Saturday, December 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So, who are we today, and where do we stand at this moment in relation to all that is happening in the storm-tossed Anglican Communion? In light of what I have said so far, I put it to you that there are four things we can and must now say. They are as follows.
To start with, we are a community of conscience, - committed to the Anglican convictions - those defined, I mean, in our foundation documents and expressed in our Prayer Book. The historic Anglican conviction about the authority of the Bible matches that which Luther expressed at the Diet of Worms: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe” - that is, it imperils the soul. As for the historic Anglican conviction about homosexual behaviour, it contains three points:
First, it violates the order of creation. God made the two sexes to mate and procreate, with pleasure and bonding; but homosexual intercourse, apart from being, at least among men, awkward and unhealthy, is barren.
Second, it defies the gospel call to repent of it and abstain from it, as from sin. This call is most clearly perhaps expressed in 1Cor. 6: 9-11, where the power of the Holy Spirit to keep believers clear of this and other lapses is celebrated.
Third, the heart of true pastoral care for homosexual persons is helping them in friendship not to yield to their besetting temptation. We are to love the sinner, though we do not love the sin.
We must hold to these positions, whatever the culture around us may say and do. So a biblically educated conscience requires.
Second, we are a community of church people, committed to the Anglican Communion.
We rejoice to know that the more than 90% of worshipping Anglicans worldwide outside the Old West are solidly loyal to the Christian heritage as Anglicanism has received it, and we see our realignment as among other things, an enhancing of our solidarity with them. As I said earlier, what we are doing is precisely not leaving Anglicanism behind.
Third, we are a community of consecration, committed to the Anglican calling of worship and mission, doxology and discipling. Right from the start church planting will be central to our vision of what we are being called to do.
Fourth, I think we may soberly say of ourselves that we are a community of courage, heading out into unknown waters but committed to the Anglican confidence that God is faithful to those who are faithful to him.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
One tidbit: Phillip said we should scrap the word, "membership," and use the word "partnership." A member is passive; a partner is active and involved in ministry. Further, 'membership' is not a biblical word, whereas 'partnership' is. In the NT, one is a member of a political or religious association; but a 'member' of Christ is another Greek word altogether. It is word for a part of the physical body.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Are we getting the gospel right? What if we don't? Does it matter? And if we are getting it right, how do we get it out? These are some of the questions our guest speaker, Dr. Cornelis Venema will be addressing when he visits us October 12-14 at All Saints' Anchorage, and Church in the Wildwood in Eagle River, AK.
The first session will be Friday at All Saints' (corner of 8th and F in Anchorage, 907-279-3924) from 7-9 pm (babysitting available).
The second session will be Saturday at Church in the Wildwood, 16832 Hansen Drive, Eagle River (907-694-2089) from 9-11 am.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
An International Committee finds TEC is in compliance with requests made of it.
Dr Peter Toon
On October 2nd, the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council submitted its Report on The Episcopal Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who then sent it on to the Primates of the Global Communion. The Report is nineteen pages in length, is clearly written, and is unlikely to be misunderstood in terms of its findings by anyone who reads it carefully.
In order to appreciate its major findings or recommendations, we need to bear in mind the following context concerning the work of the Joint Committee:
1. It had a limited brief which concerned the relation of The Episcopal Church, more specifically its House of Bishops, to The Windsor Report and to the recent Communique from The Primates Meeting in Tanzania. Further, it met only with Bishops at the Bishops’ Meeting and apparently had no prolonged conversation there with the Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network, who are closely allied with the Provinces of the Global South.
2. It made no study of either (a) “the practical theology” of much of TEC, which theology is closely related to a radical reading of the much-vaunted “Baptismal Covenant,” or (b) what goes on in dioceses without the Bishops’ formal permission and as he or she turns “a blind eye.” Thus it only studied the words of Bishops when they were on their best behavior and engaged in crafting forms of words in order to be seen as genuine members of the Global Anglican Communion. Further, it relied on the lady Presiding Bishop for information and interpretation, where perhaps the use of other sources may have been better (e.g., on how many parishes have left TEC recently and their size).
3. It is composed of persons who, while being admirably committed to the unity of the Global Anglican Family, belong in the main to what we may call “the centrist” position and apparently are neither too perturbed by “the practical theology” of the TEC nor too supportive of the “enthusiasm and zeal” of some in the Global South.
Obviously these three factors profoundly affected the tone, if not the facts in this Report, in which are three major findings or recommendations.
First of all, the Joint Committee finds—after a long tour of the documentary evidence on sexuality in recent discussion— that the House of Bishops (and thus TEC) has met the requests and demands made by both The Windsor Report of 2004 and of The Communique of the Primates from Dar es Salaam. That is, the Committee accepts as trustworthy the words of the resolutions of the recent House of Bishops’ Meeting in New Orleans, wherein the House committed not to bless the unions of same-sex couples, not to ordain active homosexual persons and not to vote for any such for the office of bishop. The Report thus states:
"By their answers…, we believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified
all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them in the Windsor Report, and on which clarifications were sought by 30th September 2007, and given the necessary assurances sought of them.”
