Saturday, May 23, 2015

"A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young."

G.K. Chesterton made these observations about a generation past its prime in his day, 85 years ago. The same could well be said for the aging icons of the "Baby Boomer" generation of our day as they ride off, ever so unwillingly, into the sunset.
A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.
H/T The Anchoress

Friday, May 22, 2015

GAFCON Chairman's Pentecost Letter

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

Pentecost 2015

‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever, - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.’
John 14:16,17

My dear brothers and sisters,

Grace and peace to you at Pentecost as we rejoice in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God.

This is my first pastoral letter since the meeting of the GAFCON Primates Council last month and I continue to thank God for the gracious leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit. We reaffirmed our commitment to see biblical truth restored to the heart of the life of the Communion and agreed a range of measures to develop our work with communications and theological education being given priority. All this we seek to do in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.

One of the great lessons of the East African Revival was that a genuine movement of the Spirit will impress on our hearts that the Scriptures really are the inspired and authoritative Word of God. We cannot separate the Spirit from the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to enable Christians to grow in biblical holiness and to equip them with gifts to build up the church in a hostile world. It is therefore a tragedy when Christian leaders whose minds have been captured by the spirit of the age commend the values of the world to the Church and claim they are led by the Spirit of God.

This is the challenge we face. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s preaching makes clear that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who repent, but the continuing crisis of the Anglican Communion has come about through a failure to call to repentance those who are systematically grieving the Holy Spirit by claiming that what Scripture calls sexual immorality is in fact new truth revealed by the Spirit.

Since GAFCON began in 2008 with our historic gathering in Jerusalem, the place of Pentecost, I have been convinced that we are caught up in a transforming movement of the Spirit of God. Despite our lack of institutional resources, this movement has grown and the Holy Spirit is using us to gather the Anglican Communion in a unique and unprecedented way. Our confirmation of the next GAFCON gathering in 2018 is recognition of this reality.

In the meantime, we must press forward to be Spirit-filled Churches that make visible the grace as well as the truth of Jesus Christ. There are many ways in which we can do this, but let me conclude by mentioning just two. I am delighted that the Anglican Church of North America have recently partnered with Anglican brothers and sisters in Nepal to support relief work following devastating earthquakes. Let us pray for the many still in deep distress and let us also remember the people of Burundi, including over 100,000 refugees, as violence and political instability threaten that country’s future.

So let us who live by the Spirit also walk by the Spirit and be rich in the fruit of the Spirit for the glory of God, the renewal of his Church and the blessing of the world.

Bishop Zavala visits Diocese of South Carolina

CHARLESTON, SC, May 21, 2015 – Repeating the reassurances spoken by a stream of visiting Anglican bishops during the past three years, the Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America told Bishop Mark Lawrence and others from the Diocese of South Carolina, “My brothers and sisters, you are not alone. You continue being part of the Anglican Communion.”

The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, made his comments in clear English during a meeting at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston, May 20. He said that, despite the Diocese’s separation from the Episcopal Church in 2012, the Diocese continues to be recognized as Anglicans by the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury," said Bishop Zavala. He told those gathered that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was with the Global South Primates "Steering Committee" in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when "we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion" said Bishop Zavala.

Bishop Zavala is one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion. His province is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The Global South, which makes up 75 percent of the Anglican Communion, emerged as a way for bishops and primates of the Southern Hemisphere to encourage one another for mission. Though it is recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, it is not an official structure of the Anglican Communion.

During his first South Carolina visit, Bishop Zavala met with the Diocesan Council and the Anglican Communion Development Committee. He also participated in meetings that were open to the public at St. Matthias, Summerton and the Cathedral, Charleston.

Bishop Zavala came to the United States to receive a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, PA.

During his comments, he repeatedly reassured the Diocese that it has the support of Anglican leaders from around the world.

“Behind me is the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East, the Primate of the Indian Ocean, the Primate of Myanmar, the Primate of Southeast Asia, the Primate of Nigeria, the Primate of Burundi and others. We are supporting you,” he said. “In the Global South we do not want to interfere with any dioceses … (But) If a diocese has a problem with the Primate or House of Bishops who do not respect Lambeth resolutions we are ready and willing to support them, realizing it’s a temporary not permanent oversight.”

