Make up your mind, Justin: Is ACNA a province or not?

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Justin Welby sat back and did nothing to prevent the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) from apostasizing itself. As Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, he should have intervened long before the SEC voted to abandon the faith and embrace sexual revisionism. Had he done so, he would have been fulfilling his responsibility as a bishop to maintain the unity of the church. Instead, he completely abdicated that responsibility, leaving faithful Christians in Scotland as sheep without a shepherd and forcing one of his own episcopal colleagues in England to break communion with the Scottish church.

Stepping into the vacuum left by Welby’s inaction, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) announced the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as missionary bishop for Scotland. Now, all of a sudden, Welby feels compelled to respond. In a letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion [apparently a pre-emptive strike, as it is dated June 1], he decries the practice of “cross border interventions,” citing dubious historical canons and pleading for his colleagues to respect diocesan boundaries, all the while never bothering to mention the gross transgression of the SEC.

It is important to point out that Canon Lines is being consecrated by the ACNA, a province not yet officially recognized by Canterbury. If Welby considers the Scottish initiative to be a “cross border intervention,” he is saying, in effect, that ACNA is an officially recognized province.

So, what is it, Your Grace?

Is ACNA officially “Anglican” in your eyes, or not?

If it is, you are best advised to listen to its leaders and the leaders of GAFCON and the Global South who are admonishing you as a Christian brother to halt the slide of your own province into apostasy.

If it is not, you have no reason to fear, and certainly no cause to protest, its sending a missionary into the land of moors and mountains.

Either let ACNA be ACNA apart from you, or accept ACNA as an authentically Anglican province and, with humility, seek to learn a little from it about how to be a church in mission in the midst of a culture that is corrupt and collapsing.

Samuel James’s challenge to Christian fans of Bernie Sanders (and mine to his Senate colleagues who keep letting him get away with this stuff)

BernieSenator Bernie Sanders, a socialist representing an obviously benighted constituency from Vermont, has been taking a lot of well-deserved heat for his rant against one Russell Vought, nominated by President Trump for the rather benign position of Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Sanders, in characteristic bombastic fashion, assailed Vought for an essay in which he expressed the belief that Muslims “stand condemned” because they reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, hardly an unusual belief for an orthodox, evangelical Christian. The senator from Vermont, however, seems to think such a view is bigoted, “Islamophobic” (whatever that is), and un-American. “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman,” Sanders declared sanctimoniously, “that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Samuel James notes that Sanders’ harangue was not only apalling and distasteful, but also “borderline unconstitutional.” Article VI of the Constitution of the United States is quite explicit with regard to religious beliefs and fitness for public office.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

James suggests three possible explanations for Sanders’s unconscionable behavior.

1. The senator genuinely doesn’t know or understand that Christians believe that those who aren’t Christians are, at least in some meaningful sense, “condemned” because they lack faith in Jesus Christ. It could be that senator Sanders honestly has no idea this theology even exists, and assumed that Vought’s sentiments were extreme, fringe, and bigoted.

2. Senator Sanders does understand what Vought means, but he believes this theology is genuinely dangerous to pluralism and tolerance, and that those who believe in it are, by extension, threats to the social order.

3. Senator Sanders understands the theology, and doesn’t really see such religious belief as inherently dangerous to the public. He does, however, believe that secularism, not religion, is the “fair” and “neutral” position, and that it’s best for everybody if those with political power do not take their religious beliefs with them into the public square. Laying personal theology aside is, Sanders reasons, the cost of citizenship.

The problem with all three explanations, however, is that they mean essentially the same thing.

I’m not sure which scenario I believe. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t really matter which one is true, because in the end, they all mean the same thing. They all mean that a candidate for public office was openly asked to relinquish the unanimous teaching of his 2,000-year old faith in order to serve the American republic. They all mean that an elected official ridiculed and questioned the patriotism of orthodox Christian teaching, and did so likely knowing he could count on impunity from his colleagues and his constituency. They all mean the pitting of basic religious conviction against citizenship.

In conclusion, James notes that a number of Christians have become fans and supporters of Sanders, especially since his recent unsuccessful presidential bid. He issues such persons a challenge.

