VirtueOnline Viewpoints - August 12, 2011

david at virtueonline.org david at virtueonline.org
Fri Aug 12 10:37:42 EDT 2011


You Can Deceive Others, But Not Christ. Let us be real, true, and sincere in our religion, whatever else we are. The sinfulness of hypocrisy is very great, but its folly is greater still. It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives, and friends. A little decent outward profession will often go a long way. But it is impossible to deceive Christ. "His eyes are as a flame of fire" (Rev. 1:14). He sees us through and through. Happy are those who can say–"You, Lord, who know all things, know that we love you" (John 21:17). --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

A hearty appetite. There is perhaps no greater secret of progress in Christian living than in healthy, hearty spiritual appetite. Again and again Scripture addresses its promises to the hungry. God 'satisfied him who is thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things' (Ps. 107:9). If we are conscious of slow growth, is the reason that we have a jaded appetite? It is not enough to mourn over past sin; we must also hunger for future righteousness. --- From "The Message of the Sermon on the Mount" John R.W. Stott

Justification and pardon. Some scholars maintain that 'justification' and 'pardon' are synonymous ... But surely this cannot be so. Pardon is negative, the remission of a penalty or debt; justification is positive, the bestowal of a righteous status, the sinner's reinstatement in the favour and fellowship of God. ---From "The Message of Romans" by John R.W. Stott

God's grown-up children. God never ceases to be our Father, and we never cease to be his children. But he wants us to become his grown-up children. Dependent and obedient we must always be, yet the obedience we are to give him must not be slavish, mechanical or grudging, but intelligent, glad and free ... God treats his children as adults, and gives us the responsibility to discern and decide for ourselves. In this way our obedience becomes creative. It fosters and does not inhibit our growth. --- From "Obeying Christ in a Changing World" John R.W. Stott

Guard Your Heart Against Pride. Ambition, self-esteem, and self-conceit lie deep at the bottom of all men's hearts, and often in the hearts where they are least suspected. Thousands imagine that they are humble, who cannot bear to see an equal more honored and favored than themselves. Few indeed can be found who rejoice heartily in a neighbor's promotion over their own heads. The quantity of envy and jealousy in the world is a glaring proof of the prevalence of pride. Men would not envy a brother's advancement if they had not a secret thought that their own merit was greater than his.

How To Truly Abide in Christ. To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him–to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior. ---- Bishop J.C. Ryle

Dear Brothers and Sisters
www.virtueonline.org 
August 12, 2011

ENGLAND ablaze. No one thought it could happen to the genteel, gin and tonic, and "more tea vicar" England. But it did.

Law and order broke down in England this past week with mob riots in cities, following the shooting death of suspected gang member Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police. What happened was out of all proportion to the death of one man. This was not about race as the rioters were both black and white. They were also young. They looted and firebombed anything they took a fancy to. Three Muslims were run down by a car and killed. For once, Muslims were the victims of the latest violence, like everyone else living and working peacefully in these areas. The father went on television and pled for an end to the violence. The Police seemed helpless in the face of the uprising.

What it revealed was a deep malaise at the heart of British life - a malaise that is primarily moral and spiritual in nature and not economic or political.

It results from a combination of the failure of the Welfare State and what Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail described as the "all-too-predictable outcome of a three-decade liberal experiment which tore up virtually every basic social value."

It is also the failure of the Church of England to preach a sincere and succinct message of faith in Christ as the only hope of salvation for millions of Brits who have lost their way and long ago abandoned the CofE as having any real meaning or purpose to their lives. The church is reaping what it has sown. Promoting women bishops and sodomy while parishes empty out has been the death knell of the church making it utterly irrelevant to the lives of 98% of the British people. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was absent for four days (he was on holiday) while London burned, finally made a statement that was devoid of any serious content. He later spoke in the House of Lords. It was the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres who stepped up to the plate and opined that the rioters seem to lack the restraint and the moral compass that comes from clear teaching about right and wrong communicated through nourishing relationships. The background to the riots is family breakdown and the absence of strong and positive role models.

That might be the closest thing to mentioning sin and evil without actually saying it. But then this is the genteel CofE that is more concerned about brokering in women bishops and appeasing sodomites like Changing Attitude Colin Coward than confronting evil for what it is with a clear message of salvation.

