Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Disconnecting Gene Robinson

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Charles Raven

The dilemma any false prophet has to handle is that there comes a point where you really have to start acting like a wolf, otherwise all that dressing up as a sheep would have been rather pointless. You can do it gradually and hope people will get acclimatised to the change, but there are nonetheless some risky moments.

This is a problem which Gene Robinson, the controversial Bishop of New Hampshire, has handled with some skill. He clearly sees himself as a prophetic figure for liberal Anglicanism and its enactment in the consecration of homosexual relationships. His elevation to the episcopate in 2003 was a risk and some have claimed that this was a strategic mistake; in so far as that led to the emergence of the GAFCON movement, they may be right, but within the United States it was not. Now Barack Obama has endorsed the mainstream status of this most controversial Anglican with an invitation to open with prayer at the pre-inaugural celebration at the Lincoln memorial, albeit as a counter balance to the evangelical Rick Warren, the new ‘America’s Pastor’, invited to deliver the invocation at the inauguration itself.

…………….  But now, speaking to The New York Times about the prayer at the Lincoln Memorial, he said “I am very clear that this will not be a Christian prayer, and I won’t be quoting Scripture or anything like that.” And true to his word, there was no reference to Jesus Christ, only a vague post-modern deism with the reference to the”God of our many understandings”. This relativism is a fundamental rejection of the earliest and most fundamental Christian confession that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. It substitutes in the place of the Lordship of Jesus the worship of a god of our understanding who will ultimately be simply the god I choose to make for myself or, more likely, the god powerful and influential others chose for me – in other words, it is idolatry.

Gene Robinson is not confused. He knows where he is going. On hearing the news that Rick Warren had been invited to lead the invocation he told the New York Times that “it was like a slap in the face,” adding that “the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.” In the new religion of Gene Robinson’s church, Jesus Christ is essentially an ornament, useful as a bridge figure to ensnare the naïve, but ultimately dispensable.

While the orthodox in North America have largely come to recognize this reality and have formed what is effectively a new Province of the Anglican Church of North America, it is far less recognized how well the ground for this new religion has been prepared in England itself and the British Isles. This process has been going on for many years, but as SPREAD has consistently demonstrated, in recent times the writings of the present Archbishop of Canterbury have done much to undermine confidence in the authority and inspiration of Scripture, both in his understanding of Scripture itself and in his advocacy of ‘faithful’ same gender sexual relationships. This has practical consequences. He has not only failed to use his authority to exercise godly discipline in the Communion, but undermined the efforts of other Primates to do so, most significantly after the Dar es Salaam Primates Meeting of February 2007 which led directly to the formation of GAFCON.

The continuing media interest in the Bishop of New Hampshire owes as much to the fact that he is a Bishop in a Church still enjoying official recognition by Canterbury as it does to his personal convictions. If this connection were to be broken, the Episcopal Church of the United States would be clearly seen for what many in the Global South already know it to be – a post modern sect which merely reflects back the culture in which it is set. This is a disconnection which Gene Robinson and his church must truly fear. But the chances of the current Archbishop of Canterbury taking such action must be remote, not least because of the outcry this would provoke in his own backyard. In this crisis of authority, the defining role of Canterbury must face sustained challenge. The risks that false prophets are prepared to take need to be matched by continuing courageous action on the part of godly leaders, willing if necessary to risk institutional order rather than risk the truth.

Charles Raven

20th January 2009

Historic week for Anglican Communion

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Historic week for Anglican Communion: From Chicago to London to Canterbury

Bishop Martyn Minns was at Truro yesterday and held a Bishop’s Forum between services. He reported on recent and upcoming events in the Anglican Communion as well as take questions during the forum that was held in the main church.

One of the highlights was his observations and thoughts on the remarkable coming together of the diverse membership of the Common Cause Partnership in the writing of the constitution for the new Anglican province in North America. A joint effort by the partnership, it included not only the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), but also the other Anglican organization that make up Common Cause. He described sitting next to Bishop Chuck Murphy of AMiA, while representatives of Forward in Faith and the Reformed Episcopal Church and others in the partnership gathered around the table to draft the new constitution.

