Archive for February, 2016

In Uganda, Anglicans Are Casting Out Demons

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Uganda-Fire-Bones
J. LEE GRADY
Dozens of people were baptized in the Holy Spirit in this Anglican youth service last week in Kabwohe, Uganda.
Dozens of people were baptized in the Holy Spirit in this Anglican youth service last week in Kabwohe, Uganda.
Last Friday in the dusty town of Kabwohe, Uganda, more than 5,000 people crammed into an enclosed field to worship Jesus. They stayed from 7 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. for an all-night celebration that included dancing, singing, shouting, speaking in tongues and an altar call that resulted in dozens of conversions. A few times during the evening, someone was set free from demons.

You might expect this in Africa, where Pentecostal churches have been growing for decades. But this event, which happens in Kabwohe once a month, is sponsored by All Saints Anglican Church. Right after a demonized woman was carried away from the rickety wooden stage, Rev. Gordon Karuhanga led the congregation in the Apostles’ Creed. Then he and other robed clergy served Communion.

It took more than an hour to serve the bread and grape juice to the crowd.

This is the new face of revival in Uganda, where hundreds of traditional Anglican churches have been set on fire by the Holy Spirit. All Saints Church in Kabwohe had shrunk to a handful of people a few years ago. But today the 400-seat building cannot contain the throngs of worshippers who show up for Sunday or mid-week services. When I spoke there last Saturday morning, many people sat in plastic chairs outside the building and watched through the windows because the church was packed.

Rev. Karuhanga is no traditional Anglican. He was persecuted by his bishop when he began teaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He sees people delivered from demons regularly, sometimes right in the middle of a church service. His parishioners are now learning how to set local families free from the witchcraft that has been so prevalent in Uganda.

“There are many invisible forces that are in constant attack against God’s people,” says Karuhanga, who has focused his efforts on getting people delivered from amahembe, a form of sorcery promoted by local witchdoctors. People who are oppressed by these spirits often begin twitching, flailing their arms and falling on the floor in fits when they hear the gospel for the first time at All Saints Church.

“To counteract the power of demons, many Anglican churches have become open to praying for deliverance,” says Rev. Medad Birungi, an Anglican evangelist who established the interdenominational World Shine Ministries in 2005 in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

While he, too, has been persecuted by traditional bishops, Birungi sees a growing openness to charismatic renewal throughout the Anglican churches of Uganda. Today, 12 of the 38 Anglican bishops in his country are open to charismatic renewal. A similar openness is developing among Ugandan Baptists and Presbyterians.

“We are raising up a whole new crop of young Anglican leaders here,” Birungi told me. “Within 20 years they will replace the liberal bishops. These new leaders speak in tongues and embrace all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the next 20 years, we will experience a whole new wave of revival here.”

This explosive spiritual movement is not limited to Uganda. Similar waves of renewal are impacting Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya and other African nations. In some large prayer gatherings sponsored by the African House of Prayer, Christians have asked God to break witchcraft covenants that were made by government leaders.

With the Holy Spirit’s help, Africa is slowly renouncing its historic ties to sorcery, corruption and genocide.

This surge of conservative, Spirit-filled Christianity in Africa has been on a collision course with its liberal counterpart in the West. Uganda’s Anglicans are baffled by the 2003 decision by the Episcopal Church in the United States to accept gay marriage, and they have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to kick the Episcopalians out of the worldwide Anglican communion because of the heresy.

At a meeting last month in England, Anglican leaders voted to put the Episcopal Church on probation for three years as they try to resolve the conflict. They rebuked the Americans for a “fundamental departure from the faith and teaching” of the church, and they strongly reaffirmed that biblical marriage is between one man and one woman.

At All Saints Church in Kabwohe, Rev. Karuhanga says he will never compromise biblical teaching on sexuality, and he says he has prayed for people who struggled with same-sex feelings. Those people found grace to live in sexual purity. And while he stands firm on his convictions, he offers compassion rather than judgment.

“The church must be rooted in the Word of God,” Karuhanga says. “I see the Episcopalians in America as people who need to be helped. We need to teach them.”

Now that many dying liberal churches in the United States have lost the fire of the Spirit, it appears that African Christians are picking up the torch and carrying it for a new generation.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, 10 Lies Men Believe, Fearless Daughters of the Bible and The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.

TEC will go to the ACC meeting in Lusaka and they will vote, ACC chairman says

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Author:

George Conger

The Episcopal Church “cannot be kicked out of the Anglican Communion and will never be kicked out of the Anglican Communion,” the chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council told a seminary audience last week.

