Archive for December, 2014

Gay marriage and the death of freedom

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Rather than striking a blow for individual liberties, the dogma of gay marriage is stifling them/>

By Brendan O’Neill

Has there ever been a sweeter-sounding, more goosebump-inducing phrase than ‘Freedom to marry’? Everyone likes freedom (even illiberal politicians pay lip service to liberty), and who doesn’t love a good wedding? Marry these two things together (pun intended) and you end up with an endorphin-releasing buzzphrase that will make anyone grin wildly.

So it has been following Senator David Leyonhjelm’s unveiling of the Freedom to Marry Bill. Across Oz, right-minded people who think gays must be allowed to get hitched experienced paroxysms of joy at the introduction of this new phrase into the political vernacular. Sure, those of a leftish bent had trouble computing the fact that it’s a classical liberal politician who’s championing their most beloved cause. But the instant they made peace with this seeming anomaly, they, together with small-l liberals, gay-rights activists and the Age-reading patrons of non-chain coffee shops across the land (well, in Melbourne), were giving themselves adrenalin rushes by whispering those three magic words: ‘Freedom to marry…’

I hate to rain on this fabulous parade, but there’s a massive problem with this happy-clappy rallying cry. And it’s this: everywhere gay marriage has been introduced it has battered freedom, not boosted it. Debate has been chilled, dissenters harried, critics tear-gassed. Love and marriage might go together like horse and carriage, but freedom and gay marriage certainly do not. The double-thinking ‘freedom to marry’ has done more to power the elbow of the state than it has to expand the liberty of men and women.
There are awkward questions the ‘freedom to marry’ folks just can’t answer. Like: if gay marriage is a liberal cause, how come it’s been attended by authoritarianism wherever it’s been introduced?

Consider France. Hundreds of thousands of French people — or ‘bigots’, as the gay-marriage lobby brands anyone who disagrees with it — marched against the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013. And they were beaten and tear-gassed by riot cops. Parisians in t-shirts celebrating traditional marriage were arrested for holding ‘unauthorised protests’. In the words of Parisian writer John Laughland, critics of gay marriage were turned into ‘ideological enemies’ of the French state. It’s a funny expansion of freedom that so violently pummels the right to protest.

Consider America. The authorities there haven’t had to whip out their truncheons because non-state mobs have policed the opponents of gay marriage on their behalf. In the words of the author Damon Linker, a supporter of gay marriage, Americans who raise even a peep of criticism of gay marriage face ‘ostracism from public life’. We saw this with the medieval hounding of Brendan Eich out of his job at Mozilla after it was revealed that — oh, the humanity! — he isn’t a massive fan of gays getting married. Linker says the gay-marriage brigade has created a menacing climate, where the aim seems to be to ‘stamp out rival visions’. Americans who fail to bow at the altar of same-sex hitching, from wedding photographers to cake-makers, are harassed and boycotted and sometimes put out of business. The ‘freedom to marry’ clearly trumps the freedom of conscience.

Consider Britain. One of the first things gay campaigners here did when they won the right to marry was demand Catholic schools be forced to teach that gay marriage is as good as straight; even though they don’t believe this. Screw you, freedom of religion. Perhaps Catholic schools should bring back ‘priest holes’ to discuss their beliefs free from the watchful stare of the gay-marriage lobby, which, in Linker’s words, demands ‘psychological acceptance’ of gay marriage from all.

Why is this alleged freedom so feverishly embraced by politicians who can’t spell the word freedom? There’s David Cameron, demolisher of press freedom; French officials, so allergic to liberty that they won’t let Muslim women wear what they want; Obama, Christendom’s spymaster-in-general. What draws such freedom-fearing rulers to the ‘freedom to marry’? It’s simple: gay marriage has diddly-squat to do with freedom. Rather, this new institution, invented from pure cloth by tiny numbers of sharp-suited lawyers and agitators, is better seen as a Trojan horse for the enforcement of a new morality, one which calls into question the old virtues of lifelong commitment and familial sovereignty and replaces them with the flightiness and flexibility more commonly associated with gay relationships. ‘Gay marriage’ is the lick of paint modern society gives to its own discomfort with the traditional family set-up and its desire to dismantle, or at least dent, that set-up in favour of pushing new, post-traditional, state-defined hook-ups.

