VirtueOnline Viewpoints - July 24, 2010

david at david at
Sat Jul 24 18:44:58 EDT 2010

Never confuse the person, formed in the image of God, with the evil that is in him; because evil is but a chance misfortune, an illness, a devilish reverie. But the very essence of the person is the image of God, and this remains in him despite every disfigurement. ---St. John of Kronstadt

When the Church starts to follow the dictates of contemporary society, it ceases to be the Church. --- Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham. 

'Mission accomplished'. The story begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday. Jesus had already seen the sun set for the last time. Within about fifteen hours his limbs would be stretched out on the cross. Within twenty-four hours he would be both dead and buried. And he knew it. Yet the extraordinary thing is that he was thinking of his mission as still future, not past. He was a comparatively young man, almost certainly between thirty and thirty-five years of age. He had lived barely half the allotted span of human life. He was still at the height of his powers. At his age most people have their best years ahead of them. Muhammad lived until he was sixty, Socrates until he was seventy, and Plato and the Buddha were over eighty when they died. If death threatens to cut a person's life short, a sense of frustration plunges him or her into gloom. But not Jesus, for this simple reason: he did not regard the death he was about to die as bringing his mission to an untimely end, but as actually necessary to accomplish it. It was only seconds before he died (and not till that moment) that he would be able to shout, 'Finished.' So then, although it was his last evening, and although he had but a few more hours to live, Jesus was not looking *back* at a mission he had completed, still less that had failed; he was still looking *forward* to a mission which he was about to fulfill. The mission of a lifetime of thirty to thirty-five years was to be accomplished in its last twenty-four hours, indeed, its last six. --- From "The Cross of Christ" by John R.W. Stott

The Cross of Jesus. Objective finality. In his death Jesus did something objective, final, absolute and decisive; something which enabled him to cry on the cross, 'It is accomplished'; something which was described by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews as 'one sacrifice for sins for ever'; something which turns Christianity from pious good advice into glorious good news; which transforms the characteristic mood of Christianity from the imperative (do) into the indicative (done); which makes evangelism not an invitation for men to do something, but a declaration of what God has already done in Christ---From 'The Meat of the Gospel', Decision magazine. --- Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

A substitutionary sacrifice. When we review so much Old Testament material (the shedding and sprinkling of blood, the sin offering, the Passover, the meaning of 'sin-bearing', the scapegoat and Isaiah 53), and consider its New Testament application to the death of Christ, we are obliged to conclude that the cross was a substitutionary sacrifice. Christ died for us. Christ died instead of us. --- From "The Cross of Christ" John R.W. Stott

Dear Brothers and Sisters 
July 16, 2010

REVERBERATIONS continue in the Church of England following this past week's disastrous synod in York wherein women bishops were officially approved, marginalizing both Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals.

It was not an heroic week for defenders of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Score one for women bishops. Score zero for traditionalists and evangelicals.

What now? The process is by no means over: the majority of dioceses have to pass the draft legislation, an election will change the make-up of the General Synod, and the measure must gain a two-thirds majority in each House when it returns for final approval. Traditionalists with exceptional reserves of stamina will take comfort from the fact that the fight continues. But they now feel that they are on their own. That the legislation can no longer be amended to any significant degree means that those supporters of women bishops sympathetic to the traditionalist cause have no further opportunity to express this sympathy formally. They are hardly likely to vote against the draft Measure or to vote for opponents in the forthcoming Synod elections.

The General Synod is due to meet again in November and could debate the issue, if the report is published by then. If it is not, the debate may wait until the next meeting in February.

"I think this debate will rage on, at times explosively, given how polarized opinions within the Church are on this issue. The jury is still out on whether it can find a compromise position that all elements would find acceptable," wrote one British newspaper columnist.

Nevertheless, there is no mechanism now remaining by which the measure can be amended as had been hoped. Enormous resources will now be put into bullying synod members to vote for Final Approval in 2012. It will get its 2/3 majority and all will be over for the conservatives in the CofE. All they can do now is decide whether to go down an ACNA-type road, or to leave altogether for another Communion.