In a public conversation with the dean of the School of Theology of the University of the South held on 11 Feb 2016, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga said the legal and ecclesial structures of the Anglican Communion did not permit the primates, or any other “instrument of communion”, to discipline a member church.

Dr. Tengatenga said that in his view, the impression that the primates could take decisive action arose from a confusion of roles. In most provinces, bishops were tasked with preserving the doctrine and teaching of the church. When bishops gathered in mass in gatherings such as the Lambeth Conference, or when the leaders of provinces met at the primates meeting, the participants were often under the impression that their deliberations had the same standing as they would have in their home churches.

The primates could speak, he noted. But, “Where does it go? How is it implemented?” Action could only arise if a local church gave legal authority to a pan-Anglican agreement. The recent primates gathering in Canterbury offered an example of this problem.

“So the Episcopalians have been given three years,” he asked. “What does it mean? Nobody knows what it means,” Dr. Tengatenga said.  The primates believe they have said “something that is definitive, but it is not.” They do not have the “power to take the next step.”

He observed the “primates think they are more important than anyone else. When they attempt to bottle up the fizziness [of the development of doctrine within the Communion] that is when things explode.”

The “bottom line is that the Episcopal Church cannot be kicked out of the Anglican Communion and will never be kicked out of the Anglican Communion,” Dr. Tengatenga said, adding the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will be held in two months’ time in Lusaka.

“Are the Americans going there? Yes. Are they going there to be rude?”

They were not, he said “because it is their right and responsibility” to attend the meeting.

“Are they going to vote? Yes, they are going to vote as it is their right and responsibility,” the ACC chairman said.

The Americans might “voluntarily” withdraw from the meeting, he said, but he did not believe they could be compelled to withdraw. Discipline could be enforced if an American offered himself for election as chairman of the ACC – Dr. Tengatenga noted that he was soon to step down from office.

“You will find it most likely that an American will not be elected chair, and that would be a way of exercising [discipline], but it would be the only possible way to do it,” he said.

The view offered by Dr. Tengatenga, the former Bishop of Southern Malawi, is not shared by the GAFCON primates, who believe their authority arises from the agreements made by the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences vesting the primates with “enhanced authority” to address these issues. Nor are they likely to agree with Dr. Tengatenga’s contention that the instruments of unity, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, are powerless to act in this situation.

Archbishop Justin Welby pledged to his peers that he would honor the agreement reached at the Canterbury meeting and see that the Episcopal Church would experience “consequences” for adopting new marriage rites – rites Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church conceded in an address at the National Press Club were significant changes of doctrine. Dr. Tengatenga’s comments may place Archbishop Welby in the difficult position of having to explain to the primates that he might not be able to honor his undertaking under canon law.

Categories: 

Anglicanism in spite of Canterbury?

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

This article by the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey first appeared in the AAC’s International Update. Sign up for this free email here.
I read with some interest the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on the Primates gathering we returned from just a few weeks ago. In his recent address to the Church of England’s General Synod he made a number of significant statements—significant because they are signs of the future that lies ahead for a deeply divided Anglican Communion. You can find his whole address here, but let me focus on three significant statements:

 

1. “The meeting was set for Canterbury because that would recall to people the way in which Canterbury, and especially its cathedral, represent the center of the Anglican Communion.”

 

Really? Is the center of the Anglican Communion really an Archbishop, or a Cathedral? For the vast majority of Anglicans now living in the Global South, the center of the Anglican Communion is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, where the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations” is being accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, and where peoples’ lives are being transformed spiritually, emotionally and physically by the love of Jesus Christ. The center of the Anglican Communion is where Jesus is being exalted as Savior and Lord, and where people are faithfully living their lives as Jesus would according to the Scriptures. And if that place has a geographic center, it is the Global South—not Canterbury.

 

Elsewhere the Archbishop of Canterbury rightly observed: “What are the limits of diversity? Who is in control? British colonial history makes the laying down of edicts by white, middle-class Christians from the Global North, citizens of the former colonial power in many places, a process that is rightly deeply resented.” But in claiming himself and Canterbury as the center, is he not contradicting himself and simply reasserting continuity with that British colonial past? Shouldn’t we be wary of a leader who says that we should avoid old “colonial ways”—and then insists that his See, Canterbury, is the hub around which the Communion revolves?