We note that the Committee was able to come to this conclusion because—and it really had little option—it had to take the words of the Bishops’ resolutions in their literal, straightforward meeting. Had the Committee also toured say ten of the more “prophetic” dioceses, it would have found most probably that the blessing of same-sex persons has in no way ceased, even though there is no official Liturgy for the same and the official permission of the Bishop is not requested. (It may be noted here that is because the Primates of the Global South have reliable reports of what goes on unofficially and widely in not a few liberal dioceses that they do not take the statements of the House of Bishops as necessarily faithful and true.)
Secondly, the Joint Committee finds that the “interventions” by overseas Bishops to establish missions and congregations on U.S. territory, and to consecrate missionary Bishops for this purpose, are wholly against the spirit and the letter of what may be called a fundamental law of Anglican polity. In this it agrees with the statement of the House of Bishops of TEC from New Orleans defending the territorial episcopate as the Anglican way of being the church on the ground. Further, it advances in support of this position all kinds of evidence from Councils of the Early Church and resolutions from Lambeth Conferences. Further, it also seems to believe that there is some hope of resolving this problem and so makes suggestions—mostly concerning what the Archbishop of Canterbury could do—for ways to heal this growing schism and to bring back into TEC the recent seceders on terms that are reasonable and fair. One may comment that while what it stated and recommended by the Committee is balanced and reasonable, what is wholly missing—perhaps because the Committee does not really feel this—is the sense that the present TEC leadership has actually adopted a new form of religion. That is a new type of Christianity which, while using much traditional wording and symbols, is contrary to classic, biblically-based traditional Anglican worship, doctrine and discipline. In a word, its basic confession is not “Jesus is the only Lord and Savior” but something like “Jesus is a Savior and is our Savior.”
Finally, the Joint Committee finds that the position of the House of Bishops in terms of the understanding of “sexual orientation” and the making sure that people of all kinds of “orientation” are welcome in the Church as whole persons is wholly in accord with the position adopted by The Lambeth Conference of 1998 and widely accepted within the Anglican Family.
Here is the final paragraph:
"The life of the Anglican Communion has been much damaged in recent years following the tensions raised by the consecration in The Episcopal Church of a bishop living in a committed same-sex relationship and the authorization in some dioceses of Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. With the response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in September 2007, the Communion should move towards closure on these matters, at least for the time being. The Communion seems to be converging around a position which says that while it is inappropriate to proceed to public Rites of Blessing of same-sex unions and to the consecration of bishops who are living in sexual relationships outside of Christian marriage, we need to take seriously our ministry to gay and lesbian people inside the Church and the ending of discrimination, persecution and violence against them. Here, The Episcopal Church and the Instruments of Communion speak with one voice. The process of mutual listening and conversation needs to be intensified. It is only by living in communion that we can live out our vocation to be Communion.”
One may regret that the Report ends in this way, which may be seen as placing too much emphasis (by stating it last of all) on the failure of the Church to minister fully to one small class of persons, “gay and lesbian people,” when Communion has many other more important dimensions to be emphasized and lived.
What will be the fall-out from this Report which is now in the possession of all the global Primates and their advisers? We can only guess and here we go.
The majority of, if not all, the Primates of the Global South will not regard it as binding because, relying on what they believe to be accurate information from the U.S.A., they will believe that the fine words of the House of Bishops (taken at face value by the Committee) do not match either the reality on the ground in many dioceses or the general teaching of the leadership of TEC on the radical meaning and prophetic actions and requirements of “the Baptismal Covenant.” Thus the missionary interventions will continue with the general intention of creating a new province in North America for they regard TEC as apostate and engaged in infidelity.
The majority of Bishops in the West/North will be inclined to accept the Report and support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his going ahead with the 2008 Lambeth Conference, even if many from the Global South do not attend. This Bishops will also pay lip service to the need to bring the American seceders back into TEC and away from their African “Pastors” but do little about it for they have other things to do!
The Global Anglican Communion will effectively be no more, except in name, and this may lead to the effort to create a two-tier membership, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury has hinted. But since TEC has been given a relatively clean bill of health by this Committee, it will apparently not be the lead candidate for any such second tier anymore! More likely then that we shall see something like a North/South divide with some in the South (e.g., S Africa) looking to the North and some in the North (e.g., Evangelicals in England, Australia and U.S.A.) looking to the South! If this occurs, Anglicanism will be opening a wholly new era for itself and will have few maps available to guide it.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Dar es Salaam required TEC these 4 things:
1. End same-sex blessings at all levels.
2. Confirm that no more non-celibate homosexuals will be consecrated bishop.
3. Provide alternative Primatial oversight for those who do not agree with the Episcopal Church's leadership.
4. End all lawsuits against parishes and vestries.
The HOB did the following:
1. Reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
2. Pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
3. Commend our PB's plan for episcopal visitors.
4. Deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
Number 1 means that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included. One of the candidates for the Diocese of Chicago episcopate is a non-celibate lesbian.
Number 2 - means that in addition to refraining from authorizing rites for same-sex blessing, the "majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions." Further, this prohibition will remain until (unless was the word in Dar Es Salaam) a broader consensus regarding sex-sex unions is reached. As the ink dried, a same-sex union was performed in the diocese of Los Angeles.
Number 3 neglects to mention that no affected bishop or diocese was consulted regarding the adequacy of the PB's plan.