Said Forward in Faith chairman Bishop John Broadhurst, "We now face a most serious situation, made all the worse by the refusal of the Synod to pass the Archbishops' amendment. Resolutions A & B - which provide the basis in law on which the ordination of women can be opposed - are to be removed. This means that any opposition which might be tolerated will be based on the recognition of supposed prejudice rather than the respect of theological principle."

The battle over the status of homosexuals has still to be fought; the Church is due to publish an official report into their status later this year.

One aspect of Church of England politics is that everything is done with just themselves in mind. It is as though the rest of the Anglican Communion really doesn't matter and what they think as they watch all this is not relevant. The truth is, it is and it does matter. The Archbishop of Canterbury might be the titular head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, but all these decisions and votes are done without thinking for a moment how it might impact the 20-million strong Anglican Church of Nigeria or the 9.3 million strong Anglican Church of Ugandan and other growing provinces. 

Why should their thinking be brought into play? We are constantly being told by the likes of Jefferts Schori and the ABC that decisions have consequences. Indeed, they do. What happens in England affects what and how other provinces see and react to what the mother church does. Who asks Archbishops Okoh, Orombi or Kolini for their input? The truth is nobody does. If the CofE does go down the road of women bishops and, inevitably, embraces sodomy it will have consequences, perhaps fatal for the whole Anglican Communion. Someone really should start thinking about that and start listening to the Global South.


The Sexual abuse scandal in the Diocese of NW Pennsylvania by a former, now deceased Episcopal bishop, widened this week when the Bishop Sean Rowe received more reports of sexual abuse by the late Bishop Donald Davis.

Davis sexually abused girls during his tenure as bishop, wrote Rowe. Four cases were reported to him and five additional complaints have also been lodged. "In the days to come, I may hear from more. All of these women are in my prayers, and I ask that you include them in yours," wrote Rowe to his diocese.

In a Q and A reported here: Rowe reports that some church leaders were aware of this situation years earlier than publically reported. "Our recent investigation indicates that Bishop Rowe's predecessor, Bishop Robert Rowley, who died in January 2010, became aware of the abuse of three and possibly four victims, as early as 1993. He reported this abuse to the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, met with victims, and attempted to arrange counseling for them. Upon Bishop Rowley's report, the Most Rev. Edmond Browning, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church from 1986-1997 and the Rt. Rev. Harold Hopkins, a member of his staff, were involved in resolving the claims of one of the victims and the private discipline of Bishop Davis, who by that time had retired to Sarasota, Florida."

So if all this was known back then (we could find nothing in VOL's archives about this story), it amounts to a major cover up something for which TEC leaders are known. Bishop Clayton Matthews Bishop of the Office of Pastoral Development for the PB who handles all the church' scandals and does his best to keep the lid on things apparently could not stop this one from leaking out.

So the following questions should be asked. Why was the discipline of Bishop Davis done privately while Montana Bishop Charles "Cy" Jones' seemingly minor, by comparison, sexual infidelity and subsequent inhibition were made public by PB Frank Griswold. Adultery is wrong, but the sexual abuse of girls (were they minors?) should have been reported to the Police.

The Episcopal Church has the right to know who did what to whom, why it was covered up and much more. TEC should stop pointing fingers at the Roman Catholic Church and take a good hard, long look at its internal sex scandals, which seem to be growing. Another Pennsylvania Bishop, Charles E. Bennison has been inhibited for covering up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor. Why was Davis treated with such kid gloves?


The official Diocese of Ft. Worth under Bishop Jack Iker got some licks in this week when it kicked the backside of the rump Diocese of Ft. Worth. In Hood County, Texas, the court heard arguments on summary judgment filings. Judge Ralph Walton granted three motions favoring St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation of the Diocese. At issue in the case is payment of a bequest made to St. Andrew's in 2002 by a longtime parishioner. As he had done in past hearings on earlier motions, Judge Walton dismissed attempts by representatives of the national leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to bring issues from a case pending in Tarrant County into the trust case before the Hood County court.