 

In reality, it was the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and Global South Primates who had to take leadership in this Primates gathering to get any “limits on diversity,” and any “relational consequences” at all upon The Episcopal Church (TEC) for its actions since 2003 in unilaterally violating Biblically teaching on human sexuality, along with Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998).

 

2. “To be part of the institution of the Anglican Communion a Province must be in communion with the See of Canterbury.”

 

Resolution 49 of Lambeth Conference 1930 says that relationship with Canterbury is the condition for being within the institution of the Anglican Communion. Yet what the Archbishop of Canterbury ignores is all the Lambeth Conferences which preceded 1930 and robustly reaffirmed that communion was around a shared confession of faith, doctrine and order. He ignores the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (Lambeth 1888), which provides for a “common faith and order” as the basis for reunifying the Church–without any reference to the See of Canterbury. This agreement around the Bible as the revealed word of God, the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two sacraments instituted by Christ, and the “historic Episcopate” locally adapted remains the Anglican benchmark for communion. It is all about a shared confession of faith and order—not relationship with Canterbury.

 

Even the Lambeth Conference 1930, in Resolution 48, recognized communion as being based on a shared confession of faith and its essentials:

 

“The Provinces and Patriarchates of the first four centuries were bound together by no administrative bond: the real nexus was a common life resting upon a common faith, common sacraments, and a common allegiance to an Unseen Head…”

 

Well before 2003, that sharing of a “common faith” was shattered by the teachings of the Episcopal Church and other Anglican leaders in the Global North on such essentials as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Creeds and the trustworthiness of the Bible. It is discouraging that Archbishop Welby, like his predecessor, seems unwilling and unable to acknowledge that we now live in an Anglican Communion where there is no common understanding of Christian essentials among many of the Anglican Churches in the Global North. As theologians like Paul Avis have noted, this default to an ecclesiology based on relationships rather than a common faith is really just an accommodation to Western culture and doctrinal incoherence among Anglicans in the Global North. Relationships cannot hold the Communion together. Only the Jesus of the Scriptures can hold us together as a Church.

 

3. “The Anglican Communion finds its decisions through spiritual discernment in relationship, not through canons and procedures. “

 

It is very discouraging that the Archbishop of Canterbury seems unwilling and unable to affirm the Holy Scriptures as the ultimate rule and standard of faith and practice—and therefore as the basis for defining “the limits of Anglican diversity.”

 

Instead, he spoke of a way forward in which he, seemingly, invites Anglicans to replace Scripture, tradition and reason with a new trio of authorities:

 

“We rightly talk of scripture, of tradition and reason; but in the tension in which we live in a Global Church, there is another trio – of freedom, order and human flourishing – set out by Tim Jenkins in an article in 2002. As a Communion (and as churches) where authority is found in discernment, and expressed in relationship, this trio is of huge importance. It anchors us in the breaking down of barriers, in facing each other, in the beauty of human interaction in love.”

 

Under this new trio of authority, our focus will be on “human flourishing,” and on “setting free those who are bound by rules which Jesus could never have imagined, nor Paul… [rules] which have emerged out of a desire for power rather than the expectation of the kingdom of God.”

 

I am hearing echoes of the same ad hominem arguments I heard for so many years in TEC—ad hominem attacks on those who sought in good faith to be faithful to what the Bible actually says. These attacks hardly ever addressed what the Bible actually says. These ad hominem attacks swept Biblically faithful teachings aside because they were “rules which Jesus could never have imagined,” rules which “emerged out of a desire for power.”

 

The most charitable thing I can say about Archbishop Welby’s new trio of authorities is that it may be a bit premature to replace Hooker’s “Scripture, tradition and reason” with Jenkins “freedom, order and human flourishing” as the basis for determining the limits of Anglican diversity. “Freedom, order and human flourishing,” are not the Biblical tests. They are not confessional. They are not catholic. They are not evangelical. I don’t even remember hearing them in ALPHA.

 

Should the Archbishop continue on the path he’s going down, it may be necessary to imagine an Anglicanism in spite of Canterbury.

 

Phil-Ashey-2014The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President and CEO of the American Anglican Council.

No Unity at the expense of truth’: a response to Justin Welby’s Presidential Address

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

 

By Andrea Minichiello Williams
Christian Concern
http://www.christianconcern.com/
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, has issued the following statement in response to the Archbishop Justin Welby’s Presidential Address to the General Synod on Monday (15 FEB):

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address at Synod addressed the aftermath of the recent Primates’ gathering in Canterbury, in which a compromise was reached between two diametrically opposed groups: those who hold to the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality — and those who do not.

