Archive for July, 2016

Identity Madness, Education, and the PC Police

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

OK, let’s cut to the quick: the revolutionaries of the left have declared war on everything. They are so intent on destroying Western civilisation and its Judeo-Christian underpinnings that they are quite happy to wreak havoc everywhere and on everyone.

A major way in which the radicals are achieving this today is by means of the politics of identity in which reality is given the flick as people are told that they can identify as whatever they want. So whatever mood you happen to be in, you can run with that.

transgender 6Hey, I can play that game too:

-I identify as the President of the United States – let me in the White House now!
-I identify as Kim Kardashian – where are all the TV cameras?
-I identify as Hillary Clinton – what time do I speak at next week’s convention?
-I identify as Lebron James – who took my NBA Finals MVP Award?
-I identify as Bill Gates – I want to withdraw $10 billion from my bank account thanks.
-I identify as my dog Daisy – so when is someone going to take me for a walk?
-I identify as my library – so dust me off already.
-I identify as a Big Mac – I demand that you eat me.
-I identify as a loony lefty – that means I can say and do anything I want, and no one is allowed to criticise me.

The madness of self-identification gets worse every single day. It is a war on reality and a war on reason and a war on common sense. And it is primarily being fueled by the homosexual and transgender activists. Consider this moronic case of gender bender idiocy: students at a NSW girls’ school can no longer be called girls. Yes you read that right.

The story goes like this:

Teachers at an all-girls school in northwest Sydney have been asked to stop referring to their students as “girls”, “ladies” and “women” and to instead use “gender-neutral” language. The request to teachers at Cheltenham Girls High School came in a staff meeting last term to discuss implementation of the controversial Safe Schools anti-bullying program for lesbian, gay and transgender (LGBTI) students.
Also at the meeting, a copy of the NSW anti-discrimination act was displayed, according to an insider, and staff were informed by the teacher chairing the meeting that if they did not support decisions of LGBTI students they would be breaking the law, would be considered homophobic and were not welcome by the school. Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has asked his department to investigate the allegations.
Some concerned parents have started a petition and complained to teachers and to their local Liberal MP Damien Tudehope, saying their children feel marginalised and excluded if they don’t participate in LGBTI activities at the elite, ethnically diverse public high school.
Teachers have helped a group of students at the school form an LGBTI “Queer-straight alliance” club to promote LGBTI issues, such as Wear it Purple Day. Other events included the temporary removal of an Aboriginal flag from a flagpole inside school grounds last month, which was replaced with a rainbow flag at half-mast for a week to commemorate a US terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“(Some of) the parents are saying that at (LGBTI) events like Rainbow Day and Purple Day that if their daughter doesn’t comply with what they perceive as the school directions their daughter is ostracised,” Mr Tudehope said. He said parents from another school in his electorate had also approached him with similar concerns. One mother who met principal Susan Bridge to express her concerns about the Safe Schools program was dissatisfied with the meeting, which resulted in the principal sending her a copy of the NSW Department of Education’s policy on homophobia….
Dr Kevin Donnelly, senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and co-author of the Review of the Australian Curriculum, said the use of gender-neutral language such as “students” in place of “girls” and “boys” was part of the Safe Schools agenda to erase gender differences.
“They say it’s hetero-normative to talk about men and women, boys and girls, because it’s reinforcing a binary stereotype,” he said. “I disagree with all of that, but I can understand why the school would be doing it. Gender ideology is undermining any traditional sense of what it is to be a man or a woman.”

Good grief. What sort of moonbeams are running this school? Is this a place where genuine education takes place, or is it just a PC indoctrination centre where every student will be forced to comply with the latest in pink fascism? The gender bending Big Brother is obviously alive and well at this school.

And you can see for yourself just what kind of radical propaganda the students are being forced-fed there. Consider this video posted by the school on June 5, 2014: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVE8fbesrlg

It features this intro: “As a part of the first ever Cheltenham Girls High School Diversity week the 2014 prefects interviewed staff and students of the topic of sexual and gender diversity. We felt that it was an issue that too often gets swept under the rug, and it’s about time we started talking about it.”

“Diversity Week”? You mean “War on Reality Week”. This is utter madness and it is a direct PC assault on every student at this school. I am not sure why any parent would want to send their child to this radical training ground after watching that 13-minute video. It is creepy as all get out!

But don’t take my word for it. I have been in touch with a concerned parent who has students at this school. One brave mother has told me what is happening there and it is frightening in the extreme. Obviously she must remain nameless, but here is part of what she told me about this:

