Friday, March 27, 2015

LGBT = Let God Be True (or, the absurdity of an ever expanding acronym)

For all of its bravado and seemingly unstoppable political momentum, the LGBTQQIAP movement, or whatever its name happens to be this week, will eventually be hoisted with its own petard. No movement that relies on bullying, intimidation, and outright tyranny to accomplish its objectives can endure but for a fortnight. Moreover, no rebellion against the laws of God can linger beyond the time God's patience permits. The unholy crusade to normalize, sacralize, and canonize any and all expressions of porneia will, like the foolish man's house built on sand, finally come falling down with a great and mighty crash.

The inevitability of this coming collapse of elitist immorality is illustrated in the ever expanding and increasingly absurd acronym which the movement uses to describe itself, as Andree Seu Peterson very aptly points out in her excellent article for WORLD Magazine.
I stink at acronyms, and unfortunately we are awash in them. I live one block from SPS (Standard Pressed Steel) and a few more from CVS and SVS. (The latter is a mom-and-pop produce store, and I have no idea what the letters stand for.) ACLU is very close to ACLJ, but I wouldn’t want to dial the wrong number. AA is for drinkers; add another “A” and it’s for drivers—who had better not be drinkers. And as a relative newcomer to the cell phone world, I thought LOL meant “lots of luck” till I was apprised of its less intuitive reference to laughter.

My favorite acronym (which I just made up) is LGBT. It means “Let God be true” (What did you think?), the amplified version being “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). This easy-to-remember mantra speaks volumes in an economy of words—that whatever God says is to be believed above every other word, theory, testimony, report, feeling, persuasive argument, or complicated theology.

Sometimes I wonder if the inventors of the other LGBT brand are a tad embarrassed. They keep having to add new letters to their acronym, and the more they tack on the weaker their case looks. In simpler days when it was merely an “L” and a “G,” their position seemed stronger because all they had to persuade us of was that some people are born with a hard-wired romantic orientation to the same sex. We were given assurances that if we granted “L” and “G” they would be happy and leave us alone, having achieved total self-actualization and a redressing of offenses against their long-aggrieved identities.

Then “B” came along, and they had to fairly sneak it in when no one was looking, because claiming that you have an orientation that goes both ways sounds a lot like saying you just like to fool around and you don’t care who with. Suddenly we are plunged from the high-minded early visions of ineluctable destiny to the shameful little man behind the curtain who used to cause knee-knocking with his smoke-and-mirror routine. There is a huge gap between campaigning on a manifest biological imperative (early “G” and “L”) and the later ravenous clamor for the right to anything-goes (“B”).

Nevertheless, “T” followed without fanfare, like a bill sneaked through Congress on a Friday afternoon, and I always have trouble remembering the new additions, which are (a quick online search tutors me) LGBTQQIAP. I personally do not agree that the canon is closed with these nine unholy fruits of an unclean spirit, unless you let the “P” (pansexual) also cover pedophilia, and the “B” in the third slot do double duty for bestiality.

In science there is a rule known as “death by qualification.” It is the idea that a theory about something loses its cogency when it gets whittled away by too many exceptions and contrary facts and when you constantly have to tack on new explanations to try to account for inconvenient evidence (evolution theory, for instance). The LGBTQQIAP movement will soon need a wheelbarrow for its alphabet. What started as a self-styled civil rights movement in the grand old tradition of social gains for African-Americans and women has metastasized into a free-for-all with no common denominator but the uninhibited acting out of all impulses and no cohesive agenda but the agenda to rebel against God in any way conceivable.

As for me, I will stick to plain old LGBT, “Let God be true though every one were a liar.” And what God says that’s true, and what some are liars about, is that when a nation doesn’t consider the knowledge of Him worthwhile, He gives “them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). In this mental debasement, “their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (verses 26-27).

My LGBT means that even if I am the last person on earth who still believed what the Bible says about the proper use of our bodies, I will choose to believe God over every other word, theory, testimony, report, feeling, persuasive argument, and complicated theology.

Debunking the "four blood moons" nonsense

Lutheran pastor Chris Rosebrough dissects and debunks John "Dr. Armageddon" Hagee's rancidly heretical "four blood moons" teaching.

Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, March 26, 2015

David Ould interviews Archbishop Wabukala

Click here to listen to David Ould's interview with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of GAFCON.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Great News: Indaba is dead!