One more thing. I happen to know quite a few friends and peers who are both Christian and fans/supporters of Bernie Sanders. Here’s my challenge to you: Say something about this. Don’t let it fly just because you like the idea of free community college, or because you’ve seen through the whole “GOP=Christianity” facade. Capitalism is not orthodoxy. I get it. But if your partiality for economic redistribution means you’re OK with religious tests being applied for public officials who have the misfortune of their convictions, you’ve simply repeated the mistake of your Moral Majority ancestors, only on behalf of a different tribe.

Christian support for Sanders is a strange and peculiar phenomenon of our age but Christians in this and every age have supported stranger and more peculiar politicians (Don’t get me started on the messianic fervor with which some Christians supported the current president and, before that, his immediate predecessor). What is more disturbing, and what will have longer term implications if not addressed forthwith, is the impunity (as James notes) of Sanders’s colleagues. This is hardly the first time they have failed to hold him and other senators of similar persuasion accountable.

Perhaps it is unrealistic, in this day and age, to expect our elected officials to be well versed in even the most explicit details of the Constitution, much less the parliamentary maneuvers at their disposal to prevent their wayward colleagues from trampling upon it. This whole episode could have been avoided if one member of the committee, recognizing that Sanders was beginning to tread down an unconstitutional path, had raised a point of order, cited Article VI, and asked the chairman to direct the senator to withdraw his line of questioning. Even Sanders himself would have been grateful for the education in matters constitutional and for the fact that one of his colleagues cared enough to intervene and prevent him from making a fool of himself.

There remains the vote on Vought’s confirmation, first in committee and then by the full Senate. My challenge to Sanders’s colleagues is that they brush up on their knowledge of the Constitution and of parliamentary procedure so as to insure that Sanders does not get away with this kind of histrionic behavior again.

Sanders is free, of course, to vote as he wishes on Vought’s confirmation. If his sole rationale for opposing him, however, is the nominee’s religious beliefs, then it is Bernie Sanders, not Russell Vought, who “is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

GAFCON and ACNA come to the aid of faithful Scots as Scottish Episcopal Church abandons the faith

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) abandoned the historic Christian faith today as its Synod voted to amend its canonical definition of marriage to accommodate the faux union of persons of the same sex.

Aid to the faithful in Scotland came swiftly, however, as Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) announced on behalf of the primates of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) that his province would be taking on the task of consecrating a missionary bishop for Scotland. In his statement, Archbishop Beach paid special tribute to the role that the Scottish church played in the establishment of American Anglicanism.

beach_sermonStatement on Gafcon Missionary Bishop by Archbishop Foley Beach

Good afternoon. Thank you for being here today. I plan to make a brief statement. Canon Andy Lines will make a brief statement. Rev. David McCarthy will make a brief statement. And then we will have a time for questions.

I speak to you today as the Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America, and as a sitting primate on the Gafcon Primates Council. On behalf of the Chairman of Gafcon, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of All Nigeria, the Assistant Chairman, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, and the Gafcon Primates Council: Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We continue to have a crisis in the Anglican Communion as the virus of revisionist theology and practice continues to spread to various Provinces. Rather than correcting and disciplining those who have departed from the biblical faith and practice which has been handed down to us from the Apostles, some church leaders are embracing false teaching, and then going even further by promoting it around the world.

The Nairobi Communiqué from the Gafcon meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 clearly stated that the Gafcon leadership would not ignore the pleas of the faithful who are trapped in places where false doctrine and practice occur. We promised that we would provide pastoral care and oversight for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.

At our April meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, the Gafcon Primates decided to provide a missionary bishop for Europe with the initial focus on those in Scotland and those faithful Anglicans in England outside the Church of England. Today’s decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalized by their leaders. The attempt to redefine marriage is not one that a faithful Christian can support.

canon_andy_linesThe Gafcon Primates have asked our Province, the Anglican Church in North America, to take on the task of providing a missionary bishop for Scotland. Our Province was formed at the direction of Gafcon 2008 after many of the Provinces of Gafcon had provided the same kind of oversight for clergy and congregations in North America. They have asked us to consecrate Canon Andy Lines.