Judge Walton began by approving a motion asking that the Diocese and Corporation be identified by their legal names in an order issued following a hearing on June 2. This substitution corrected inaccurate and informal descriptive terms suggested by representatives of the TEC interests. Next, the court found that Bishop C. Wallis Ohl, serving in The Episcopal Church, had no legal interest in the bequest to St. Andrew's. The filings submitted in Bishop Ohl's name sought to make the judgment dependent on resolution of an ecclesiastical dispute between the Diocese and TEC loyalists. The judge also denied a motion brought by the trustee of the bequest, which would have delayed the hearing of the summary judgment filings to another date, contingent on proceedings in the Tarrant County case.

Bishop Ohl tried to put the best front on it that he could by saying, "We have experienced some procedural setbacks in our litigation both in Tarrant and Hood counties, but we remain firmly optimistic about the eventual outcome. Remember that more than a third of many cases The Episcopal Church has won across the nation have been won on appeal. We have always assumed these cases would be appealed no matter which side prevailed at the trial level."


Leaders at St. Andrew's Anglican Church who left the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee in 2006, but continue to meet at the same church building on Woodmont Boulevard are appealing a ruling that says they must leave.

The parish holds title to the property, which it bought from the diocese in 1966 for about $15,000. The Episcopal Diocese wants the property and sued the breakaway group in November.

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled in the diocese's favor in April. She cited denominational rules, which say that all parish property is held in trust for local dioceses. The parish decided to appeal the court ruling.

Blake Matthews, an attorney for St. Andrew's, says the trust for the diocese isn't mentioned in the deed. So, the diocese has no claim to the property. "St. Andrew's intends to pursue its appellate rights and continue operating its preschool and church on the property until that process is resolved," Matthews said. Episcopal Bishop John Bauerschmidt said the diocese can't take possession of the property, valued at more than $1.5 million, until the appeals process is over.

Parishes in at least five other states are involved in similar lawsuits. Most are part of the Anglican Church in North America, a rival denomination. Like St. Andrew's, leaders of those parishes say the Episcopal Church has abandoned its traditional beliefs about sexuality.


"The Huffington Post" has reported that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and Bishop Jon Bruno are helping an adoption agency after the Roman Catholic Church withdrew funding when the agency allowed same sex couples to adopt.

Holy Family Adoption Services provides adoption, foster care, and family support services for infants and toddlers who are often born into very high-risk situations and require placement into a loving home. Since 1949, they have been helping these children whose mothers have been victimized themselves by family violence, or who suffer from addiction, or who are just ill prepared for motherhood.

In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles made it clear that Holy Family would have to stop placing children with same-sex couples. Holy Family Adoption Services board of directors objected and decided they would not comply so The Catholic Archdiocese withdrew its support, as did most Catholic donors. 

Enter Bishop Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese. When Bishop Bruno learned of Holy Family's courage and fate, he invited the organization to be housed under the auspices of his church. He also coughed up money as well. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment, a donor agency, issued a letter spelling out why the Endowment donated $50,000 and asking other people and agencies to do the same.


If you don't think Episcopal Church pansexualists are on the march, you would be wrong. They are and they are trumpeting it loudly across the country. During the spring and summer of 2010, Integrity USA is holding a series of workshops in every province of The Episcopal Church. They are calling them BELIEVE OUT LOUD. These workshops are designed to give local Episcopalians the knowledge and skills they need to help their parishes and dioceses become more welcoming and affirming of LGBT folk. So why are orthodox parishes not trumpeting ALPHA as an alternative?


One of the two great pioneers of the irreversibility of same-sex attraction, Robert L. Spitzer, has officially reversed his position. The release of his October, 2003 study (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403-417) revealed that therapy not only changed sexual orientation in a significant percentage of cases, but it also proved helpful in other areas of the person's life. He concluded that the mental health profession should not prevent people from this kind of therapy, should they desire it. The other pioneer, the Salk Institute's Simon LeVay, had already reversed his position in another under-publicized event in the year 2000, in a Spanish homosexual publication, Reverso. 