In addition, Bishop Minns described the respectful attitude that was taken by the gathering over issues were there are differing opinions that do exist between Bible-believing Christians in the Anglican Communion, including on the issues surrounding the ordination of women to the priesthood. He indicated a model for them to follow has been set by the partnership between provinces such as Nigeria (where women may be ordained to the diaconate) and Uganda (where women may be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood) and the respectful and prayerful attitude that is continually observed by them as they seek not to devalue but show respect to those who may hold a different view than one’s own – not an easy thing to do in these challenging times.

The unveiling of the new constitution is this Wednesday, Dec. 3 in Chicago. The Anglican Primates Council will then meet the next day, on Thursday, Dec. 4, in London, England, to receive the new constitution. On Friday, Dec. 5, the Anglican Primates Council are scheduled to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in Canterbury, England.

In addition, it is expected that other Anglican Primates who were not in Jerusalem for GAFCON (including the Southeast Asia primate and Bishop of Singapore, The Most Rev’d John Chew and the Middle East primate and bishop of Egypt, The Most Rev’d Mouneer Anis ) are among those also expected to endorse the new constitution.

The Global South primates will meet together with the Primates Standing Committee prior to the official gathering of the Anglican Primates on January 31-February 6 in Egypt.

A Constitutional Convention is expected to be called for next summer.

In addition, the final order regarding the property ownership of the Virginia Anglican churches should be handed down shortly by Judge Randy Bellows. Even though the ruling has not yet been announced, the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia issued a press release in October indicating his intention to appeal the order to the Virginia Supreme Court.

London evicts congregation from church

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

By Ruth Gledhill, TimesonLine

2695914763_d93673df78_o As the figures show, London is bucking the national trend and churchgoing is up. This is a small blip however in the overall decline that has seen Church of England attendance slump to 880,000, a figure that should be rememered by all who read the Anglican Communion Office’s oft-touted boast of up to 27 million Anglicans in Britain’s established church. The Anglican Communion starts to look a lot smaller when proper attendance figures are accounted. But perhaps the London Diocese’s success explains why, or is even explained by, its recent tendency to close churches and force reluctant congregations to move elsewhere. Earlier this year the Welsh church of St Benet’s was shut. And now the unfortunate souls who liked to worship at St Mark’s Mayfair have been evicted. Lady Sainsbury was at the church for its last day before lock-out. Her speech is reproduced below. The London diocese wants to sell the church to George Hammer, who already lives in its vicarage, next door. He developed The Sanctuary at Covent Garden and wants to turn St Mark’s into a centre for well being, with a spa included.

Susie Sainsbury said:

‘I became President of Save St Marks Action Group Because I feel passionately that what is happening here – to this community and to this building – is totally wrong and wrong-headed of those promoting it.

‘We are here to protest at the Diocese’s failure to try to keep this wonderful building, and even worse wanting to evict a thriving congregation and then to be willing to sell it for a wellness centre – pampering for the few.

‘The congregation here has been serving the local community for the last 14 years. In that time they have been doing the things that Social Services can’t do; they teach children to avoid getting involved in knife crime; they visit people who are alone; they open their doors to the distraught and needy.

‘This building was dedicated to the glory of God to be used as a place of worship, built on land given by Grosvenor for the local community – now a scarce community resource. We deplore the way the Diocese is treating it – as no more than real estate – to be sold for 30 pieces of silver, and we deplore the way the Diocese have continued to extend the contract with Mr Hammer. English Heritage regard this church as one of the most important buildings in Mayfair.

‘It has seen anti-slavery debates. Eisenhower worshipping here, D-Day landings planned and prayed over here; society weddings, work with the poor and marginalised. The work in the community is not over, the needs are still here.