My daughters’ public school was on the Today show this morning. Teachers there have been told to stop referring to their students as “girls” etc., but use “gender-neutral” language instead. My girls have been through it all at this school.
One day the girls turned up on rainbow day in full school uniform and were bullied for it. My daughters did not agree with the homosexual rainbow day and they and a few other girls who wore school uniforms were laughed at when they entered the school gate and they were called intolerant, etc.
One of my daughters believes she was overlooked for Prefect as she did not toe the socialist pro LGBQT line despite being an extremely high achiever involved in everything. The staff of course made it about votes. There are stickers and posters through the school promoting gay and homosexual events and constant pressure is applied to be part of it all. One daughter had to leave a group of friends who’d joined the Straight Queer Alliance and were calling her names.
This is all in line with the Safe Schools stuff. No parents were asked or even informed that the school joined up to the Safe Schools Coalition, it was done in a sneaky way and the first I heard of it was about a year after they’d joined.
All things homosexual are not the only politically correct things going on there all the time. It is also constantly pushing refugee events. And it’s not voluntary: if you don’t join in you are disciplined. This refugee thing was called the Concord Project and on a Facebook page up at the time it clearly stated all students MUST participate. Here is a quote from it: “2. Conduct the Action Plan: Each student in your school must be given a cardboard cutout of a person. On this, they write ‘One Voice’, their first name, age, school and a personalised message about children in detention. The cardboard cutouts need to be displayed in your school for an hour or two.”
Here is the Cheltenham Girls High School 17-minute video about all this:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYm8Xd_53Bo
I tried to share my concerns about this – I said that it was a brainwashing exercise – but my comments were deleted repeatedly. Never mind that the school says this: “All opinions on this issue are welcomed in the comments section, we believe that everyone has the right to share their perspective on this.” The school has a culture of dismissing complaints related to values.
And the school has even made their school uniform Muslim friendly, as can be seen in the videos. At orientation days they parade kids wearing uniforms to show parents what is the standard and they always include a Muslim girl with her special uniform.

When I asked her why she did not pull her girls out of the PC hell hole she replied:

It’s our local school – the schools here are so crowded and sought after that it’s hard to get into an out of area school. It’s a Government school and you get allocated to that depending on where you live. And a local boys’ school I know of had two or three students arrested for terror attacks. Kids were preaching jihad in the playground. I have police choppers over my house almost twice a week. Refugee housing allowed those kids into the school. Here are some articles on this:

www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/epping-boys-high-school-pupil-preached-extremism/news-story/f23b05bb656570065edcd2aefcbf7f35

www.smh.com.au/nsw/teen-charged-over-terrorism-plot-was-investigated-for-preaching-extremism-in-playground-20160517-gox2jf.html

Wow, talk about a toxic environment for children, if these guys are not cramming the homosexual and transgender agendas down the throats of these kids, they are pushing the failed multi culti agenda and all things Islamic. This is all moving in the direction of child abuse in my books. Poor kids.

And you gotta feel sorry for the parents who may feel that they have no other options in this regard. No wonder so many are resorting to home-schooling. When schools become little more than propaganda palaces for all things PC and homosexual, then education is indeed dead in Australia.

Of course the revolutionaries have always stated that getting access to education is the best way of targeting children and taking over a culture. As Vladimir Lenin once put it: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” And again, “Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”

Thomas Sowell was certainly correct to say this: “Education is not merely neglected in many of our schools today, but is replaced to a great extent by ideological indoctrination.” And he was even more correct to state: “Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.”

Yep, reality is the last thing getting a good run in so many of our schools today. Just ask the Cheltenham Girls High School, I mean the Cheltenham Whatever High School.

Oh, BTW, I now plan to enrol at Cheltenham Girls High School. I am sure they won’t mind.

www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/cheltenham-girls-high-teachers-at-exclusive-girls-school-told-to-preach-gender-neutral/news-story/c9777cad2f4e9bdccde15d3972820d21?login=1

[1818 words]

Rev Jules Gomes: After Nice multiculturalism is finished

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Rev Jules Gomes

Multiculturalism as a fad is going the way of bellbottoms, broad belts with shiny buckles, and the dodo bird. Multiculturalism is going out of fashion. Last week, Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak laid the blame for the Nice attack on the altar of multiculturalism. Declaring the basis of European values and culture as Christianity, Mr Blaszczak argued it cannot coexist with the culture and values of newcomers to the continent. Multiculturalism is ‘wrong’ as a concept, he said.

I should be the first to protest. My first name ‘Jules’ is French, my middle name ‘Paulinus’ is Latin, and my surname ‘Gomes’ is Portuguese. I hail from an Indian Brahmin background, but the Portuguese intruded into my genetic makeup when Vasco da Gama’s Sat Nav set him off for India. My flesh and blood spoke Portuguese in the living room to the guests and Konkani in the kitchen to the servants. At home, my wife and I eat everything from rump steak to flaming hot curry. With my credentials I could be a mascot for multiculturalism.

But multiculturalism must not be confused with culinary cosmopolitanism. For decades, integration was celebrated as America showed the world how to become a ‘melting pot’. This was the title of a play written by Israel Zangwill. Zangwill grew up in London’s East End, the son of Eastern European immigrants. “America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!” says the protagonist David Quixano in the play.

In October 1976, Jimmy Carter turned the pot into a salad bowl when he declared in his presidential address: “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

The melting pot and salad bowl are limited analogies because the success of both depends on the culinary compatibility of the ingredients. You don’t add pork liver to a salad. Both analogies do not allow for an already existing indigenous cultural base—either in the pot or in the bowl, as well as a binding element—the curry or the salad dressing.

Of course, Britain has never been a ‘monocultural’ society. “A Scotsman, for instance, does not thank you if you call him an Englishman,” wrote George Orwell. But despite all its differences, he adds: “Still, it (Britain) is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks.” The same could be said for the nations of Europe.

