VirtueOnline Viewpoints - January 14, 2009

david at virtueonline.org david at virtueonline.org
Wed Jan 14 22:04:38 EST 2009


Robinson to "Pray" at Obama Inauguration...Ft. Worth Remnant Stymied...Warren Offers Refuge for Anglicans

Someone asked Abba Anthony, "What must one do in order to please God?" The old man replied, "Pay attention to what I tell you: Whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes. Whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the Holy Scriptures. In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved."

We must keep reminding ourselves what we have and are in Christ. One of the great purposes of daily Bible reading, meditation and prayer is just this, to get ourselves correctly orientated, to remember who and what we are. We need to say to ourselves: 'Once I was a slave, but God has made me his son and put the spirit of his son into my heart. How can I turn back to the old slavery?' Again: 'Once I did not know God, but now I know him and have come to be known by him. How can I turn back to the old ignorance? '--- From "The Message of Galatians" John R.W. Stott

The greatest single secret of spiritual development lies in personal, humble, believing, obedient response to the Word of God. It is as God speaks to us through his Word that his warnings can bring us to conviction of sin, his promises to assurance of forgiveness, and his commands to amendment of life. We live and grow by his Word. --- From "Confess your Sins" John R.W. Stott

"All my life, I have prayed to God that I should remain religiously orthodox, culturally conservative, politically liberal and economically pragmatic." --- Richard John Neuhaus

When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers through my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my own. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of 'justification by faith alone,' although I will thank God that that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood doctrine was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways...these and all other gifts I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will, with Dysmas, look to Christ and Christ alone. --- -Richard John Neuhaus (May 14, 1936 - January 8, 2009)

Dear Brothers and Sisters 
www.virtueonline.org 
1/14/2009

It's official. President-elect Barack Obama has asked V. Gene Robinson, the openly non-celibate homosexual Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, to deliver the invocation at an inaugural event on Sunday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Robinson, 61, said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible. "While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Of course, it's no surprise that he's not going to be "especially Christian" in his prayer, since many Episcopalians believe he's really not Christian at all.

The truly sad and indeed outrageous thing this has done is elevate homosexuality to high camp status in the Obama administration giving revisionist Episcopalians the leverage they want and need to push their pansexual agenda even further at General Convention 2009. After all, who is going to beat up on Robinson, Louie Crew, Susan Russell, et al for their warped sexual behavior when the nation's newest political savior has "baptized" sodomy in the name of inclusivity?. There will be rejoicing in the streets of Anaheim this summer led by the pro-gay, Proposition 8 hater Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno.

You can read my story on Robinson's invocation views contrasted with the theological views of Rick Warren, the pastor who will deliver the inaugural prayer. http://tinyurl.com/8d6nnv

***** 

In the DIOCESE OF COLORADO last Saturday, Episcopal Bishop Robert O'Neill ordained Mary Catherine Volland, who is in a "partnered lesbian" relationship. You won't find an announcement of the ordination on the diocesan web site. There are reports that the bishop wanted to keep things quiet, perhaps in light of the fact that the Lambeth Conference, struggling to hold together the warring factions of the Anglican Communion, called for a moratorium on the ordination of homosexuals and lesbians. 

Nevertheless, the diocese put out a press release on the ordination saying that although there is a clearly a range of opinion among clergy and lay people of the diocese about the ministry of partnered gay and lesbian clergy, one of the gifts of Anglican Christianity is its tradition of holding widely divergent points of view within the context of an orthodox Christian faith. 

Whether O'Neill and his fellow liberal bishops admit it or not, this is in complete defiance of the Windsor Report and the Moratorium. It makes a total mockery of any Covenant that might be forthcoming to keep the Anglican Communion together. 

There was no word of reprimand for his actions from the Presiding Bishop or the Archbishop of Canterbury. "The Diocese of Colorado is perhaps the most politically and theologically diverse diocese in the Episcopal Church," says Bishop O'Neill. If that is the case, why won't he accept and settle with one of his so-called renegade priests, Fr. Don Armstrong, an evangelical who only wants to defend the faith of his fathers. 

Apparently, O'Neill doesn't have the same faith as Armstrong, which is why all these attempts to hold a failing structure together won't ultimately work As one blogger noted, "theological diversity is an odd goal. One imagines the recitation of the Creed in an Episcopalian parish, with each individual saying different things while O'Neill smiles benignly over his flock, listening with equal attention to all the conflicting professions of faith." 

