Archive for November, 2010


Monday, November 29th, 2010


By David W. Virtue

As the liberal Episcopal Church slowly implodes, the contradictions and lies grow quantifiable by the day.

Consider this. The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop has made a major power grab by imposing national canons on the church that override and supersede diocesan canons.

The Episcopal Church has rewritten the church’s Title IV canons with sweeping changes that severely limit diocesan powers and centralizing power in the National Church.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has formally put into writing, with the force of Canon Law, that TEC is a “hierarchical church” to which all must accede. At the same time, The Episcopal Church claims to promote inclusivity and diversity and more laity input.

The sweeping changes made by the national church with the passage of Resolution A185 at the 2009 Episcopal General Convention were unprecedented in TEC’s history. As fear and paranoia grip the church, the grab for power and money grows the greater.

TEC has less and less theology holding it together, and the (homo/bi/trans) sexual zeitgeist are becoming more firmly entrenched by the week. What binds the church together is not the faith of Scripture, the Creeds or history, but the ravings of a small group of people bent on having their sexual proclivities be center stage and worshipped at the church’s altar – at the expense of almost everything else. “Do this in remembrance of me,” becomes “Do the ‘other’ in remembrance of somebody.”

So it is marvelously ironic that the powers that be at 815 2nd Avenue, New York, New York, are centralizing power in order to fight for parish properties and fleeing dioceses, persecute orthodox clergy and bishops, impose women’s ordination and pass sexual resolutions that have no basis in Scripture, history or tradition. At the same time, they complain mightily about a Covenant that will clip their sexual wings, accusing its designers of the very centralizing powers they loathe and hate.

How ironic, how totally hypocritical.

Liberal Episcopalians and Anglicans, assorted pansexualists in the US and UK are outraged that a covenant should have a disciplinary section that will put a scrimp on their behavior and rant about “law” and coerciveness ripping the Archbishop of Canterbury and numerous orthodox Anglican primates for lacking inclusivity.

It is the stench of hypocrisy that reaches to the highest heavens. And the liberals and pansexualists do it with straight faces.

Consider some of these statements by various TEC and Church of England clerics: “What I dislike about the Anglican Covenant is not just that it is institutionalized homophobia, but that it … is an attack on traditional Anglican pluralism.”

“Let me put it simply: We can’t even agree on what the Covenant means; so why should we imagine the Covenant will help us come to agreement on anything else?”

“The worst thing about the Covenant is that it will create a church of the lowest common denominator in which the only things we can embrace will be safe and uncontroversial. They will keep us locked into old established ways rather than allowing us to embrace the challenges of making Christ know in the ever changing culture in which we live.”

“We need to find new ways to be united without forcing ourselves to be what we’re not.”

This process and the proposed Anglican Covenant are not building unity. They are turning disagreement into institutionalized disunity – even inventing mechanisms of exclusion to facilitate the process.

“Let me put it simply: We can’t even agree on what the Covenant means; so why should we imagine the Covenant will help us come to agreement on anything else?”

“The covenant is a waste of time and money.”

The covenant, said Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a type of “cheap grace”, an “enlightenment response to postmodern” era disagreement. It is a legal move to avoid the harder “work of the heart”, of building relationships in the face of diversity.

From Louie Crew we have: “For bonds of affection the Covenant substitutes bonds of law.”

Finally this: “The Anglican Covenant is the greatest attempted centralization of authority since the de facto creation of the Anglican Communion due to the final disestablishment of episcopacy in Scotland (1689) and the consecration of the first American bishop (1784). Despite the pretty words of 4.1.3 that the Covenant “does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” nor “grant to any one Church or agency of the Communion control or direction over any Church,” 4.2.7 is very clear that the newly minted Standing Committee (whose creation has been a sideshow of smoke, mirrors and skullduggery) will have authority effectively to direct “relational consequences” to be imposed on recalcitrant Provinces.”

There you have it. We shall not have a covenant if it demands accountability, responsibility and punishment if you break it. But heaven help you if you think you can leave the pincer grip of TEC with the buildings you bought and paid for and maintained weekly, and if you believe in the “faith once for all delivered to the saints,” because if you do, your worst nightmares will come true. TEC has spoken.


Trusting in the Gospel of Chance

Monday, November 29th, 2010

By Brian McGregor-Foxcroft
Special to Virtueonline

Nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8, English Standard Version, Crossway, 2008)

When a liberal clergyman tells me to trust in the future, I know that it’s time for me to pack my bags and get out of Dodge, while the getting’s good. If I may be allowed to take a small liberty with a Gospel maxim, “It is easier for the Ford Edsel to make a big comeback in the automotive world than it is for a liberal clergyman to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Nevertheless, what readers of the November issue of the British Columbia Diocesan Post encountered was a printed version of a sermon recently preached by Canon Herbert O’Driscoll at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia.

His sermon title was “Trusting the future,” in which he argues that God still has a future roll for the Diocese of British Columbia to play in these times of falling numbers and closing parishes.

Well, my response to his assertion is, “I was born at night, but not last night.” For the benefit of those who don’t know him, or who have short memories, Herbert O’Driscoll was dean of Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral, in the Diocese of New Westminster (1968-83), at the time when David Somerville was Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia.