That meeting was not a success, and it is disingenuous to suggest that it was. It did not tackle the fundamental issue and instead it tries to keep us on a path that can never secure true unity.

It failed to challenge an overarching relativism which allows human ideas and current cultural trends to override God’s unchanging Word.

The Archbishop’s analysis reflects an approach that prizes the appearance of institutional, formal unity over true, organic unity. But without organic unity, institutional unity will crumble and collapse as we have already seen.

Real unity can only grow in the soil of truth. No amount of institutional scaffolding can substitute for healthy soil.

God’s pattern for marriage and His teaching on sexuality is not peripheral. Our approach to it tests our understanding of the authority of Scripture and the Gospel itself..

The underlying issue is whether the churches will submit to God’s Word.

An approach to unity which, as long as the institution is upheld, allows an ‘agreement to disagree’ on Scripture’s authority, is counter-productive and doomed to failure.

Unless there is a shared submission to God’s Word, we are not on a shared journey to a shared destination, and no amount of institutional scaffolding will take us there.

During his speech, the Archbishop spoke of the necessity of “unity which relishes and celebrates the diversity of freedom and [human] flourishing within broad limits of order.”

What we saw at the Primates’ meeting, and have seen for several years, is not true unity.

Members of the Communion who hold opposing views on the key issue of marriage will simply continue to co-exist in deep disagreement. The Archbishop himself admitted that members are in “very different” places theologically.

We know these conversations will continue, and we know that liberal members will continue to push their agenda under the guise of ‘love and acceptance’. Yet true love and compassion does not discard or distort God’s good patten for human flourishing.

Only a fortnight ago it emerged that a new ‘Anglican’ campaign group, LGBTI Mission, has been established, in order to pressure the Church of England to accept clergy in same-sex ‘marriages’. It demands that same-sex ‘marriages’ be considered equally valid to marriages between men and women.

How will the Archbishop address these increasing attempts to deviate from the standard God has set out for us in His Word?

The Scriptures outline God’s pattern for marriage as between one man and one woman. This is designed as a beautiful reflection of Jesus’ love for His church, an expression of intimacy and communion, in covenant.

Jesus promised He will come back for a pure and spotless Bride. Yet the Bride of Christ will not ‘flourish’ under compromise.

The Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised the need for a balance between order, freedom and human flourishing.

But what freedom is the Archbishop speaking of here?

He is right in reminding us that Jesus came to set us free. Yet true freedom is freedom from sin, which is found in repentance and the surrendering of human desires to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not freedom to continue holding to disobedience of the Word.

Obedience to the Word of God is vital if the Church is to flourish.

If the Church compromises the Truth we are are not fit to evangelise. How can we evangelise with a watered down gospel that reflects the spirit of the age that is less appealing to many than the running club?

Obedience to the true Gospel is worth living and dying for: as Jesus predicted his death he said:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels”.

We are not preaching a true Gospel message, if the teaching of the Bible on such a vital matter as marriage and sexuality is compromised. There can be no relevance if the truth is truncated.

The Archbishop spoke of the picture of humility that Jesus painted through the washing of His disciples’ feet. But in that humility and servant-heartedness, we must point people to truth. Archbishop Justin failed to speak of truth or of objective revelation from God. It is as if truth has been relegated to a ‘process of discernment’ not a matter of scripture, canons and creed.

This is a capitulation to the ‘spirit of the age’, not the Spirit of God who has spoken in Scripture.

Andrea Minichiello Williams is the CEO of Christian Concern and a member of the English General Synod

Christians are now a ‘minority’ in Britain like persecuted Roman Catholics during the Reformation say top clerics

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Practising Christians are now a “minority” in Britain like persecuted Roman Catholics during the Reformation, say two of Britain’s most senior clerics

All practising Christians are now a “minority” in Britain like persecuted Roman Catholics during the Reformation, according to two of Britain’s most senior Anglican and Catholic clerics.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the churches must set aside centuries of division and recognise they have a “common agenda” in a more secular age.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres (left), and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales

The two prelates were speaking at a unique event at Hampton Court Palace, which served as the backdrop to the tumultuous events of Henry VIII’s break with Rome.

In a step hailed as hailed as a landmark in reconciliation between Anglicanism the Catholicism, they joined in a service of vespers in the Chapel Royal.