Forget about Sexual Innovations, Concentrate on the Basic Doctrine which motivates the leadership of TEC
Though he saw women’s ordination as a serious error, and though he also noticed all kinds of errors and faults in the 1979 Prayer Book, he maintained—I still think rightly—that the answers to three basic questions by Episcopalians would reveal where they were doctrinally and morally.
These questions did not involve anything about women’s ordination or the ordination of active homosexual persons, but they got to basic Christianity:Who is God?
Who is Jesus?
What is salvation?
How one answers these proclaims where one is in the spectrum from pantheism through to biblical Trinitarianism. In passing I may note that Dr Caldwell often demonstrated that the official Prayer Book of TEC had rejected the full, biblical Trinitarian Faith, even though it did so, to mislead the unwary, in nearly “orthodox” phrases.
The present TEC through its House of Bishops (Sept 25, 2007) has declared that it is officially not in favor of blessing same-sex unions or of ordaining people in such unions. At the same time, it is fully committed to the full rights of homosexual persons both in society and in church (so it is not clear if this includes supporting same-sex unions that are not actually blessed in church).
However, many bishops turn a blind eye and do not seek to prevent such events occurring in their dioceses, as all investigative reporters can demonstrate very quickly.
Thus TEC speaks out of both sides of its mouth simultaneously—a practice that has been in operation since the early 1970s.
Now back to doctrine.
If one reads the growing literature on “The Baptismal Covenant” (so beloved of the Episcopal hierarchy) and its duties (see the recent book of sermonettes by the lady Presiding Bishop), if one studies the theology being taught in most of TEC seminaries, if one studies the resolutions submitted to diocesan and national convents, if one listens to the discussions of the House of Bishop, if one looks at the innovative liturgies being used in many places, if one listens to the sermons in most churches, if one studies the history of innovations in TEC since 1960, if one follows the web Episcopal blogs, and if one reads the learned articles and books of the professors in most TEC seminaries, then one comes to the conclusion quickly that the practical theology—that which makes TEC tick like a clock—is not biblical Trinitiarian Theism at all.
Reduced to a short span it is: God is Love and all love (loving) in the world is God.
Stated in more technical terms, it varies from a dynamic kind of pantheism, through various kinds of panentheism (especially beloved of feminist theologians) to process philosophy/theology, where God and the cosmos are seen to be in an evolutionary process together.
So Who is GOD in the new religion? God may be neuter or feminine but not solely masculine—thus God is She or It and is never Father but is Parent or Mother/Father. Further God is not in God’s own being wholly Transcendent, above and beyond the cosmos—No! God’s being is integrated into the cosmos even while also being apart from it. (A simple picture of this is the Mother giving birth but always keeping what She births tied to her—the cosmos in God and God never wholly apart from the cosmos—pan-en-theism.)
In this way of thinking, the symbol of God as Trinity is retained but usually to present a “divine” picture of community and cooperation for communitarianism on earth.
And who is JESUS? Jesus is the Child of God even as also the child of Mary, a unique Event of cosmic evolution. Jesus is regarded as really androgynous, even while also being male in a male-dominated society, and “his” real saving work is the way “he” got alongside the poor, needy, outcasts, and hungry and ministered to them. Where regular religion and society stopped, there Jesus began to minister and this led to his martyr’s death. The resurrection is the symbol of new life arising from this Jesus, new life to change the world with justice and peace and enabling the value of all human beings of every kind and type to be recognized and affirmed.
And what is SALVATION? Since God is not separate from the cosmos, heaven is not “up there.” Salvation is cooperating with God in change to bring about better and better conditions on earth for people so that they live in dignity, without fear and poverty. The present millennial goals of the United Nations express part of this hope of salvation. Christians today in the Baptismal Covenant are charged to work for justice, peace and dignity.
I SUGGEST that from today onwards those who wish to engage with Episcopal leaders leave aside for the time being the sexuality agenda and move instead to the Basic Christianity agenda to ascertain what kind of sincere, religious people are the majority of the House of Bishop, Executive Council and General Convention of The Episcopal Church. They are sincere, please grant them this, and they are fervent, please grant them this—but move on and examine their theology that motivates them.
Then having done this to go back to the public Liturgies and new Canon Law of TEC since 1970 and read these in the light of the doctrine discovered.(my own attempts to do this kind of thing are found in the content of several booklets available from www.anglicanmarketplace.com or by calling 1-800-727-1928)
Dr Peter Toon
The Revd Dr Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
There is one basic problem here: It is not an honest statement. It really does not express the thinking and actions of many of our bishops. As the ink was drying, there are ongoing same-sex unions in many places, and a lesbian candidate for the Diocese of Chicago episcopate.
Kendall Harmon put it this way: "What was it I asked at the beginning of the meeting: Is the leadership of the Episcopal Church going to be honest about what they really believe and are doing or will they hide behind an institutional and verbal smokescreen? They opted for the second."
Friday, September 21, 2007
College Football: A&M blown away in Miami
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Unique Salvation History – What about the passage is important for the way God unfolds his plan of salvation in history? What’s unrepeatable by us but worthy of worshiping God for?
Non-Christian – How does the passage speak to the unbeliever? How does it call him/her to repentance and belief? How does it warn, rebuke, correct, or prod the unbeliever? What does it say about the danger of the unbeliever’s situation, the exclusivity of Christ, the sinner’s need for a Savior, or the sufficiency of that Savior as a substitute for the sinner?