It was under Somerville’s direction that the sweeping liberalization of the diocese began (with Bishop Michael Ingham being the final icing on the heretical cake, as it were). O’Driscoll made a name for himself as a silver-tongued pulpit orator; a reputation which eventually led him to the Wardenship of the College of Preachers at the Washington National Cathedral.

And now, like so many other threadbare liberal thinkers from the Diocese of New Westminster, he has washed up on Vancouver Island, in the unfortunate and unhappy Diocese of British Columbia, where he still wows the unwary with his pulpit oratory. Now, O’Driscoll’s sermonic pep-talk, as I like to call it, comes at the very moment when the Diocese of British Columbia is shutting down the little parish of St. Columba’s, Strawberry Vale (a story recently featured in VOL) along with numerous other parishes, some of which were quite self-supporting.

This is a parish which, while having a very small congregation, was able to pay its own way, with funds left over to help support diocesan needs. “Why are you doing this to us?” the people asked. To which the archdeacon replied: “The congregation is not the client, God is the client.” Which roughly translated means, “We don’t really care what you feel or think; we have an agenda to carry out, come hell or high water, and you’re standing in our way.” What a slick cop-out.

But the archdeacon is wrong, parish churches are about the people, the people of God gathered together into a fellowship, a family grouping that happens at its best when it’s personal and intimate and something of your own that you built up by faith and prayer and a long-term dedication.

To tear that down for no just reason is spiritually counterproductive, and dare I say it, spiritually evil. The Gospels have Jesus telling us that, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, etc.” There’s no mention of big, self-supporting numbers in Jesus’ agenda. And right into the middle of this mess of closing parish churches and falling attendance there boldly wades our prince of the pulpit, with his nifty little parable from the life of the prophet Jeremiah. Don’t despair, O’Driscoll tells the people. Everything is going to come out alright. Just trust in the future.

His presentation is a slick one. To summarize, he points out that the world is changing, and the old ways of doing church are no longer relevant or effective. What the church needs to do is get a firm read on current cultural trends and tap into them in new and meaningful ways (the old liberal mantra, adapt and conform to the Zeitgeist). What he is saying has the ring of truth about it (half-truth anyway), but it shoots far wide of both the central problem and the solution to that problem.

He chooses an event from the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah to illustrate his point. During the period known as the Babylonian Captivity (c 597 BCE), the prophet Jeremiah makes a prophetic gesture regarding Israel, when he purchases a plot of land to be held in trust for the future.

This prophetic act is the only practical way Jeremiah can give his redemptive message to Israel while it is in the grip of a overwhelming occupying military power. It is a message to Israel that God will one day give back this occupied land to his people, as an act of covenant. And O’Driscoll sees in this an object lesson and message for the people of the Diocese of British Columbia. But wait a minute, there is a flaw in this piece of hermeneutics.

It never ceases to astound me, that while the liberals accuse conservative Christians of being fundamentalist in their “proof-texting” interpretation of the Bible, the liberals get up to exactly the same antics and think that nobody notices. The liberals are very fond of parading out bits and bobs from the prophetic books of the Old Testament, usually because it fits their social justice agenda.

But it was not social justice, or the lack of it, which the prophets were focusing on, rather, it was the disobedience and rebellion of Israel against God that they emphasized with such impassioned vigor. It was disobedience that brought Israel to the place of bondage, which we read about a little further on in Jeremiah, Chapter 32, but which O’Driscoll did not include in his object lesson. What we read in the latter part of the chapter is a recitation or roll call of God’s great redemptive act towards his people, from the time of the Exodus onward. But the people were rebellious, disobedient, and defiant towards God, and their punishment was captivity.

This then, is the sitz im leben of the text. Therefore, if we take O’Driscoll’s use of Jeremiah in its proper context, what we should have is a contemporary picture of God sending the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia into a very real spiritual exile, in the form of falling attendance and closing parish churches.

In other words, it is not society that is to blame for the decline of the dioceses’ fortunes, it is not the shift in demographics, but spiritual disobedience which is the cause. Thus, O’Driscoll’s little object lesson fails exegetically and practically. However, I suspect that O’Driscoll did not foresee such a hermeneutical dilemma when he cobbled together his sermon.

A sermon intended to present quite an opposite meaning to what is achieved. The bottom line is that the Diocese of British Columbia is seeking to sell property and not buy it, like Jeremiah did. The object lesson would only apply if the diocese were buying property in anticipation of a spiritual turn-around at God’s hand sometime in the future.

But let us get past O’Driscoll’s unfortunate hermeneutic conundrum and examine what he sees as the solution to the problem. In short, the church must refocus and reposition itself in the “relevant present.” There is a growing universal interest in spirituality, although organized religion is not necessarily a part of it. Therefore, the church must tap into to this new spirituality movement. He maintains that we must ask the question, “what kind of church will there be in the future?”

And having established the answer the church must prepare itself. At this point O’Driscoll, like all liberal theologians, betrays himself. It is all very well to drop God’s name and Jesus’ name into the conversation, just to keep things Christian, but it is our conclusions that determine whether or not our solution is in step with the Spirit of God. In speaking of the church’s need to prepare itself, he says:

The preparation for the future spoke to us not long ago in the work of Brian McLaren.

