine aspect of Christ, the moment-by-moment presence of God the Holy Spirit and fear of the Father. I think the 1928 Book of Common Prayer gives us a much fuller understanding of God than the 1979 BCP.

Much of the 1928 prayer book is driven by a traditional catechism with questions like this. “What is thy duty toward God?” “My duty toward God is to believe in him and fear him…life.” The 1979 prayer book asks, “What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?” “God is love”. He is a loving and gracious God but to only portray Him in this way is a form of idolatry and paves the way for a false Christology that deemphasizes God’s call to Holiness.

My questions would be, “Who is God?” “Is God only love?” “Is he not also a jealous, holy, sovereign and righteous God?” “Who is man?” “Is he created in God’s image but also contaminated with original sin. “Do all humans and all of corrupted creation need a savior?”

In the 1979 prayer book, human nature is misrepresented. “What does it mean to be created in the image of God?” It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and God.” What is described is human existence before the fall. There is no mention of the fall, original sin and the corruption of all creation. While the 1979 prayer book emphasizes free will and choices (freedom), the 1928 prayer book describes in detail our duty (responsibilities) to neighbor including “…to do my duty in that state of life unto which is shall please God to call me.”

When a church manipulates belief through the selective use of lectionary Scripture, then it is no different than Satan’s three temptations of Christ with the selective use of Scripture. What Scripture is selected for the lectionary lessons and how it is selected reflects the underlying theology of those who select it. The Underground Pewster has had several examples posted on his blog over the years, where Scripture readings are broken up to avoid certain passages. (http://lowly.blogspot.com/2015/09/dilemma-mark-938-50-what-parts-to-ignore.html)

It is TEC leadership that put “God in a box” by overemphasizing one aspect of His being. In so doing, they also let man out of the box, so to speak. We are called to “…do our duty.” We are free but we have constraints and boundaries, duties and responsibilities. Good theology is God centered. Theology that is man centered makes God in the image of an idealized man. When man is god, the material earth becomes his kingdom and it is more important to save the earth that humans may “flourish” than to save souls for the Kingdom of God.

Father Dale is an Anglican Priest, a Retired Licensed Plumber and Heavy Equipment Operator and Psychologist. He resides with his wife Sharon in Fresno California and is a Priest at St. James Anglican Cathedral. He is an Emeritus Faculty member of Fresno Pacific University and has authored 12 books

CAIRO: Anglican Church in North America Declared Partner Province by the Global South

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

CAIRO: Anglican Church in North America Declared Partner Province by the Global South

October 16, 2015

Anglican Primates of the Global South, a coalition representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans, met October 14-16, 2015 in Cairo, Egypt.

During the meeting, the Anglican Church in North America was declared to be an official partner province of the Global South. In addition, Archbishop Foley Beach, who earlier in the week had preached at All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Cairo, was seated as a member of the Global South Primates Council with both voice and vote; participating fully in the meeting.

Archbishop Beach commented on the gathering, “It is a privilege and joy to represent the Anglican Church in North America as the bonds of fellowship between faithful, global Anglicans continue to be strengthened. This was a good and important week in the lives of our provinces, and I am encouraged that some of the seeds of restoration and renewal that were planted years ago are continuing to bear fruit.”

At future meetings of the Global South, the Anglican Church in North America is invited to send official representatives, and Archbishop Beach will continue to have voice and vote in the Global South Primates Council.

Purposes of marriage fixed for Anglicans by the BCP says Okoh

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Author:

George Conger

The purposes and principles of marriage as given in the Book of Common Prayer defines marriage, the Primate of All-Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, told his diocese’s 16th Annual Women’s Conference last week in Abuja. Attempts by some western churches and nations to redefine marriage to include covenanted relationships between persons of the same gender were theologically impossible and morally suspect, he said. “In our context, marriage is the relationship between a man and a woman, any other thing is an abomination. The purpose is for companionship and strength whereby the wife is strength to her husband and so also the husband. It should not only be in their youth but also as they grow older they begin to complement each other in a very strong way so that they kill the boredom of loneliness,” he said on 10 Oct 2015. Attempts to separate marriage from procreation were unnatural, he observed. “The western world may want to adopt people’s children but certainly the child is not their own and in fact their influence on such children is not going to be very healthy.” Christians were called to control their appetites, he said, stating the only proper expression of genital sexual congress was within male-female marriage. We are not animals that express their emotions and sexual feelings on the road, so marriage is honourable and dignified as described in the Bible,” the archbishop said.