***** 

The ongoing violence in GAZA brought out the Hamas in US Presiding Bishop Katharine . Jefferts Schori this week. She said, "We are deeply saddened by the first-hand reports we are receiving from Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza about the casualties they are treating under the most horrific circumstances. The high number of civilian deaths and injuries, which continue to include noncombatants, women, and children, will only prolong the violence years into the future. Israel's disproportionate response to the rockets being fired into its cities may well encourage violence beyond Gaza and Israel. The first steps toward peace will only come if all parties unite behind an immediate ceasefire. Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded the world that "an eye for an eye soon leaves the whole world blind." VOL has written at length about her views and those of several other Episcopal bishops on the continuing Israeli-Arab conflict. You can read it here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/7ur9la 

*****

There are two stories this week highlight the ongoing ecclesiastical fight in the DIOCESE OF FT. WORTH. The lead story concerns All Saints parish whose priest has axed staff and defied his bishop. The rector, the Rev. Christopher Jambor is holding his parish spiritually hostage by using a loyalty oath to coerce his clerical and lay staff to toe the line. The axe has fallen on one priest, The Rev. Zeke Rogers; Youth Minister Matthew Maples; and at least three known vestrymen. More vestry resignations are anticipated. He is stonewalling his people and forbidding them to call the question and vote on whether his parish wants to remain with the realigned Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth or retrocede back to TEC.

Another story reveals the quandary faced by those who want to stay in TEC. The stayers have already rejected two liberal bishops and are now backed into a corner. Legally, they are now part of the Province of the Southern Cone but their parish priests won't allow their people to vote on whether to retrocede or not. In order to stay with the realigned diocese, they need 66% which they will not get.

To make matters worse, Mrs. Jefferts Schori announced she is coming to the diocese in order to conduct a Eucharist and preach. This aroused the ire of Bishop Jack Iker who wrote her a very direct and pointed letter telling her to keep her ecclesiastical presence out of his diocese. She has no jurisdiction here, he said. Said Iker, "We urge you to focus your pastoral ministry within your own province. Please desist from interfering in this matter."

This is all happening before all the expected lawsuits fly down from 815 Second Avenue in New York with David Booth Beers' legal footprints all over them.

In his letter to Jefferts Schori, Bishop Iker cited Canon III.12.3.c of the Canons of General Convention,: "No bishop shall perform Episcopal acts or officiate by preaching, ministering the Sacraments, or holding any public service in a Diocese other than that in which the Bishop is canonically resident, without permission or a license to perform occasional public services from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in which the Bishop desires to officiate or perform Episcopal acts."

You can read both stories here or in today's digest: http://tinyurl.com/9nqoca http://tinyurl.com/93bwpo

The Bishop's letter can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/746v5j

*****

The BISHOP OF LONG ISLAND could face presentment charges if he hangs around after the March election for a new bishop, VOL learned this week. The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Long Island has hired an attorney to investigate The Rt. Rev. Orris Walker on the grounds that his continued stay beyond the March election of a new bishop will hamper the new bishop's ability to function. Rumors abound that Walker has AIDS. In 2007, a "New York Times" writer asked the bishop if he had AIDS. The bishop would neither confirm nor deny it. Walker is an alcoholic. He has, in the past, misappropriated funds from his diocesan accounts, tried to broker back into the church a sodomite priest who appeared in Penthouse magazine under an article titled, "The Boys from Brazil", and sold off properties, accumulating millions of dollars as a war chest for the diocese. You can read the full story here or in today's digest. http://tinyurl.com/9deqkm

*****

THE REV RICK WARREN, America's leading evangelical pastor based in Saddleback, CA, is turning out to be a real friend to Episcopalians being tossed out of their parishes. He has turned over his property to displaced Anglicans hit hard by revisionist unbelieving Episcopal bishops. He is a godsend. In September 2008, Dr. Warren wrote to VOL with a proposition. He would make his church available to any Anglican parish wanting to flee the Episcopal Church because of its non-biblical stand on faith and morals. 

VOL was delighted to accept the challenge and wrote to Bishop John Guernsey of the Anglican Province of Uganda who oversees some 51 parishes in the U.S. telling him about the offer. The offer has gone to the Rev. Richard Crocker of St. James, Newport Beach, who lost his property in a power struggle with Bishop Jon Bruno. Crocker says his attorneys are still litigating against the DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES and will hold off on the offer. 

It is nice to know that we are getting greater clarity with each passing day about who believes what. No one should be fooled by the intentions of Episcopal Church leaders. They are fundamentalist on property issues and liberal on faith and doctrine issues.