If a person does want to explore the possibility of a change in their sexual orientation, what kind of therapy is available and what are the success rates? 

Check out this website:


IN CANADA, the Anglican Bishop of Montreal has said he approves same-sex blessing liturgy. Bishop Barry Clarke is pressing ahead with a liturgy to bless same-sex unions in spite of the fact that General Synod in Halifax made no decision for or against the local option. This rather confirms my suspicion that Synod's indecision will be seen as a green light by dioceses that wish to proceed with same-sex blessings: in effect, the decision has been delegated down in an attempt to circumvent disagreeable sanctions from Canterbury. From the Montreal Anglican, page 1: "In response to a request from the Diocese of Montreal Synod in the fall of 2007, reaffirmed the next year, Bishop Barry Clarke has approved a liturgy for the blessing of previously solemnized civil marriages, tacitly including ones between same-sex couples."

He presented copies of the liturgy at the May meeting of the Diocesan Council. While the liturgy is already available in French and English, the bishop said that upon his return from the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in Halifax in June, he would be writing to clergy and parishes to explain the process. The liturgy is adapted from the Book of Occasional Celebrations produced by the General Synod of the national church in 1992.

The ten page leaflet contains a note stating that the liturgy was commissioned by the bishop in response to the 2007 motion requesting "that the Bishop grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes as ministries."


Canada's next governor general, David Johnston, is a respected academic and lawyer. He is also Anglican. Currently, the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, Johnston will succeed Governor General Michaelle Jean when her term ends on Oct. 1.

"David Johnston represents the best of Canada," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement. "He represents hard work, dedication, public service and humility. I am confident he will continue to embody these traits in his new role as the Crown's representative in Canada." Harper extolled Johnston's "strong record of public service" and his "extensive legal expertise."


Television actor Emmanuel Mukariri popularly known as "Nzuda" after his role in the drama series Togarasei is back, not on stage, but on the pulpit. The actor with "an attitude" is now an ordained Priest with the Anglican Church in Mabvuku.

Mukariri used to dominate ZBC Tv's prime time slot when he was featured in two hilarious dramas, Togarasei and Toitasei, that were screened in 2000. Mukariri was ordained as a priest in 2008 by an Anglican Church faction led by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and is based at St James' Parish in Mabvuku.


Kenyan Anglicans want constitution vote postponed. The Anglican Church of Kenya has called on the East African nation's government to reschedule a referendum on a proposed new constitution, set for 4 August, in the interests of peace in the country.

The church's bishops, led by Archbishop Eluid Wabukala, cautioned that Kenya is at a crossroads and risks falling apart, if things continue as they are. At issue is that Christian leaders oppose the proposed constitution, saying it permits abortion, entrenches an Islamic legal system known as Kadhi courts, and restricts freedom of worship.

"Given the mood of the nation, we see postponement of the referendum with a view to building a consensus is, in the long term, in the best interest of the nation," Wabukala told journalists after the church's recent synod meeting in Nairobi.

Fear, anxiety, confusion, suspicion and apathy have gripped the nation before the vote, according to the church leader. He said the stakes have been raised, creating an environment similar to the time prior to the 2007 poll and the 2008 post election period when violence erupted, leading to the deaths of 1300 people.

"We prayed and fasted as we cried out to God to save our country from civil strife. We do not want to risk a repeat of these events," said the Anglican cleric.


There are more than 100 Anglican Church in North America chaplains, according to a news release.

When the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) began to endorse chaplains in July of 2007, it had one member of the clergy doing this specialized work.