‘We now appeal to our local Councillors to ask the serious unanswered questions that still surround the planning application. When the scheme from Hammer Holdings comes before the Planning Committee on 13 November will you ask: –

Why has no viability appraisal or business case been submitted. Why have applicants refused to give assurances that they will fund the repair and restoration of this grade 1 building?

‘Has the Diocese put pressure on HTB not to put forward more detailed proposals?

‘At the heart of this issue is a Grade 1 listed church of exceptional quality – it can and should be maintained as a place of worship – that surely is the objective that should be shared by Grosvenor Estates, the Diocese, the congregation , the community and the City Council.’

Get off the bus – ‘there is no God’ AND a godly reponse!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Atheistbus Richard Dawkins is helping fund a campaign by the British Humanist Association to persuade people that God does not exist. Posters are to be placed on 30 bendy buses in London in January with the slogan: ‘There’s probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.’ The campaign is the idea of comedy writer Ariane Sherine, who suggested it on a blog after hearing about a Christian campaign promoting the concept of everlasting flames in hell for unbelievers. The Atheist Bus Campaign will come shortly after the annual church campaign promoting Christianity during the festive Christmas season. My colleague Adam Sherwin broke the story first in The Times. As Ekklesia reports, the Methodists were among the first to welcome this. Read more about it on the JustGiving blog.


Without God, there’s reason to worry

Contrary to what the atheist bus advert suggests, religion can provide an antidote to the anxieties of everyday life

Chris Sugden

There’s plenty of worry around at the moment – the governor of the Bank of England is worried about the imminent recession. People are worried about losing their jobs and negative equity in their homes. People will be worried about the pressure then on their relationships. Worry is destructive. It consumes energy. It distracts attention from getting on with life. It keeps you awake at night. It is always worse at night.

But it’s alright. Supported by Evangelist Dawkins, atheists are emblazoning an answer across our capital city for all to see: accept the probability that there is no God and you can stop worrying. This atheism is anything but theoretical.

Jesus of Nazareth was in touch with real people and real life. He said this: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds!”

For Jesus, the existence of a creator God and the evidence of his provision for birds of the air, was, contrary to what the campaign suggests, not an argument for, but specifically an argument against, worry.

Jesus identified the origin of worry in the human desire for security and predictability. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” He identified the human solution: to build storehouses to secure the enjoyment of life. He told of a man who built large storehouses to store his goods so that he could then take life easy.

Jesus identified the flaw in this solution – thieves steal, moths corrupt, and death comes unannounced.

Once in this hole, the human antidote to worry is to keep on digging: to seek ever more secure solutions. Much advertising and selling is based on this. Are you fully insured? Do you want to take out a five-year guarantee? Have you a burglar alarm?

Jesus calls this solution folly and madness. He offers one simple antidote: God. God knows that people need food and clothes and shelter and security. God made us the way we are. “Your Father knows you need them,” he says. We just need to seek God’s kingdom which he is pleased to give those who will receive it and “all these things will be yours as well”.

But will this solution be enjoyable – the other measure that bus advertisement employs? It may be secure, but will it be the security of a silent monastery?

Jesus says there are two choices before us: life or death. He says that he offers life in abundance, overflowing, welling up, life that is eternal.

We are faced with those who suggest that if we are not living our dream, then life is not worth living. This was tragically brought home last week with the debate around the very sad story of Daniel James, the rugby player, with a mum and dad, two sisters and a lovely home, who decided he did not want to live a “second-class existence”. Who had suggested his paralysed existence was second class – in comparison with what? Jesus says: “How much more valuable are you than birds.” (Read Jesus’ words in Luke 12: 13-34 and John 10.10).

My late brother, an accountant, was achondroplastic – among his other accomplishments was as an actor in professional productions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Towards the end of his 54 years of life he said that in all likelihood under present legislation he might not have been allowed to live at all. Some might have considered his life, and his last six months in spinal paralysis, as second class.

Human personhood, human enjoyment, and the value of life will always be measured. The question is, “By what standard?” Remove God, probably, and we are at the mercy of our own solutions to security, and other people’s decisions about the value of our life. There’s reason to worry.