The same kind of preparation for the future is in the work of Ursula King, a British academic in the University of Bristol in her magnificent recent book The Search for Spirituality, and you can taste more in a most readable and fascinating new book by Harvey Cox entitled, The Future of Faith.

At this point it is time for a reality check. Can O’Driscoll be serious in recommending to searching Christians and others, the works of King and Cox as a possible solution to the problem facing the Diocese of British Columbia? I sincerely hope not. Ursula King is very much involved in feminist theory and something feminists call “thealogy,” which, as the word suggests, embraces the notion of a female deity.

Indeed, my research indicates that theology is widely embraced by advocates of pagan religions, which includes goddess worship to the exclusion of the Judeo-Christian God, and Ursula King’s name seems inextricably linked to it. Cox’s name is familiar enough, for those who many years ago read his controversial book, The Secular City, which asserts in part: “A new name will come when God is ready.

A new way of conceptualizing the Other will emerge in the tension between history which has gone before us and the events which lie ahead (The Secular City, SCM Press, 1965, page 261). Today both King and Cox believe the Christian church’s future lies in its ability to understand and assimilate the new age of spirituality, which reposes in the teachings of other world religions, and not just in the Judeo-Christian traditions. But both King and Cox are wrong if the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is right in asserting:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he also created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high …” (Hebrews 1:1-3, English Standard Version).

There is no mention here of any vague spirituality, no mention of the place of other gods, or goddesses, or other religious ideas, just the straight fact that God sent Jesus as his “final word” to humankind, and in that Jesus, and by that Jesus humankind finds the only safe way to enter God’s everlasting kingdom of grace and peace. The fallen nature of humankind is still the fundamental stumbling block that needs to be addressed. O’Driscoll’s sermon does not address it.

The church needs to preach about the true state of the human soul, and the desperate need for each individual to confront God through Christ in order to seek help for, and restoration of the soul. And all the religious doubletalk, philosophies, and chanted mantras in the world will not achieve this end. It is the proclamation of an unadulterated Gospel that holds the solution and answers the question posed by O’Driscoll’s sermon.

So, why didn’t this prince of preachers, this golden tongued orator of the oracles of God tell the people that their real need was the need for repentance? Why did he not tell the people to cry out to God for help in finding the way out of the dioceses” dilemma? Could it be that he doesn’t really believe in the words and warnings contained in the Bible? His admonition to trust God to fix things, in some vague way, would be laughable, if it weren’t so tragic.

Could it be he trusts the feelings and imaginings of his own heart, that God will somehow find a way to dig them out of their dilemma, while everyone dithers, and flirts with the religious fantasies of Ursula King and Harvey Cox? If so, this old backwoods, fundamentalist rube has a cherry-picked verse right out of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah for Herbert O’Driscoll, which will not bode well for his own particular and peculiar theological methodology:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10, ESV)

It’s common sense not to have sex with AIDS, condom or not

Friday, November 26th, 2010

– All theological arguments aside, it makes no sense to engage in sexual activity while one of the persons is infected with AIDS. To do so would be to endanger the life of the sexual partner.  To do so with a condom also endangers the life of the partner because condoms break, and because even when they don’t break they can’t possibly offer 100% protection against AIDS. It is Russian roulette.

Moreover the idea of promoting condoms in the battle against AIDS internationally is a very bad one. Why? Because it gives people a deadly false sense of security about promiscuous sex. They wrongly think it is ‘safe sex,’ and thus will highly likely contract venereal diseases and perhaps even HIV.

This is exactly why Pope Benedict stated, back in 2009, “One cannot overcome the problem (of the spread of AIDS) with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.” This set off a firestorm of criticism from the media and even political leaders.

However, the Pope got backing in his assessment from one of the world’s foremost AIDS researchers Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

“The pope is correct,” said Green in an interview at the time, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments.”

“There is,” Green added, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.” (see the full interview with Green here)

The Anglican Covenant

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

His Grace had been holding off from commenting on this until a decision had been taken in Synod.

Now that that decision has been taken (an overwhelming ‘aye’ in all three houses for sending it out the diocesan synods), the mechanism designed to encourage / facilitate / bolster / impose / bludgeon / compel / enforce unity merits a little analysis.

The Covenant is designed to hold the Anglican Communion together for better or worse, in sickness and health, ‘til the Second Coming do them part.

For, like papal infallibility, only the apocalypse can render it absolutely null and utterly void.

But to be Anglican is to be synodical and devolved, not totalitarian and centralised: the Archbishop of Canterbury is not a pope in his realm and neither is the See of Canterbury as absolute as the See of Rome.

So just how is the Anglican Communion to act when one Province decides unilaterally to re-define, adjust, develop and ‘progress’ in an area of morality or teaching in a manner that does not accord with Anglican tradition?

Whatever the Anglican tradition is.

Who will do what to whom?

Good grief, the Church of England can’t even discipline within its own ranks without uproar: the Suffragan Bishop of Willesden criticises the hereditary principle of monarchy and espouses distinctly republican views – which is, well, just a tad un-Anglican – and his boss the Bishop of London was so ‘appalled’ that he rebuked and suspended him.