Mike Ovey, principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, highlighted four areas of concern over what happened. "First, we must recall what the Bible teaches about wealth. A consumer society rewards excess. The second theme is envy: the resentment and envy one feels towards those who have more toys. The third theme, naturally, comes from Romans 13:1-7, which is about civil disobedience. Civil disobedience of this kind is sinful. A consumer society operating justification by wealth has no ground for saying that, I fear. The fourth theme is the great biblical theme running from Genesis 3, through the Exile along to Judas' suicide: sin doesn't work. The consumer society has bought the lie of justification by wealth: and it's about time it heard the truth."

You can read a number of new and, analysis stories from CofE bishops and my own commentary on all this in today's digest. You can read what the Rev. Paul Perkin and his son Max witnessed in the way of looting and rioting in their parish at St Mark's Battersea Rise on Monday night. He called for prayer.

The Church of England published A Prayer for Peace in Our Communities online.

It reads:

Gracious God,
We pray for peace in our communities this day. 
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions, 
And those who work to uphold law and justice. 
We pray for an end to fear, 
For comfort and support to those who suffer. 
For calm in our streets and cities, 
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace. 
In your mercy, hear our prayers, now and always. 
Amen

*****

After watching on television what took place in England, many Americans are now asking are things that very much different here, and are we just a few months or years behind the UK in simmering violence waiting to erupt? Could recent demonstrations in Wisconsin have gone viral? Are other cities ready to pop?

Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, delivered a dire message about the current state of  society. "We are witnesses of a society in which, in many respects, morality has ceased to exist. We are called ever more urgently to the new evangelization of our culture."

Cardinal Burke pinpointed the problem as "moral relativism," which he said "has even entered into the thinking of some theologians in the Church and which has provided an ideological foundation for a culture which is predominantly marked by violence and death."

This is writ large in The Episcopal Church. 

TEC has embraced pansexuality. The president of Episcopal Divinity School has screamed that "abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done..." We are emptying the church of parishioners and killing the unborn and TEC is dying. Go figure.

*****

In Zimbabwe, churches were told to support the ruling party-or Else. Pastors and advocates report that a new wave of persecution is washing over the churches of Zimbabwe as the country prepares for a new round of elections called by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

Churches are "being targeted and harassed by security agencies and militias which are controlled by ZANU PF," said Marlon Zakeyo, the Zimbabwe advocacy coordinator of the World Student Christian Federation in Geneva. They are "in need of active and practical international solidarity and prayer," he added.

Reports from the Central African nation state that leaders of many of the country's evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and African Independent Churches-especially the Zion Christian Church and the VaPostori Apostolic sects-are being pressed into service by the regime to cement its hold on power.

The former Anglican bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has long used his church to back "Zimbabwe's Moses," ZANU PF. This week he won when the Zimbabwe high court awarded custody of church properties to the excommunicated bishop.

Anglican priests and their families in Zimbabwe may face eviction following the high court ruling. The Bishop of Harare, the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya predicted "distress and chaos" for Anglican priests living in church properties in the wake of the legal decision.

There is a terrible irony about all this. Katharine Jefferts Schori, TEC's Presiding Bishop painted herself the victim on a trip to Harare, Zimbabwe, recently.

The Episcopal leader was visiting the country to express support and solidarity with Zimbabwe's Anglicans, the first US Episcopal Presiding Bishop to do so. She told the Episcopal News Service, "They  have experienced the same kind of thing as congregations in Fort Worth and San Joaquin" (where, she claims, former leaders in these places also tried to take possession of diocesan properties, barring parishioners from church buildings). "The church is more than a building, and has become stronger and more creative in exile."

A number of TEC bishops went ballistic when they heard this. "It is an outrageous misrepresentation of the facts, said Ft. Worth Bishop Iker. "Untrue and irresponsible" said Bishop William Wantland former Bishop of Eau Claire. You can read the full story in today's digest.

*****

While I was on the road recently, the Byzantine Rite of the Roman Catholic Church called the action of the PC(USA) to allow homosexual ordination an "act of public apostasy." The  Layman Online published the letter which said in part, "We think, for instance, of the justification of the murder of the unborn child in the womb as the exercise of the right of the mother to choose, weighing other goods, whether to bring to term the baby she has conceived; the justification of the abhorrent practices of the artificial generation of human life and its destruction, at the embryonic stage of development, as the means to obtain supposed cures for crippling or deadly diseases; the justification of the so-called 'mercy killing' of those who have the first title to our care, our brothers and sisters who have grown weak through advanced years, grave illness or special needs, as respect for the quality of their lives; and the justification of the sexual union of two persons of the same sex as tolerance of so-called alternative forms of human sexuality, as if there were a true form of human sexuality other than the form written in the human body and soul by God."