Public – What does the passage say about our lives and roles in the public sphere, both as Christians and non-Christians (e.g., government, neighborhood)?
Christ – How is Jesus foreshadowed or typed? What particular perfection of Christ does that type depict? How is Jesus remembered or described in character, authority, glory, or essence?
Christian – What does the passage mean for the life of the individual Christian? How does it call him/her to deeper repentance and belief? How does it warn, rebuke, correct, motivate, comfort, or encourage the Christian?
Capitol Hill Baptist – What does the passage mean for the corporate life of our local church? How does it call the local corporate body to tend to its corporate life together and corporate witness to the unbelieving community around it?
At the 9Marks site they have posted a sample of this "application grid" from a sermon Dever delivered on Mark. They have also posted a blank one if you want to try it at home! (Obviously this is useful for preachers, but there's no reason it cannot also be incorporated into personal devotions and study.)
At the 9Marks site they have posted a sample of this "application grid" from a sermon Dever delivered on Mark. They have also posted a blank one if you want to try it at home! (Obviously this is useful for preachers, but there's no reason it cannot also be incorporated into personal devotions and study.)
Sunday, September 09, 2007
My Dear Archbishop Rowan,
I have just seen the preposterous diatribe sent to you by Bishop Jack Spong, and, as one of his fellow Bishops, I send my deepest apology.
I am saddened that in his very first sentences he has disparaged you for "not coming alone" to the meeting of the American House of Bishops later this month The invitation, which I personally composed, was, of course, to you AND the members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates.
Bishop Spong has systematically denied virtually every tenet of the Christian Faith, and he presided over the near-destruction of the Diocese of Newark. During his tenure (1978 - 2000) the number of baptized members in the Diocese of Newark declined from 64,323 to 36,674, a loss of 27,649 or 43 percent. Eighteen congregations were closed between 1978 and 1997, and a further nine in 2000.
His sarcasm, his disrespect, and his arrogance are simply stunning. But then this is the same Bishop Spong who stated at the last Lambeth Conference that the African Bishops had "moved out of animism into a very superstitious kind of Christianity. They've yet to face the intellectual revolution of Copernicus and Einstein that we've had to face in the developing world. That's just not on their radar screen."
Your commitment to the Primates, and to all the members of the Communion, to uphold the teaching of Lambeth 1998 has been a spectacular gift, one that we all understand has been costly to you, personally.
Bishop Spong dares to say that you have become a "miserable failure." Shame on him. It is Bishop Spong who has consistently repudiated the teachings of the Holy Scriptures in favor of the latest cultural innovations, and he has inflicted tremendous damage on the Church of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Spong has the hubris to say of the orthodox, "We are espousing a position about homosexuality that is dated, uninformed, inhumane and frankly embarrassing. No learned person stands there today."
Actually, it is his position that is embarrassing! Study after study, from Masters and Johnson to Charles Socarides has shown that for a remarkably high percentage of homosexual persons a change of orientation is possible.
But the deeper question is not whether or not a given person's orientation has changed, but whether or not that person is willing (often at great personal sacrifice!) to conform his/her conduct to the teaching of Scripture that sexual intimacy is for marriage (one man, one woman, in Christ).
For Bishop Spong to lecture you as he has done is beyond belief. Please know that he speaks for himself alone, and that the Bishops who are gathering in New Orleans in just two weeks will greet you with great eagerness and affection.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
Friday, September 07, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The Rev. Chuck Collins
I am writing to inform you about an important matter. The upcoming House of Bishops meeting in
Nineteen "Windsor Bishops," of whom Bishop Lillibridge is an active member, met a few weeks ago. I have high hopes that their presence at the House of Bishops meeting will be known and recognized, if for nothing else as a minority group of bishops (there are about 120 diocesan bishops in all) who are committed to be constituent members f the Anglican Communion by agreeing to follow the directives of the Windsor Report and the Tanzania Communiqué. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will interrupt his sabbatical to meet with the bishops gathered in
There is still much that isn't clear. For example, it's not clear if moderate uncommitted bishops will join the nineteen in support of traditional values. It's not clear if the meeting with the Archbishop will impact the invitations to attend Lambeth 2008 (if at all). If it doesn't impact the invitations as they stand, a number of Global South Primates have already said they will not be attending. It's unclear how
Even though there are many unknowns, there are some things that are clear at this point. First, there is no indication that Episcopal Church leaders (House of Bishops and our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori) will change their direction back to traditional and biblical values. And they seem largely unfazed by the possibility of severing our tie to the Anglican Communion. This was evident by their rejection of portions of the Primate's Communiqué at the last House of Bishops meeting. Secondly, Bishop Lillibridge has repeatedly told the diocese that he will continue to uphold the values and principles of the Windsor Report that uphold traditional Christianity. We have a bishop who courageously stands against the tide for the things that are most important to us and to the people of the Diocese of West Texas. Thirdly, it seems that the different groups and personalities that make up the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church will argue and bicker among themselves, not understanding that different churches have had to respond differently because of different circumstances. And lastly, for the traditional-minded churches and dioceses who feel that they have been pushed off the back of the boat, the Primates will not leave us to drown but will provide some means for us to connect to the Anglican Communion. It's clear that one of the results of the realignment will be to rethink the way we do dioceses and provinces.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
In Dawkins vs McGrath, author Sacromone in First Things says what McGrath did not assert the sovereignty of God. After all, God is directing all of history, both good and bad things, to their appointed end. Here is a good article.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
God Rules - The Sovereignty of God
God is in total and utter charge of the world. He is free and independent of every force or being outside of himself. He created, sustains, governs and directs all things. His purposes are always and totally being fulfilled in his sovereign providence, by which one day the marvelous perfect purposes he has had from the beginning, will be fully and finally completed and perfected.
