July 31, 2008
Lots of Episcopal bishops are blogging from the Lambeth Conference, and one of them, Stephen Lane of Maine, wrote a post today that includes the following paragraph, wherein one of the most important reasons for the decline of the mainline denominations as a whole is neatly encapsulated. He wrote:
This morning there was a small explosion in my Indaba group. What exploded was widespread frustration that all the talk about our disagreements distracts from mission and undermines the Communion’s credibility. The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.) Most of the members of my group shared in some part of this frustration.
On the basis of this statement, I feel secure in saying that Bishop Lane and many of his colleagues, like so many mainline leaders, don’t actually want to be Christian leaders. They want to be congresscritters or senators, or United Nations bureaucrats.
They have no interest in the central mission of the Church–”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”–a mission for which they are entirely unequipped, and for which they find no basis in their ideology. Nor are they really all that interested in actually doing anything about the issues about which they wring their hands so piously, so instead we get stuff like the Garden Party Hunger March, which accomplished absolutely nothing, but got them all kinds of flattery from the British Prime Minister. Reading stuff like this, I don’t think that there can be any doubt that organizations like the Episcopal Church are sliding into utter pointlessness, incapable of carrying out Christ’s commission at the same time they are completely ignored by the world.
Correction: Commenter Daniel Muller alerted me to the fact that I had conflated the names of Maine’s two bishops. The actual writer was Bishop Stephen Lane, and I’ve obviously fixed it in the post. Thanks, Daniel.
July 31, 2008
“The common mission is more important than what separates us. The common mission is the MDG’s.”
–The Rt. Rev. Ian Ernest, Anglican Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, at a press conference Thursday at Lambeth, demonstrating that liberals aren’t the only ones who say silly things. For those not clued into Anglican-speak, the “MDGs” are the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.
(Via Stand Firm.)
July 30, 2008
I know it’s hard to believe, but some of the funniest people on Earth are Anglicans. Sure, they have a reputation as being kind of dour and stuffy, but really, you just can’t top some of the stuff coming out of the Lambeth Conference for side-splitting, laugh-out-loud humor. (WARNING: Put down anything you’re drinking, and swallow anything you’ve already drunk. OK. Now, to proceed…)
This comes from an exchange between Stand Firm blogger-Anglican priest Matt Kennedy and a South African seminary professor and “biblical scholar” by the name of Gerald West, the latter of whom we are told took part in writing the study guide for the bishops’ Bible study at the Lambeth Conference. At a press conference on “The Bible and Mission,” West said this:
From a literary perspective, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you look at what happens there in that story you note that it takes place after Abraham has entertained 3 angels.. If that is the true, then the problem in Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality but inhospitality as demonstrated in male rape
Now what that means is that in terms of the literary narrative it is a narrative of hospitality.
That’s a pretty standard liberal line regarding S & G, but the Rev. Kennedy wasn’t going to just let it pass. Instead, he asked the questions that provoked the witty side of Dr. West:
Q: I have a question for Dr. West. Would you say that the author of the NT book of Jude was incorrect when he wrote this about Sodom and Gomorrah, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire…” that was from verse 7. Would you say that the writer of Jude got the context wrong?
A: No not at all, I think he was referring to the sin of inhospitality.
Me: When he uses the phrase “sexual immorality”?
A: Yes, that was the way they were being inhospitable.
Now, you’ve got to admit: that is hilarious.
July 30, 2008
“We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives….Many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally acceptable to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult.”
–Episcopal Bishop Catherine Roskam, writing about, but providing no evidence regarding, unnnamed colleagues at the Lambeth Conference. Her comments appeared in The Lambeth Witness, a daily newsletter produced by the Inclusive Church Network, a liberal lobby group working for the full inclusion of gays in Church life.
(Via Stand Firm.)
UPDATE: The full text of the article from which this quote is taken may be found at the Integrity web site here.
July 29, 2008
Posted by David Fischler under Presbyterianism  Comments
According to the Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Massachusetts), the trial to determine who owns the property of Londonderry Presbyterian Church has begun in New Hampshire Superior Court:
The keys to the historic Londonderry Presbyterian Church and about $300,000 in religious relics and valuables are at stake in a civil trial that began yesterday to decide who has title to the church’s property and other legal issues.
A schism at the church stems from a vote Sept. 30, when the majority of members of Londonderry Presbyterian Church agreed to leave the national church and join a conservative evangelical denomination.
Those members later locked other church members out of the Pillsbury Road building, forcing them to hold services elsewhere, and later received a court injunction to keep them out of the building until the case is settled.