Effectively, according to Burke, the culture's need for evangelization now is as dire as when the Church first began.	

*****

There are apparently no limits to absurdity. The Bible's account of the night Jesus was born is noted for some well-known characters at the Bethlehem manger, including the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and some shepherds following the instructions of an angel.

A traditional living Nativity scene at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Stuart, FL, in December 2010, features a man and woman portraying Joseph and Mary. The famous wise men were not present, as they showed up later when Jesus was a young child in a house.

As far as the New Testament indicates, there weren't any lesbians there, either.

Now a Christian church in America's heartland is helping redefine the story, as its most-recent living Nativity scene in December featured two women, instead of a man and a woman, starring as Joseph and Mary.

"It's not very groundbreaking at all to use the youngest baby in the congregation to play the role of Jesus. The parents just happened to be two women," said Rev. Linda Butler, pastor of St. Timothy's United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. "They were playing the role of the Holy Family, not necessarily Mary and Joseph. We never referred to the moms as Mary and Joseph. We referred to them as the Holy Family."

Read more: Jesus, Mary and ...Josephine? It's lesbian Nativity at church http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=329429#ixzz1UAMMqVKp

What VOL can't figure out is how the Methodists got this idea before TEC.

*****

There was some rough sledding this week for Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno in his battle with black priest Fr. Michael Battle at the parish of the Church of Our Saviour, a flagship and wealthy parish in his diocese. The parish has been in turmoil over Fr. Battle's time there, as he did not seem to fit in. As the parish is wealthy, Bruno got involved. They finally got Battle out with a separation package, much to the relief of everybody. He's history. Bruno and Battle were fully on board with the TEC agenda. Battle touted the fact that Desmond Tutu ordained him. He had also been a dean at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). 

A source told VOL that he was foisted on the parish (not to mention the purging of dissident vestry members) to avert a possible secession from the diocese (not likely since a majority of the disaffected parishioners are merely well-heeled control freaks). Sadly, the majority of the parish appears more intent upon preserving their snooty Episcopal airs (parish was founded more than 140 years ago and was General George Patton's church) rather than serious reflection on the corrupt state of TEC. (There is also speculation that Battle never fit in because he's black.) Lesbian bishop Mary Glasspool has been welcomed there several times already. The previous rector is a George Regis clone and sits on the board of General Seminary.

"Battle's a Ph.D., restless man, who lacks elevated oratorical skills and doesn't like getting his hands dirty in parish life. He was just written a biography of Malcolm which one can safely assume is glowing. Church of Our Saviour is a jewel in Bruno's crown simply because it's the oldest Episcopal Church in the San Gabriel Valley and because it sits on valuable real estate. The blue-haired folks seem more concerned about their eventual interment at the cemetery adjacent to the church rather than any sort of spiritual renewal. It will be interesting to see how Bruno spins this. There had been a search for a new rector for almost two years, with Battle being shoved down the parish's throat, only to leave in less than two years. The parish's finances are precarious because a lot of TEC churches are running on dead men's money. A Fr. Gary Bradley will be Priest-In- Charge."  

*****   

The city council of São Paulo, South America's biggest city, has adopted legislation calling for a Heterosexual Pride Day to be celebrated on the third Sunday of each December.

São Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab must sign the legislation for it to become law and has said only that he is studying it. His office declined Wednesday to say whether he supports the proposal.

The legislation's author, Carlos Apolinario, said the idea for a Heterosexual Pride Day is "not anti-gay but a protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys."

As an example, he mentioned how São Paulo's huge gay pride day parade is held every year on Paulista Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in this city of 20 million people, while the March for Jesus organized by evangelical groups is not allowed on the same avenue.

*****

Is Christianity taking over the planet? Newly reprinted "Megashift" suggests it's the fastest growing faith on Earth. The evidence suggests a new, or, perhaps, original form of biblically inspired evangelical Christianity is sweeping through places like China, Africa, India and Southeast Asia - making it, by far, the fastest growing faith on the planet.

In "Megashift," author Jim Rutz coins a new phrase to define this fast-growing segment of the population. He calls them "core apostolics" - or "the new saints who are at the heart of the mushrooming kingdom of God." Rutz makes the point that Christianity is overlooked as the fastest-growing faith in the world because most surveys look at the traditional Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church while ignoring Christian believers who have no part of either.

He says there are 707 million "switched-on disciples" who fit into this new category and that this "church" is exploding in growth.

"The growing core of Christianity crosses theological lines and includes 707 million born-again people who are increasing by 8 percent a year," he notes.