Our College of Bishops discussed and decided to accept this responsibility. Following the Canons of our Province, the Executive Committee of the Province was not only consulted, but also voted unanimously to support this endeavor. We also appointed an oversight Committee of Bishops to provide guidance and accountability for Canon Lines as he walks through our consecration process and to support him after he is consecrated a bishop. Archbishop Robert Duncan is chair of the committee which consists of three diocesan bishops: The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, The Rt. Rev. Charlie Master, and The Rt. Rev. David Hicks.

Canon Andy Lines is now canonically resident in the Diocese of the South as a “priest in good standing” after having been transferred from the Province of South America as a priest in good standing.

The Consecration will take place on the morning of 30 June in Wheaton, Illinois and the service will include Primates, Archbishops, and bishops from all over the world. Although the Anglican Church in North America is the consecrating Province, this is an initiative of the wider Anglican Communion.

Lastly, as the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, I consider it an honor to serve the Scots in this way. After the American revolution in the United States, the Anglican leaders in England would not consecrate bishops for the newly formed Anglican Church in the United States. It was Scotland who came to our rescue and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury. It is Providential that we in North America are now able to honor our Scottish heritage by providing a bishop for the faithful in Scotland. It is my hope that the missionary bishop will lead an effort to plant dynamic churches all over Scotland which are Jesus-centered, practicing the teaching of the Bible, and holding to the long-standing tradition of the Anglican Faith. As Samuel Seabury once said:

“Error often becomes popular and contagious, and then no one can tell how far it will spread, nor where it ends. We must in such cases, recur to first principles, and there take our stand. The Bible must be the ground of our faith.

Let us pray for Bishop-elect Andy Lines.

Almighty God, giver of all good things, who by thy Holy Spirit hast appointed diverse orders of ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold thy servant, Andy, now called to the work and ministry of Missionary Bishop for Scotland; and so replenish him with the truth of thy doctrine, and adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and deed, he may faithfully serve thee in this office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edifying and well-governing of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. (1928 BCP, adapted)

More:

Ad clerum letter from Foley Beach on the appointment of Andy Lines as bishop in Europe

 

Not from The Babylon Bee . . .

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. . . because even that venerable publication could not imagine something this ridiculous.

A regional body of the United Methodist Church has ordained a transgender individual who does not identify as male or female to the position of provisional deacon.

The Northern Illinois Conference commissioned M Barclay, who serves as director of communications for the pro-LGBT advocacy group Reconciling Ministries Network, as a provisional deacon on Sunday.

“For so long, I’ve longed to be a pastoral presence in the world — and certainly you can do that without a collar — but we have ordination for a reason, and part of that is that I can publicly identify as a pastor now,” stated Barclay, as reported by United Methodist News Service.

“I know it’s not particularly common in The United Methodist Church, but I intend to wear a collar every single day because for a person like me to navigate society in a collar provides some profound and urgently needed pastoral opportunities, particularly for queer and trans people.”

There’s more, if you can stomach it.

The truth about Islam: Two important articles

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In the aftermath of the latest tragedy perpetrated by Islamic terrorists in London, two important articles have been published, providing the kind of clarity which Western politicians seem unwilling or unable to grasp.

The first, by my old philosophy professor Jerry Walls, addresses the very real theological issue at the heart of the ongoing global conflict.

Many of the cultural conflicts, not only in America, but throughout the world, hinge not only on the issue of whether God exists, but also whether or not He has revealed objective moral truth that we are obligated to follow. Again, either way it goes, many people are wrong about something that is very important, and in which they are deeply and emotionally invested. That is why the moral and religious convictions of the owners of a modest little pizza shop in Indiana, or a county clerk in Kentucky can be flashpoints of national controversy.

The same sort of unyielding logical impossibilities are at the heart of the larger global conflict. Start with this fact. The central belief of Christian faith is that Jesus is Lord, that he is the very Son of God, and God’s highest, definitive revelation. What gave rise to such a remarkable doctrine? Well, to put it simply, the whole life of Jesus, including his remarkable claims about himself, and the miracles he is reported to have done. But the ultimate reason is the extraordinary claim that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead, a claim that is rooted in impressive historical evidence.