But Bishop Pete’s twittering mates are all so appalled by the Bishop of London’s public rebuke and semi-suspension that they decide to start a Facebook support group. Lambeth Palace, in the meantime, says +Pete is ‘entitled to his views’, while former Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes the Bishop of London for being ‘far too severe’, asking: ‘How often in the past have bishops ignored heretical comments by clergy?’

Magnify this relatively minor spat to a rather more significant one between autonomous Anglican provinces, and you’ll see the problem.

If the US branch says it’s consistent with the ‘Anglican tradition’ to consecrate an openly gay bishop or the odd lesbian, who is the African branch to be ‘appalled’ at such a development?

And if one Province decides that it is most definitely consonant with the ‘Anglican tradition’ to appoint women to the Episcopate, who is to decide the proportionality of the punitive action against them?

What if the Anglican Church of Australia, like +Pete, wishes to ditch the Queen a Supreme Governor on the basis that the hereditary principle is ‘corrupt and sexist’?

Shall ++Cantaur simply say they are ‘entitled to their views’?

Who is the guardian of the ‘Anglican tradition’?

How can there be Roman unity in Anglican diversity?

How can one impose discipline without exerting a pseudo-papal authority?

The Covenant is designed to resolve disputes, yet it is clear that Anglicans do not do ‘punitive action’ very well: we do not even do suspension, preferring instead the euphemistic ‘withdraw from public ministry’. So we can forget anathematisation or excommunication.

Perhaps the Covenant is un-Anglican, but the very fact that it is a development in the Church’s doctrine of ecclesiology actually renders it rather Anglican.

If we are to avoid the ‘piece-by-piece dissolution of the Communion’, do we not need a bit of glue?

It’s a certain fact we’re out of whitewash.

And what on earth could be wrong with a framework which demands consultation?

How can one resolve disagreements without dialogue?

The bizarre thing is that the Anglican Church actually practises what the Roman Catholic Church pretends to: subsidiarity; notwithstanding that the very concept is a Roman Catholic invention. It is to do with governance at the lowest level, and the Anglican Communion has historically been constructed on devolved localism. Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell would be proud.

But it hasn’t worked.

It is the old Conservative tension between Tory centralised authority that seeks to preserve tradition and Whiggish local democracy to precipitate radical reform.

Is the Covenant a via media between restriction and liberty; between subsidiarity and centralisation; between paternalism and autonomy?

Insofar as it appears to satisfy neither the Archbishops of West Africa nor the US Episcopal Church, perhaps the balance is right. Yet if the Covenant be not unanimously approved by all 38 Provinces in the Communion, it can be authoritatively adopted by none.

And that will just leave the Jerusalem Declaration, which advocates ‘the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family’ (8) and the rejection of ‘those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed’ (13).

It also stands upon the bedrock of the XXXIX Articles ‘as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today’ (4).

If His Grace is honest, he is a little tired of all this: we are not at a moment of historic schism like those of 1054 or 1517. Let the Worldwide Anglican Communion go the way of the British Empire, of which it is but the spiritual ghost. The Archbishop of Canterbury should be wholly concerned with leading the Church of England, not distracted hither and thither in cobbling together endless formulae by which mutually exclusive provinces may continue to perpetuate the perception of communion. You can’t pour new wine into old wineskins: the factions have already decided their courses and will not put aside their differences. The moment a province decides to appoint to the Episcopate Katharine Jefferts Schori and then Mary Glasspool, it is clear that they don’t give a damn about acting ‘with diligence, care and caution in respect of any action which may provoke controversy’.

It is not so much a matter of asking what fellowship light hath with darkness, but to some that is precisely what it is about. The ‘dissolution’ so feared by the Archbishop of Canterbury is as inevitable as the British withdrawal from India: you can’t buck the people.

Unless you’re prepared to use force.

posted by Archbishop Cranmer at 10:03 AM Permalink

Braeking News: The Oxford Statement

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Oxford Statement of the Primates’ Council
November 2010 AD


The leaders of the GAFCON movement are keenly aware of the crises of conscience that are pressing some people to shift their membership and ministry from the Anglican Church.

While we are greatly sympathetic that there are many areas of crisis that assault conscience, once again, we would offer that the theological clarity of the Jerusalem Declaration offers a solid foundation on which to engage with other Anglicans in the pursuit of Gospel mission.

Being able to link with those who not only form the majority of Anglicans in the world, but also those who affirm Biblical theological foundations of what Anglicans have always believed and practiced can provide concrete relationships and meaningful partnerships that are of more substance than the structures that have shown themselves to be flawed or compromised.

GAFCON provides a way to share Biblical Anglicanism that is in concert with what Anglicans have always believed, taught, and practiced.

We believe that Anglicanism has a great deal to offer in the pursuit of reaching the world for Christ. While we wish those who are departing the Anglican Church well, we do not believe that it is necessary to depart from what Anglicans have always believed to remain faithful. At the same time, we understand that some structures have become so compromised that some have been pressed by conscience to separate from their national structures – such as in North America.