Bishop Zavala also shared at length the remarkable growth and missionary spirit of his home Diocese of Chile. As both the first native-born diocesan bishop of Chile and Primate of South America he continues to be an inspiring pioneer for Anglicanism.

“We’re grateful for the strong support we’ve received from Anglicans around the world and are especially thankful for this time we’ve had with Bishop Zavala,” said Bishop Lawrence.

Bishop Zavala will continue as a guest of the Diocese through the end of the week.

More photos here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Classic re-post for the National Day of Prayer: Patton on Prayer

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie Patton (a film chock full of memorable scenes) has the famous World War II general, frustrated over the negative effects of inclement weather on the movement of his troops, ordering his chaplain to compose a "weather prayer." The chaplain responds rather incredulously, telling General Patton that it would take "an awfully heavy rug . . . praying for good weather so we can kill our fellow man." Nevertheless, he dutifully composes a prayer. The weather subsides, the army advances, and Patton has the chaplain decorated for meritorious service.
Twenty years before that 1970 Hollywood embellishment, Monsignor James H. O'Neill, Chief Chaplain of the Third Army under Patton, had set the record straight in an official government document written in response to the mythology which was already growing up around "General George S. Patton and the Third Army Prayer." It was not until 1971 that the paper received widespread distribution through its publication in the October 6 issue of Review of the News.

The incident of the now famous Patton Prayer commenced with a telephone call to the Third Army Chaplain on the morning of December 8, 1944, when the Third Army Headquarters were located in the Caserne Molifor in Nancy, France: "This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war." My reply was that I know where to look for such a prayer, that I would locate, and report within the
hour.

As I hung up the telephone receiver, about eleven in the morning, I looked out on the steadily falling rain, "immoderate" I would call it--the same rain that had plagued Patton's Army throughout the Moselle and Saar Campaigns from September until now, December 8. The few prayer books at hand contained no formal prayer on weather that might prove acceptable to the Army Commander.

Keeping his immediate objective in mind, I typed an original and an improved copy on a 5" x 3" filing card:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

I pondered the question, What use would General Patton make of the prayer? Surely not for private devotion. If he intended it for circulation to chaplains or others, with Christmas not far removed, it might he proper to type the Army Commander's Christmas Greetings on the reverse side. This would please the recipient, and anything that pleased the men I knew would please him:

To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God's blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.

This done, I donned my heavy trench coat, crossed the quadrangle of the old French military barracks, and reported to General Patton. He read the prayer copy, returned it to me with a very casual directive, "Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one." The size of the order amazed me; this was certainly doing something about the weather in a big way. But I said nothing but the usual, "Very well, Sir!"

Recovering, I invited his attention to the reverse side containing the Christmas Greeting, with his name and rank typed. "Very good," he said, with a smile of approval. "If the General would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like." He took his place at his desk, signed the card, returned it to me and then Said: "Chaplain, sit down for a moment; I want to talk to you about this business of prayer."

He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window.

The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of Personal responsibility. Even in the heat of combat he could take time out to direct new methods to prevent trench feet, to see to it that dry socks went forward daily with the rations to troops on the line, to kneel in the mud administering morphine and caring for a wounded soldier until the ambulance Came. What was coming now?

"Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?" was his question. I parried: "Does the General mean by chaplains, or by the men?" "By everybody," he replied. To this I countered: "I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there Is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain -- when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done." The General left the window, and again seated himself at his desk, leaned back in his swivel chair, toying with a long lead pencil between his index fingers.

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in.

Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working--it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you call it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.

He talked about Gideon in the Bible, said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would "crack up." To all this I commented agreement, that one of the major training objectives of my office was to help soldiers recover and make their lives effective in this third realm, prayer. It would do no harm to re-impress this training on chaplains. We had about 486 chaplains in the Third Army at that time, representing 32 denominations. Once the Third Army had become operational, my mode of contact with the chaplains had been chiefly through Training Letters issued from time to time to the Chaplains in the four corps and the 22 to 26 divisions comprising the Third Army. Each treated of a variety of subjects of corrective or training value to a chaplain working with troops in the field.