Via Anglican Ink:

The push by the Gafcon primates to bring wayward African provinces back into the fold appears to have worked, George Conger writes. While the Anglican Church in Southern Africa did not sign up for membership in Gafcon, the CAPA communiqué signed by its primate Archbishop Thabo Makgoba endorses the base position of the conservative fellowship – that homosexual relations are contrary to God’s word.

What does this mean? The Indaba process of conversation has reached its end. The African churches have come to the consensus that they are not persuaded by the claims of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in favor of gay blessings.

The March 9-10 CAPA meeting was marked by the absence of some Gafcon primates – Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda -- who also happen to be the leaders of the largest provinces in Africa. In January their leaders took the unprecedented step of chastising the chairman of CAPA, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoruti for his participation in a meeting at the General Theological Seminary last year (along with the Archbishops of Central & West Africa, and Tanzania) with bishops of the Episcopal Church of the USA. The Gafcon archbishops demanded an apology from Archbishop Ntahoturi and stated they would boycott future CAPA meetings until he repented of his accommodation of the Episcopal Church.

However, one of the members of the Gafcon Archbishop’s council, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Sudan, attended the Cape Town gathering along with conservatives from the Global South movement – Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, and Archbishop Bolly Lapok of South East Asia.

In their communiqué, the archbishops present: Burundi, Central Africa, Indian Ocean, Southern Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Middle East and South East Asia, endorsed the position of the Global South coalition, which differs from Gafcon only in its appreciation of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The communiqué affirmed the church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality and asked the Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada and other progressive “white” provinces to halt moves towards implementing same-sex marriage liturgies.

After speaking of the misunderstanding that had arisen with those who had not attended, the communiqué backed the Gafcon position on human sexuality, but stated they still wanted to give the Archbishop of Canterbury an opportunity to try to resolve the crisis within the Communion.

The key paragraphs stated:
7- We are deeply concerned about the divisions within our beloved Anglican Communion. These divisions emerged when some Churches in the west allowed the worldly cultures, to reshape the message of church to the society especially in the area of marriage and human sexuality. These issues not only contradict the traditional teaching of the scripture but also impede our witness to the Gospel, which is the reason of our presence in this world. We believe that the church is entrusted with the message of Gospel in order to transform the culture not the other way around. We do accept diversity but not diversity on the expense of the truth. Therefore we call upon these churches to refrain from making unilateral decisions which will further the divisions between the provinces of the Anglican Communion.
8-We, by God’s Grace, continue to uphold the traditional biblical teaching in regard to human sexuality and marriage and affirm Lambeth Resolution 1:10 in its entirety. We believe that this is the only way to safeguard the life of the Christian families and we should resist the pressures of the secular western cultures to alter God’s purpose in creating Man and woman.
By affirming cultural diversity and doctrinal unity, the CAPA archbishops repudiated the program of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada in seeking to make marriage and sexual behavior a second order issue – one that would permit of differing interpretations. For the CAPA provinces, the move among the US and other provinces to introduce gay marriage is an abandonment of Scripture, tradition and natural law in favor of the “spirit of the age”. The CAPA archbishops also kicked out the prop for the argument that if the Episcopal Church endorses gay marriage, it will not loose its remaining links in Africa. “Further divisions” will come if the 2015 General Convention endorses same-sex blessing liturgies.

Paragraph 9 offers an olive branch to Archbishop Justin Welby, whose efforts thus far have not been well received by the majority of African church leaders. While backing the idea of future primates meetings, CAPA called for new meetings to honor the agreements reached in Dar es Salaam and Alexandria to discipline the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
9- We extend our support for the Archbishop of Canterbury in His efforts to bring restoration to our Communion. We affirm the necessity of the Primates meeting, however we emphasize the importance of following through the recommendations of the previous Primates meetings.
How is this likely to play out? For the time being, African solidarity has been restored on the international scene. There is a united front against the innovations under way in the US and Canada, and some space for Canterbury to move between the two blocks. Africa will not be a monolith though – the Archbishop of Cape Town remains firmly committed to the progressive agenda, but will not move ahead of his fellows. Provinces that are conservative at home, but are happy to take Western money such as Central Africa, will continue to act as they have. Some African bishops will continue to accept free air tickets to visit the US and UK for Indaba sessions -- but they will now do so purely as tourists.