Today, there are more than 100 Anglican Church in North America chaplains, officially endorsed either through the CANA for the Anglican Church in North America, or through the Reformed Episcopal Church. In recognition of the rapid growth of this ministry, the Anglican Church in North America's annual council appointed the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones as the suffragan bishop for chaplaincy during its June meeting. The Convocation's chaplaincy office, under the leadership of Bishop Jones, is formulating a plan with the Reformed Episcopal Church's Bishop Royal Grote for a church-wide endorsing office for chaplaincies.

Anglican Church chaplains hold posts in the armed services, in hospitals, with police, fire and other emergency responders and in a number of other settings, said Bishop Jones. "Chaplaincy is its own distinct call with its own distinct set of ministry obligations and opportunities," he continued. Many chaplains serve in professional settings, such as with a military unit or at a hospital.

For more information about chaplaincy in the Anglican Church in North America, visit


Nearly every Episcopal Church seminary faces a financial crisis. Some are teetering on the edge of extinction or downsizing and selling off properties to stay in business

In New York City this past week, General Theological Seminary (GTS) reached agreement in principle with its chief lending institution, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company (M&T Bank) on terms for a $5.3 million short term loan that will provide working capital for the upcoming school year, the Rev. Lang Lowrey, GTS Interim President, announced in a recent letter to trustees. While subject to definitive agreements and final approval by both institutions, the plan provides General with a $5.3 million line of credit on which it can draw for operating expenses until the Seminary proceeds as planned with the sale of four residential units. The loan will be repaid from the proceeds of the sale, which could take up to a year. At a special meeting in March, 2010, Trustees were made aware of an impending cash shortfall that could affect Seminary operations as early as the fall of this year. At the meeting, the Board approved the sale of up to four apartments in Chelsea 2,3,4. Since the building was renovated six years ago, three of the four apartments to be sold have been leased to outside tenants.


Fr. Robert Barron, founder of, says that news of the well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens' esophageal cancer should bring more people to pray for him - and that, despite Hitchens' well-known hatred for Catholicism, the "vast, vast majority" of Catholics who have reported on his disease in the media have urged people to pray for him... A VOL reader wrote to say that Hitchens' brother is a devout Anglican.


There is more news from the weird world of Anglicanism. Will it never cease? The Church of England's General Synod working party is exploring whether the Church of England's male bishops can join religious orders previously reserved for women. In other words, become Anglican nuns.

The Synod's topsy-turvy ecclesiology believes that bishops would be entitled to take vows in orders of nuns so that they can provide special episcopal oversight to the sisters. It's a typically ingenious Anglican response to the forthcoming ordination of women bishops. "There will be jokes about bishops in wimples, but having bishop-nuns would introduce a degree of mutual cooperation that could make the introduction of women bishops much smoother," says my Synod source.

One person to have volunteered to take nun's vows is the Rt. Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, often spoken of as a successor to Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. Says my informant. "Nick is a big fan of Sister Act, and we knew he was keen to 'get ahead,' as it were, so he was the obvious person to ask. And apparently he was delighted, because he's all about challenging gender stereotypes."


"Theology cannot be replaced by religious studies," according to the Conference of European Churches. Representatives of European theological faculties and church theological institutes have warned against universities dropping the teaching of theology in favor of religious studies that are seen as a more general approach.

"Theology has a major role to play within the university by countering stereotypes, demonstrating ways of dealing with religious conflict, and working out its own unique specificity in dialogue with other disciplines," said Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, the president of the Conference of European Churches.

He was speaking in the Austrian city of Graz at a meeting of theological faculties in Europe. "Theology cannot be replaced by religious studies," said Emmanuel, according to a 12 July release issued by CEC after the July 7 to 10 Graz meeting.


In the ongoing wacky world of Anglican Church politics and the machinations of the Anglican Consultative Councilwe learned this week that ACC membership rules "are discretionary" according to an official at ACC headquarters and also reported in The Church of England Newspaper.