Until very recently what held Europe together was a metanarrative that had its taproot in the Judeo-Christian tradition, its secondary roots in the Greco-Roman civilisation and its prop roots in the Christian Reformation and the secular Enlightenment. Such is no longer the case. Because British culture is so inextricably woven with Christianity, atheistic secular humanists waging a war against Christianity can no longer tolerate traditional British culture as the dominant culture of this country. Multiculturalism is their answer to a Christian culture they seek to subvert.

The consequences are clear. When we no longer own our culture and are no longer proud of our country what are we going to invite outsiders to participate in? Lord Jonathan Sacks writes, “But what are immigrants supposed to integrate into? A culture of moral relativism and disrespect for traditions of all kinds? How are they to admire Britain’s institutions—politicians, Parliament, the Royal Family, the established Church—when they see them treated with disdain by the British media? How can you love a society that has fallen out of love with itself?”

Prescriptive multiculturalism is as old as the Bible. It was imposed by rulers to keep colonised subjects apart. In the biblical book of Kings, we read how the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 BC and depopulated the capital Samaria by sending the Israelites into exile and then resettled other conquered peoples in Samaria (2 Kings 17). There was no way such a diverse multicultural group would unite and fight back. Instead, they would fight among themselves. Babylon would adopt the same foreign policy and the prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah about the dangers of a simmering cauldron.

Prescriptive multiculturalism is patronising at best; pernicious at worst. It assumes that immigrants are so different that we are unable to, or unwilling to integrate into our host country. It assumes that immigrants are so different that we must stay different. It assumes that my primary identity is my cultural identity and I would like to have it that way.

Prescriptive multiculturalists suffer from historical amnesia. They forget that significant numbers of foreigners are Anglophone and Anglophile rather than Anglophobe. They should visit Mumbai and wait at the British Council Library on a Saturday to see people queuing to get hold of a P. G. Wodehouse book.

Multiculturalism perpetuates the oppression of women when cultures that practice forced marriage, honour killing, dowry, etc. are allowed to live in Britain as they lived in their countries of origin. Multiculturalism does not ensure the protection of minorities. It is the vocal and visible majorities among the minorities who benefit from multiculturalism by shouting the loudest.

Multiculturalism is the great get-out clause for some immigrants who do not want to integrate and for some elements of the host culture who cannot be bothered to work hard at welcoming outsiders. Ironically, it is racist! This happened when the Church of England failed to welcome Anglican immigrants from the Caribbean who wanted to be part of their local Church of England. They were directed to the Pentecostal Church down the road. With all its blah on inclusion the hierarchy of the Church of England is still male, pale, stale and now female.

The best advice on citizenship and integration was given by the prophet Jeremiah exiled from his Israel his home country and sent to live in Babylon.

This is the message from Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and make yourselves at home. Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away. Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare. Pray for Babylon’s well being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”

God bless the British Isles! God save the Queen!

A Journey through the Past

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org
I will stay with you, if you’ll stay with me, Said the fiddler to the drum, And we’ll keep good time on a journey thru the past. — Neil Young

In the year 337, a sixty-five year old man in ill health was making his way back to his home. His had been a turbulent life, filled with intrigues, wars, assassinations (including ordering the juridical deaths of his wife and an eldest son) and betrayals. Realizing that the end was near and hoping for forgiveness for all that he had done in his life, he changed into the white robes of a Christian catechumen and requested baptism. Shortly afterwards, in a small suburb of the city he had built, Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, died. Soon to be known as Constantine the Great and hailed as the first Christian emperor, his body was interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople.

Opinions vary as to the depth of Constantine’s Christian faith. What is certain, is that the promulgation of the Edict of Milan in 313 allowed Christians to openly practice their faith without fear of persecution and ordered the return of confiscated Church property. It is also allowed that Constantine supported numerous Christian endeavors, especially the building of churches while he personally retained many of the symbols and stylings of the older imperial cults and deities. Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, he also involved himself in the doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of church life. As such, he attracted numerous Christian leaders who had visions of “Christ’s kingdom on earth” rising out of the Roman empire, despite Christ’s own assertion – before Pontius Pilate no less – that his kingdom was not of this world.

In his wake Constantine left a troubled legacy of an empire ruled by intrigue and, perhaps of more importance to us in 2016, of a Church increasingly dependent upon the state, both for material well being and the expectation of specifically Christian ideals being promulgated in civil society.

Now, while intrigue has always been a part of political life (both in the civil and religious spheres) the involvement of the Church with the State was something new and it has left a mark on the life of the Church that extends from the time of Constantine to the present day. Throughout the centuries since Constantine, a quasi-theocratic idea of civil society (drawing heavily on Old Testament examples) has made it’s way in and out of Christian thought. Some, such as Augustine, sought a clear differentiation between the “City of God” and the “City of Man”, but even he thought the power of the State could be used against heretics and schismatics and that the Church could and/or should enjoy special privileges. The general idea of the amalgamation of Church and State, however, ranged throughout the Middle Ages and, despite Luther’s concept of “the Two Kingdoms”, into the Reformation period when, with the Peace of Augsburg (1555) and the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) the ruler of any state could establish it’s religious practice – cuius regio, eius religio (“Whose realm, his religion”).