As several correspondents of mine from the congregation have pointed out in the past, this is not accurate. Members of the congregation were never “locked out.” The presbytery sought to hold a meeting at the building the first week in October without asking permission, and the session then changed the locks to prevent presbytery officials from coming in. Members of the congregation, however, have been welcome to worship with the majority all along. From what I’ve been able to gather, Deborah Hills of the Layman Online has it right when she writes today:
While Londonderry’s dismissal from the PCUSA has been reported on in the past, the legal response of the governing presbytery has not. Before any official announcement of the church’s desire to disaffiliate from the PCUSA, the Presbytery of Northern New England voted overwhelmingly to form an administrative commission for the Londonderry church. The commission has the power to assume original jurisdiction and seize all real property and financial assets, depending on the outcome of the trial.
In response to the actions of the presbytery, the congregation filed suit and was granted a temporary restraining order to protect the status quo of the church and its assets. The presbytery filed a motion asking for relief from the restraining order. But before hearing the outcome, they mailed letters to the congregation inviting them to a worship service and organizational meeting – apparently to reform a Londonderry Presbyterian Church as part of the PCUSA. The meeting was planned to take place in the Londonderry sanctuary on Sunday afternoon, October 7. “No permission was requested, or given for PNNE to conduct any activities on LPC’s property,” states the timeline on the Londonderry Presbyterian Church web site.
The session changed the locks on the church to prevent a possible confrontation. After 300 people attended the normal worship services that morning, presbytery representatives arrived for the afternoon meeting, in violation of the temporary restraining order. The courts had officially denied relief from the restraining order on October 5.
The Eagle-Tribune‘s story continues:
Only one witness, Eric Meyer, president at the time of the schism, took the stand yesterday. Meyer, dressed in a light gray suit, white shirt and dark tie, answered questions from his attorney, Michael Pearman, for approximately two hours.
His testimony is to continue today. Meyer said the congregation’s leaders recommended leaving the national church, even though a straw poll showed the majority wanted to stay. Asked why, Meyer said he and the other elders “were confident God was calling us to make this decision, and he would take care of us.”
I don’t recall having heard about this “straw poll” before, and in any case it strikes me as a lot less important than the actual vote that was taken on September 30, 2007, in which a large majority (the story says 71%) voted to leave PCUSA and join the New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery.
The Rev. Kenneth Glasier, an EPC pastor, was recently called to Londonderry, and preached there for the first time on July 20. Please be praying for him, his family, and both of the Londonderry congregations as the trial goes forward.
(And of course, folks who are involved in the situation are welcome to comment and provide further information, as long as they keep things civil. To this day, my October 9, 2007 item entitled Londonderry Makes the Move is the most viewed of my over 775 posts, as well as the most commented on. This situation obviously provokes heated argument. Be passionate, but be Christian. And if I’ve gotten anything wrong, please let me know, and I’ll correct it in the post text.)
July 28, 2008
The PCUSA branch of the Democratic Party, the Witherspoon Society, has published an article by an Iranian-American Presbyterian by the name of Noushin Darya Framke, in which she, and by extension the Society, distorts current events, whitewashes history, and air-brushes Iranian foreign policy. Among other things, she writes:
Last week, I heard a quote that Condoleezza Rice had said Iran should stop its saber rattling. This took my breath away. The country of my birth, where most of my family still lives, has been morphed into the aggressor. Most Americans don’t realize that the constant call to “bomb bomb Iran” has been just what the conservatives pray for in Iran. All the various factions there, who are normally at each other’s throats, are united against a common enemy now. This anti-Iran fervor in the U.S. is what has kept the Islamic Revolution alive there.
That’s an amazing paragraph. She claims that the Bush Adminsitration has “morphed [Iran] into the aggressor.” Presumably that means that she finds nothing aggressive in 1) Iran’s funding of Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups; 2) Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, which has been ongoing since at least the Clinton Administration); 3) Iran’s continuing stonewalling of the IAEA; 4) Iran’s repeated threats to vaporize Israel once it has gotten nuclear weapons; and 5) Iran’s sending of members of its various security and military agencies into Iraq for the purpose of killing Americans and fomenting chaos in its next-door neighbor. In the course of her piece, none of these ongoing Iranian policies are so much as mentioned. Perhaps she isn’t aware of them.
Oh, and she also seems to think that if it weren’t for American hostility, the mullahs would have morphed into a Persian version of the Witherspoon Society by now. It hasn’t been political repression, relentless propaganda, or the Guardian Council’s refusal to let anyone run for office who doesn’t have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Fanatical Approval. It’s American hostility that keeps the mullahs in charge. Got it.