[Patton continued:]

I wish you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains; write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We've got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer "as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate"], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.

With that the General arose from his chair, a sign that the interview was ended. I returned to my field desk, typed Training Letter No. 5 while the "copy" was "hot," touching on some or all of the General's reverie on Prayer, and after staff processing, presented it to General Patton on the next day. The General read it and without change directed that it be circulated not only to the 486 chaplains, but to every organization commander down to and including the regimental level.

Three thousand two hundred copies were distributed to every unit in the Third Army over my signature as Third Army Chaplain. Strictly speaking, it was the Army Commander's letter, not mine. Due to the fact that the order came directly from General Patton, distribution was completed on December 11 and 12 in advance of its date line, December 14, 1944. Titled "Training Letter No. 5," with the salutary "Chaplains of the Third Army," the letter continued: "At this stage of the operations I would call upon the chaplains and the men of the Third United States Army to focus their attention on the importance of prayer.

"Our glorious march from the Normandy Beach across France to where we stand, before and beyond the Siegfried Line, with the wreckage of the German Army behind us should convince the most skeptical soldier that God has ridden with our banner. Pestilence and famine have not touched us. We have continued in unity of purpose. We have had no quitters; and our leadership has been masterful. The Third Army has no roster of Retreats. None of Defeats. We have no memory of a lost battle to hand on to our children from this great campaign. "But we are not stopping at the Siegfried Line. Tough days may be ahead of us before we eat our rations in the Chancellery of the Deutsches Reich.

"As chaplains it is our business to pray. We preach its importance. We urge its practice. But the time is now to intensify our faith in prayer, not alone with ourselves, but with every believing man, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Christian in the ranks of the Third United States Army.

"Those who pray do more for the world than those who fight; and if the world goes from bad to worse, it is because there are more battles than prayers. 'Hands lifted up,' said Bosuet, 'smash more battalions than hands that strike.' Gideon of Bible fame was least in his father's house. He came from Israel's smallest tribe. But he was a mighty man of valor. His strength lay not in his military might, but in his recognition of God's proper claims upon his life. He reduced his Army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred men lest the people of Israel would think that their valor had saved them. We have no intention to reduce our vast striking force. But we must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight. In Gideon's day, and in our own, spiritually alert minorities carry the burdens and bring the victories."

Urge all of your men to pray, not alone in church, but everywhere. Pray when driving. Pray when fighting. Pray alone. Pray with others. Pray by night and pray by day. Pray for the cessation of immoderate rains, for good weather for Battle. Pray for the defeat of our wicked enemy whose banner is injustice and whose good is oppression. Pray for victory. Pray for our Army, and Pray for Peace."

We must march together, all out for God. The soldier who 'cracks up' does not need sympathy or comfort as much as he needs strength. We are not trying to make the best of these days. It is our job to make the most of them. Now is not the time to follow God from 'afar off.' This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.

"Be assured that this message on prayer has the approval, the encouragement, and the enthusiastic support of the Third United States Army Commander." With every good wish to each of you for a very Happy Christmas, and my personal congratulations for your splendid and courageous work since landing on the beach, I am," etc., etc., signed The Third Army Commander.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shea: With malice toward nun

The Obama Administration's callous indifference toward the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East is an under-reported scandal. The latest example of this odious attitude is the denial, on nefarious grounds, of a travel visa to an Iraqi nun who is an eyewitness to the atrocities of ISIS. Nina Shea is on top of the story, and we should pray that this is not the last we will hear of it.
Why is the United States barring a persecuted Iraqi Catholic nun — an internationally respected and leading representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been killed and deported by ISIS — from coming to Washington to testify about this catastrophe?

Earlier this week, we learned that every member of an Iraqi delegation of minority groups, including representatives of the Yazidi and Turkmen Shia religious communities, has been granted visas to come for official meetings in Washington — save one. The single delegate whose visitor visa was denied happens to be the group’s only Christian from Iraq.

Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena was informed on Tuesday by the U.S. consulate in Erbil that her non-immigrant-visa application has been rejected. The reason given in the denial letter, a copy of which I have obtained, is:

You were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the classification of the visa.