Now the resurrection is the big explosion that gave shape to the core doctrines that are distinctive to Christianity. The belief that Jesus was raised from the dead grounds the claim that his death on the cross was not simply an act of martyrdom or a tragedy, but rather, that he died to atone for our sins. The belief that he was raised shows he was not a mere mortal, but rather divine, and this led to the belief that he is the very incarnate Son of God. And the belief that He is divine, but distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, led to the doctrine of Trinity.

In short, who Jesus is, and whether or not He was raised from the dead has enormous implications for what is true about God. Now consider these logical alternatives and how they divide believers in the great theistic religions.

Either Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, or he did not.

Either Jesus was raised bodily from the dead, or he was not.

Either Jesus is the Son of God, or He is not.

Either Jesus is God’s final definitive revelation, or He is not.

Either God exists eternally in Three Persons, or He does not.

In each of these cases, one of these mutually exclusive alternatives is true, but both cannot be. Christians, of course, affirm the first of these alternatives in each case, whereas Jews and Muslims affirm the second alternative. (Indeed, Muslims do not believe that Jesus died on the cross at all).

Islam, Walls says, is unique among non-Christian faiths because so many of its tenets are specifically aimed at refuting what Christianity believes about Jesus.

And here it is important to recognize that Islam is in a sense anti-Christian in its very nature in a way that other world religions are not. This is because it was founded centuries after Christianity, and its very emergence was premised on explicit rejection of core Christian doctrines in favor of a different account of the nature and will of God and the way of salvation.

It is equally important to be clear what Islam is rejecting in its affirmation of an alternative faith. The Christian faith is indelibly marked by a distinctively beautiful account of a God whose essential nature is holy love. The nature of God as love is intriguingly revealed in the Trinity, as an eternal dance of joyous, mutual loving and giving among the Three Persons. And that love was communicated to us in definitive fashion in the incarnation and death of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. It is that very love that Christians are called to re-create in their love for one another. Jesus summed it up as follows: “As the Father loved me, so have I loved you….Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:9. 12).

Christians believe that among the dying words of the Son of God were, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Whereas Muslims deny that Jesus died on the cross, Christians discern in the death of Christ on the cross the heart that moves Almighty Power. It is an inescapable reality that either Muslims or Christians are profoundly and tragically wrong in their beliefs about God’s definitive revelation.

And that is the hard rock that is firmly lodged at the heart of global conflict.

The second article, posted this morning at Archbishop Cranmer by British cleric Gavin Ashenden, addresses the uncomfortable truth about Islam which political and religious leaders in England (and, one might add, throughout the West) refuse to accept.

How is it possible that we can continue to keep up this pretence of patronising, intolerant duplicity where we pretend we know Islam better than those who live and practise it?

Why won’t Andy Burnham, the Dean of Westminster and the Prime Minster tell us the truth?

The answer is probably that if they did, they would be required to face a problem to which there is either no solution, or one that tests what is politically possible to the utmost limits.

The question they should really ask is the more interesting one which relates to those Muslims in Western society who have not turned to violence.

Why have so many Muslims who live amongst us not turned to violent Jihad? The answer may be that they simply don’t want to, or are not very observant Muslims, or at least not as observant and pious as those who do turn to violence.

Or it may be that they are kind and generous people who see much good in the first half of the Koran where Mohammed says generous things about Jews, Muslims and Christians being cousinly ‘People of the Book’.

Perhaps they prefer to commit a lesser sin against the principle of abrogation, which requires them to preference the violent and inhospitable passages mainly near the end of the Koran over the benign ones near the front.

It may also have something to do with expediency. When Muslims are a small minority of a population they accommodate themselves quietly and pragmatically to their host environment. To do anything else would be to risk their expulsion. But when their numbers reach a kind of critical mass, expulsion becomes unfeasible. The pragmatic accommodationism begins to give way to the ambitions that the Koran dictates all good Muslims should have, to pursue the conversion of their host society, by persuasion or by terror:

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” (8:12).

If our politicians and religious leaders were to find the courage and integrity to do their primary duty by us and tell the truth about Islam, Islamists, Muslims, Jihad and accommodation, what would follow?

That is the very debate we have to have now in public.

Ashenden’s solutions are not for the faint of heart, but neither is this present conflict–a hard truth which those in positions of authority need to grasp forthwith.