Interpretation. This means the ACC staff's views are not the final word on the matter, as the appointment of Bishop Ian Douglas and Canon Janet Trisk to the ACC Standing Committee are under legal review. Douglas, a former seminary missiologist, became a bishop and forfeited his right to stay on the Standing Committee. Well, not exactly. Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General would love to keep him on as he is Jefferts Schori's man and he doesn't want to upset the Presiding Bishop whose check book keeps the ACC largely afloat.

A group of orthodox Primates have resigned from this committee, which really begs the question, who cares what the ACC says or does? In terms of the BIG picture, they are irrelevant. Just ask Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh what he thinks.

On another note, a spokesperson in Kampala told VOL that yes, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi did resign from the Standing Committee. He did it privately, she said.


A Gallup Poll has found that Americans' self-reported church attendance has increased slightly since 2008. Sociologists of religion are quick to caution churches about the reliability of such figures.

The Gallup data, released in late June, were primarily based on the question: "How often do you attend church, synagogue, or mosque?" Exactly 43.1 percent of Americans in 2010 said they attended a house of worship "at least once a week" or "almost every week." That's up from 42.8 percent in 2009 and 42.1 percent in 2008.

Though Gallup figures were drawn from more than 800,000 interviews since February 2008, some sociologists who have studied church attendance and poll results note that answers may reflect how favorably respondents view their attendance at the time.

"Frankly, I wouldn't put much store in a 1 percent increase in the attendance rates," said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. "It's just too small to make a very big story. That number, the 42-44 percent range, has been so stable for so long that that in itself is a story," she told Religion News Service.

Ammerman added that these figures are not demonstrative of actual U.S. religious participation. "If you go into any church on any given weekend, you will find less than 43 percent in the pews," she said, citing a more realistic figure of 20-25 percent. "But that is quite striking-that a quarter of the population of any given country will be found in a religious service on any given week," she added.


The country of Uganda has been put on high alert when six people were arrested after two explosions detonated by Al Qaeda terrorist that killed dozens of people.

Bus companies, churches, commercial establishments and shopkeepers have instituted other safeguards. Church of Uganda Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi called for tighter security at places of worship, saying terrorists can target them. 

Orombi led a special service at All Saints Cathedral Nakasero to remember the dead. He commented that many people gather together at churches, making them vulnerable to attacks. 

This kind of involvement by leaders like Orombi should be a reminder to Western liberal Episcopalians and Anglicans that Global South leaders do take their responsibilities to civil society seriously and do not simply talk about sin and salvation.


Irish singer Sinead O'Connor was ordained as a priest in 1999 by a breakaway church. The Vatican has declared the attempted ordination of women to be a "grave crime" which in turn has been fiercely condemned by women's church groups in the UK. Pat Brown, of the group Catholic Women's Ordination, said she was deeply shocked and called the change to Church law "a slap in the face to women". She said of the Pope: "He is not doing himself any favours." The Vatican says ordaining women is as "grave" as sex abuse, but denied it was equating the two.


For Western revisionist Episcopalians who think the Global South still lives in the spiritual Dark Ages, comes this word. The outgoing bishop of North Kigezi Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward Muhima, has criticized Christians who consult witchdoctors. Muhima, who will retire in 2011, said some Christians go to church on Sunday, but also go to witchdoctors seeking wealth and power. He made the remarks while confirming 250 young Christians in the Anglican Church at Kyamakanda Archdeaconry in Buyanja sub-county. This diocese is in the Anglican Province of Uganda.


Among stories I have written in today's digest are two worth your consideration. The first is the invasion House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson plans to make in the Diocese of Springfield as it looks for a new bishop. She would like to present what she calls her "new vision" which is no vision at all. It is the same old pansexual vision that outgoing Bishop Peter Beckwith does not share. This is another swing diocese that could go down in flames if they elect a so-called moderate or out and out liberal. It will be the laity who determines what happens. Pray for this diocese and read the story on how she has tried to manipulate dioceses like Albany, Ft. Worth and South Carolina. She is famous, perhaps infamous, for her unwanted intrusions.

My other story titled: TEC and the C of E: Taking Cues From Cuckoos speaks for itself.


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In Christ,


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