She told me in a phone conversation that, to her face, consular officer Christopher Patch told her she was denied because she is an “IDP” or Internally Displaced Person. “That really hurt,” she said. Essentially, the State Department was calling her a deceiver.

The State Department officials made the determination that the Catholic nun could be falsely asserting that she intends to visit Washington when secretly she could be intending to stay. That would constitute illegal immigration, and that, of course, is strictly forbidden. Once here, she could also be at risk for claiming political asylum, and the U.S. seems determined to deny ISIS’s Christian victims that status.

In reality, Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs. In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit. She submitted a letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana. It attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, Kurdistan, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year.

She also submitted an invitation from her sponsors, two highly respected Washington-area institutions, the Institute for Global Engagement and former Congressman Frank Wolf’s (R., Va.) 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. For good measure, she also had a letter of endorsement for her visit from Representative Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.).

The State Department wasn’t buying. It either thought that they were all in on a scheme by the nun or that Sister Diana was plotting to deceive her well-placed friends and supporters, as well as the U.S. government.

Until ISIS stormed into Qaraqosh last August, Sister Diana had a distinguished academic career and had been teaching an intensive course on spiritual direction at St. Ephrem Seminary, as well as English and peacemaking courses. She, along with the town’s 50,000 other, mostly Christian, residents, fled for their lives from ISIS during the second week of August. Since then, the 30-something religious woman has served as a spokesperson for this community, as well as for the over 100,000 other Christians driven into Kurdistan under the ISIS “convert or die” policy. Through this, she has become internationally known as a charismatic and articulate advocate for religious freedom and human rights. Mr. Wolf, who met her in Kurdistan a few months ago, explained, “We had hoped to facilitate her trip to the States so that she could speak with great candor, as is her custom, to policymakers. Perhaps just as significantly, we viewed her as a critical voice to awaken the church in the West to the suffering of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.”

But in the eyes of the U.S. consulate, she is just another Christian IDP. (Last October a delegation of IDP Yazidis were given U.S. visas to come to Washington to speak.)

Adding insult to injury: In its 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, issued this week, the State Department pledged that “every overseas post and domestic bureau will seek opportunities to engage religious leaders,” as part of its pursuit of countering “violent extremism.” Opportunities to engage with everyone, that is, except Catholic nuns in Iraq — all of whom are now IDPs.

Fifth Sunday of Easter: One evangelist begets another

Sermon for Fifth Sunday of Easter, Church of the Holy Trinity, Grahmaville

Thursday, April 30, 2015

South Carolina, ACNA leaders meet


Bishop Lawrence
Leaders from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America, led by Bishop Mark Lawrence and Archbishop Foley Beach, came together at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, South Carolina on April 28-29, 2015 for prayer, fellowship, and conversation.

The Diocese of South Carolina was represented by Bishop Mark Lawrence, Mr. Wade Logan, Mr. Alan Runyan, The Rev. Craige Borrett, The Rev. Kendall Harmon, The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, Mrs. Boo Pennewill, and The Rev. Jim Lewis.

The Anglican Church in North America was represented by Archbishop Foley Beach, Bishop Ray Sutton, Bishop John Guernsey, Bishop Bill Atwood, Bishop Terrell Glenn, The Rev. Phil Ashey, The Rev. Jack Lumanog, Mr. Scott Ward, and Mr. Tad Brenner.

Our conversations reflected the mutual respect and sincere affection that we share as fellow Anglicans, and we appreciated the opportunity to speak candidly together about topics that affect our common life.

We had frank exchanges that examined the possible compatibility of the ecclesiologies of the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Archbishop Beach
There is a wide spectrum of polities in the provinces of the Anglican Communion and these differences affect the ways in which dioceses relate to their respective provinces. Provinces such as Nigeria are more hierarchical, while provinces such as South America are more conciliar. Our conversations began exploring the practical dimensions of how a diocese and province relate in the structure of the Anglican Church in North America.

Together we openly addressed the challenges posed by the overlapping jurisdictions in South Carolina. In some cases the reasons for this overlap extend from circumstances that are less than a couple decades old, and in other circumstances the reasons reach back over a hundred years. All expressed a desire to take steps towards addressing these relational barriers with the recognition that this work is a necessary precursor to ecclesial order.