Twenty-five years ago, American thinker Christopher Lasch argued that ‘progressive rhetoric has the effect of concealing social crisis and moral breakdown by presenting them as the birth pangs of a new order’. Bingo! There’s no better description of gay marriage. Here, too, progressive-sounding rhetoric is really the dolling-up of our atomised, risk-averse societies’ growing disdain for those deep relationships in which families and communities traditionally socialised the next generation, mostly away from the prying eyes of the state. This is why the gay-marriage campaign is so contradictorily illiberal, so hostile to dissent, and so attractive to petty-authoritarian politicians: because it isn’t about expanding liberty at all; it’s about unilaterally overhauling the moral outlook of the traditionalist sections of society and elevating the commitment-phobic, passion-lite, short-termist values of the chattering classes instead.
Aussie campaigners for the ‘Freedom to marry’ are actually lucky that the PM isn’t cheering their moral crusade. Because this means that when they finally win this illiberal liberty — which they unquestionably will — they’ll be able to present it as a great victory for civil libertarians who bravely took on The Man. When in truth, their victory will be built on the spilt blood of French protesters and the trampled-upon right to dissent of Americans and Britons and the transformation of gay marriage by Western political elites into a new orthodoxy that you question at your peril.

Poor Mr Leyonhjelm — he thinks he’s striking a blow for liberty, when really he’s completing the final act in a pink-tinged tyranny kickstarted by the new authoritarians of the modern West.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 6 December 2014 Aus

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WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop

Monday, December 8th, 2014

WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).

Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.

In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’

CANADA: Anglican Archdeacon Blasts Anglican Church in North America, “They should repent”

Friday, December 5th, 2014

By David W. Virtue DD

The Anglican Church of Canada’s coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations blasted the Anglican Church in North America for failing to repent of its “scandalous contradictions” over divisions in the Communion, and called on the leaders of the ACNA to manifest reconciliation “in prayer, dialogue and action.”

In a column in the December issue of the Anglican Journal, Archdeacon Bruce Myers berated the ACNA leadership saying that to be an ecumenical partner means recognizing that the other with whom you seek to reconcile demonstrates signs of the Holy Spirit at work, even if you are in disagreement about some significant issues.

“It’s far from clear that ACNA yet manifests these qualities of an ecumenical partner. Its repentance is, according to its constitution, limited to ‘things done and left undone that have contributed to or tolerated the rise of false teaching’ in the Anglican churches from which it has chosen to walk apart.

“It’s still in a legal fight over property with two dioceses in the United States. It seeks recognition as a new North American province of the Anglican Communion without desiring reconciliation with those already existing.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently said the ACNA is not part of the Anglican Communion, but described the ACNA as “an ecumenical partner.”

Myers thinks ACNA should “repent” and demonstrate “humility”, while he acknowledged that both sides have contributed “to the creation and perpetuation of this sad division, one that compromises the credibility of our witness to the gospel and our fulfillment of God’s mission.”

The Anglican Church of Canada has a number of ecumenical partners. One, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, has become a full communion partner with which we enjoy a full and mutual recognition of ministry and sacraments. With others, like the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, we’re still on that journey–an admittedly longer one.

One orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger wrote, “I suspect what is really troubling Bruce Myers is not so much the division in North American Anglicanism but the fact that ANCA has made it so conspicuous. The division existed for decades before the final split occurred; while it was hidden, conservatives could be safely ignored. By making the split so blatant, ACNA has clearly said in action and word that the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC are guilty of ‘false teaching’; their religion does not meet the standards needed to be called Christian. It is, at best, sub-Christian.

“A liberal like Myers is tolerant of just about anything other than being firmly told he is wrong. The desire for reconciliation is little more than carefully disguised insecurity.”

To illustrate the point, the blogger cited an incident a number of years ago when a vote for same sex-blessings passed in the Diocese of Niagara. “A number of clergy voiced their opposition and walked out. A liberal priest rose to his feet and spluttered indignantly that those walking out were declaring by their action that he was not a Christian. That wasn’t the intention, but the question is: why was he so desperate for the approval of those whose theology he had spent years despising? There is no insecurity quite as profound as liberal insecurity.”

The deeper question is why the ACNA needs to change its modus operandi or seek reconciliation with apostasies and heresies espoused by the likes of former New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham who began the long road to schism by allowing the blessing of same-sex unions in the Vancouver area in 2003 when he announced that he had given priests in some parishes the authority to bless gay and lesbian unions. That single act has ruptured the entire Anglican Communion forcing the early retirement of an Archbishop of Canterbury, and, now it seems, that without repentance, will fracture the communion beyond any hope of repair.

Furthermore, the ACoC is withering on the vine (Jesus said it would as branches that bear no spiritual fruit would be trimmed) while the ACNA has now surpassed the ACoC in average Sunday attendance.