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– See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/purposes-marriage-fixed-anglicans-bcp-says-okoh#sthash.KOhuRojo.dpuf

United Methodist and Episcopalian Church Clergy Lead Prayer Rally to “Bless” Abortion Clinic

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

In Ohio, United Methodist Church pastor, Reverend Laura Young, says she believes pro-life protesters in front of Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities have “misguided faith.” In fact, she thinks these clinics should be blessed, which is why she went out to an abortion facility called Preterm on October 8th in Cleveland. In 2014, Preterm was involved in the abortion-related death of Lakisha Wilson.

Young explained her acceptance of abortion like this: “Christianity, like most faiths, is founded on love. Watching protesters shouting judgment and hate based on what they call religion is horrible. Is that loving God? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself?”

Think Progress reports that the group hopes their “blessing” will protect Preterm from “preachy protesters, as well as encourage the strength and bravery of those providing and relying on its services.” Young plans to go out to other abortion facilities in the state if their event in Cleveland is successful.

Young also says religious groups are fueling the so-called war on women. She explained, “Women are being attacked at a moral level by the radical Religious Right. They’ve hijacked the political discussion. This event is an opportunity for progressive religious leaders to stop the silence. We need to be in the conversation.”

The abortion reverend heads up a group called the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and they run an “all-options” counseling hotline for women facing crisis pregnancies. She said, “It breaks my heart to know women are sitting in pews across the country feeling shamed, believing that they’re cursed for making this decision. That’s a question I get a lot on the phone, ‘Am I going to hell?’ When God instead is there to support women through it all.”

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On their website, the group says their mission is to “ensure reproductive choice through education, advocacy, and counseling. The Coalition seeks to give clear voice to the reproductive issues of people of color, those living in poverty, and other underserved populations.”

As LifeNews previously reported, on July 29, the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advocacy Board said the undercover videos exposing the organization’s organ harvesting business are simply an attack on women’s health care. Jeffrey Walton from the Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that the board is made up of religious leaders from the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church and American Baptist Churches as well as clergy from Reformed Jewish and Unitarian Universalist congregations.

In a statement the clergy said, “As faith leaders committed to justice, honesty, and liberty, we are troubled by the decades-long campaign of harassment against Planned Parenthood and those they serve. Our faiths demand care for those marginalized by poverty and other oppressions. Faith leaders have supported Planned Parenthood for nearly 100 years because of our shared goals: every person — regardless of income, race, or religion — deserves access to safe, affordable, high-quality health care.”

They concluded, “Our religious traditions call us to offer compassion, not judgment. People who work for Planned Parenthood give care and respect to those in need, doing God’s work. For this we are grateful.”

Thankfully, pro-abortion religious groups are in the minority and countless prominent religious leaders have expressed disapproval for Planned Parenthood’s outrageous practices. For example, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that the videos reveal “the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion and fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life.”

Then he reminded Catholics that Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so man.”

Additionally, Rev. Franklin Graham and Baptist theologian Albert Mohler commented on Planned Parenthood’s lucrative business after the footage was released. Rev. Graham said, “Abortion is a sin and is clearly murder in God’s eyes. The people who perform it have no conscience, so I’m not at all surprised that they would be selling organs, tissue, and body parts from babies. Planned Parenthood should be put out of business. They’ve done enough damage.”

In some ways, Mohler used even stronger language than Rev. Graham to describe Planned Parenthood and said they “stand at the epicenter of the Culture of Death.” He also dismissed the abortion giant’s justifications for their executive’s unbelievable comments.

He said, “They are not going to be able to explain this video away. I have no reason to believe that the video is anything less than totally credible. But, even if Planned Parenthood somehow finds a way to evade justice in terms of criminal activity, the part of the video that Planned Parenthood does not –and cannot — deny reveals their senior medical director enjoying a conversation over a meal in which she describes tearing apart the bodies of unborn human beings in order to get the desired organ: “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Will revisionism save the C of E? We’re about to find out.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream.

“Superb article, Andrew. You’ve cleared up several points on which I was confused. But then your articles are rarely less than superb.”