In the United States, formed in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, the truly revolutionary idea of a nation without a national established religion was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, namely, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Making use of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as it’s basis, the intent was clear. In Jefferson’s own words, it was meant to erect “a wall of separation between Church and State.” (James Madison, the author of the First Amendment also cited Luther as providing the proper distinction between civil and ecclesiastical spheres.) This, however, applied only to the nation as a whole. Several colonies, now states, had established churches well into the first half of the nineteenth century (Massachusetts being the last to disestablish in 1834). Moreover, as white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants made up the vast majority of the population, almost through to the present time, the intermingling of state policies and religious concerns remained the norm rather than the exception. Even as new waves of immigrants made their way to America, they often almost measured their progress by how they made their way into politics carrying their faith tradition with them. While the idea of a Roman Catholic president seemed novel and unusual in 1960, within a very short time most Judeo-Christian faith traditions were accepted – although the idea of an occupant of the White House stating that he was “born again”, did raise some eyebrows in the 1970s.

If you grew up in the fifties and sixties, you were used to seeing Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on television. Your parents might be reading Norman Vincent Peale. Billy Graham was a regular visitor at the White House. Clergy were respected members of the community. Presidents went to church, the Congress had chaplains, tax exemptions were made for houses of worship and prayers might be said before the local high school football game. In 1954, even the Pledge of Allegiance was altered to include the phrase “under God”. For the most part, we were comfortable. The laws and mores of civil society seemed, at least to most, to mirror our faith traditions – and we were mostly, if not always, at ease with the status quo. The road we were on had stretched all the way from fourth century Constantinople to twentieth century Washington… and we liked it.

Those days, however, are gone, and they will not return.

We have to face the fact that not only has the world changed, so has the United States.

Europe, for decades, has been made up of nations that may only be described as “post-Christian” in terms of culture, belief and church attendance. At the present time, even in England, with an established Church and bishops seated in the upper chamber of Parliament, only 1.4% of the population will attend an Anglican service on any given weekend. On any Friday, more Muslims will attend mosque than Methodists will attend a church or chapel on the following Sunday. In the Netherlands, two-thirds of the remaining Roman Catholic churches and over 700 Protestant churches will close within the next 4-10 years. The outlook throughout the rest of the continent is similar. Next stop… the United States.

In the United States the numbers may not say it all, but they say enough. Mainline churches across the board are in decline and even evangelicals are caught in the slide downwards. Whether in the Gallup Poll of December 2015, or the extensive Pew Religious Landscape study of 2014, or the recent book, The End of White Christian America by Robert P. Jones, the numbers generally tell the same story, and the story is this: Members of mainline denominations, as well as self-identified evangelicals are aging and dying, with fewer and fewer young people taking their place. Even former adherents, now in middle age, are leaving. The percentage of those with no religious affiliation whatsoever is growing across most age ranges (among young millennials, ages 18-24, 36% self identify as having no religious affiliation at all). I could go on. There is very little good news. The numbers are exhaustive and exhausting.

The influence of religious groups has also waned. Perhaps a good anecdotal example of this might be seen in the lead up to recent wars. In 1990, prior to the Gulf War, real attention was given by President George H.W. Bush to the pronouncements of religious leaders, some even being invited to the White House to discuss their concerns. Vigils and prayers for peace were held across the country and were covered by national media. Eleven years later, prior to the invasion of Iraq, concerns of religious leaders were essentially ignored, with little attention being given by the media apart from secular protest marches in major cities. Things had clearly changed.

We are blinded, however, by what we think we are seeing and hearing. There seems to be so much activity, so many blogs, so many websites for local churches. If you have the money, you can even take a cruise with your favorite Bible teacher or Christian artist. The list of possible activities seems almost endless, as though a brave new Christian world is emerging. Then those pesky statistics come back to haunt us. For the year 2014 (the last year reported) the average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church was 90. For the year 2015, the average Sunday attendance in the United Methodist Church was 88. Now remember, this is the mean number – about half of the churches have more, but half have less. Also, these are national figures and there are conferences (Methodists) and dioceses (Episcopal) where the average Sunday attendance is 35 or even lower. Obviously, many of these churches cannot be sustained. They struggle to pay their bills, rely on denominational subsidies and hope against hope that things will get better, but it seldom happens.

So, as I look at the mega-churches, worship events in arenas, and the panoply of television preachers and ministries, what am I to think? I believe that they are the last vestiges of a Christian triumphalism that is “past its sell-by date” and do not reflect the reality faced by many, if not most, churches in the United States. Aligning ourselves with society, current norms and partisan politics may have “worked” at one time. Now, in my opinion, it is the most certain way for the Church to be consigned to irrelevancy, or to further divide the Church into smaller and smaller factions and subgroups. As someone once said, “When you wed yourself to the present, you will be a widow in the future.”

If Robert Webber was correct that the “path to the future runs through the past”, it is to the past, I believe, we must go, bypassing the Constantinian settlement, the supposed glories of medieval Christendom and embrace the life of a different kind of Church: A Church that managed it’s own affairs. A Church that did not look to the State to give it a position of advantage (financial or otherwise) and, indeed, did not look to the State to assist in propagating the Church’s ideals, mores or faith. The treasure of that Church consisted of the poor, whom they cared for and fed. It was a Church that faced occasional persecution, but, in spite of the persecution, grew.