*****

A new hot button issue is beginning to rear its head and it is DIVORCE. Much is being talked about over Women's Ordination and Homosexuality, but somewhere down the line, the issue of divorce will have to be addressed. Orthodox Anglican Archbishops have spoken clearly and decisively on the subject of Homosexuality, but a number of evangelical Episcopal and Anglican priests have divorced and remarried. The question is, were their divorces on the grounds of adultery or some other reason?. "Irreconcilable differences" will not go down well if the new Anglican Province is to be recognized as orthodox in doctrine. Morals will include not only homosexual behavior, but divorce, as well. Many priests will be soul searching their past lives as they face the demands of orthodoxy in a new province. You can read the full story here: http://tinyurl.com/9ozjao

*****

It was a parting of the ways for The Rev. Matt Kennedy, his parish and the DIOCESE OF CENTRAL NEW YORK this past week. The courts ruled that the diocese owns the Binghamton parish property of Good Shepherd. The breakaway congregation will have to find a new space to worship. 

This is really not a surprise. The Dennis Canon has been winning across the country. Only the 11 parishes in the DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA seem to have a chance of winning, but there the ground rules are different. They face yet another round of court battles. 

The decision about the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton finalizes a third property dispute involving congregations in the diocese of Central New York over fundamental disagreements about biblical authority and Robinson's consecration. 

The parish has found temporary headquarters in the gymnasium of a nearby Baptist Church. Ironically, this can turn out to be a winner. The savings are huge. No more parish repairs, utility bills and upkeep. One should also bear in mind that tens of thousands of African Anglicans meet under trees each Sunday, unable to rent or buy a property. 

Their new bishop is The Rt. Rev. William Murdoch, a former Episcopal priest, now functioning as a Kenyan bishop for parishes fleeing The Episcopal Church. They are in good, doctrinally sound hands. 

***** 

NEWS FROM THE CONTINUERS. The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) consecrated three new suffragan bishops on January 10th 2009. The three men were elected by the lay and clergy representatives at the UECNA's recent triennial Synod in October of 2008. Participating in the consecrations were The Most Rev. Stephen C. Reber, Sr. The Archbishop and Presiding Bishop of the UECNA as well as The Rt. Rev. D. Presley Hutchens, Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Catholic Church's Diocese of New Orleans, and The Rt. Rev. Dr. William Wiygul, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southern States of the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

Consecrated bishops were The Rev. Peter D. Robinson, Rector of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Prescott AZ, The Rev. Harry Samuel Seamans, Rector of St. Thomas Church, Mountain Home, AR, and The Rev. Wesley L. Nolden, II, Priest-in-Charge of Trinity Anglican Church, Evansville, IN. The service was held in St. Louis, MO with over 140 in attendance and occurred only two miles from the site of the signing of the Affirmation of St. Louis. The consecration of these bishops emphasizes the growing positive cooperation between the three jurisdictions which have had intercommunion agreements since 2007. The three new suffragan bishops will not only work for Archbishop Reber, but will be available to assist diocesan bishops in the other two jurisdictions should the need arise. The approval of Archbishop Reber will be required as well as either Archbishop Haverland, or Archbishop Provence depending upon the jurisdiction requesting the assistance.

*****

If you think that Global South bishops are somehow living in the spiritual dark ages, think again. The bishop of the DIOCESE OF ANKOLE in Uganda, The Rt. Rev. Dr. George Tibesigwa, has condemned the murder of children for ritual sacrifice. Tibesigwa said Parliament needs to enact laws to severely punish culprits. He was speaking during a seminar for women in life ministry in the western region of his country. Tibesigwa said many cases of child sacrifice are reported almost daily in "Bukedde," a Luganda newspaper and "The New Vision" newspaper. "The Government must also wake up to fight child sacrifice. The vice is a big national shock," he said. The bishop also noted that existing laws could not easily be enforced because of rampant corruption. "The New Vision" yesterday reported that the Police had concluded investigating 15 cases of ritual murder committed in 2008.  