Sadly this commendation did not apply to me, but was the first of 640 readers’ comments on an article by Andrew Brown in last week’s Guardian Online. But more of that later.

Presiding Officers in each Diocese are this week counting the votes to elect members for General Synod for the next five years. I have a more than passing interest as I am a candidate for Oxford Diocesan clergy, but definitely an outsider to be one of the nine chosen among the 30 candidates.

Some Dioceses have already posted their results, and the headline has been the election of Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain as a representative for London. The background: In February 2014 the Bishops’ post-Synod statement reiterated that the Church of England cannot bless same sex relationships nor change its doctrine of marriage. Specifically an appeal was made to clergy in same sex relationships (which were supposed to be “celibate” anyway) not to take advantage of the forthcoming change in law (March 2014) to get married, because this would cause confusion about the Church’s teaching. Two clergy who defied this ruling became focal points for media interest: Jeremy Pemberton and Andrew Cain. What are we to make of the fact that the latter has become part of the decision making and governing body of the organisation whose teaching and practice on a crucial matter he has rejected?

London has the highest number of clergy reps for Synod – 11 – and there are some evangelicals in the list as well. But clearly, Foreshew-Cain has attracted many votes from other clergy because he represents a groundswell of opinion that the Church’s line on sexuality and marriage should be changed. He will become, then, a “focus of unity” for revisionists on Synod. Some may think the Bishops should be embarrassed, but I’m sure the official response will be that as the Church is involved in a “conversation”, all views can be expressed robustly, providing there is “good disagreement”.

For his supporters, Foreshew-Cain will be a symbol of “inclusion”. In his recent media statements he assumes that those who are concerned about his lifestyle simply “dislike gay people”. He goes on to say that the church with its teaching about sexual morality is not only alienating gay people, but divorced people as well. The implication is that whatever people choose to do with their relationships and private lives, that is ‘who they are’, and there should be no barriers. For revisionists, Foreshew-Cain’s presence at Synod will be a prophetic challenge to the boring, oppressive establishment, whose traditional doctrines about sex and marriage are excluding large numbers of people who don’t live in monogamous heterosexual marriage and are not celibate. ‘Including’ them will be the key to church growth.

Andrew Brown, veteran Guardian journalist, made similar points in an article last week, entitled Opposing gay Bishops for the sake of church unity is stupid. In his first paragraph he dismisses two common beliefs about what makes churches grow: a foundation of truth, and certainty of faith and its communication. The fact that different religions are based on mutually incompatible truth claims, and all seem to survive and thrive, suggests, according to Brown, that any such claims by any religion should be treated with suspicion if not ridicule. He then refutes the idea that certainty in religion is a good thing, by using two examples of “conviction” Christianity. Prosperity preachers are “obvious charlatans”; Calvinists are “boring and wrong”. This analysis of the motives of those who disagree with you is similar to Foreshew-Cain’s accusation that all with a conservative theology on sex and marriage hate gay people.

Brown dismisses the idea that sticking to orthodox doctrine will strengthen ecclesiastical institutions, because it hasn’t worked with the Catholic church in the West. Nor, apparently, with Anglicanism – since the notoriously heterodox David Jenkins retired from the See of Durham, a succession of Bishops “of unimpeachable orthodoxy” have failed to prevent a steep decline in church attendance. For Brown, like all revisionists, orthodoxy, like “Calvinism”, is a turn off even to most churchgoers, who would prefer to be led by a Bishop who shared their doubts, and this may in fact arrest the decline.

All of this builds up to the main point of Brown’s article, which is that Jeffrey John should be a Bishop, but has been blocked by “noisy evangelicals”, who insist that he could not be a focus of unity in a Diocese. Again there is caricature – we are told that conservative clergy are threatening to “march out” of the C of E in the case of John’s episcopacy, and that being governed by this threat is “cowardly and stupid”. Brown says that making John a Bishop might cause disunity but it would not be any worse than the current decline in numbers under Bishops with conventional beliefs and lifestyles, and may even cause some to stay. The same argument would presumably be made about the election of Foreshew-Cain to Synod as a hero for the revisionist cause.