Clearly, there has never really been a “golden age” for the Church. As individuals and as worshipping communities we have always had to struggle with the dichotomy of “being in the world, but not of the world”. Nevertheless the example is there, even in the New Testament canon. We can see such a Church in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, Clement and in the Didache. It was a Church that counted humility as a virtue. The certainty of that Church was confined to the saving work of Christ, not national pride or partisan political allegiances. Moreover we can see echoes of that Church in the lives and works of so many throughout the centuries – Francis of Assisi, the young Luther, John Wesley and so many more down to our own day.

Such a Church, especially if modeled on that of the ante-Nicene period, would be an adjustment for most American Christians. It would probably involve even more than can be stated in this small essay – the loss of tax exempt status, for instance; or involvement in civil disobedience if the State requires conformity contrary to conscience or belief. So be it. Such a Church, however, might also foster a renaissance in Biblical studies, theology, music and the arts. Who knows, it might even create disciples.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD is author of The Early Episcopal Career of Athanasius of Alexandria (Notre Dame, 1991), Prayers of the Martyrs (Zondervan, 1991) and is a member of The Project.

Simple guide to Christian living – ‘don’t be conservative

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream

In a recent article in Christian Today, Mark Woods uses a caricature of American evangelicalism to warn British Christians about the dangers of taking unfashionable counter-cultural stands.

Woods takes as his starting point a recent survey which shows that increasing numbers of evangelicals in America think it’s harder to be a Christian than it used to be. Rather than considering the possibility that secularism might indeed have resulted in greater hostility towards Christian faith, he immediately begins speculating on the motives of American Christians who feel less comfortable in 2016. According to Woods, it is all rooted in their “right-wing conservatism”.

Woods paints a picture of nasty, hateful American evangelicals, who for decades have colluded with the establishment in cruelly denying gay and transgender rights. Evangelicals have all been campaigning for a “socially conservative, imperialist agenda” which they have confused with the Gospel. The enlightened Obama administration has now thankfully swept away all the ‘discrimination’, so evangelicals now feel “embattled victims, surrounded by the forces of godless liberalism”, according to Woods’ narrative.

Rather than hankering after ‘Christendom’, where their values were dominant in society, Christians should just accept that old ideas about morality have changed, says Woods, and find new ways to work with the grain of society rather than being “die-hard culture warriors”. As the context for sharing our faith in Jesus has not changed, he claims, if we focus on that then we won’t find it so difficult to be Christian, and society will like us more because we are not trying to impose our values on them.

In attempting to apply this to the UK, Woods takes as his authoritative text the bizarre theory propounded by sociologist Linda Woodhead, that the Church of England is in decline because of the ‘dominance’ of evangelical churches which “find their identity in opposition to society”. If a church has clearly defined doctrine and looks to make disciples, it becomes inward-looking and “detached from wider social currents”. By contrast, argues Woodhead, the Church of England should be “embedded in society” and support “everyday rituals and habits of ordinary people”.

Woods seems to realize at the end of his piece that this approach, if unqualified, could simply mean the church acts to bless whatever people want to do, and so counsels discernment. He gives no guidance as to how the church might know when to oppose something in society and when to embrace it or not comment, except to suggest that the church should avoid ‘right wing conservatism’. He accuses evangelicals in America of being wedded to this socio-political philosophy, but completely fails to see that he has aligned his Christian views with another, perhaps much more dominant left-leaning liberalism.

 

In short, the argument used by Woods and many like him can be summarized as follows: “it’s so embarrassing to potentially be associated with the American Christian right, that we Christians in England must distance ourselves from any socially conservative views”. This attitude sets up an easy ‘straw man’ target and encourages Christians to define themselves as belonging to a group in opposition to those horrible ‘other’ people, rather than thinking through each issue theologically. It distorts the facts, suggesting for example that evangelicals in America (or in the UK) opposed to, say abortion and same sex marriage, are always politically right wing on all issues, and want to control moral values through political influence. Its sets up a false binary opposition between morally conservative Christians who want to be against society, and easy-going, loving ones who want to engage with it – whereas in fact some of the best examples of engagement in practical compassionate social action in Britain and around the world is to be found in theologically orthodox, evangelical parishes.

The trend of attacking the ‘American Christian right’ from the safety of a British armchair as a way of demonising orthodox biblical views is lazy and manipulative rhetoric which has taken hold in many sections of the church, and many ordinary Christians are left confused and intimidated. For example, they might read in their bibles the regular warnings about sexual immorality, but when they raise it with others they are slapped down with screeches of “Westboro Baptist Church”, and so decide to follow the crowd in signalling their concern about more acceptable issues such as modern slavery. They share on social media a story about someone dismissed from employment for wearing a cross or offering to pray with a client, and they are immediately attacked on all sides for having a ‘Christendom’ mentality.