The service, sung mainly in Latin, was the first Roman Catholic act of worship in Henry’s former chapel in more than 450 years.

The service, conceived as part of events to mark the Palace’s 500th anniversary, highlighted the chapel’s musical heritage spanning both Catholic and protestant reigns.

It comes at a time when the legacy of the Reformation is being re-examined as churches across Europe prepare to mark its half millennium.

Earlier this year Pope Francis’s personal preacher, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, was invited to preach at a special service in Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen for the opening of the Church of England’s new General Synod.

Hampton Court Palace served as the backdrop to the tumultuous events of Henry VIII’s break with Rome

He spoke about both Thomas Cranmer and Martin Luther and said Catholics should “celebrate” the anniversary of the birth of Protestantism and “benefit from its achievements”.

Two years ago Cardinal Nichols also joined Bishop Chartres in the Tower of London to pray in the cell where Thomas More, Henry’s Lord Chancellor now revered as a Catholic martyr and saint, was held prisoner before his execution after he refused to acknowledge the king rather than the Pope as Supreme Head of the Church in England.

Speaking as the Hampton Court service got underway, the two prelates discussed how the established Church of England and Catholic Church increasingly work together.

Bishop Chartres said: “I would like to think of this evening as a celebration of how far we’ve come and also a celebration of a common agenda.”

Cardinal Nichols said Catholics now made a contribution to British life as a “significant minority”.

Bishop Chartres replied: “We are all minorities now”.

Father Anthony Howe sets up the Tudor plate for a service at Hampton Court Palace   Photo: Getty

The Cardinal repeated the phrase, adding that the traditional Christian values which people “used to take for granted” we’re now open to question.

Bishop Chartres added that differences between churches are now widely ignored.

“What I see, particularly around London is that increasingly we are living in a post-denominational era,” he said.

The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court provided a backdrop to the dramatic upheavals Henry’s reign both in the field of religion and romance.

He worshipped there alongside both with Catherine of Aragon and later Anne Boleyn.

It was also there that Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, met her downfall when Archbishop Cranmer, placed a letter on the king’s seat outlining scandalous accusations of unchaste behaviour against her.

And it was also there – or in the Queen’s Privy Closet a few feet away – that Henry married his sixth and final wife Catherine Parr.

The chapel is thought to have been last used for Catholic worship during the reign of Mary Tudor. It remained an Anglican place of worship during the reign of the Catholic James II in the 17th Century.

The idea for a Catholic vespers was conceived by Michele Price, director of The Choral Foundation, the charity based at the Chapel Royal, set up to preserve English choral music, and the arts charity the Genesis Foundation.