Anglican Mainstream endorses and supports the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

October 20th, 2008 Posted in News |

The Anglican Mainstream Steering Committee issued this statement following their October Steering Committee meeting:

“We have received the reports of GAFCON (The Global Anglican Future Conference – Jerusalem June 2008).  In the light of these reports and as an expression of our continuing commitment to the Anglican Communion, we endorse and support the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.”

Can’t we all just get along?

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Why “playing nice” by postmodernist standards is a losing proposition


The favorite buzzwords of the postmodern spirit all sound so warm and friendly, don’t they? Conversation, dialogue, openness, generosity, tolerance. Who wouldn’t want to participate in discourse with someone who truly prized human values such as those?

On the other hand, the very same Zeitgeist has demonized a host of other essential biblical values, such as authority, conviction, clarity, and even truth. In the milieu of the emerging discussion, this second category of words has been made to sound harsh, unreasonable, arrogant, and extreme—if not downright evil.

Moreover, postmodern human values are increasingly being defined in a way that expressly precludes eternal biblical values. For example, the prevailing opinion nowadays is that you cannot be “open” and certain at the same time. A person who speaks with too much conviction is ipso facto deemed an “intolerant” person. Above all, anyone who recognizes the full authority of Scripture and insists that God’s Word deserves our unconditional submission will inevitably be accused of deliberately trying to stymie the whole “conversation.”

This is not to suggest that disagreement per se is prohibited in the postmodern dialectic. Quite the contrary, “deconstruction” is all about disputes over words. Postmoderns thrive on dissent, debate, and contradiction.

And (giving credit where credit is due) it should be noted that postmodernists can sometimes be amazingly congenial in their verbal sparring with one another.

One thing the participants in the postmodern “conversation” simply will not tolerate, however, is someone who disagrees and thinks the point is really serious. Virtually no heresy is ever to be regarded as damnable. The notion that erroneous doctrine can actually be dangerous is deemed uncouth and naive. Every bizarre notion gets equal respect. Truth itself is only a matter of personal perspective, you see. Everything is ultimately negotiable.

Now, if you want to join the postmodern “conversation,” you are expected to acknowledge all this up front—at least tacitly. That’s the price of admission to the discussion. Once you’re in, you can throw any bizarre idea you want on the table, no matter how outlandish. You can use virtually any tone or language to make your point, no matter how outrageous. But you must bear in mind that all disputation at this table is purely for sport. At the end of the day, you mustn’t really be concerned about the truth or falsehood of any mere propositions.

Read more……..

Truthful Language and Orderly Separation

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

The Opening of an excellent piece lengthy but more than worth the read.

Written by: Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

The Anglican Communion is currently pursuing a number of activities in response to the acrimonious struggle over sexual teaching and discipline within our churches. These activities have been encouraged by the Communion’s leadership, including at the recent Lambeth Conference. I have, to various degrees, been a supporter of these activities, not least because I have trusted those who have promoted these means towards ecclesial healing. I am increasingly skeptical, however, that the way these activities have been framed – descriptively and practically – represents the true nature of our disputes.

Categories like “moratoria” and “reception” and “listening”, for instance, are now prominent elements in our strategic ecclesial discussions. Unfortunately, they no longer appear to be useful categories, in large part because they do not accurately reflect the actual relationship of expectation and possibility that the disputing parties hold, one to another and with respect to their own commitments. When one party says, while responding to the request for a “moratorium” on specific actions, “yes we will consider it; but there is no going back on our underlying commitments”; and another party says at the same time, “yes we will consider it; but only on the condition that you others give up your practical commitments”, then the very category of “moratorium” functions in very different ways in each case. Similarly, when “reception” is a “process” that seeks to discern the Christian authenticity of an innovative practice, but also does so by the very means of rooting that practice within the life of the church in different areas, the notion that discernment has a possibly restraining role to play seems practically undercut. Or when “listening” presumes an ecclesial practice even as it refuses to evaluate that practice, one is not so much listening as receiving justification ex post facto.

Read more