Orthodox Anglicans looking to engage positively with the church structures face similar hostile thinking all the time. It might be at a Deanery meeting to talk about mission: a member stands up to suggest an agreed doctrinal basis for sharing faith in Christ, and this is refused by other speakers, who say that such an idea is divisive and exclusive. It might be at an interview for a ministerial post, where a candidate is told that articulating conservative views on ethics would make them unsuitable as a leader ‘for the whole church’.

Those with a revisionist interpretation of discipleship are not going to face a steep and narrow way, and so obviously will find being a Christian easier than those who bring themselves and their culture under the searching scrutiny of Scripture. Those who see the key to successful church life in avoiding expressing an opinion which might upset the dominant elite, or better still, in expressing this group’s opinions couched in Christian jargon, will have their reward in full. Meanwhile those who genuinely walk with Christ in speaking truth and living lives of love will expect opposition, but they do not identify uncritically with ‘right’ or ‘left’, play the games of power or indulge in the self-pity of victimhood.

  SAN JOAQUIN, CA: “The Most High does not live in temples made by human hands.” Acts 7:48

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
July 18, 2016

The property loss last week by the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin after eight years of battling, has drawn to a close. The winner, at least on the surface, is The Episcopal Church. They were handed a cool $50 million worth of properties including investments, endowment portfolios, as well as a crown jewel of real estate: Evergreen Conference Center, by the California Supreme Court.

The court action let stand an April decision from the Fifth District Appellate Court in favor of the Episcopal Church. That court found that the late Bishop John-David Schofield and the diocesan convention had failed to comply with the Episcopal Church’s canons when attempting to transfer properties.

But the Episcopal diocese has not won the hearts of a single Anglican Christian. The Episcopal diocese draws a total average weekly Sunday attendance (ASA) of 925. The one Anglican Hispanic congregation built under the episcopacy of the evangelical catholic bishop Eric Menees, has close to 1,000 members.

That one congregation is bigger than the entire Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin!

The Episcopal Church (and this diocese) has no ability to create or sustain an Hispanic congregation of 950. None, zip, nada. They prefer to pour money into reconciliation gabfests, or try and manipulate Global South bishops to buy into pansexuality.

More than 90 percent of the congregations that had once comprised the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin severed their Episcopal ties and joined the Anglican Church in North America. Their weekly ASA is over 3,000!

The Episcopal diocese may have won a bunch of real estate, but that’s all. They have not and will not be able to make those parishes grow again. Period. In a few months, perhaps in a year or two, most of them will be on the chopping block, available for sale to imams for mosques or upstart evangelical congregations or saloons, Mrs. Jefferts Schori’s favorite choice. The Episcopal Church has no ability to draw Nones or pansexualists into their churches. Their rectors do not know how to do the hard work of making disciples for Christ, especially if all you are selling is a load of social bonhomie, anti-racism training and an ill-defined Jesus Movement à laMichael Curry.

The figures speak for themselves. The San Joaquin diocese has only 20 congregations, with three parishes above 100! Last year, the diocese saw 9 children baptized, received some 16 into its congregations and saw 14 marriages. Burials totaled 43! More than three above combined.

The deeper truth is that the Episcopal Church is dying, and so is this diocese. It cannot draw into its fold young people, and homosexuals/lesbians are not banging down the red doors to crawl into episcopal pews. In one diocese after another, churches are closing and buildings are going up for sale, even and including diocesan headquarters in prestigious dioceses and upscale real estate markets like Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

The most recent case in point is the former episcopal diocese of Quincy. After they lost their battle with the Anglicans there, they were so small they folded their tent and were absorbed into the Diocese of Chicago. That’s the future of TEC dioceses as they shrivel and wilt. The fancy episcopal word for it is…juncturing.

Those San Joaquin Anglicans are not without resources. Menees said he expects the Episcopal Church will not replant churches in many of the properties, but will sell them off instead. He’s probably right about that.

Meanwhile, his congregations will need to gear up, using backup plans they hoped to never need. They will be moving out, Menees said, and into other facilities that have agreed to take them as tenants.

Ministries will continue, Menees said, but outreach will be hampered as congregations move further away from the neighbors they have been serving. Among those bracing for the transition is St. James Cathedral in Fresno, where a Spanish-speaking community has swelled almost 20-fold from 50 in 2008 to 950 today.

Based on what this writer has observed and experienced, there is always another denomination that will come to the rescue of faithful believing Anglicans. In southern California, Rick Warren offered to open Saddleback to an Anglican congregation. Three years ago, outside Philadelphia, a group of us formed Christ Church Anglican on the mainline. We regularly draw 40 to 50 each Sunday. We meet in a beautiful Methodist church in Wayne, PA, that could easily pass as Anglican, with a central altar and full stained glass windows depicting scenes from Christ’s life. Our gracious hosts give it to us for a pittance, which includes office space for a rector and much more. We meet at 4pm. God is doing a new thing, He will not leave himself without a witness, even as all the churches around us cave into homosexual marriage and ditch the gospel in the name of inclusivity and diversity.

God always has a faithful remnant and, in this case, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will prove God true and faithful. They will continue to grow wherever they are planted, because God cannot lie. This remnant will go and grow…that is the promise of God.

TEC may win the properties, but God is not mocked; they will lose the war. They have already lost the battle for souls, and ACNA is gaining new souls every week in one jurisdiction after another.