The Africans, in the persons of Gafcon and CAPA, have spoken clearly to the Episcopal Church that they have reached their limits.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bishop Lawrence challenges diocese to aim high; encourages advancement as method of consolidation

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
XIV Bishop of South Carolina
In his address to the 224th Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mark Lawrence outlined a plan for advancing the church's mission through starting new congregations, renewing an emphasis on evangelism, and cultivating a missional approach to ministry and life. It was a bold vision indicative of a diocese determined to move forward after several years of legal battles following its disaffiliation from The Episcopal Church (TEC). Using the acronym CAMEL, Bishop Lawrence mapped out the current landscape of the diocese under the five categories of Consolidation, Affiliation, Missionalization, Education, and Litigation.

Although some local parishes decided to remain with TEC after the diocese disaffiliated in 2012, the losses are being made up through the addition of new congregations. At last year's convention, Lawrence noted, Grace Church, Pawleys Island and Grace Church, North Myrtle Beach were welcomed into the diocese. This year, two more new congregations--Resurrection, North Charleston and St. James, Blackville--were welcomed as missions.

"Let us pray that this trend continues in the coming years," Lawrence said. "In fact, it is a worthy goal for this diocese that we either welcome two new missions each year or celebrate two new campuses established by existing congregations each year, or a combination of the two."

Punctuating that challenge, the bishop added, "May this become the defining ethos of the Diocese of South Carolina--Advancement as a method of Consolidation. We shall know who we are by the fact that we are continuously adding new congregations to our number."

A further step in this direction is the reconstitution of the Diocesan Council's Evangelism Committee, sparked by a renewed interest in evangelism expressed by numerous clergy in response to Bishop Lawrence's sermon at last year's Renewal of Vows service. Under the leadership of chairman Hal Fenters and lay evangelist Langdon Stewart, the revived committee is planning a three-day "Train the Trainers" workshop at Resurrection, Surfside, April 30 - May 2.

Also being reconstituted as a means of "consolidation through advancement" is the Liturgy and Worship Committee under the Rev. Ted Duvall of Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant and organist Chuck Wilson of Holy Comforter, Sumter. "They are working with several of the musicians throughout the diocese eager to raise the profile of traditional and contemporary music in our common life and will also take up a variety of liturgical concerns," Lawrence said.

Addressing the ongoing discernment process regarding affiliation, the bishop expressed gratitude to the Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPC) for providing provisional primatial oversight until the diocese decides on a permanent provincial home. The Most Reverend Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop of the Province of South America and Bishop of the Anglican Church in Chile, will visit the diocese in May as a representative of the Global South Primates.

Lawrence reported that the Task Force on Affiliation, established by resolution of the Convention last year, has determined three possible options for the diocese: continue with the provisional relationship with GSPC until a clearer picture of the future of global Anglicanism emerges, continue with GSPC but take a proactive role in shaping the future of global Anglicanism, or affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

All three options offer realistic possibilities for the advancement of the diocese's mission but Lawrence cautioned against taking a one-dimensional view. "A decision on affiliation," he said, "should never be guided merely by what we might gain from such a relationship but also by what we might offer."

Missionalization, Lawrence admitted, "is a novel word I have tweaked to fit with the other suffixes in this address." It is not, however, a novel concept. "Indeed," the bishop said, "it may very well be the most important thrust of our diocesan life."

The "Attractional Church Model," Lawrence noted, is no longer sufficient in an increasingly secularized world. "As I often tell vestries or parishioners at Bishop Forums," he said, "Jesus never told the world to go to church. He did, however, tell the church to go into the world."

On a diocesan level, missionalization "also means to intentionally create a culture within the diocese that cultivates a missional approach to ministry and life," Lawrence said. "Missionalization is to have such an aroma of Christ that when we go into the world meeting others we graciously make the agnostic and religiously unaffiliated uncomfortable in their unbelief."

In the area of education, the bishop announced that the St. Augustine School for Anglican Leadership Development, an ambitious initiative which has long been a vision of his, now has sufficient support for a projected launch date of January 2016, in conjunction with the Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston.

Addressing the diocese's recent legal victory over TEC, Lawrence cautioned against the temptation to see Judge Diane S. Goodstein's decision as a sign of divine favor.

"We give thanks to God for this recent ruling, but to make it God's vindication would be to yield to a false security," the bishop said. "We need to remind ourselves, again and again, of those apostolic words of St. Paul, 'It is not ourselves we preach, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.'"

Concluding with several references to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians, Lawrence challenged diocesan leaders "to aim high and while recognizing our frailty, as mere jars of clay, to trust boldly in the God who judges and raises up as we seek with one heart and one mind to lay hold of the power of Christ's resurrection. May God grant us such grace in our day!"