We committed to further prayer and conversation together as we seek to share the Gospel as fellow Anglicans in North America. We understand that this is only the beginning of a process, the full nature of which, and the full outcome of which, we do not know. We entrust ourselves to the mercy, protection, and guidance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming A Shared Witness

An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service

Released April 23, 2015


Dear Friends:

At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage—the union of one man and one woman. As religious leaders from various faith communities, we acknowledge that marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together. Our commitment to marriage has been expressed on previous occasions, including the Letter of Shared Commitment and Letter on Marriage and Religious Liberty. This commitment is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights.

The state has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia because it has a compelling interest in the well-being of children. Every child has a mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father. Although this connection cannot always be realized and sustained—and many single parents, for example, are heroic in their efforts to raise their children—it is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.

The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others.

In this and in all that we do, we are motivated by our duty to love God and neighbor. This love extends to all those who disagree with us on this issue. The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.

Sincerely Yours:


The Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson
President
National Association of Evangelicals

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
Bishop
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Mark Chavez
General Secretary
North American Lutheran Church

Clint Cook
Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Chairman
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Archbishop of America
President of the Holy Eparchial Synod
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop Emeritus
Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Dr. Ron Hamilton
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
President
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Bishop
Evangelical Congregational Church

John Hopler
Director
Great Commission Churches

Steven R. Jones
President
Missionary Church, Inc.

Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for
Religious Liberty

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
General Superintendent
The Wesleyan Church

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
Chairman
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

Dr. Russell Moore
President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dr. Gus Reyes
Director
Christian Life Commission, Texas Baptists

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies

Jacqueline C. Rivers
Executive Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies

Larry Roberts
Chief Operating Officer
The Free Methodist Church – USA

Rocky Rocholl
President
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference / Hispanic Evangelical Association

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church in America

His Beatitude, The Most
Blessed Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Joseph Tkach
President
Grace Communion International

Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for
Ministry and Ecumenism
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Phillip Whipple
Bishop
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

David P. Wilson
General Secretary
Church of the Nazarene

Rev. Paul Winter
Elder
Bruderhof Communities

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Resurrection trumps recycling: What has Easter to do with Earth Day?

Stephen Turley explains why the secular message of "Earth Day" pales in comparison to the cosmic significance of Christ's resurrection.
“What’s wrong with Earth Day?” my student asks incredulously from the back of the classroom. “What issue could you possibly have with being good stewards of our environment?” “There’s simply no point to it,” I respond. “We have Easter.” My student furls her brow; “What on earth does Easter have to do with saving the environment?”

Around the twenty-second of every April, I must admit that I do feel a certain affinity with Ebenezer Scrooge as he was interrogated by his nephew, Fred. “Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don’t mean that, I am sure.” And while I certainly demur from his assessment of Christmas, I am in agreement with old Scrooge that calendrical commemorations shape effectually our lives, and not always for the better. Time in its various dimensions—historical or cosmic, public or private, linear or cyclical, continuous or discontinuous—is a fundamental feature of life experience. And yet, cultural anthropologists are in broad agreement that what qualifies as ‘time’ is in fact a social-cultural construction marked-off by the frequency of the culture’s rituals, ceremonies, and festivals. Calendars don’t simply tell time; they contribute to creating and recreating cultural life and human experience in terms of a meaningful order. My concern, then, is that my student’s views on Earth Day and Easter are indicative of wider macro-cultural beliefs and practices that fail to recognize how these two calendrical events in fact reveal two incompatible ecologies.