LGBTI Mission — A Vision of the Future Church of England LGBTI Mission — A Vision of the Future Church of England By Andrew Symes ANGLICAN MAINSTREAM http://anglicanmainstream.org/lgbti-mission-a-vision-of-the-future-c-of-e/ February 9, 2016 Thursday 4th February saw the launch of a new campaign group which seeks to radically change the teaching and practice of the Church of England in a revisionist direction. LGBTI Mission is a coalition of a number of groups with similar aims; it is led by Simon Sarmiento, the editor of the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’, and its board includes Bishop Alan Wilson, former worship singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching, and Giles Goddard who last year hosted a service of Muslim prayers in his church, as well as other vicars and a church youth and families worker. The front of their website says their aim is “full acceptance and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people within the Church of England”. Several reasons are given for this. To start with, “God is love”. Then, the Church has seen change with regard to women priests and Bishops — now is the time for change with regard to views and policies on sexuality and gender. We have a ‘progressive’ Archbishop of Canterbury, they say, who has put sexuality on the church’s main agenda and who has recently apologised for the hurt caused to gay people. But most significant of all, Parliament has opened marriage to same sex couples, and public opinion is in favour of it. A well produced document details the complaints about the current situation in the Church of England, states what the group would like to see changed, and itemizes some action plans to bring about the revolution. The document claims that the current doctrines and official policy of the Church of England, ie the historic teaching of the Christian faith, does not ‘recognise diversity’ in relation to different views on sexuality, and that this is harmful to many LGBTI Anglicans who have to keep their sexual orientation in the closet. The “one-sided dominant narrative about marriage, human sexuality, and gender complementarity is used a justification of persecution and bullying of LGBTI people”, it says, and calls for radical programmes of change to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in schools, youth groups, theological education and liturgies (for example conducting and blessing of same sex marriages, baptism of children of same sex couples, and ‘re-naming’ after gender transition). The ‘discrimination’ against partnered or married gay men and women in relation to ordination and preferment should be revoked, and should be countered by more appointments of openly gay clergy and Bishops as ‘role models’. The document is worth reading carefully, because it shows what the Church of England would look like if this group and their supporters (there will be many sympathizers including some in senior positions) are able to put their radical plans into action. First, it would be a church with a new anthropology, a new understanding of what it means to be human. Instead of affirming, with Jesus, that in the beginning God created us male and female, and instituted marriage, sex and procreation; partnership between the two genders in community for creative stewardship, we would have a church which officially endorses a ‘pansexual’ understanding of diverse sexual identities and expressions. It would promote an understanding of who I am based not on my physical body, my mind and my soul as a unit, connected to my family ancestry and now a new person in union with Christ, but as a free-floating self-defined identity created in my mind and my emotions, shaped by my environment, which may be at variance with my body. An anthropology in common with the teachings of the Gnostics and Plato rather than historic Judaeo-Christian understandings. Second, it would be a church with a new understanding of mission and ministry. At the moment, the C of E welcomes all, but provides a context where thinking, behaviour and emotions can be challenged and transformed by the saving grace and lordship of Christ. The LGBTI mission aims for a church to affirm, include and give ministry status to all, especially those who feel unfairly judged by the standards of historic Christian faith. But actually this isn’t quite true. This new church would celebrate bisexuality (the ‘B’ in LGBTI), and apparently make no distinction between someone clearly distressed by ‘gender dysphoria’ and the man who likes to dress in women’s clothes for unwholesome reasons (both can identify as ‘T’). ‘Post-revolution’ the church would even generously provide a temporary space for those clergy who disagree with same sex marriage to “opt out” of having to conduct them. But the document makes it clear that it regards those who hold such views as ‘homophobic’, inherently in the way of progress, and so ultimately not welcome. Third, it would be a church with new theological foundations. As there is only one theological statement in the lengthy LGBTI Mission document — “God is love” — and no biblical quotation apart from this, one could say that the theological foundations are a bit thin! But this would be unfair. “God is love, therefore he gives me what I feel I need, and the church must do the same” is a powerful theological idea. While there might not be much Bible or God-talk in the LGBTI church, there would certainly be a coherent philosophy about how our Christian faith should be relevant by reflecting the values of the majority of the population, rather than the wisdom of the Bible interpreted consistently through church history. If we want to know what the church should believe and teach, listen to people’s feelings as expressed in opinion polls. Fourth, it would be a church which has a new means of driving mission. Instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to work through men and women in congregations, working outward to do mission in communities, this group wants to use the power of government and secular lobby groups to force change on the church. For example, the section on ‘fostering a culture of safety for LGBTI children’ reads like a briefing from Stonewall. Then, when talking about ensuring that no barriers are created for children of same sex couples (for example, clergy insisting on bible-based preparation before a baptism service) the group advocates ways of using the media to spotlight any such violation. Most alarmingly, LGBTI Mission intends to: “Raise concerns in Westminster about the reach and scope of the current religious exemptions in civil law.” This is clearly a threat to to ask Parliament to remove the protection and exemptions that the C of E currently has with regard to same sex marriage. Finally, the church envisaged by LGBTI Mission would be a new ecclesial body that is detached from the Anglican Communion. Many of us hoped that after the Canterbury meeting that the position of the Anglican church had been made clear: marriage is between a man and a woman. There will be many pastoral issues that arise from the realities of sinful people, whatever their sexual orientation, seeking to follow Christ; the church should always offer the mercy and compassion of Christ to individuals, while upholding the principles of Christ to the world. LGBTI Mission, in rejecting the clear view of the Primates, appears to want to lead the Church of England outside the Anglican Communion, and become a religious body with no connection with the historic denominations of world Christianity, but which worships the state-sponsored gods of the culture. END

Friday, February 12th, 2016

LGBTI Mission — A Vision of the Future Church of England

By Andrew Symes
ANGLICAN MAINSTREAM
http://anglicanmainstream.org/lgbti-mission-a-vision-of-the-future-c-of-e/
February 2016

Thursday 4th February saw the launch of a new campaign group which seeks to radically change the teaching and practice of the Church of England in a revisionist direction. LGBTI Mission is a coalition of a number of groups with similar aims; it is led by Simon Sarmiento, the editor of the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’, and its board includes Bishop Alan Wilson, former worship singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching, and Giles Goddard who last year hosted a service of Muslim prayers in his church, as well as other vicars and a church youth and families worker.