Audio of Bishop's Address

Photos from Convention

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fulton J. Sheen: America's problem

I don't know the exact date of this quote from the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Obviously, it is from another era of our recent history, yet it is frighteningly timely.
America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.
H/T to Anglican Way.

The Rich Mullins Pre-Saint Patrick's Day Countdown: Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph's Square)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The real "peace prize," revisited

Interesting news:
Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland, has been demoted to a mere ‘member’ of the committee for awarding Barack Obama the Peace Prize in 2009 for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

This is the first time a chairman has been removed from his position in the award’s 114-year history.

In the years following this premature ‘gift’, the world would witness our President engage in a great many actions contrary to the nature of his prize; everything from putting the world at grave risk by restarting the cold war, to killing thousands of civilians with drones, to engaging our troops in multiple hostile actions across the globe, it´’s only fitting that Jagland be demoted.

One Russian lawmaker has even asked the committee to strip Obama of his Peace Prize, that would seem to be an appropriate follow-up action.
My observations at the time Obama was awarded his dubious prize might be worth revisiting here.
If the Nobel Peace Prize were a prestigious award, it would be difficult to take seriously its being awarded this year to Barack Obama, whose brief tenure as President of the United States has been, up to this point, unremarkable. But before simply laughing off the recipient as something of an international joke, we would do well to consider whether or not the prize itself is worthy of the high esteem in which it has traditionally been held.

From a humanistic perspective, the perspective of most of the people involved in the awarding of the Nobel Prize, peace means the absence of conflict. Alfred Nobel, the prize's namesake, went so far as to advocate the elimination of all standing armies. This kind of "peace" is simply unachievable in a fallen world. Humanitarian efforts toward resolving conflicts between nations and peoples are commendable, but they can never achieve a lasting outcome. There is a greater peace which awaits its time and a greater prize which awaits those who long for its coming.

True peace, what Scripture refers to as shalom, is not defined by the absence of conflict, but by the presence of God. John foresaw the coming of that day of true, lasting peace as "a new heaven and a new earth" where "the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:1, 3-4).

Ultimately, this true and lasting peace is not a human endeavor. It will come about in God's time, according to God's purpose, and for God's glory. However, humans who endeavor to proclaim this peace in word and deed even in the midst of a fallen, corrupt, and perpetually conflicted world will receive a commendation which far exceeds any earthly reward. "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come," Paul wrote near the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

This is the true and lasting "peace prize" for those who long for true and lasting peace: to dwell forever in the presence of God, to see him face to face, and to reign with him in his kingdom forever and ever.

The Rich Mullins pre-St. Patrick's Day Countdown begins: Calling Out Your Name

Get out your dulcimers and play (and sing) along!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Purim and the woman whose courage is worth celebrating

Tonight begins the Jewish festival of Purim, celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish people from a planned genocide during the time they were dispersed throughout the ancient Persian Empire. The origins of the festival are recorded in the Old Testament book of Esther, named for the heroic queen, a woman who ought rightly be celebrated during any observance honoring the accomplishments of women.

Strangely absent throughout the book of Esther is any mention of God. His name is never invoked, never spoken, even by the devout Jew Mordecai, Esther's uncle. Yet, in reading the whole story of Esther and the Jewish people under subjugation to the Persians, the hand of God is evident in every detail.

The Jews, dispersed throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus (the king's title, not his name), are to be exterminated. The evil Haman has prevailed upon the king to issue a decree because he is angry with Mordecai for refusing to bow to him. Mordecai, however, appeals to Esther, whom Ahasuerus had chosen as queen in place of Vashti, to plead the cause of her people before the king. Esther is initially reluctant, citing the law that one must be called by the king in order to enter his inner court. Having not been "called to come to the king these thirty days" (4:11), Esther does not wish to imperil her own life.

"Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews," Mordecai warns her. "For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish" (4:13-14a). In other words, imperiling her own life is precisely what Esther will be doing if she remains silent. Mordecai has faith that God, though his name is not mentioned, will deliver his people in some way. He knows the decree against the Jews will not have its intended result. He also knows that Esther, being providentially placed in a position of authority at a time when she can be used as God's instrument of deliverance, would not be saving herself but condemning herself if she fails to act. "And who knows," asks Mordecai, "whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (4:14b).