But of course for those concerned about a foundation of biblical truth in the Church of England, the hypothetical problem with Jeffrey John being a Bishop would not be his sexuality, but his heterodox teaching. The actual high profile presence in Synod of a clergyman married to someone of the same sex will be a guarantor of division, and a symbol not of inclusion of people but of rebellion against God and his word. It is delusion to think this is a brave challenge to the powers that be – it is rather a capitulation to them, to the Stonewall-controlled, secularised new Establishment.

Will the policy of inclusion without repentance and faith, of rejecting traditional doctrines and reimagining Christian faith in line with contemporary urban white Western culture, bring more people to church? The Episcopal Church in the States and in Scotland, and  the Anglican Church in Wales have journeyed along this road, and are declining rapidly. While it may be true that orthodox Bishops per se do not guarantee church growth, the evidence shows clearly that revisionism leads to church decline. And its not difficult to see why. If the Gospel isn’t true, why should I go to church on Sunday rather than go shopping or play golf? Community? Inspiring architecture? Help to be a better person? Those who want clergy to be “tentative in speaking about God” and “honest about doubts” have certainly failed to convince me why I should bother with the church if the whole thing is an “imaginative construct” to use Andrew Brown’s phrase.

If Foreshew-Cain’s presence on Synod passes without any comment from Bishops or senior evangelicals, does this signify another milestone in the C of E’s inevitable slide towards revisionism?  What will the orthodox Anglicans do in the light of the latest example of this trajectory, in England and worldwide?

See also The all-inclusive church, by David Robertson, Christian Today

Cairo meeting of archbishops to begin on Wednesday

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Author:

The Global South and Gafcon primates are scheduled to meet in Cairo on 13 Oct 2015 in Cairo, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East tells Anglican Ink. Writing in response to a story released on 12 Oct 2015 that stated the primates had begun their meeting at All Saints Cathedral on 11 Oct 2015, Archbishop Mouneer Anis stated this was not the case, as not all of the invited leaders of the conservative and center-right coalitions were present and they had not yet begun their formal deliberations. The gathering of primates is expected to discuss the invitation extended by Archbishop Justin Welby for a primates gathering in January in Canterbury. Dr. Annis stated he had written to some of those scheduled to attend warning of the pressures they would face from partisans representing the various factions within the Communion.

“I am sure that you agree with me that at this time the only option for us is to be united and stand together for the upcoming Primates meeting. Divisions will weaken our stance. As you know unity does not mean uniformity. Both GS and GAFCON have their own unique approach. But our single aim is to expand the Kingdom of God and spread the Good News in Jesus Christ. At this time, if there is some weak among us, we need to do our best to embrace and encourage them to stand firm. . “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all”  (1 Thess 5:14)

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves”  (Romans 15: 1). We praise the Lord because none of us is ready to compromise the traditional faith which we received from Jesus Christ through  the Apostles. No one on earth can obligate or force us to compromise this faith. For this reason, we need to relax and to be gracious because we own our decision, by God’s Grace. We cannot be forced to do anything against the Scripture and our conscious. Our God is in charge for sure. For this reason we should not be driven by fear and suspicion but by trust in the One who called us who will do it “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)”

– See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/cairo-meeting-archbishops-begin-wednesday#sthash.GSQdaSSG.dpuf

Gafcon meets in Cairo to consider invitation to Canterbury

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
Author:
George Conger

Members of the primates council of the GAFCON movement met yesterday in Cairo, sources tell Anglican Ink, and are understood to have discussed their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the January primates gathering scheduled for Canterbury. A source familiar with their deliberations said they would be communicating their decision first to Archbishop Justin Welby before any statement would be given to the media. He further noted that he could neither confirm nor deny that a decision had been reached, though it is understood the coalition of conservative archbishops have agreed to act as one. A spokesman for Archbishop Foley Beach confirmed the ACNA primate had preached on Sunday at All Saints Cathedral. Sources in Cairo report that other members of the primates council had gathered in Cairo before the start of the Fifth South to South Anglican Conference scheduled to begin today in Carthage, Tunisia. A statement is expected shortly from the conference organizers explaining the reason for the cancellation. However, unconfirmed reports from those scheduled to attend the meeting state it was cancelled due to an unspecified security threat.

– See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/gafcon-meets-cairo-consider-invitation-canterbury#sthash.4VY0SqO3.dpuf