If we were to travel back two thousand years ago, we would see a somewhat similar situation in the city of Athens, at a place called Mars Hill. There, instead of a cynical student in the classroom, we have literal philosophical Cynics in the midst of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. And in their gathering as the so-called Areopagus, the summit of Athenian intellectual life, there stood before them a man by the name of Paul, who proceeded to tell a grand and wonderful story: The God of the Hebrews, the so-called ‘Unknown God’ of the Athenians, created the entire universe as the prototype of a temple, a great cosmic arena to display day and night the fullness of his glory and majesty. And yet the presence of sin and death by virtue of the disobedience of humanity has marred this cosmic temple, resulting in the frustration of that glory both in creation and in the creature. But, in the midst of the fallen state, this God promised the Jewish patriarchs that he would one day decisively deal with the problem of sin and death and reconcile the creation back to himself, with every square inch of the cosmos emanating his divine glory. This promised time has now arrived with the coming of Jesus of Nazareth. As the Davidic King, Jesus is the one through whom the world is reconciled, so that sin and death no longer have dominion over us. “How could you possibly know this”, they would ask of Paul. His answer was consistent and unswerving: “Christos anestÄ“! Christ is risen!” In his cross and resurrection, sin and death have been vanquished. The hope of the Hebrew has in fact broken into this world through the resurrection of Christ. The frustrated Hellenistic hope of resurrection, illustrated by Orpheus’ futile efforts to bring back his bride Euridice from death and Hades, has been now been fulfilled by Christ. The pursuit of unity in diversity, the Greco-Roman solution to the disorder of this world, has been realized in all nations being swept up into the unity in diversity in the fellowship of the Trinity.

Hence, Christ’s resurrection was from the beginning bound up with cosmic significance. The earliest Christian confessions (1 Cor 8:6; Phil 2:11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 1:3-14; Jn 1:3) pronounce Christ’s exaltation entailing Christ’s Lordship over all creation (cf. Rom 4:17). Paul’s letter to the Corinthians describes God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in what biblical scholar Greg Sterling calls prepositional metaphysics, where the dynamics of the cosmos were described with terms like ‘from,’ ‘in,’ and ‘through.’ Thus Paul says: “For us, there is one God the Father, from (ek) whom are all things and we in (eis) him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through (dia) whom are all things and we through (dia) him” (1 Cor 8:6).[1] Similarly, in Col 1:15-20, Christ is depicted as the one through whom all things are created and in whom all things cohere. Indeed, in Christ, the divine Logos, all things are made new (Rev 21:5).

However, the advent of the modern age represents a very different ecology, one that has been termed a ‘socialized ecology.’ Modernity theorist Anthony Giddens notes that the modern age is characterized by an unprecedented level of human intervention in the natural world. Irrigation and sanitation systems, drainage and sewer technologies, mechanisms for monitoring weather currents, and improved management of the natural environment collectively spare us from the droughts, contagions, floods, and other natural hazards that would have devastated pre-modern societies.[2] Indeed, ours is an age distinguished by what Bill McKibben has termed the ‘end of nature’; society and ecology are now so intimately bound together that the natural world no longer exists as a phenomenon independent of human activity and society.

Socialized nature comes with two consequences. The first is the concern of the modern environmentalist: this new ecological order is producing what has been called a ‘greenhouse effect’ that has the potential to inadvertently cause natural disasters which would wreak havoc on significant global populations. But, secondly, Giddens observes that the end of nature also entails the ‘end of morality.’ Insofar as social ecologies are organized and governed by modern scientific processes, they are comprised of mechanisms and operations considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference. Social ecologies in effect sequester morality from a dominant ontology constituted by control and technique, management and prediction. As such, social ecologies are inhabited by persons emancipated from classical moral definitions, dispositions, and constraints. To the extent that the human person is an extension of the same processes that organize and govern socialized nature, there is an inward turn toward the self as the source for life, where the same processes that manage and manipulate nature can be applied to the reconstruction of the self. As theologian David F. Wells has observed, what was once a moral age has transformed into a therapeutic age, characterized by “a confidence in self-mastery, the belief that the self can be reconstructed, that its aches and pains, its bewilderment, its confessions, can all be healed with the right technique.”[3]

Of further interest is in how these two consequences interact. Because social ecologies are devoid of any collectively recognized moral law, modern ‘morality’ becomes consequentialist, in that only coercion, compulsion, and extortion can provide a motivation for ethical conformity. This is where the alarmism of the apocalyptic predictions for global warming comes in, and why dissenting scientific opinions, represented most notably by MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen, are ignored if not ridiculed. The significance of the very possibility of imperilment is artificially inflated and immanentized in a world that operates according to consequentialist motives and risk assessment. But these consequences, it is asserted, can in fact be avoided if we apply the appropriate techniques. This is the importance of stressing the salvific significance of activities such as planting trees, recycling, and reducing our carbon footprints. This turn towards technique to remake positively our world extends from the very subjective processes by which we reinvent ourselves; the sovereign self supplies the therapeutic resources by which we can reinvent the planet.