We are glad that GAFCON exists and provides links to remain Anglican when people have been unable, for conscience, to remain in their Province.

In England (as well as other areas), we invite people to re-affirm what we have always believed in Anglicanism by adopting the Jerusalem Declaration as a statement of their own faith and join with us in partnership in working to win the world to Christ. It is with that perspective that the leaders of GAFCON met recently in Oxford and they share their thoughts from that gathering in the attached document.

The Most Rev. Gregory J. Venables, GAFCON Chair
The Statement

1. The GAFCON/FCA Primates’ Council met in Oxford from October 4th through October 7th, 2010. We gathered as Bishops in Council and as the elected leaders of provinces and national churches of the Anglican Communion representing more than forty million Anglicans. We know that many of our people confront a fallen world where sin abounds; the economy is troubled and resources are scarce; disasters loom and governments often seem impotent and helpless and yet even in the midst of all these things “our hope is in the Name of the Lord” and we are filled with hope and vision.

2. We are thankful for God’s hand in establishing GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. We rejoice in God’s guidance from the Scriptures, the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and the provision of a godly fellowship to sustain us. In this context we have met in Oxford, a city that has seen many critical events in Anglican history, and are grateful for the men and women who have given their lives to protect the faith that has given us eternal life.

3. We believe that we are now entering a new era for the Anglican Communion. New ways of living out our common life are emerging as old structures are proven to be ineffective in confronting the challenges of living in a pluralistic global community. We rejoice in the call of the Jerusalem Declaration for a renewed commitment to the authority of scripture and the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly the rejection of these historic anchors to our faith has brought us to a crisis in the life of the Communion.

4. As we have made clear in numerous communiqués and meetings those who have abandoned the historic teaching of the Church have torn the fabric of our life together at its deepest level. We have made repeated attempts to bring repentance and restoration and yet these efforts have been rejected. We grieve for those who have walked apart and earnestly pray for them and the people under their care.

5. For the sake of Christ and of His Gospel we can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy and so we join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland. And while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.

6. We also acknowledge with appreciation the address to the Nicean Society meeting in Lambeth Palace on September 9th of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations. We welcome his call to all churches of the Anglican Communion to step back from the abyss of heresy and reclaim the revealed truth that is at the heart of our historic understanding of Christian faith and moral order. We share with him the conviction that failure to do so will endanger our common witness and many important ecumenical dialogues but we would also point out that there are many within the Anglican Communion who have not ‘bowed the knee’ to secular liberalism and who are determined to stay true to the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ whatever the cost.

7. The Primates Council, as bishops of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, wish to affirm the reality of human sin and divine judgment, the only way of salvation from sin through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the sufficiency and clarity of Holy Scripture as the revelation of God’s will, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as he brings new birth and holiness of life.

8. As many people in the nations where we serve experience new economic challenges, we affirm that the Church has been entrusted with the task of holding before all people the truth of the gospel of the kingdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ, the key to human well-being and the hope of creation.  While we know well the scourge of poverty and the despair it produces, we call on our churches to remember this unique calling and not be seduced by those who would argue that economic development is our only goal. The destiny of humanity is not limited to this present world but to live the resurrection life in the new heavens and new earth.

9. We are, however, determined to lead our churches away from unhealthy economic dependency and to teach our people the importance of becoming effective stewards of their own resources. We must reclaim a vision of financial self-sufficiency. We are grateful for reports of several initiatives that are building capacity for economic growth in our various provinces and commit ourselves to making this an essential dimension of our continuing work. We also believe that a vital part of our witness is the integrity of our marriages and families and our care for the most vulnerable among us, our children. We welcome recent initiatives to encourage the ministry of women in leadership by CAPA – the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.

10. We are also grateful for the recent conference sponsored by CAPA in Entebbe, Uganda, where we witnessed the growing strength of the Anglican Churches in Africa and their commitment to wholistic mission. We believe that GAFCON/FCA must expand its ministry through the inclusion of other Anglican provinces that share our faith conviction and love for the Communion. We also applaud the efforts of the Global South Provinces to find common ground and opportunities for common mission. We are committed to doing all that we can to strengthen our common witness.

11. We remain convinced that the unique character of GAFCON/FCA with its diversity of cultures and its embrace of the Jerusalem Declaration as a common theological confession is a vital contribution to the future of the global Anglican Communion. We are persuaded that we must offer new initiatives to more effectively respond to the crises that confront us all. We must strengthen our communication capabilities and we are also looking to build partnerships with other denominational churches that share our faith convictions.

12. Specifically, we are planning a leadership conference in the latter part of 2011 that will focus on the need to “Contend for the Faith in the Public Square.” We are also beginning preparations for an international gathering of Primates, Bishops, Clergy and Lay leaders in 2012, provisionally designated “GAFCON 2”. To support all of this we have approved the expansion of the Secretariat.

13. Finally, we acknowledge that it is only by God’s grace that we can accomplish any of this and so we call on all those that acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord to join us in prayer for our world and for the raising up of many initiatives that will bring the redeeming and transforming love of God to all those in need.