The ACoC is more concerned with developing green churches, changing the Canon on Marriage, and endlessly apologizing for the indigenous treatment of Native Americans with sacred circles. They recently got slammed by Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala who condemned as a sham the Anglican Church of Canada’s Bishops in Consultation initiative underwritten by the Canadian church and supported at its last meeting in Coventry in May 2014 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Director of Reconciliation, the Rev. Canon David Porter. The initiative brought together Canadian, American and African bishops to discuss the divisions within the church, with an eye towards achieving institutional unity while permitting a degree of latitude of doctrinal positions on issues ranging from sexual ethics, Christology, universalism and soteriology.

It’s that phony notion of “generous orthodoxy” — so hailed by former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold — that tore the fabric of the Communion and led to unorthodoxy and latitudinarian views on sexuality that created the mess we are now in.

Myers thinks and expects ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach to roll over when the ACNA is being treated like a pariah by Archbishop Justin Welby! What world is he living in? Look at the way the ACoC treated former eastern Newfoundland and Labrador Bishop Donald Harvey when he left the ACoC over his Church’s apostasies and formed the Anglican Network in Canada, now a diocese of the ACNA.

He was excluded, shunned and run out of town undergoing much pain and personal loss of status, friends and more. In humility he said only this, “We follow the One who was ultimately excluded, and as much as we follow Him we should expect the same treatment. It’s a badge of honor.”

It’s the same badge of honor that Archbishop Beach wears because he won’t roll over, the stakes are too high, the integrity of the gospel will not be compromised under any circumstances and certainly not for a faux unity that is no reconciliation at all.

The ACNA and its partner diocese the ANiC is the way forward. The ACoC will be history in a generation. Myers’ call for repentance will be for him to make, not Archbishop Beach or ANiC Bishop Charlie Masters.


Advent Resources

Thursday, December 4th, 2014


Advent1. Advent Bible Reading Plans

Scripture Union USA: ‘Take The Essential Journey to Bethlehem this Advent’ – Spend just a few minutes each day following the Bible’s story of Jesus’ birth

The Dawning of Indestructable Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper – free download
and he has daily devotionals
Good links to Bible reading plans for Advent and Christmas from Bible dot com
Billy Graham Advent Readings


2. UK Calendars and Daily Readings

The Archbishop of York’s Advent Calendar – daily readings and reflections
24-7 Prayer: ‘When God comes near’ – helpful daily reflections but no verses and prayer time this year.
and onYoutube
Advent Church Calendar – Premier Christian Radio daily readings starting with Canon Andrew White
Angels, Dreams, Stars, Visions – online Daily Reflections from St John’s College Nottingham
Advent in 60 Seconds – daily reflections from Tim Sanderson at Holy Trinity Jesmond
Live the Challenge from the diocese of St Albans


3. For Families and Children

Love Life, Live Advent –  25 resources including social media – Paula Gooder and Peter Babington
Archbishop Sentamu recommendation:
Animations of the Christmas Bible Story from Scripture Union England and Wales
more resources here suitable for groups
A family Jesse Tree from the Diocese of Bath and Wells


4. Challenges from Mission Agencies and others

Advent Conspiracy 2014 – Worship fully, Spend less, Give more, Love all
Bible Society Advent Challenge – requires registering
Awaiting Christ Together: Weekly Anglican Primates’ messages – Anglican Relief and Development Fund


5. US

Trinity School for Ministry Daily Advent Devotional
The Second Coming – Daily Bible teaching from Bishop Julian Dobbs
Lent and Beyond Advent links [check out those in the right hand column as well]
and their 2014 Advent entries


6. New Zealand

Advent features and links from Bosco Peters
The early story of the Bible in New Zealand
An Advent voyage to Oihi Beach – Anglican Taonga
more about the 200th Gospel Anniversary commemoration in December


7. More Advent Links and Resources

Lent and Beyond Favorite 2014 Advent Resources – one of the broadest and most comprehensive sets of links
Evangelical Alliance have a good roundup
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have a roundup of links particularly from the charity sector
Diocese of Durham
Nearest UK Advent and Christmas services can be located here


8. Old Favourites

Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2014

Psychotherapists Bill

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Dec 3, 2014gay change

From Core  Issues Trust:

This week sees a return to parliament of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill 2014-2015, presented by MP Geraint Davies and supported by a range of politicians.

The Bill attempts to reflect a similar pattern in the USA. Yesterday the Washington D.C. Council banned therapy wrongly termed ‘conversion’ therapy for minors, following California and New Jersey. The action follows an attempt to define such therapy as ‘torture’ at the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva last month.