And herein lies my concern with Earth Day and what its observance reveals about ourselves. Earth Day commemorates the orientation of sovereign individuals toward a socialized ecology devoid of morality, constituted by discourses and practices that entail consequentialist ethics and reconstructive techniques. As such, Earth Day and Easter represent two fundamentally different ecologies, what we might call a ‘modern ecology’ versus a ‘moral ecology.’ This is why I find various Christian attempts to ‘baptize’ Earth Day so forced. To the degree Earth Day is a temporal and practical extension of a socialized ecology devoid of morality, it renders irrelevant the cosmic claims of the Christian gospel. Christianity has always affirmed man’s capacity to destroy God’s creation, at the heart of which is the defilement of the image of God which we all bear. What Christianity has not done is accommodate such detrimental capacities to thoroughly secular and amoral frames of reference. Thus, given the incessantly secularized piety of Earth Day, the call to good stewardship over our environment begs the question: Which environment? Are we to be good stewards over an artificially crafted ecology governed by consequentialism and technique, or an inherently moral ecology that has been incorporated into the transformative life, death, and resurrection of Christ?

It is no coincidence that Easter became historically the preferred time for proselyte baptism. The baptismal ritual began with exorcisms over the water, which was associated with the kingdom of the dead in ancient mythology. As death was the domain of Satan, Cyril could speak of baptism as a victory over the demonic forces indwelling the waters (Catechetical Lectures, III:10). Not only did the catechumenate undergo exorcism, but Christ conquering the seas of death meant that the spirit of evil was exorcised “from the air, water, and the oil as well. From this vantage baptism is a proleptic re-creation of the entire cosmos.”[4]

So what does Easter have to do with Earth Day? If we recover what Easter is really all about, then, well, nothing. Easter is not about recycling, but resurrection; it is not about saving the environment, but celebrating the one who already has. As Christians, we practice a Lenten fast not to reduce our carbon footprint, but to empty ourselves in a manner comparable to Christ’s kenosis, and to be filled with his presence through prayer and contemplation. We bless water, consecrate bread and wine, and plant gardens not for fear of an impeding ecological Armageddon, but to prepare time and space for their future transfiguration when Christ returns, when God will be all in all.

And so, yes, I’ll say it and mean it: “Earth Day? Humbug!” And in its place, I’ll proclaim that greeting which resounds throughout the globe at the dawn of Easter morning, the beginning of the renewal of all things: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

A letter from the People of the Cross to ISIS



Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross) by Mighty. http://ow.ly/LRLkK
Posted by International Christian Concern on Sunday, April 19, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Communique from GAFCON Primates Council

Loving our neighbors enough to be hated by them

R.C. Sproul, Jr. reminds us that loving our neighbors does not mean surrendering to their demands, especially when what they want is the one thing no faithful Christian can give.
There is a great difference between being like a lamb before the slaughter and rolling over and showing your neck. Christians need to learn to tell the difference. We find ourselves dizzy with the swiftness by which we have lost our privilege in the culture and have become virtual pariahs. Our sitting president, while serving as president, took a position on gay “marriage” that now is not just considered unsophisticated but is on the fast track to being a hate crime. Homo-rage is all the fashion; homo-fascism is all the rage. And Christians are increasingly being herded into a cultural ghetto.

Our Hero, our Champion, calls us to a spirit of humility and grace. He commands that we love our enemy, that we pray for those who persecute us. Which helps explain why huge swaths of the evangelical church are swiftly adopting a policy of complete appeasement. We are told that homosexuals have been vilified by the church, and so we must repent. We are told that since Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality, that we shouldn’t either. We are told that if we just love them enough they won’t fear us, when the truth is we are desperately hoping that if we love them enough we won’t have to fear them. We are surrendering not our lives but our convictions, throwing them out the door like Lot’s daughters. We are not being Jesus but betraying Jesus. We are living out the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton who told us, “What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition and settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.”