14. To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

The Primates Council:

The Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, GAFCON/FCA Chair
The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most Rev ‘d Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi Archbishop, Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya

The Most Rev’d Peter Jensen, Archbishop, Diocese of Sydney, Secretary
Download statement as PDF document

(See also: The Jerusalem Declaration)

Anglican church faces ‘piece by piece dissolution’, warns archbishop

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Rowan Williams tells warring factions to pull together for crucial General Synod vote on church’s future

    Rowan Williams speaking at the General Synod. Rowan Williams speaking at the General Synod. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesDr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, warned of the risk of “piece-by-piece dissolution” of worldwide Anglicanism in a heartfelt personal plea today to warring factions in the Church of England.

    At the opening of the church’s general synod in London, he called for all parties to put aside their disputes and agree on a fresh framework for settling differences across the 70 million-strong international communion.

    The synod votes tomorrow on the Anglican covenant, which has been seven years in the making, and sets the Church of England at a crucial crossroads. The church is already facing probable defections to Roman Catholicism by some priests opposed to the ordination of women bishops.

    The covenant was devised in response to divisions caused by the US Episcopal Church’s decision to endorse the election of the openly-gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, and it has to be endorsed by all 38 previously autonomous provinces of the communion across the world. The vote will be crucial as not only is the Church of England the mother church of the communion, but Williams is its spiritual head. A senior church official told the Guardian: “There is no Plan B. If this falls, the communion is in ruins.”

    In advance of the vote – which is technically to refer the covenant to dioceses for consultation – supporters and opponents have indulged in heated rhetoric; liberal Anglicans claimed it would spell the end of individual churches’ autonomy and subject decisions of the Church of England to the prior approval of reactionary churches such as the homophobic conservatives of equatorial Africa. Gregory Cameron, the Bishop of St Asaph in Wales, the canon lawyer mainly responsible for drawing up the covenant, likened opponents to the BNP.

    Williams used his presidential address to the first day of the general synod to urge both sides to calm down, listen to each other and work through their differences.

    “For God’s sake,” he said. “Don’t let us waste time and energy talking or behaving as if there were competition going on here … I don’t think we are doing the job for which God has called us here if we reproduce the worst aspects of secular partisanship.”

    He told the synod it was an “illusion” to think the communion could “carry on as usual” without some changes. And it was a “greater illusion” to think the Church of England could “derail the entire process” of the adoption of the covenant, a text that opponents claim will define who belongs and discipline those who flout rules.

    “The unpalatable fact is that certain decisions in any province affect all,” he said. “If we ignore this, we ignore what is already a real danger, the piece-by-piece dissolution of the communion and the emergence of structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure very significantly.”

    Williams, who has tried to keep disparate churches talking rather than leave the communion altogether, articulated the hopelessness of taking up entrenched positions on homosexuality, criticising both sides in the debate.

    Aides say he has been depressed by the battle. He said: “It is unthinkingly treated by some as almost the sole test of biblical fidelity or doctrinal orthodoxy. It is unthinkingly regarded by others as one of those matters on which the church must be brought into line with what our culture can make sense of … The covenant proposals are the only sign at the moment of the work that has to be done.”

    Anglican provinces would only belong to the communion if they signed up to the covenant, he said. They would agree not to proceed with any development that fellow members anywhere in the world objected to.

    The archbishop acknowledged that he was “bound to accept” his share of “reproach” for the lack of progress in major debates and invited the synod to help him do better by creating an “ambience where better understanding may happen”.

    Earlier, the supreme governor of the Church of England, the Queen, addressed the synod, reflecting on the “difficult, painful choices” ahead.

CAPE TOWN: Billionaire Businessman Says Christians Can Have Biblical Ethics

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Global Day of Prayer Rocks the World

While in Cape Town covering the Lausanne Congress on Global Evangelization, I interviewed a number of persons who I believe offer stories of changed lives through the power of the gospel. These stories are about faith and the struggle to be faithful often in difficult circumstances. This is the first of several stories we will bring to VOL’s readers. We hope you will be inspired by their testimonies and struggles.

By David W. Virtue
November 18, 2010

Business is business, or so the refrain goes. The subtext is that while Christian businessmen should pay their taxes, perhaps hide money in the Cayman Islands or a Swiss bank account, even tithe, under no circumstances should God be allowed to interfere in the running of a business. In short, the ethics of how a business should be run is not God’s business. Business is about making money regardless of the cost to people. The name of the game is profits, profits, and more profits. If it means cutting a few corners here and there to enhance profits so be it.

For 27 years, that was the basic philosophy of Graham Power, 55, a South African businessman who was then a nominal Methodist. “I started making money and the first part of my life was about chasing success. I started numerous companies, saw more turnover, established more game farms bought more boats and had all the material things of life including a loving wife.”

Power began his working career working inauspiciously at a construction company. He launched out on his own in 1983 and started what became one of the most successful highway construction and real estate development companies in South Africa, now doing approximately R1.5 billion Rand turnover per annum. No small achievement indeed.

Power discovered he had the Midas touch. Within a short space of time, he had 1,700 employees and was making money hand over fist. His business expanded across all the provinces in South Africa, and now expanding into Kenya, Ghana and other Southern African countries.