That means, though we cannot always and may never fully understand what God is doing through the world as we see it- especially when we face suffering, or death, nevertheless God never allows things to go out of control. He always has the last word, and therefore can be trusted with our lives.
When God saves, he saves - The invincibility of God's grace
There is nothing a human being can do to contribute to the incredible undeservable salvation of God. What God does in salvation is not only undeserved (we do not merit it), and unrepayable (we cannot ever become worthy of it), it is a sovereign definite act of God. That is to say, God purposes before the beginning of the world, to elect, create, call, redeem and save specific people- not by giving us a potential to respond to him in faith, but giving us a spiritual new life by which we come alive to him and the fruit of which is faith.
That means, our relationship with God is utterly dependent on Him. If he has begun a work of real faith in our lives, nothing and no-one will be able to prevent him completing it. That gives us the confidence to trust our lives to the one whose love has changed our relationship to God forever.
What God says, (the Bible), is true - The inerrancy of Scripture
Foundational to Reformed faith is the conviction that the Word of God, the Bible is utterly true and trustworthy, infallible and inerrant. God has ensured that the right people, in the right places, at the right times, have been rightly led to write the right things, so that the Bible gives us the true and trustworthy word of God. The implication of this, is that faith (trust in God) is expressed in our obedience to the Scriptures. God has the last word, not human tradition, reason or experience, and the new Spirit-life of a Christian will confirm to us that what Scripture speaks, God speaks to us. That is in particular true in that the OT law is designed to do more than just show God's righteousness and our sinfulness to lead us to Christ, and to proclaim God's judgment on sin and so restrain evil & promote righteousness living; the law is also given to guide the obedience of our faith, not as a means of life or way to life, but as a way of life- something that reveals, informs and guides the way Christians are to approach their owns lives in their families and nations.
That mean, our only wholly reliable experience and encounter with God, will come through his Word. The way for a deeper experience of the presence and power of God, is through a greater obedience to his Word. The Bible is more than a guide for faith; it is the very Word in whose obedience our faith is truly expressed.
All our life is Christian life - The integration of life and faith
A sovereign God has rights over every aspect of our life, and so the whole of our life is to be lived consciously before him. True worship is therefore living every moment in such a way that God is honored and will be pleased. It is not that even the best of our actions are in themselves deserving of his pleasure, but he treasures our activities which arise from and express faith, however flawed, (much as parents treasure the artwork of their children- not for their art-worthiness, but their expression of relationship). There is consequently no divide between secular and sacred aspects of life- by faith the exuberant joy of the sports field may be as much worship as the reflective praise of a Sunday congregation.
That means, that what we do in our working life or leisure time is as important to God as the so-called 'religious' activities. We are to have a distinctively God-honoring attitude to everything in which we are engaged. Christians are called to honor God in their politics, their shopping, their choice of TV programs, their sex-lives, and in each the honoring of God will be a blessing to us.
God rules non-Christians too! - God’s kingdom over the 'secular' world
God is no less in charge of non-Christians as Christians, and he works out his sovereign purposes for the world through all of his creation. That means we are to affirm as part of the good providence of God, much that we see in so-called 'secular' people and institutions. God has not so given-over to evil those who rebel against him that his image in them is erased, so we are to identify the providential hand of God and honor him in the lives of others. In particular we recognize that God has and does work through people whose understanding of him is flawed and through institutions who are deficient in Christian truth; but where the knowledge of God is imperfect, we Endeavour to teach; where practice deviates, we rebuke, correct and encourage godliness; and where the gospel is denied or opposed, we proclaim the judgment of God and call people to repent.
That means that there can be no ghetto mentality for Christians. In all of life, we need to look out for the signs God is working, even amongst non-Christians. We are called to challenge things that are wrong, not just keeping our heads down for a quiet life; but we are also to be affirming of things that are right, even when they bear fatal deficiencies with respect to saving faith. Even as all life is worship, so all the world is God's work.
God speaks when the Bible is preached - The priority of biblical preaching
Central to understanding the necessity for the gathering of Christians as the church is the preached Word of God. Preaching is more than just exposition and application of the Bible; it is the Spirit-given and Spirit-empowered proclamation of God to his people. For that reason preachers are to be first and foremost obedient disciples, conscious of their accountability to God, and made accountable to others called to Word-ministry, so that God's truth is proclaimed with a Spirit-given life-transforming power. Similarly the gathering of Christians is to be Word-centered in its structure and activity, so that nothing will distract or divert or mislead people in the Word of God. It is God's Word which constitutes the church, as the means of its spiritual life, the focus of its sacramental activity, the guide for its praise and prayer, and the power of its encounter with God.