The front of their website says their aim is “full acceptance and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people within the Church of England”. Several reasons are given for this. To start with, “God is love”. Then, the Church has seen change with regard to women priests and Bishops — now is the time for change with regard to views and policies on sexuality and gender. We have a ‘progressive’ Archbishop of Canterbury, they say, who has put sexuality on the church’s main agenda and who has recently apologised for the hurt caused to gay people. But most significant of all, Parliament has opened marriage to same sex couples, and public opinion is in favour of it.

A well produced document details the complaints about the current situation in the Church of England, states what the group would like to see changed, and itemizes some action plans to bring about the revolution. The document claims that the current doctrines and official policy of the Church of England, ie the historic teaching of the Christian faith, does not ‘recognise diversity’ in relation to different views on sexuality, and that this is harmful to many LGBTI Anglicans who have to keep their sexual orientation in the closet. The “one-sided dominant narrative about marriage, human sexuality, and gender complementarity is used a justification of persecution and bullying of LGBTI people”, it says, and calls for radical programmes of change to promote diversity, equality and inclusion in schools, youth groups, theological education and liturgies (for example conducting and blessing of same sex marriages, baptism of children of same sex couples, and ‘re-naming’ after gender transition). The ‘discrimination’ against partnered or married gay men and women in relation to ordination and preferment should be revoked, and should be countered by more appointments of openly gay clergy and Bishops as ‘role models’.

The document is worth reading carefully, because it shows what the Church of England would look like if this group and their supporters (there will be many sympathizers including some in senior positions) are able to put their radical plans into action.

First, it would be a church with a new anthropology, a new understanding of what it means to be human. Instead of affirming, with Jesus, that in the beginning God created us male and female, and instituted marriage, sex and procreation; partnership between the two genders in community for creative stewardship, we would have a church which officially endorses a ‘pansexual’ understanding of diverse sexual identities and expressions. It would promote an understanding of who I am based not on my physical body, my mind and my soul as a unit, connected to my family ancestry and now a new person in union with Christ, but as a free-floating self-defined identity created in my mind and my emotions, shaped by my environment, which may be at variance with my body. An anthropology in common with the teachings of the Gnostics and Plato rather than historic Judaeo-Christian understandings.

Second, it would be a church with a new understanding of mission and ministry. At the moment, the C of E welcomes all, but provides a context where thinking, behaviour and emotions can be challenged and transformed by the saving grace and lordship of Christ. The LGBTI mission aims for a church to affirm, include and give ministry status to all, especially those who feel unfairly judged by the standards of historic Christian faith. But actually this isn’t quite true. This new church would celebrate bisexuality (the ‘B’ in LGBTI), and apparently make no distinction between someone clearly distressed by ‘gender dysphoria’ and the man who likes to dress in women’s clothes for unwholesome reasons (both can identify as ‘T’). ‘Post-revolution’ the church would even generously provide a temporary space for those clergy who disagree with same sex marriage to “opt out” of having to conduct them. But the document makes it clear that it regards those who hold such views as ‘homophobic’, inherently in the way of progress, and so ultimately not welcome.

Third, it would be a church with new theological foundations. As there is only one theological statement in the lengthy LGBTI Mission document — “God is love” — and no biblical quotation apart from this, one could say that the theological foundations are a bit thin! But this would be unfair. “God is love, therefore he gives me what I feel I need, and the church must do the same” is a powerful theological idea. While there might not be much Bible or God-talk in the LGBTI church, there would certainly be a coherent philosophy about how our Christian faith should be relevant by reflecting the values of the majority of the population, rather than the wisdom of the Bible interpreted consistently through church history. If we want to know what the church should believe and teach, listen to people’s feelings as expressed in opinion polls.

Fourth, it would be a church which has a new means of driving mission. Instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to work through men and women in congregations, working outward to do mission in communities, this group wants to use the power of government and secular lobby groups to force change on the church. For example, the section on ‘fostering a culture of safety for LGBTI children’ reads like a briefing from Stonewall. Then, when talking about ensuring that no barriers are created for children of same sex couples (for example, clergy insisting on bible-based preparation before a baptism service) the group advocates ways of using the media to spotlight any such violation. Most alarmingly, LGBTI Mission intends to:

“Raise concerns in Westminster about the reach and scope of the current religious exemptions in civil law.”