What hung over him as a white man was the changing political face of South Africa. Apartheid was drawing to an end, and, like many of his business friends, he felt it prudent to stash funds offshore in case South Africa collapsed. This involved millions of Rand.

By putting money in an offshore bank account beyond the allowable limit amid the snooping eyes of tax agents in South Africa, Power accumulated enough to buy a luxury home and a boat in Majorca.

It didn’t. South Africa transitioned peacefully out of Apartheid. Life went on.

But something happened to Power. He found that the good life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He had become enormously successful. He was rich, had a loving family and much more. But an emptiness gnawed away at him.

“I was a nominal Christian. My father was a Roman Catholic, my mother was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. I went to a Methodist Church, but my heart was not in it. Once married, I was merely a Sunday Christian.”

All that changed one day in 1998 when he was invited to a Christian breakfast meeting to hear Michael Cassidy, a well-known South African evangelist, preach. Power was introduced to the Scriptures at a level he had never experienced. For the first time, he heard the Good News of God’s salvation and, also for the first time, he heard about the power of the Holy Spirit.

“It was a sort of return to my spiritual life but at a deeper level. My life began to change. In Feb. 1999, I made a 24/7 commitment of my life, my family and my business to serving God.

“And so in my study, late one evening, I went down on my knees and surrendered my life to Christ.”

It was a powerful and defining moment for the hard bitten, super successful businessman. His life and his business would never be the same again.

Power found himself transitioning in his thinking about how one should be a businessman who was now a deeply committed Christian. One day he discovered something he called Biblical Principles of Business. He came to believe you could have ethics in the work place and there was no need to cheat to win.

In 1999, he began to clean up his act. His highway construction and real estate development company was, by any definition, a success.

With his new found faith in hand, Power set about asking critical questions about how he should live. “I said the first thing in my business was how we would conduct ourselves ethically. I challenged all our company directors and told them we could not collude with competing contractors, price fixing and tax evasion.

“The second thing I did was to say to our competitors that we were no longer prepared to discuss these issues that involved in participating in any form of price fixing. That was not a popular thing to do at the time.

“I then challenged our Board that we would start our meetings with prayer and that we would pay our fair share of taxes. We would no longer put our personal gardening services through the business and many other smaller things. We had lots of debate and discussion and then I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. As a majority stock holding 80% of the company’s stock I told them I would step aside if in the Board were not to agree to this new direction. I told them I was firm in my decision and there was no turning back.”

The directors agreed to go along with Power even though some were skeptical that one could do business with such transparency. Power’s honesty paid off.

Now, more than a decade later 8,400 individual signatories, and some 1700 companies have signed on to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign. People are doing business across the board across all racial divides in a biblically ethical fashion.

“Since 1999 when I committed my whole life to Christ in 1999 I had done my best to clean up everything that I was aware of that was sinful. With this done I still had one thing that I realised was illegal. I had established an overseas bank account during the Apartheid years. I had a fear of the country collapsing like Zimbabwe. I had bought a holiday home and boat on Majorca on the Spanish coast some 12 years earlier, and then I end up sitting at a gala dinner and we were doing a fund raiser for the Global Day of Prayer and sitting at this function was Bruce Wilkinson who was a keynote speaker. He challenged us to contribute funds for the event. I told my wife we needed to sell and contribute money to the Prayer Day if it meant so much to us.

“Some months later, at a similar dinner in Johannesburg, I felt convinced to share a challenge and testimony with the 600 people present, telling them how God had led me to clean up my act. I had taken $2 million out of the country illegally, and the Lord had convicted me to set that right.

On the Wednesday before the Friday function, the Minister of Finance announced an amnesty. They were giving South Africans an opportunity to bring back the money that we illegally taken out of the country, paying 10% and all would be forgiven.

“So, on that Friday night, we were at the gala dinner and I talked about accountability and about our overseas accounts. I wanted to challenge my business hearers to do the right thing, as I had already done. On Monday morning the headlines in the local newspapers screamed, ‘Christian Businessman Rapes Country of Millions.’

“The deal was to pay 10% and keep the properties there, or pay 5% and sell everything up and bring the money back. My wife and I opted for the former and paid the 10%.

“It has become part of my testimony. Businessmen did not know what prompted us to come clean. Eight years later everyone knows why I did it.”

A New Beginning – Global Day of Prayer

In July 2000 God captured the heart of Power with a vision based on 2 Chron. 7:14. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The vision had three clear instructions:

1. To call Christians from all denominations in Cape Town for a Day of Repentance and Prayer at Newlands Rugby Stadium.

2. To challenge Christians across the rest of South Africa to unite in a Day of Repentance and Prayer.

3. To challenge Christians in Southern Africa to unite in a Day of Repentance and Prayer.

“In 1999 I took an ALPHA course with my wife who then made her own commitment to Christ. “The ten week course changed our lives. Some months later, at the end of my annual vacation, I woke up at 4am with a clear instruction from the Lord; hire the stadium at Newlands (the biggest rugby stadium in Cape Town) and challenge the Christians from all the denominations to come together for a day of repentance and prayer. That was in July 2000.