That means, that sermons need to be taken on board not taken when bored. Christian gatherings are not to be judged by their style or music, but by their effectiveness in humbling us before God through his Word. Ministry is to be honored and supported because of the continual challenge and spiritual battle involved in bring challenging truth to a rebellious people and world. So a 'church' that denies God's Word, is denying that which makes it a true church.
Monday, August 27, 2007
From Douglas Groothuis
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Are we getting the gospel right? What if we don'? Does it matter? And if we are getting it right, how do we get it out? These are some of the questions our guest speaker, Dr. Cornelis Venema will be addressing when he visits us October 12-14.
The first session will be Friday at All Saints' (corner of 8th and F in Anchorage, 907-279-3924) from 7-9 pm (babysitting available).
The second session will be Saturday at Church in the Wildwood, 16832 Hansen Drive, Eagle River (907-694-2089)
Professor of Doctrinal Studies
M.Div., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1978
How does God reveal Himself? What are the natures of Christ? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctification? What are the scriptural principles for the organization of the church? What does the Bible teach about the millennium and the last judgment?
These are some of the questions discussed in the systematic theology courses taught by Dr. Cornelis P. Venema. The course work ranges from the foundations of theology, to extensive studies of the three persons of the Trinity, to discussion of church government, to exploration of Scriptural teaching regarding personal and general eschatology.
While studying at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1979-1981, Dr. Venema was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology. He served as pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Ontario, California, for six years before coming to Mid-America.
Dr. Venema serves as President of the Seminary in addition to his systematic theology teaching responsibilities. He serves as an elder in his church and preaches on a regular basis. Dr. Venema also speaks and teaches in a variety of church and conference settings.
His special interest lies in Reformation theology, particularly the work of the Reformers John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger. Dr. Venema's most recent book, Heinrich Bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination: Author of "The Other Reformed Tradition"?, reflects this interest. He is the author of several other books including But for the Grace of God: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort; What We Believe: An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed; and The Promise of the Future. Dr. Venema is a co-editor and frequent contributor to The Outlook and the Mid-America Journal of Theology.
ps - This is Fitz Allison's response to an earlier article by Sarah Hey.
Even if one never read Sarah's article, I think Fitz' response is still understandable.
Sarah Hey's critique seriously misrepresents Steve Noll's
position when she claims he advocates leaving the Anglican
Communion. The fact is that the Episcopal Church is in the
process of leaving the Anglican Communion and has already
departed in polity and doctrine. The Episcopal Church has been
given a deadline of the 30th of September to repent. A score of
Anglican Primates have already declared themselves out of or in
impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. If the Archbishop
of Canterbury sides with the Episcopal Church against the stated
policy of the Windsor Report and against a majority of the
Primates and the Dar es Salaam agreement where will Sarah stand?
If the Anglican Communion is defined simply by polity and not
by faith then she and Ephraim must follow the example of the
Jansenists in Roman Catholicism, suffer, endure and die.
Duncan and Common Cause will be an integral part of the Anglican
Communion perhaps one not centered in Canterbury and whose
Primate is not the appointment of a prime minister elected by an
aggressively secularized Western post-modern culture.
If Common Cause members were anti-Anglican Communion as she
alleges why do they go to such trouble to be under, ordained by
and part of Anglican Provinces? And why would these Provinces
accept, encourage and oversee these Communion desiring
constituents if the Communion itself was not mutually seen as a
lynch pin in their identity?
Archbishops of Canterbury have had a tradition of being dragged
out of derivative and outmoded polity commitments. Both
Canterbury and York forbade Seabury's going to Scotland.
Canterbury asked White not to include Seabury in the
consecrations, which advice White ignored. It was Canterbury
that changed regarding the necessary polity and function of
bishops. This was also true regarding missionary bishops in the
19th century when Canterbury had to respond to initiatives for
which he had no precedents (since the early church). Another
example of Canterbury's change following unprecedented
developments is George Carey's change of mind regarding AMIA.
The criticism of Common Cause partners for being against the
Communion is way off the mark. When a sizable portion of the
congregation of the Cathedral in Arkansas asked the Spong/Borg
affirming bishop to allow them to become a mission in the
Diocese they were told no, that they were exclusive in an
inclusive diocese so they had to be excluded. Believing in the
Anglican Communion, they asked to belong to an Anglican Diocese
in an Anglican Communion Province, Rwanda.
Ephraim and Sarah's position would be that such a congregation
is expendable and lost to the Anglican Communion (as well as ten
congregations in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada.)
If they were not pro-Anglican Communion they could with much
less trouble have merely set out on their own. Sarah's
observation that there needs to be a "center other than
doctrine" for Anglicanism to flourish is correct. Any
incarnational faith must be institutionally organized but the
latter cannot flourish without Christian doctrine (faith) or it
will fly apart centrifugally, as it is now doing. Institutions
must be continually judged, amended and pruned that the faith
and doctrine not be lost. And that too is happening.
Monday, August 20, 2007
That September Deadline for The Episcopal Church
And how “the judicious Mr. Hooker” from yesterday may help us today.