The Bill now before the UK parliament both calls for a ban of therapeutic support for people who experience unwanted homosexual feelings, and criminalises any individual, whether professional or not, seeking to help any person who wishes to reduce homosexual practices or feelings. There are no exceptions to this ban: not even individuals in opposite sex marriages wishing to remain in their relationship so as to maintain their homes and families, or those who hold to traditional Judaeo- Christian values.

Read here

Fact Sheet

Why Millennials Long for Liturgy

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Is the High Church the Christianity of the future?


America’s youth are leaving churches in droves. One in four young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion, according to a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, and 55 percent of those unaffiliated youth once had a religious identification when they were younger. Yet amidst this exodus, some church leaders have identified another movement as cause for hope: rather than abandoning Christianity, some young people are joining more traditional, liturgical denominations–notably the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox branches of the faith. This trend is deeper than denominational waffling: it’s a search for meaning that goes to the heart of our postmodern age.

For Bart Gingerich, a fellow with the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a student at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, becoming Anglican was an intellectual journey steeped in the thought of ancient church fathers. He spent the first 15 years of his life in the United Methodist Church, where he felt he was taught a “Precious Moments” version of Christianity: watered down, polite, and unreal. His family joined a nondenominational evangelical church when Gingerich was 16. Some of the youth he met were serious about their faith, but others were apathetic, and many ended up leaving the church later on.
While attending Patrick Henry College in Virginia, Gingerich joined a reformed Baptist church in the nearby town of Guilford. Gingerich read St. Augustine and connected strongly with his thought–in class from Monday to Friday, Gingerich found himself arguing for ideas that clashed with his method of worship on Sunday. Protestantism began troubling him on a philosophical level. Could he really believe that the church “didn’t start getting it right” till the Reformation?

The final straw came when a chapel speaker at the college explained the beauty of the Eucharist in the Anglican service. Gingerich knew this was what he was looking for. Soon after, he joined the Anglican Church.

For high-school English teacher Jesse Cone, joining the Orthodox Church fulfilled a deep yearning for community and sacramental reality. Cone grew up in the Presbyterian Church of America, heavily involved in youth group and church activities. While attending Biola University, an evangelical school in southern California, Cone returned home over the summers to help lead youth-group activities. He was hired as a youth pastor and “even preached a sermon.” But at Biola, Cone struggled to find a home church. There were many megachurches in the area that didn’t have the “organic, everyday substance” Cone was seeking.

He began attending an Anglican service, drawn to its traditional doctrine. He was a “perpetual visitor” over the next few years. A Bible study on the Gospel of John pushed him further towards the high church. Reading through the book with a group of friends, Cone began to notice the “conversational and sacramental” way Jesus related to people. “There’s a lot of bread, and wine, and water,” he says. From Jesus’s first miracle–turning water into wine–to telling his disciples “I am the True Vine,” the mundane, communal ways in which in which Jesus connected with people “confirmed in me a sense of sacramentalism–that everyday aspects of life are important, in a way the modern mindset doesn’t share,” Cone says. “I started looking at the world with more sacramental eyes.”

Cone became engaged to a woman who was also raised Presbyterian. In the weeks leading up to their marriage, they sought a church together, but none seemed to fit. Fundamental questions lingering in Cone’s mind–about church history, the importance of doctrine and dogma, what it means to live a full Christian life–came to a head. He told his wife, “I don’t think I’m comfortable being Orthodox, but I want to at least see one of their services, see what it’s like out there.” The next Sunday, they decided to attend an Orthodox Church with another young couple. By the end of the service, Cone says, “We were just blown away. Just blown away.” The worship, doctrine, and tradition were exactly what they had been looking for. “We were shell-shocked. And we haven’t stopped going since.”

For blogger Jason Stellman, joining the Catholic Church was an act of religious and intellectual honesty. Brought up in a Baptist church, Stellman became a missionary in Europe for Calvary Chapel after college. When he began studying and accepting Calvinistic theology, he was dismissed from Calvary’s ministry and moved back to the U.S. He joined the Presbyterian Church of America and enrolled in Westminster Seminary in 2000. He and his wife helped start a Presbyterian Church in Southern California some time later.

In 2008, Stellman was introduced to serious arguments for the Catholic faith. He studied scriptural passages on church authority, the early church fathers, and St. Augustine’s writings on justification. The more Stellman read, the more he was drawn to the Catholic Church. While in Europe, he had attended mass at a cathedral in Brussels and discovered it possessed a liturgical beauty he hadn’t encountered before. Last year, he announced to his church that he was leaving to become Catholic.
Leaving one church for another is not easy. For Gingerich and Cone, the decision was difficult on a family and community level. Many in their old churches expressed confusion and hurt, and some asked rather ignorant, if well-intentioned, questions: “Do you worship Mary?” or “Do you still believe in Jesus?” There began a process of rebuilding trust that continues to this day. Stellman had to tell his church–a church he planted and ministered, and which his family still attends–that he could no longer serve as their pastor.