“I woke up that day with absolute clarity to challenge the rest of South Africa and to spread abroad the Africa Day of Prayer and Repentance. I phoned the Managing Director of the stadium and told him what I wanted to do. He said that in 102 years the only thing that had ever happened at the stadium was rugby. The chairman of the board was Jewish and the vice-president of the Union was a Muslim. Then a small miracle occurred – the board agreed.”

In March of 2001, more than 45 000 Christians united for a Day of Repentance and Prayer at the Rugby Stadium in Cape Town. It was a day of intense intercession that transformed lives and was reflected by a changing city in the months to come. Testimonies of transformation caused the vision to be spread into the rest of South Africa and planning immediately started for similar prayer gatherings in eight provinces of South Africa for 2002.

“We had no big name speakers, just ordinary people with a passion for particular issues like youth, AIDS, leadership among church leaders, political and business leaders. We prayed for HIV/AIDS leaders of the country and for people on drugs.”

The following year in February 2002, Power said he was about to have a second day of prayer (it was three weeks away), when he ended up going to a men’s gathering in the wine growing district of Cape Town. “About 15 men showed up. A particular speaker from the Cape Flats – a 28-year old young man – spoke and his topic was the Holy Spirit. He had been a gangster from the age of 15 to 19 but had a radical conversion and here he was that morning chatting with 15 farmers and business men. I had a radio interview and after doing it I came back I found eight men lying on the floor…slain in the Spirit.

“The former gangster said ‘I will pray for you.’ I hit the deck and after five minutes I jumped up and felt electricity going through for me for over one and half hours. I was having the most dynamic experience in my life. I kept hearing God booming through my body, “I am the spine, I am the head of the spine, I am the King of Kings”. The pain up my back felt like pins and needles and a picture of Cape Town formed around my body. God was showing me the next step – the whole of southern Africa would participate in a Day of Prayer.

“As I felt pins and needles go through my shoulders and head, I suddenly understood that God desired to spread the Global Day of Prayer throughout the whole of Africa.. I saw God’s arms reaching around the globe and that Africa with all its problems was the center of a spiritual revival and that Africa would be a light to the world in my life time.

“This vision had an even bigger challenge: The whole of Africa was to gather in a Day of Repentance and Prayer, changing Africa to become a “light to the world”. Eventually, Africa was to invite all the nations of the globe to unite in this move of transformational prayer.”

In May of 2002, Christians in South Africa gathered in eight different venues for a Day of Repentance and Prayer. Again, the testimonies of church unity and the healing of communities inspired leaders to expand the vision into the rest of Africa. At a Summit in September 2002, leaders of nine African countries agreed on the vision “Africa for Christ”.

At the same time, it was clear that different prayer streams from across the globe were flowing in the same direction with a similar vision of community transformation through prayer. God was busy raising up a church of intercession in order to prepare communities for the revelation of His glory.

Across the African continent millions of Christians were inspired to participate in the process of transforming Africa. 77 South African regions and 27 African countries committed to a Day of Repentance and Prayer for Africa on the 1st of May 2003.

On May 2, 2004, history was made when Christians from all 56 nations of Africa participated in the first ever continental Day of Repentance and Prayer for Africa. Numerous communities, villages, towns and cities united in non-denominational prayer gatherings at different venues. In South Africa, 277 communities participated. A flame of prayer was burning in Africa.

At a meeting of the International Prayer Council in Thailand in November 2004, the invitation from Africa went out to the nations of the world to participate in a Global Day of Prayer process.

On Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005, Christians from 156 of the 220 nations of the world united across denominational and cultural borders for the first Global Day of Prayer. In the months following this day, Christians were overwhelmed by the testimonies of God’s powerful work in answer to these prayers.

In 2008, millions of Christians from 214 nations united in prayer and on May 31, 2009, a miracle happened when this initiative miraculously expanded to 220 countries in the world. Together with the 10 Days leading up to and the 90 Days of Blessing following the Global Day of Prayer, there was a sense that the call to unity and repentance was deepening. This lay the foundation for God to fill the nations with His glory as His children from around the world cried out to him in unity.

May 23, 2010 saw the 10-year celebration of the Global Day of Prayer. Whilst Christians from around the world united in prayer in Cape Town, where everything started, millions from 220 nations once again gathered in their own nations. The urgent call from Joel 2 echoed throughout the nations to return to God with repentance on a level never seen before. Yes, this was a time of rendering our hearts to God and to see the fulfilment of the promise of the Holy Spirit on all flesh.

“The growing momentum of the last 10 years has now laid the foundation to saturate nations in prayer. It’s time to shift our focus from 220 nations to facilitate a lifestyle of prayer with as many people in as many places as possible. In this new season, we will no longer aim at the goal of having organized events in every single country of the world, but rather to increase the number of gatherings on Pentecost Sunday in smaller settings, such as local churches, family homes and businesses instead of stadiums and assembly halls.”

Power wants to see the world celebrate the Global Day of Prayer. On June 12, 2011, he hopes to see the fulfilment of Hab. 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

“We will host the Global Day of Prayer from Jacksonville, Florida in 2011, and in 2012 we plan to anchor the Global Day of Prayer in the UK (where the Olympics will take place) on Pentecost Sunday.”

Power has launched to challenge the world to values, ethics and clean living.