The Anglican Primates’ Meeting set a deadline of September 30 for the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church [TEC] to respond in the affirmative or negative as to whether it will abide by the recommendations of The Windsor Report (2004) on sexuality. Before this deadline, there will be a meeting of the House of Bishops, which will be addressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is desirous to bring the American Bishops into general conformity with the mind of the global Anglican Communion.
Obviously, if the House of Bishops decides by a majority vote to stay with the present position of TEC, then this will mean that TEC will probably walk apart from the global Anglican Communion in the immediate future. Already not a few provinces have declared themselves out of communion with TEC or with specific bishops and dioceses within it and so there is a division already.If the TEC House of Bishops decides to maintain the status quo then their position will raise a matter of conscience for some members of that house, together with clergy and laity. They will have to decide whether to stay within TEC or secede from it, as have not a few of their friends done in the last few years.
What guidance can be offered to such people as they face this question of conscience?
- However, the same Church does maintain the true foundation of the visible
—i.e., that Jesus Christ is the one and only Saviour of mankind, and the one and only Mediator between God and man. Churchof God
- Some of the heresies and errors of
do by logical deduction and inference indirectly overthrow the foundation of this same Church. Yet they do not directly overthrow it. (The distinction between directly and indirectly is assumed by Hooker to be an important distinction.) Rome
- By the mercy and providence of God alone, it is possible to be saved everlastingly while a member of the Church of Rome, despite the presence of heresies and errors.
- The safest and surest way to obtain salvation and be a faithful child of God is to depart from the Church of Rome and be a member of a Reformed Catholic Church where the pure Gospel is proclaimed and where heresies and errors of
do not exist. Rome
B. Assuming that TEC is truly a visible
With respect to A, it can be claimed on the basis of her constitution that TEC is committed to the Creeds and thereby holds on to Christ the only Saviour. Yet on the basis of many weekly sermons this claim could be challenged.
With respect to B, it can be argued that despite the Creeds, there is also widespread acceptance of universalism (“all will be saved in the end and there is no hell”) by the leadership of the Church, as well as the claim that all religions sincerely practiced lead to God. But do they contradict the Foundation indirectly or directly? Then there is the acceptance of new sexual ethics and practice which again has to be evaluated as to whether it represents an indirect or a direct overthrowing of the foundation!
So Hooker would say, I thin, that the first thing to get clear is whether or not TEC actually and really maintains the true and living Foundation. Then the second thing to work out—if indeed the Foundation is apparently maintained—whether any of the TEC heresies and errors in worship, doctrine, morality and discipline actually overthrow the Foundation directly? If the answer to the latter is yes then secession is morally required immediately! However, if any overthrowing is not direct but by implication and thus indirectly then secession becomes more a question of prudential judgment, than of a distinct moral duty.[Please note that the Preservation Press of the PBS of the
Friday, August 17, 2007
"The faith of the Church of England, then is Evangelical because it proclaims the Gospel, Catholic because it is in accord with apostolic doctrine, Reformed both because it partook of the rediscovery of biblical truth at the Reformation, and also because Anglicans are more nearly aligned with the Reformati than with the Lutherans, and Protestant because it affirms publicly and solemnly the absolute supremacy and finality of the Bible over tradition and all church teaching. Such a faith is set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
The first time I read this verse was after I told a friend I was going to seminary. He sent me a note which included this verse. I thought that was a very strange thing to do! However, I'm glad he did. It made me think; and it still makes me think, years later. What a privilege, and what a responsibility to those of us who are pastor-teachers.
All this came to mind as I was just looking on our diocesan web page at pictures of all the recent ordinands. I wonder if they know that they are committing themselves to a life of teaching!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A wonderful resource for all. Robert Culver is 91 and going strong! He is a scholar-farmer, living on a small, working farm in Houston, MN. This systematic differs from others in that Dr. Culver has the pastor and interested lay person in mind as he puts on paper his years of study, teaching and preaching.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
July-September Focus Groups of the Search Committee address questions, working toward the Profile
October 3-8 Clergy Retreat and Diocesan Convention – Bishop Search Committee gathers information for Profile
December Profile due to Standing Committee by the 1st. for their meeting on December 8.
January – Profile and Nomination Form disbursed
February 1 to April 30 – Nominations for the 8th Bishop of Alaska are open
May 1- August 31 – Screen candidates
September – Onsite visits (outside)
October – Background checks of Nominees
November – Announce Nominees
December – Petition process, first two weeks
December - January – Background checks for Petitioners
January (early) – Walkabouts (Nominees visit Alaska)
January (mid) – Electing Convention (date and place TBA)
March – Transition
April (toward end) – The installation of the 8th Bishop of Alaska
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Virtues are the aspects of the good which are enduringly right in all places and at all times. These things are enduringly right because they reflect the unchanging and perfect character of God.
Whereas virtues are enduring and unchanging, values may mean nothing more than a preference, belief, feeling, habit, or convention, or ‘whatever any individual, group or society happens to value, at any time for any reason.’ (Wells in Losing our Virtue, p 16)
Good character, Wells says, results from ‘internalizing the virtues so that they become somewhat habitual.’ He continues, ‘In the 19th century, when people wrote a job reference, they were mostly character references…Today, in our competitive, globalized, bottom-line driven world, it is competence that matters much more than character.
Character is nice, but it doesn’t make much money. Besides, who is to say what is right and what is wrong? When we talk about virtues, there is agreement; when we talk about values, there is no agreement.
The result of this shift in thinking, along with others Wells mentions is the increasing trend toward individualism and relativism which makes the need of the death of Christ on the cross incomprehensible to the postmoderns.
The New Testament states the facts of Christ’s death and its meaning (1 Cor. 15.1-3). He died for sin, to spare us from God’s wrath, to deliver us from sin. But we are trying to tell people who have no category for sin that Christ died for them because they are sinners and subject to God’s wrath.
Wells concludes: “Our task today is to tell people who no longer understand what sin is, no longer have the categories for understanding it, who no longer think they are sinful, who no longer in their heads inhabit a moral universe is to tell them that Jesus Christ Christ died for something they believe they are not guilty of.”
Since this is so, we need to patiently talk with those who fall into the above category. We need to ask them what part of the Christian message they cannot accept, and why do they think of themselves and others as free from sin. We need, Wells concludes, to show the same patience with others as God has shown to us. “Between Genesis 1 and John 3, there is the long, patient work of God in preparation so that when Christ comes in the fullness of time, people can understand this magnificent work of God.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Here, then, are a few of my personal criteria:
I. Moral issues:
1. Is the candidate “pro-abortion” (i.e., supports partial birth abortion and federal funding for all abortions)? I will not vote for such a candidate.
2. Is the candidate “pro-choice” (i.e., personally opposed to abortion, but defends a woman’s privacy over against state intrusion)? Under very limited circumstances I would vote for such a person (that is, if the person is an otherwise sound candidate, does not advocate federal funding and if they are running against a pro-abortion candidate).
3. Is the candidate politically pro-life (i.e., a generic conservative)? Perhaps.
4. Is the candidate consistently pro-life (i.e, in tax policy, supreme court appointments, etc). Likely.
5. Does the candidate favor homosexual marriage? I will not vote for such a candidate.
6. Does the candidate favor civil unions? Under very limited circumstances I would vote for such a person (i.e, only if they were an otherwise sound candidate, and only if they are running against a gay-marriage advocacy candidate).
7. Does the candidate support the traditional definition of marriage? Likely.
8. Does the candidate express their concern about the poor and suffering through the advocacy of increased federal spending and centralized government programs? Unlikely.
9. Does the candidate express their concerns about the poor and suffering through the advocacy of federal/state/community programs involving job training, welfare reform, etc. Perhaps.
II. Constitutional Issues
1. Does the candidate favor limited representative government? Likely. This is my primary voting criterion.
2. Does the candidate defend second amendment rights? Likely.
3. Does the candidate understand that the establishment clause of the first amendment does not trump the free exercise clause? Likely.
4. Does the candidate defend the principle of avoiding all foreign entanglements (i.e., nation building), but nevertheless is willing to defend
5. Does the candidate defend private property rights? Likely.
III. Disqualifications–Personal Reasons Why I Will Not Vote for a Particular Candidate:
1. Does the candidate engage in rhetorical class warfare–“two
2. Does the candidate play the race card? (This is different than addressing racial issues--something which is vital)
3. Does the candidate have a thin resume for office? Executive office holders (i.e. governors) are generally better suited for high office than is a legislator (i.e. senators).
4. Does the candidate make unsubstantiated concerns (i.e. global warming) important themes of their campaign?
5. Does the candidate invoke "Christian America" themes?
6. Does the candidate see the judiciary as a means of enacting public policy?
IV. Qualifications–Personal Reasons Why I Will Vote for a Candidate
1. Is the candidate well-qualified for the position?
2. Does the candidate understand the vocation of “public service”?
3. Does the candidate possess strong leadership skills?
4. Does the candidate possess good communication skills?
5. Does the candidate manifest personal integrity?
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back."
What's happened to evangelism in the Episcopal Church. Michael Green who know TEC very well has this to say..."The church is moving in the direction of an undifferentiated Deism. Belief in the deity of Jesus, an objective atonement and the reality of the resurrection are constantly discounted among influential Episcopalians, while the people in the pew prefer not to enquire too closely. And the PB herself has made it plain that all religions lead to God. No wonder the church leaks!"
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
From the Vatican statement:
- “Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
- Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.”
Council refers to Vatican II.
A response from the Church Society, an English evangelical ministry:
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once known as the inquisition) has issued a statement clarifying Roman Catholic understanding of themselves and other churches. Nothing new is said, but it does clarify the way in which the Vatican has torn apart Christianity because of its lust for power.
They remind us that in their view that to be a true church one has to accept the ludicrous idea that the Pope is in some special way the successor of the Apostle Peter and the supreme earthly leader of the Church. These claims cannot be justified, biblically, or historically, yet they have been used not only to divide Christians but to persecute them and put them to death.
The desire for papal power, all too evident in history, continues to rear its head today. Sadly, too many political leaders seek to court that power and encourage it. In the past the English, in common with other nations, struggled against corrupt papal power for centuries. We thank God that at the Reformation, England, and the Church of England, were set free from that power.
We are grateful that the Vatican has once again been honest in declaring their view that the Church of England is not a proper Church. Too much dialogue proceeds without such honesty. Therefore, we would wish to be equally open; unity will only be possible when the papacy renounces its errors and pretensions.