Yet all three say the high church has presented them with a sense of community they would not have experienced otherwise. For Gingerich, the seasons of feasting and fasting taught him to suffer and celebrate with the church in a way he had never experienced. “I was re-taught compassion,” he says. Cone’s Orthodox family now stretches from coast to coast and has supported him and his wife as they raise their three children. Their priest drives an hour to their house for confession, knowing how difficult it is for them to make the drive. “He leaves the 99 to get the one,” Cone says.

Many Protestant churches have noticed these congregational trends and their loss of numbers. Some are adopting a more liturgical style to draw in younger audiences: the new book Gathering Together, by Christian theology professor Steve Harmon, describes a Baptist denominational move towards a greater liturgical focus. “It represents an increasingly widespread Baptist recognition that our tradition by itself is not sufficient,” Harmon told ABP News.

Gingerich argues that such stylistic treatments dodge the real question: the issues of church authority behind the traditional liturgy. Cone says he sees “a sincere expression of gratitude and study” from his Protestant friends. But, he adds, “When I look at a Protestant service, it lacks the mystery and power of the body of Christ. … The whole life of the church, the prayers of the desert fathers, the blood of the martyrs, is more intimately connected in the Orthodox life than a mere stylistic change that a Protestant church can do.”

Yet Lee Nelson, Co-Chair of the Catechesis Taskforce of the Anglican Church of North America, is hopeful that if evangelical churches begin adopting elements of liturgical worship, some of the Christianity’s larger schisms might dissipate. One must wonder, he admits: are churches becoming liturgical because it’s cool or because it’s right? But when a church’s intention is truly worship-motivated, Nelson thinks such changes can lead “closer and closer to Christian unity, and that’s the best part.”
Nelson believes a sacramental hunger lies at the heart of what many millennials feel. “We are highly wired to be experiential,” he says. In the midst of our consumer culture, young people “ache for sacramentality.”

“If you ask me why kids are going high church, I’d say it’s because the single greatest threat to our generation and to young people nowadays is the deprivation of meaning in our lives,” Cone says. “In the liturgical space, everything becomes meaningful. In the offering up of the bread and wine, we see the offering up of the wheat and grain and fruits of the earth, and God gives them back in a sanctified form. … We’re so thirsty for meaning that goes deeper, that can speak to our entire lives, hearts, and wallets, that we’re really thirsty to be attached to the earth and to each other and to God. The liturgy is a historical way in which that happens.”

The millennial generation is seeking a holistic, honest, yet mysterious truth that their current churches cannot provide. Where they search will have large implications for the future of Christianity. Protestant churches that want to preserve their youth membership may have to develop a greater openness toward the treasures of the past. One thing seems certain: this “sacramental yearning” will not go away.

Gracy Olmstead is associate editor of The American Conservative.

How the Nineteenth Century Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Tasmania Rid His Diocese of Evangelicals

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

How the Nineteenth Century Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Tasmania Rid His Diocese of Evangelicals

By Robin Jordan
Fourth year Bachelor of Divinity students at Moore Theological College are given the opportunity to research and write a 6000-word essay in Church History on some aspect of Evangelicalism in Australia or Britain after 1600. Encouraged by the excellent quality of some of these essays Moore’s Church History Department sought a way to share the fruits of these students’ research and writing with a broader audience. This resulted in the launching of a new journal Integrity.

Among these essays is Sam Gough’s “An Analysis of the Reasons for the Opposition in Tasmania in the 1850s of the Rev Dr Henry Fry and other Evangelical Anglican Clergy to their Bishop, Dr Francis Nixon.” In his essay Gough examines how Anglo-Catholic Bishop Francis Nixon implemented an exclusionary policy against Evangelicals in the Diocese of Tasmania in the mid-nineteenth century. This was a story that was repeated elsewhere in what would become the Anglican Communion.

In the United Kingdom it would lead to the formation of the Free Church of England; in South Africa, the Church of England in South Africa; and in the United States and Canada, to the Reformed Episcopal Church.

To become the dominant church party in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in the twentieth century liberals would borrow extensively from the play book of the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic movement.

Those who dismiss the likelihood of the Anglo-Catholic – philo-Orthodox element in the Anglican Church in North America further carrying out their policy of not making room in that denomination for Anglicans who subscribe to the Anglican confessional formularies and the Biblical and Reformed teaching on which they are based and are committed to a Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical vision of the Anglican Church in particular need to read Gough’s essay here: