Friday, September 28, 2007

Making Sense of the HOB

Fulcrum isn't my favorite group - open evangelicals and all; but at first glance, this looks like a helpful guide to the Episcopal melt down.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops

Here is the statement of 3 Anglican groups, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, and Forward in Faith North America.

The facts:

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

Back in 1991, when I was a colleague of Professor Charles Caldwell (now retired and living in Naples FL.) I was very impressed with his insight into The Episcopal Church and his evaluation of it.

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 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

The statement: it's all here ...

Follow the link to statement made by House of Bishops at the recently completed New Orleans meeting...

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

Oh, Yes, there was that Game Against Miami

Really, I watched it on TV, and I don't think it was THAT bad. The main problem was with the offense. And believe it or not; I don't Miami is that good.
College Football: A&M blown away in Miami

MIAMI — In a demoralizing, debilitating first half, Texas A&M couldn't run against Miami. The Aggies couldn't throw. They couldn't block.

They couldn't tackle. They couldn't defend the pass or run.

But enough about A&M's highlights over the first two quarters.

Revealing Comment from Bishop of Egypt

One bishop speaks his mind!
 blog it

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

American Bishops to Meet

Article by Kendall Harmon on bps upcoming meeting.
AP: Episcopal Bishops in Key Meeting on Gays

Starting on Thursday in New Orleans, Episcopal bishops will take up the most direct demand yet that they reverse course: Anglican leaders want an unequivocal pledge that Episcopalians won't consecrate another gay bishop or approve official prayers for same-gender couples. If the church fails to do so by Sept. 30, their full membership in the Anglican Communion could be lost.

"I think the bishops are going to stand up and say, `Going backward is not one of our options,'" said Wade of the Washington diocese, who has led church legislative committees on liturgy and Anglican relations. "I don't think there's going to be a backing down."

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is taking the rare step of meeting privately with the bishops on the first two days of their closed-door talks. The Anglican spiritual leader faces a real danger that the communion, nearly five centuries old, could break up on his watch.
 blog it

Miami Next!

top story image
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Interview with Gerald Bray

Here is a great interview with Dr. Gerald Bray, Anglican presbyter, theologian and a great encouragement to reformed, evangelical Anglicans.

How Mark Dever Does Application in Sermons

When Mark Dever prepares to preach, he takes the main points of his sermon and asks how each of them related to the following categories:

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.)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bishop Howe on the Mark

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

Tony Snow: Cancer's Unexpected Blessings

I commend this article to you. Tony Snow, talk show host, and formerly White House Press Secretary wrote this.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chuck Collins writes his congregation

The Rev. Chuck Collins
Rector of Christ Church, San Antonio writes his congregation about upcoming House of Bishops Meeting. Chuck expresses my thoughts as well.

I am writing to inform you about an important matter. The upcoming House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 19- 25) is one of the most important meetings in the history of the Episcopal Church. Weighing in the balance is whether the Episcopal Church will walk with the Anglican Communion or choose to walk away from our Anglican heritage. It's perhaps the last opportunity for the Episcopal Church to choose "communion" over "independence." No one expects overnight changes from this meeting, but the House of Bishops actions (or failure to act) will determine the future of the Episcopal Church.

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 New Orleans for the first part of their time, along with the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and representatives of the Anglican Consultative Council.

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 Canterbury will lead: with his personal sympathies, or with the will of the wider Communion that overwhelmingly upholds what the Bible teaches about marriage and sex? And it's not clear what kind of solution will be offered by the Primates for oversight of churches and dioceses for whom it would be a violation of conscience to continue as Episcopalians.

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

Wisdom From The Past: Prayers For the Dead

That is why we shouldn't pray for the dead. (See extract 126 down the page).

Three Imputations

So, what in the world do we mean by "imputation?" C. FitzSimons Allison made a big point of this teaching, rediscovered by the reformers in the 16th century. Here is a good summation of its importance here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Schism or Revolution

Chris Sudgen asks if what is going on in the Anglican Communion is schism or is it revolution?