This is clearly a threat to to ask Parliament to remove the protection and exemptions that the C of E currently has with regard to same sex marriage.

Finally, the church envisaged by LGBTI Mission would be a new ecclesial body that is detached from the Anglican Communion. Many of us hoped that after the Canterbury meeting that the position of the Anglican church had been made clear: marriage is between a man and a woman. There will be many pastoral issues that arise from the realities of sinful people, whatever their sexual orientation, seeking to follow Christ; the church should always offer the mercy and compassion of Christ to individuals, while upholding the principles of Christ to the world. LGBTI Mission, in rejecting the clear view of the Primates, appears to want to lead the Church of England outside the Anglican Communion, and become a religious body with no connection with the historic denominations of world Christianity, but which worships the state-sponsored gods of the culture.

END

How Not To Make Matters Worse For African Homosexual People

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Chris Sugdensugden_chris

In the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering from January 11-16, further pressure was brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states to remove funds for their education and health budgets if the laws are not changed. The Episcopal Church (USA), the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups have pressed for this too.

Where would Jesus be found? – in the courts of the rich and powerful bullying the poor for whom families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala,Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.

There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic.

The Gay Rights movement: the challenge
An archdeacon from Jos in Northern Nigeria writes:

In many African cultures, people with same sex attraction and those who have homosexual sex have lived within communities and not been challenged or harassed. In many Nigerian cultures they gain sympathy, as in the Berom and Anaguta tribes.

These small gay communities exist despite the introduction of Sharia law which, in northern Nigeria, proscribes death by stoning of any persons caught in homosexual practices. 

Homosexuality is therefore a discreet and personal lifestyle. Despite the laws, people acknowledge the practices and keep them private. They only become crimes when they are brought to public attention.

In many African cultures and tribes, especially among the Igbo tribe of eastern Nigeria, homosexuality was a taboo even before the coming of Christianity and colonialism. Families had their individual ways of managing those who appeared to be “gay” and helping them live their lives, but it was not generally considered a public matter. Indeed it was the coming of Christianity that provided a Christian community where people with same sex attraction were more readily accepted as Christians and were not necessarily segregated. The general understanding was homosexual practice was not to be encouraged for disciples of Christ, and that certainly a leadership position in the church would not knowingly be offered to a person in this category.”

Ugandans have discovered that UNICEF, UNESCO and liberal missionaries were teaching the affirmation of same sex relationships to children in their schools, also that teaching materials were being given out that reinforced this approval. Western funded LGBT offices have been set up in major cities throughout the country. It is widely believed that bright young people are being encouraged to join LGBT groups by being offered funding for the expensive local tertiary education which is only generally accessible to the elite.

In response to the negative ground swell against this activity among Uganda’s children, the President commissioned a major scientific study to find out if same-sex attraction is innate. The report concluded that it was not. Therefore the Government brought in the ‘aggravated homosexuality bill’ (AHB) which specially relates to schools and orphanages where these propagandists work as volunteers. The change in the law is that there are prison sentences where children are involved – this is the aggravated homosexuality.  When the death penalty was proposed the church stepped in to stop it.

Outcome
Ironically the liberal campaign precipitated the AHB in Uganda which is now the target of criticism by these same agencies.

The Archdeacon from Jos concludes: “What outside activists are succeeding in doing, in their campaign, is to put undue pressure on the church to accept openly what was a taboo in communities before even the arrival of the church in the 19th century and what the church itself would not encourage. This negates the Christian morality which the church has preached over the decades and simply says that the Bible is a lie. These communities would rather go back to upholding their pagan religion that protects their communities from this ‘cult’ and its unnatural practices.

Secondly, the pro-gay policies of outside activists are being quoted as an example of western imposition of ungodly practices.  As a result Muslim propagandists can condemn everything that has come from western countries, the church included, as unnatural practices introduced to destroy family values. Boko Haram and many Muslim clerics have used this against the church and western countries and culture.

Thirdly the consequence of the gay rights movement pushing so much money and political resource to enforce laws and legal ‘cover’ for gays is to set gay people apart from the rest of the community and runs the risk of portraying them as the enemies of society rather than as people to be understood and accepted.

The effect of the gay rights campaign is therefore  likely to  be increased resistance both from the churches and many African governments,  which the west is trying to use. In Nigeria for instance, because of the reasons set out above, it will be political suicide for any politician to be associated with a gay rights movement.”