Mordecai's response emboldens Esther. She calls on all the Jews in Susa to fast on her behalf as he prepares to approach the king. Being a Jew in the palace will not protect her from the king's decree, but her presence there is no mere coincidence. God, though his name is not mentioned, has placed her there for the purpose of saving his people and making his name known throughout the kingdom.

Haman is one of the most detestable characters in the entire biblical narrative. His jealous hatred for Mordecai and, consequently, for all the Jews is utterly irrational, driven by an inflated sense of his own importance. While the crowds bow in his presence, Mordecai reminds Haman he is only, after all, a man. It is a reminder Haman would rather live without.

In having the king honor Haman with a banquet (5:4), Esther sets the trap which will ultimately lead to Haman's downfall. Haman has no idea that the queen whose favor he thinks he has won is the niece of the hated Mordecai, whose refusal to reverence him still angers Haman even after the banquet.

It is difficult to imagine a man so consumed by hatred as Haman. His pride will be his undoing. His boasting to his family (5:12) is a cover for the prick on his conscience that Mordecai is (5:13). Haman dreams of becoming a god. Mordecai reminds him he is only a man; and as a man, Haman will come to a most ignoble end.

For anyone else, the irony would be tragic. For a man as evil and filled with hatred as Haman, however, it is nothing short of side-splittingly comic. The king, upon learning that nothing has been done to honor Mordecai (6:3) for saving his life, calls in Haman and orders him to parade through the city the very man whom Haman is conspiring to kill.

Once again, Haman's enormous ego entraps him in a most hilarious situation. "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?" Haman asks himself. In his self-centered universe, there is no one more honorable in the king's sight than himself. So, he recommends only the highest of honors be given "to the man whom the king delights to honor," thinking, of course, that he will be the one who will be dressed in the king's own "royal robes" and paraded about the city square on the king's own horse. What a shock it must have been to Haman to learn that he is not "the man whom the king delights to honor" but, rather, "the king's most noble official" who is commanded to parade through the city square the man he so despises (6:5-11).

At this point, Haman and his family seem already to know the outcome of the story. Haman will fall at the hand of Mordecai. Mordecai's people will be delivered, all of Haman's plans will come to nothing, and the Jewish people, and God-fearing people throughout the world, will celebrate and honor, on that day and throughout the ages, the courageous woman whom God raised up to be in the right place at the right time to deliver her people from destruction.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Even more good news: TEC loses again in Fort Worth

Court denies TEC claims to Diocesan property

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the 141st District Court granted our Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding all diocesan property, with the exception of All Saints’, Fort Worth, which Judge Chupp severed for a separate trial.

Nearly six years after we were first sued by The Episcopal Church and its local representatives, the court has confirmed the Diocese’s right to dissociate from TEC and for the Corporation to retain its property.

“We are grateful for the ruling in our favor,” said Bishop Iker. “It’s clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied to this dispute.”

In granting our motion, the Hon. John Chupp has ruled that Bishop Iker and the duly-elected officials of the Diocese and Corporation control the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, its Corporation, all endowments and funds, and all property that has been disputed in this litigation. The ruling is binding on all parties.

The judge severed out all the claims concerning ownership of the property of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, and this case will be heard by him at a future time. All Saints’ is the only incorporated parish in the Diocese and claims to hold title to property in its own name. In a February 20 hearing before the court, Judge Chupp strongly encouraged the leadership of All Saints’ to pursue the Canon 32 process with the Diocese, which might settle the issues without the need for a trial.

The following statements from our Motion for Partial Summary Judgment are confirmed by Judge Chupp’s order:

“According to the deeds, church charters, and Texas law:
• using neutral principles of Texas law to decide this case is not retroactive;
• the properties at issue are owned by the Corporation;
• the Defendant Trustees are the properly elected Trustees of the Corporation;
• Bishop Iker is the proper chairman and a member of the Corporation’s board;
• no express trust exists in favor of Plaintiffs (TEC);
• no implied or constructive trust exists in favor of Plaintiffs;
• the Defendants are not estopped to defend themselves; and
• the Defendants properly control the funds, trusts, and endowments at issue.
As a matter of law, the Defendants are entitled to title, control, and use of all of the property at issue in this case.”

The laity and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth rejoice with Bishop Iker and join him in giving thanks to God for this ruling. We pray for a quick resolution to the remaining claims and disputes. We will continue to carry out the mission given us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: to win the world for Him.

Read the one-page court order.