Across the country, mainline churches are dying, hollowed out by decades of liberal teaching as they scream the platitudes of a social gospel now primped up by the dying embers of the sexual revolution, made over into full sodomite acceptance. God is doing a new thing, and, if you have eyes to see, you can see it. Renewal is going on. We are reaching the end of Christendom in America, and the old mainline denominations are withering on the vine. The sooner and quicker they die, the better.

American religion is simultaneously growing and in decline. Fewer people claim to be Christians, but churchgoers–those who regularly attend services–are holding steady in some segments, and thriving in others, says church missiologist Ed Stetzer. This is the case in San Joaquin.

As Winston Churchill famously said to Hitler’s Nazis, “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”

END

United Methodist Church Elects First Openly Lesbian Bishop, In Defiance Of Church Rules

Monday, July 18th, 2016
The United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, faced a bitter fight over whether it should lift the church ban on same-sex marriage

By Merritt Kennedy
http://www.npr.org/s
July 16, 20161

Representatives of the United Methodist Church have elected their first openly gay bishop, in defiance of church prohibitions on homosexuality.

The Rev. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, was elected bishop of the church’s Western Division at a conference Friday night in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God,” 58-year-old Oliveto said after her election, according to a news story from the church. “Today we took a step closer to embody beloved community and while we may be moving there, we are not there yet. We are moving on to perfection.”

The United Methodist Church, which has more than 7 million members in the United States, is divided over the issue of homosexuality. “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity,” Bruce R. Ough, president of the Church’s Council of Bishops, said in a statement after the vote.

As Ough wrote, “we find ourselves in a place where we have never been.” He highlighted the divisions on the issue:

“There are those in the church who will view this election as a violation of church law and a significant step toward a split, while there are others who will celebrate the election as a milestone toward being a more inclusive church. …Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable.”

As the Associated Press reported earlier this year, “other mainline Protestant groups, including The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), have approved same-sex marriage.” In a vote in May, the United Methodist Church’s top policy–making body “narrowly approved a full review of all church law on sexuality.” That is happening now and is expected to take at least two years.

Oliveto’s election, while the church’s practices are under review, garnered immediate criticism from some church members. “If the Western Jurisdiction wanted to push the church to the brink of schism, they could not have found a more certain way of doing so,” Rev. Rob Renfroe, head of the evangelical organization Good News, said in the church’s news story.

However, as the church noted, many were celebrating — such as Wesley Hingano, who called it “a beautiful day.” The church added that “his father, the Rev. Sisofina Hingano, was also a candidate for bishop. When Hingano withdrew his name from the ballot, he said he was doing it so people like his son could walk through the doors to freedom in the church.”

Hingano said: “I want to see gay and lesbian people walk freely.”

END

CANADA: ACoC Synod Votes to Uphold Marriage Canon – Oh No actually not!! UPDATED

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

CANADA: ACoC Synod Votes to Uphold Marriage Canon
Four dioceses plan to defy church ruling. Two other dioceses consider options

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
July 12, 2016

Within hours of the defeat of a motion to amend the marriage canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, at least four dioceses said they would defy the vote and go ahead with same-sex marriages anyway.

The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa, Toronto and Huron now say they will offer same-sex marriages. Two other dioceses, Edmonton and New Westminster say they are working out the next steps towards same sex marriage.

This begs the question, why did the Church even bother with a Synod or a vote if this defiance was planned especially when the Bishop of Niagara Michael Bird in a prepared statement cited General Synod chancellor Canon (lay) David Jones, who announced in synod on Monday that the marriage canon in its present form does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage.

The motion to change the marriage canon to allow the marriage of same-sex couples had to have a 2/3 majority for laity, clergy and bishops. It was very close with the bishops obtaining the necessary majority. It was the clergy that prevented the motion passing.

The numbers were:

Bishops Yes: 68.2%
Clergy Yes: 66.23%
Laity Yes: 72.2%

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird says Anglican conventions allow a diocesan bishop to “exercise episcopal authority” to permit liturgies that “respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses.”

“I am sick at heart, because an opportunity to discuss the Canon and engage with the Report of the Marriage Commission for the next three years was not endorsed by the Synod,” wrote Jane Alexander Bishop of Edmonton, whose sentiment seemed to sum up how rebellious dioceses felt after the vote was lost.

David Jones, the chancellor of General Synod, in a statement said the canon “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” It’s also clear, it continued, that Anglican conventions allow bishops to authorize “liturgies to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by this General Synod to address these realities.

“Accordingly, and in concert with several other bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is my intention to immediately exercise this authority to respond to the sacramental needs of the LGBTQ2 community in the Diocese of Niagara,” said Bird.

There being currently no approved liturgy for this in Canada, the statement said, “I am authorizing The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage and The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2 for use in our diocese,” liturgy recently created by The Episcopal Church intended for the marriage of “any duly qualified couples.”

General Synod’s vote against changing the marriage canon, the statement said, is “deeply regrettable and inconsistent with the ever more inclusive witness of our Church that has inspired this synod’s theme: ‘You are my witnesses’ (Isaiah 43).