So fast is this group growing that, under current trends, according to Rutz, the entire world will be composed of such believers by the year 2032.

"There will be pockets of resistance and unforeseen breakthroughs," writes Rutz in "Megashift". "Still, at the rate we're growing now, to be comically precise, there would be more Christians than people by the autumn of 2032, about 8.2 billion."

According to the author, until 1960, Western evangelicals outnumbered non-Western evangelicals - mostly Latinos, blacks and Asians - by two to one. As of 2000, non-Western evangelicals outnumbered Westerners by four to one. That moved to seven to one this year.

"There are now more missionaries sent from non-Western nations than Western nations," he writes.

This trend, says Rutz, has been missed by Westerners because the explosive growth is elsewhere.

Hundreds of millions of these Christians are simply not associated with the institutional churches at all. They meet in homes. They meet underground. They meet in caves. They meet, he says, in secret.

And what is driving this movement?

Miracles, he believes.

"Megashift" attempts to document myriad healings and other powerful answers to the sincere prayers of this new category of believer, including, believe it or not, hundreds of dramatic cases of resurrections - not near-death experiences, but real resurrections of actual corpses.

"By tomorrow, there will be 175,000 more Christians than there are today," he writes.

*****

Baptisms are on the wane, so are confirmations. Income is down and there are at least 2,000 Episcopal parishes with ASA of less than 39 across the country. There is nothing to fear as the Episcopal Church priesthood IS the place to be regardless of how much of a dud you are as a priest or as venal a bishop as Charles Bennison, Skip Adams or Jefferts Schori.

The Church Pension Fund, one of the best run in the US, is doing very well, thank you very much. Their latest Perspective magazine revealed that the Pension Fund's assets for benefits showed up at a cool $9 BILLION as of March 31. That's better than the economies of some Third World countries.

The benefits are terrific. One of them includes the fact that clergy can continue to serve the Church through temporary or part-time employment during retirement. Retired clergy can now earn up to $34,000 during 2011 and still receive full pension benefits as long as they are not continuing to serve in the same position they held just prior to retirement.

The burning issue is: can the CPF go on extracting 18% from parishes as these parishes sink into the sunset? The real truth is that golf course clergy who retire now will be in better shape than the parishes they left behind.

*****

It is now time to publicize an example of what an orthodox Anglican congregation can accomplish in the face of adversity. In Colorado Springs, St. George's Anglican Church held inaugural services this week. Instead of an Episcopal church failing and being turned into a nightclub, this event was about a former Episcopal Church being turned into a night club which failed and in turn was turned into an orthodox Anglican Church - a return to its roots.

This is a watershed event that should give other breakaway orthodox Episcopal congregations a shining example and hope for the future, a VOL reader said. The Rev. Don Armstrong who was strong-armed out of The Episcopal Church, sued and survived years of litigation by Bishop Rob O'Neill leads the parish.

*****

Anglicans are to meet in Nairobi next week to launch an appeal and advocacy campaign on the food crisis sweeping East Africa. The meeting that will bring together primates and bishops from the worst hit areas comes as the UN announced a deepening of the famine in southern Somalia.

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa and the Anglican Alliance for development, relief and advocacy, through its Africa facilitator, Emmanuel Olatunji, are organizing the meeting jointly.

Short term relief for famine victims, and longer term measures to improve food security will be on the agenda for the meeting which will also receive a briefing on the state of refugees living at Dadaab camp in the east of Kenya. It is also expected to consider ways to highlight the need for government action - both in Africa and beyond - to increase the level of aid going to the refugees, to improve food distribution through the continent and increase food security.

The Anglican Alliance for development, relief and advocacy is the international initiative that brings together work across the communion. Its mission is to build on the work already being undertaken across the communion, build capacity, co-ordinate and provide a clear voice for the Communion in international development.

*****

The Coptic Orthodox Churches in Toronto are threatening to withdraw 4,000 families from the Toronto Catholic District School Board if it does not amend its controversial equity policy to protect Catholic teaching in the schools. According to one expert on Ontario education, if the threat is carried out, the board could lose upwards of $40,000,000 in annual public funding and over 150 teachers.

If the board implements its policy, wrote Fr. Jeremiah Attaalla on June 22nd, "We will not hesitate to withdraw our children at once from attending any Catholic school within Toronto or ."

The equity policy, passed earlier this year as part of the Ontario government's sweeping equity and inclusive education strategy, has sparked an unprecedented mobilization of parents who fear that it will give homosexual activists a foothold in order to further subvert already weak Catholic sexual teaching in the schools.