You cannot nice away the demands of the homosexual lobby because grace, forgiveness, patience, love are not what they want. Loving the sinner while hating the sin isn’t acceptable to sinners who so fully identify with their sin. They want, they demand that we approve. They want the one thing we cannot possibly give – they want us to call evil good and good evil. Until we do, we will be marginalized, pilloried and despised.

Which is just where humility, grace, and love come in. We do not measure our love of our neighbor by how much they love us, but by how willing we are to be hated by them. Sacrifice for those given over to sexual insanity is being willing to be considered insane by those given over. Loving our enemy means laying our reputations on the altar and watching them go up in smoke. It means crucifying our social standing for the sake of the truth. It is precisely because of our ambition, not our humility, that we set aside our convictions.

This conflict will not be won by laying down our arms, but by laying down our lives. Until we learn to fear God we are at the mercy of the world. Jesus promised us if we will not profess Him before men, He will not profess us before His Father (Matthew 10:32). And He calls us not merely to proclaim a benign and smiling Jesus, but to instruct the world to obey all that He commands. We will be hated and despised. And that, He promises, brings blessing (Matthew 5:10-12). Lord teach us to surrender our strategy of surrender. Teach us to love our neighbors enough to be hated by them, for Your name’s sake.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

State Supreme Court takes jurisdiction of South Carolina appeal


Today, April 15, 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court agreed to take the appeal of Judge Goodstein's February 3rd ruling in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. We are grateful that the South Carolina Supreme Court acted so promptly to take jurisdiction of this case, just as it did when requested during the attempted procedural delays prior to the trial. The more quickly the case is resolved, the more beneficial it will be for all parties, allowing us to get about the work of ministry without the incessant distraction of courtroom proceedings.

“We’re delighted that the SC Supreme Court is taking the appeal now and that it won’t have to go through the state court of appeals before it could be heard by the state’s highest court,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis. “Our aim all along has been to protect the Diocese, its identity and properties from The Episcopal Church, which has sued more than 80 other churches and dioceses which sought to leave. We’re grateful that the South Carolina judicial system has expeditiously moved this case forward.”

Brethren of the Free Spirit: Kissing cousins with Word of Faith?

The Theologia Germanica was an anonymous theological treatise written around 1350. It has become associated with Martin Luther, who said of it, "Next to the Bible and St. Augustine, no other book has come to my attention from which I have learned --and desired to learn--more concerning God, Christ, man, and what all things are."

Chapter 27 is an interesting polemic against a popular medieval heresy propagated by the antinomian Brethren of the Free Spirit. It is notable how similar this aberration sounds to the present-day "Word of Faith" heresy, whose purveyors are the constant foil of Luther's devoted disciple, Chris Rosebrough.
One hears people assert that man can and should become free from suffering during his earthly life in all respects as Christ was after His Resurrection. 
They try to prove and establish this by citing Christ: "But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee, there you will see Me." This statement by Christ is also quoted: "A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."  

 These utterances are then interpreted as follows: "As you have seen Me and followed Me as I was in a mortal body and life, so you should also see Me as I go ahead of you and you follow Me into Galilee; that is to say, you will follow Me into a state where pain has gone and serenity reigns; you will taste it, live in it, remain in it before you have gone through and suffered death of the body. As you see Me appear in a body of flesh and bones, yet beyond suffering, in a similar manner you will also, before your bodily death, become free from suffering and soar beyond pain in your mortal humanity."
I would like to counter these assertions. First, Christ did not mean that man can and should attain that stage unless it were preceded by all the suffering that He, Christ, went through and endured. 
Now, Christ did not attain this stage before He had passed through and suffered the death of His body and the experiences that came with it. Thus no man can or should attain that perfect peace and spiritual serenity while mortal and subject to suffering. 
For if this state is the noblest and best and if it were possible and spiritually commendable to attain it within our earthly life, then, as pointed out, it would also have occurred in the life of Christ. 
For Christ's life was and is the noblest, the best, most pleasing to God, the loveliest of all lives that were lived and ever will be lived. 
Yet, since this serene freedom from earthly woe was not permitted and intended to occur in Christ, it will never appear in any human being, for this would mean that a human life would in fact be the best and the noblest. 
You are of course free to fancy such a thing and you can, of course, talk about it. But fancy and words do not that freedom make.