*****

The EPISCOPAL CHURCH will embrace ubuntu "I in you and you in me" for its General Convention 2009 meetings, conversation and worship, said The Rev. Gregory Straub, executive officer and secretary to General Convention. What's left of orthodox Episcopalians in TEC may not feel quite so ubuntu'd as they will be forced to listen to so much triumphalist gay and liberal agit-prop.  At its upcoming General Convention in July 2009, an anticipated 9,000 to 10,000 deputies and alternate deputies, bishops, Episcopal Church Women, exhibitors, staff, volunteers and visitors will converge in Anaheim, California, for the Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention and ECW Triennial Meeting, can expect sun, fun, rich diversity, green space, fresh worship, the launch of a mission conversation and a glimpse of the future's "no church" churches.  From July 8-17, the glass walled Anaheim Convention Center located one block from Disneyland will be transformed into meeting, worship, child-care and other spaces and host at least 120 exhibitors. An educational discovery center and a diocesan hospitality venue featuring banners proclaiming "Faith and Our Future" and emergent worship will also be featured, said Bishop Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles.  Bishop Bruno announced that delegates attending the December 5-6 LA diocesan convention overwhelming approved a $6.87 million budget, up from about $6.5 million for the previous year.  By stressing the convention theme of ubuntu's "interconnectedness of one person to a community ... we hope to launch conversations in each diocese, leading to mission focuses" via public narrative, a tool to build bridges through personal story, he said.

***** 

Crime, poverty, homelessness and the education of youths are high among the list of issues that the Bishop of the ANGLICAN DIOCESES OF THE BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS, The Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd hopes to tackle during his term. Bishop Boyd who succeeds the retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez as head of the local Anglican Communion on January 1, said that while he is humbled and happy to serve in this role, he acknowledges that there is much work to be done.  "The issues that I intend to address are the issues with which we struggle in this country," Bishop Boyd said. "As you know we are in the midst of a financial crisis but God is the owner of the universe and has a plan to get us through that. We face a number of social ills, poverty, crime, homelessness, education and (the nurturing) of our young people is of key concern. All of these, I expect the church to continue to take a leadership role in addressing as we pastor and minister to our people through the clergy and lay people as they are sent in their parishes."

*****

The CHURCH OF ENGLAND has banned a married priest from the priesthood for life after he left his wife and set up a home with his female deputy, who is also an ordained priest. A disciplinary tribunal for the Diocese of Rochester ruled that The Rev. Canon James Tipp's relationship with The Rev. Elaine Northern is "inappropriate" and is the cause of "a major public scandal." The couple, who had left their spouses and moved in together in February 2008, have "both been responsible for causing a major public scandal," Wiggs said. In addition, he said, Tipp acted in a manner "unbecoming to the office." In a joint letter to Rochester Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Tipp and Northern confessed that they had fallen in love during their working relationship and that "our faith is under real stress as we struggle with ourselves and with God in all of this." The couple added that "our feelings have created huge moral, emotional and theological questions within us" and that "we hope that, in time, that pain will ease and all will be able to get on with their lives."

*****

STOCKS SQUEEZE SEMINARIES. One evangelical seminary fell victim to the American economy's recession in 2008, while others teetered on the brink of collapse or faced serious cutbacks. In late October 2008, Salt Lake Theological Seminary, the only Christian graduate school of theology in Mormon territory, closed after a benefactor reneged on a large donation and attempts to secure grants from charitable foundations failed. Faculty and staff agreed to work without pay through December so that the seminary's 54 students could finish the semester.

The financial crisis may take down other seminaries in 2009 if the stock market does not rebound. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) assessed the financial vitality of member schools in 2007 and discovered significant weaknesses.

About 20 percent of all seminaries, unrelated to a college or university, operated with deficit budgets during three of the last five years, according to ATS spokeswoman Eliza Smith Brown. These schools have less than one year of operating expenses in reserve. You can read the full story here  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/1.13.html

*****

The GIDEONS mark 100 years of giving out the Bible. Long before cable television, spa treatments and eco-friendly soaps and shampoos became staples in hotel rooms, there was the Bible - the Gideon Bible. The book with the familiar two-handled pitcher and torch on its cover that most guests find inside hotel nightstands doesn't appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Gideons International is celebrating its 100th anniversary distributing Bibles and has begun efforts to hand out more Scriptures in the U.S. in order to boost a distribution rate that's remained relatively flat in recent years.

*****

The Bishop of the DIOCESE OF SAN JOAQUIN, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield is encouraged by recent events coming from a national meeting of Common Cause Partners held near Kansas City, Missouri, where final preparations are being made for the new Province that now appears will be up and running by June 2009. "We already have the approval of the seven Primates of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). We expect massive support from the Primates of the Global South who will be meeting in the Caribbean in January. And, I don't think the liberal Primates at the worldwide conference of Primates to be held in Alexandria, Egypt, at the beginning of February, will have anywhere near the votes necessary to stall the recognition of the new Province to be called the Anglican Church in North America (since it includes the Canadians as well)."

*****

You are receiving this digest today (Wednesday) because I will be attending the MERE ANGLICAN conference in Charleston, SC Thursday - Saturday. I expect there will be enough news from this conference to warrant a digest on its own.

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In His Service

David W. Virtue DD 




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