*****

The small African nation of Malawi is at the forefront of efforts by Western governments to withhold aid for basic services in order to impose a homosexual agenda on unwilling developing countries.

This year, close to $350 million dollars of US financial aid was rescinded due to amendments in the country's penal code criminalizing sodomy. Ultimately, Malawi acquiesced to bring its sodomy laws in line with those of the progressive West, but not without grave concerns about the new cultural imperialism on this issue.

"In as far as we cannot run away from the fact that we need their aid it is absurd for those countries to be forcing the country to embrace immoral cultures. We are a sovereign state and we deserve to be treated as such, aid or no aid", said Dr. Hetherwick M. Ntaba, the chief political advisor to the president of Malawi.

The threat of withholding foreign aid has many implications that ultimately affect the basic human rights of Malawians such as the right to access food and water.

*****

The Anglican Diocese of Belize has joined the country's other Churches in opposing reform of the Caribbean nation's sodomy laws.

Bishop Philip Wright of Belize, along with Roman Catholic Bishop Dorick Wright and the president of the Belize Evangelical Association, the Rev Eugene Crawford, have urged the government to stand fast against attempts to decriminalise homosexual conduct.

In May, the Belize Council of Churches stated it would seek to join as interested parties the case of Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) against the Attorney General of Belize. The Orozoco case challenges the constitutionality of Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code, Chapter 101 which prescribes 10 years imprisonment for "unnatural crime," defined as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal."

Gay advocacy groups along with the International Commission of Jurists, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Human Dignity Trust are seeking to overturn the law, and have engaged the former Attorney General of Belize and the former British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to argue their case in December before the country's high court.

In May, Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops and the president of the Evangelical Association criticised the lawsuit as being "heavily influenced by foreign interests who seek to impose a worldview that directly contradicts the supremacy of God as reflected in our laws, challenges our national sovereignty, and threatens our very way of life, not least by targeting our children." 

*****

A former clergyman of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan has been sentenced to a term of five years imprisonment for possessing child pornography.

On Aug 3, the US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Donald A Davis, announced that Mathew Elliot Metor, 37, of Escanaba, Michigan, would serve 60 months in federal prison. District Judge R. Allan Edgar further ordered Metor to serve ten years of supervised release following his release from prison, and to pay a $100 special assessment.

Mr. Metor was deposed from the ministry of the Episcopal Church on Dec 22, 2010 after he renounced his orders. He had served as vicar of St Stephen's Episcopal Church in Escanaba and until 2005 was director of the diocesan youth camp.

On July 31, the former Bishop of Northern Michigan, the Rt. Rev. Tom Ray posted a message to the diocesan internet chat board asking for prayers for the former minister.

The bishop noted the sentence of five years was "well below the governmental guidelines" and was likely due to the "letters written on his behalf and because of his remarkably clean and faithful history."

"Mat was convicted of downloading child pornography without ever paying for it or ever distributing it. He was a voyeur," the bishop said.

*****

BRAVO Bishop Love. The Episcopal Bishop of Albany is sticking to his guns. No queer marriages in his parishes. Recently he foiled two men who wanted to marry. The organist for Albany's St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Joseph Eppink wanted to tie the knot with his partner, with Ralph Panelli.

Eppink and Panelli had a small commitment ceremony seven years ago in their home with a priest participating. This time, the couple decided to go all out. Eppink is Episcopalian, Panelli is Roman Catholic -- so a church wedding was necessary for them.

The couple booked the First Lutheran Church in Albany, Babcock's place of worship. They said they would have loved to have the ceremony in Eppink's church, but Bishop William Love of the Albany Episcopal Diocese has barred priests from participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies. The congregation supports the couple.

*****

The whole sweep of Scripture. Watch N.T. Wright in this video talk about the place of Scripture and how we should read it in our lives. I think you will be inspired to read more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYzUc-ezUc&feature=youtu.be 

In today's list of stories you will read how the late, humble John Stott gently corrected two international preachers when they sat at his feet decades ago in seminary. You can also read an appreciation of his life and ministry by the world-renowned Anglican theologian Dr. J. I. Packer and much more.

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David W. Virtue DD

VOL'S QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

"Things got out of hand & we'd had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets." 

David Cameron, 1986. 
Bullingdon Club  

Cameron is now prime minister 
Boris (Johnson) is now Mayor of London

"The looting and arson last night were criminality, pure and simple. Justice will be done and the people will see the consequences for their crimes." David Cameron, 2011






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