“My sincere hope is that God’s grace will inspire all Canadian Anglicans to continue to break bread together in the days ahead,” the statement continued. “I want to say, as a bishop charged with guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, that I solemnly pledge to do my part to ensure that this is indeed the case.”

A similar statement was issued by Bishop John Chapman, of the diocese of Ottawa.

This begs the question if “guarding the faith” means to defy a Synod vote on sodomite marriage what does “guarding the faith” mean when it comes to say the Doctrine of God or the Trinity, if a number of bishops suddenly say they no longer believe in the Trinity!

“It is my intention, in consultation with and in partnership with a number of other diocesan bishops to proceed with same-sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa,” he said. “While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission.

“This is a pastoral decision that is necessary at this time in our history as a diocese and as a church.”

In a videotaped statement, Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the Diocese of Toronto, went on to suggest the canon does not in fact forbid same-sex marriages!

“The integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships was affirmed by our church in 2004,” Johnson said. “I know there will be some among you who will disagree with me, but I do believe that the logical next step would be to permit same-sex marriages in the Church at the pastoral discretion of the Bishop and with the agreement of local clergy. This is an option I will be considering in the coming weeks.

So if the vote had gone the other way and the handful of orthodox bishops said they could not support same-sex marriage what sort of reception do you think they would have received? They would have been accused of homophobia (at a very minimum) lacking inclusion and diversity and possibly a court trial for not obeying the canons of the Church (which apparently speak for God) and quite possibly get thrown out of the Church.

GAFCON archbishops should be aware of what happened in Canada and notch it up as one more disobedient act by a revisionist Anglican province. We await word from the Archbishop of Canterbury on this historic vote.

*****

TORONTO: Anglicans discover mistake in same-sex vote; resolution passes

THE CANADIAN PRESS
http://www.timescolonist.com/
July 12, 2016 06:26 AM

TORONTO – Questions about the integrity of the voting process in which Anglicans narrowly rejected a resolution to allow same-sex marriage emerged Tuesday, leading to a stunning reversal of the result that had caused anguish among many members.

A few delegates to the six-day General Synod stood up just a couple of hours before the session was to close to say their votes had not been recorded during voting late Monday — when passage of the resolution failed by a single vote.

“That is an issue of concern,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the church, responded. “We cannot leave this synod with this kind of confusion.”

To pass, the resolution required two-thirds approval by each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. The clergy failed to reach that threshold by one vote, which was apparently not counted because it was wrongly attributed to a lay member.

The error was only discovered after delegates requested a detailed hard copy of the electronic voting records.

“That is our reality,” Hiltz told stunned delegates. “That the motion is in fact carried in all three orders.”

He then declared the resolution in favour of same-sex marriage passed.

“Same Sex marriage. In the church. In my lifetime,” Lauren Bryant-Monk of Halifax said in a Twitter message. “I’m so proud to be Anglican today.”

However, the resolution to change the church’s marriage canon still needs to be affirmed by the next General Synod in 2019 before it becomes law.

The apparent failure of the motion on Monday night — which followed a bitter and divisive debate — stunned those on hand into silence. Some wept openly, others embraced.

On Tuesday, several bishops said they planned to go ahead with same-sex marriages regardless. They leaned on a statement from the chancellor of the General Synod, who said the current marriage canon does not specifically ban solemnizing same-sex marriages.

Bishop John Chapman of Ottawa said he would proceed immediately with such unions in his diocese — although no one would be forced to officiate at such a ceremony.

“It is time my friends,” Chapman said. “It is past time.”

“Take heart,” said Rev. Melissa Skelton, bishop of New Westminster, B.C. “This is not over.”

It was indeed not over as the questions arose Tuesday about the vote itself.

“This is the best news I have heard in a long time!” tweeted Marlene Wells from Nova Scotia. “My weepy day has ended; let’s celebrate.”

“I’m flabbergasted, honestly,” said Eliot Waddingham, 24, a transgender person from Ottawa, who had earlier spoken of being broken-hearted by what had happened. “I can’t believe this.”

Not everyone, however, was pleased.

Northern representatives complained about feeling bullied, while Larry Robertson, Yukon bishop, left the floor earlier Tuesday in protest, saying he was angered at what he called the adversarial process.

Hiltz acknowledged the “deep differences” that exist around the issue.

“We sometimes find ourselves very much being pulled apart,” Hiltz told delegates on Tuesday. “Our work on this matter is not done. It’s not sufficient for us to simply say we dealt with the resolution.”

He promised a pastoral letter in response by Thursday.

While some fretted the issue would cause a rupture and spark an exodus of members, others said they believed the church would hold together despite the bruising nature of the debate in which some used terms such as “abomination” in reference to the LGBT community.

“It was painful process, it was a difficult process, but at the end of the day, we’ve ended up moving forward,” British Columbia Bishop Logan McMenamie said.

Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson called same-sex marriages — at the discretion of the bishop and with agreement of local clergy — a logical step in the evolution of the church.

“I am confident it would be supported by the majority — even if not all — of our bishops, clergy, laity and the wider community.”

About 1.6 million Canadians identify themselves as Anglican, according to Statistics Canada, and church figures indicate more than 500,000 of them are part of about 2,800 congregations across the country.

END