In slow motion, I watched the Soviet Union shed its label of “evil empire” and eventually, sitting in my den watching the State of the Union Address – now as an American – heard my president put Iran in the “Axis of Evil.” It’s been downhill from there. Slowly but surely, Iran has become America’s biggest enemy and today is the only member left of “the axis.”
Last time I checked, the Soviet Union is no longer called the “evil empire” because it, you know, no longer exists. And why might Iran have been included in the “Axis of Evil”? It couldn’t have anything to do with any of those five items listed above, could it? As for the claim that Iran is the “last member” of the Axis, two things come to mind: one, Iraq has become a democratic nation where Saddam Hussein no longer breaths; and two, North Korea has significantly changed its behavior, in part because of the pressure put on it by the international community, including its biggest supporter in Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, has simply increased the behavior that got it so labeled. Is this really so hard to understand?
Knowing the Persian Spirit as I do, all this saber rattling by the hawks in Washington gives the Iranians more pride. They take it as an honor to be standing against a massive superpower’s hegemony over Middle East oil. A naval blockade, if approved by our Democratic Congress, will only be seen as a declaration of war.
I don’t know the Persian Spirit, but I do know that no one is talking about a “naval blockade.” This is the latest fantasy in leftist circles, a way to mislabel an inspection regime that is perfectly legitimate under international law, in no way a “declaration of war,” and no where close to being adopted.
Oh, and by the way, I can’t resist the urge to ask: if the United States has “hegemony over Middle East oil,” why is it that we’re paying $4 a gallon for gasoline? If this be hegemony, we’re sure screwing it up.
UPDATE: Lest anyone think this is only a Witherspoon delusion, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has published the same article.
July 27, 2008
““The kingdom of heaven is like 650 bishops marching through the streets of this city a couple of days ago, insisting that together we can end global poverty, if we have the will to do it”.”
–Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori, preaching the Deist gospel at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields in London, earlier today
July 26, 2008
“We spoke in our bible study this morning of Creation as the body of God. Creation reflects God and the tradition has a mixed history of affirming that understanding.”
–Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori at a press conference on the theme of “The Bishops and the Environment” at the Lambeth Conference
July 26, 2008
“They are the ones who are the obstacles,” Bishop Alvarez said, contending that Pope Benedict was placing too much emphasis on issues such as the ordination of women and homosexuals, which were not issues decided during the Church’s first seven ecumenical councils. “My concern is that they open themselves to dialogue instead of just saying this is wrong.”
–Episcopal Bishop David Alvarez of Puerto Rico remarking on deteriorating ecumenical relations between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church
[I don't normally comment on quotes of the day, but for the sake of those who may not be up on their patristic history I need to mention that there were many issues with which the first seven ecumenical councils never formally dealt. These include justification by faith, the relationship of Scripture and tradition, the nature of papal primacy, the Immaculate Conception, and many other items that the RC Church would hardly consider unimportant as a result. What Bishop Alvarez is doing here is basically saying, "Why can't the Catholic Church be just like us?" That is the usual liberal mainline Protestant response when confronted with any form of disagreement with its agenda, no matter how much rhetoric of "tolerance" or "inclusiveness" get slathered over that response.]
July 25, 2008
According to the London Telegraph, the Dark Night of Terror is about to descend on the Anglican Communion. Or something like that:
Dr Rowan Williams said there was a “very strong feeling” within the 80 million-strong Communion that guidance is needed on questions of Biblical teaching, which have led it to the brink of schism over sexuality.
He said he was “enthusiastic” about the idea of a Faith and Order Commission that has been proposed by a group set up to resolve the crisis triggered by liberal Americans, who in 2003 elected an openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson.
But liberals claim the Commission – which would be based on a code of Canon Law and which is being proposed in addition to a new set of rules to bind the provinces of Anglicanism – has echoes of the medieval Inquisition, which was used to enforce Roman Catholic doctrine and punish those condemned as heretics.
Asked about the Commission at the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of 670 Anglican bishops in Canterbury, Dr Williams said: “There’s a very strong feeling that we need another kind of structure in the Communion that would be a clearing house for some of these issues.
“There’s quite a head of steam behind that, just to sort out the kind of issues that have arisen and what kind of level of seriousness they are at and how they may be addressed. I’m actually quite enthusiastic about that.”
That’s Williams-speak for, “Anybody here want to play ‘Kick the Can’?”
I suspect that the liberals who are already squawking about this (a spokeman for Washington Bishop John Chane called it “troubling”) are doing their usual overwrought thing to make sure that even if it is set up, nothing will come of it. Why they think anything might I don’t know, since that certainly isn’t The Anglican Way.
There’s really only one way to deal with a possibility like this, and that’s to remind the world how badly such commissions can get out of hand:
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