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
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
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
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
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Evangelical Congregational Church

John Hopler
Great Commission Churches

Steven R. Jones
Missionary Church, Inc.

Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area

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

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

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
General Superintendent
The Wesleyan Church

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

Dr. Russell Moore
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Dr. Gus Reyes
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
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
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
Grace Communion International

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

Rev. Phillip Whipple
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

David P. Wilson
General Secretary
Church of the Nazarene

Rev. Paul Winter
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 anestē! 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.
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.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

No comment department

Apparently, The Washington Post is hard up for material.
You can get a speaking role in the next “Left Behind” movie for $7,500. You can name a character for $5,000, or appear as an extra in the background as the heroes figure out End Times prophecy for $2,500.

You can get these movie perks if you join the crowdfunding campaign for the sequel to the 2014 “Left Behind” film starring Nicolas Cage. Producer Paul Lalonde began a campaign on Indiegogo with a goal of raising $500,000 to finance the film.

“I’m asking you to be more than a fan,” Lalonde says in the promotional video explaining the campaign. “I’m asking you to be a partner in this vision.”

More than 130 people contributed in the first three days, giving nearly $40,000.

The 2014 reboot of the franchise was funded in the traditional way with big investors who expect a return. But the movie did not do very well, critically or financially. It received 2 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning critics generally did not give it a stamp of approval.

Made with a healthy budget of $16 million, it earned $14 million in the United States and another $5.6 million internationally, doing moderate business in Brazil, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. It is difficult to attract investors to a sequel with such small profits.

For dedicated fans, though, money is not the point. The point is spreading the message.

“As Christians we all know it can be difficult sharing your faith,” Lalonde said. “How are we supposed to reach these people who don’t even want to hear what we have to say? Well one of the best ways I’ve found is through movies.”

Lalonde himself became a Christian after hearing that Jesus was coming soon to save his followers before the Antichrist rose to global power, and human history ended at the battle of Armageddon. Lalonde was greatly influenced by the 1972 film, “A Thief in the Night,” which popularized that evangelical Christian vision of the End Times.

“A Thief in the Night” was never shown in theaters, however. It was a church-basement movie. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 69-minute horror film about life under the Antichrist was screened more than 1,000 times per month to church camps and youth groups across the country. It was widely influential, but rarely shown to someone who wasn’t already involved with an evangelical church.

The “Left Behind” franchise, which started as a novel in 1995, was designed to reach beyond the church basement.
There's more, if you can stomach it.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday: Christ is risen!

Sermon for Easter Sunday, Church of the Holy Trinity, Grahamville

He is risen! He is RISEN!

This is probably the first cinematic depiction of the resurrection in color: DeMille's original 1927 version of King of Kings. Typical of the silent era, the acting is overdone, while the resurrection itself is a bit understated. Jesus walks out of the tomb as if nothing else happened. Nevertheless, a very moving portrayal of the most glorious morning in history.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday statement from Primate of Kenya

‘Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother’
John 19:25

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Good Friday we gather in our churches across Kenya in the shadow of a great and terrible evil. People who deal in death have slaughtered 147 people in Garissa, most of them students, and brought wrenching anguish to their families and a deep sadness to our nation.

These young people died because they were Kenyans and they were Christians. This attack was a calculated manifestation of evil designed to destroy our nation and our faith, but on this Good Friday we are reminded that the very worst evil can do is not the last word.

Through spite and blatant miscarriage of justice, Jesus dies the agonising death of the cross, but his last words are ‘it is finished’. The cross was not a tragic accident, but the fulfilment of God’s purpose to reconcile men and women to himself through the atoning death of his Son, a reality gloriously confirmed by his resurrection from the dead.

But we must not rush on to Easter Day too quickly. Today we stand at the cross with Mary and the other women, heartbroken by loss and suffering and despite the horror before their eyes, not running away.

Horror is fresh in our minds too and let us not run away or deny it, but stay by the cross. We stay with Jesus, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, we share in the grief of Mary and we share in the grief of those who have been so shockingly bereaved, but as Mary was to discover, we know that this is not the end of the story.

Jesus death upon the cross was not in vain. By his death, death has been destroyed. The stone rolled away and the empty tomb of Jesus assures us that death does not have the last word. As we think of those dear ones who died at Garissa because they were Christians, let us remember the promise of the Lord Jesus that nothing can separate them and us from his love.

Above all, let us resolve today that these deaths, and those of other Kenyans who have died previously at the hands of Al Shabaab, will not be in vain. We call on the government to do all in its power to protect the lives of its citizens and we call on the world community to recognise that this latest outrage is not just an attack on Kenya, but part of an assault on world peace. The time has come for the world to unite as never before in defeating this growing menace.

While governments have a vital role, even more important are the hearts and minds of ordinary people. Let us covenant together before God that we will never ever surrender our nation or our faith in Christ to those who glory in death and destruction. We will not be intimidated because we know and trust in the power of the cross, God’s power to forgive our sins, to turn death into the gate of glory and to make us his children for ever.

Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya

Witherspoon Institute: Statement on religious liberty from Catholic and Baptist leaders

Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.

For many religious believers, Passover and the Easter season are cornerstones of the year. Thus our hearts have been especially troubled in recent days by the acrimony and lies surrounding legal efforts, in Indiana and elsewhere, at ensuring religious liberty for people of all faiths.

As Americans commemorate their respective holy days, we urge all our fellow citizens to remember the moral roots of their constitutional system, and to engage in a sensible national conversation about religious liberty. Even those who are not religious have a stake in seeing that our “first freedom”—religious freedom; freedom of conscience—is protected in law.

In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry. Such arguments only increase public confusion on a vitally important issue. When basic moral convictions and historic religious wisdom rooted in experience are deemed “discrimination,” our ability to achieve civic harmony, or even to reason clearly, is impossible.

America was founded on the idea that religious liberty matters because religious belief matters in a uniquely life-giving and powerful way. We need to take that birthright seriously, or we become a people alien to our own founding principles. Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Princeton University

William E. Lori
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore

Albert Mohler, Jr., President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Russell Moore, President
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention

Pastoral letter from GAFCON chairman: Easter 2015

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

Easter 2015

‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labour is not in vain.’ ​1 Corinthians 15:58

My dear brothers and sisters,

Receive Easter greetings in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the victory over sin and death!

The bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a glorious reality. It is a fact of history and the experience of every believer. It is God the Father’s verdict that our sins have been fully and finally atoned for and that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, as the centurion by the cross confessed (Matthew 27:54).

Because Jesus is risen from the dead, we know that all God’s promises will one day be fulfilled and this is the reason the Apostle Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to remember that their ‘labour is not in vain’. As we commit ourselves to the purposes of God, this truth sustains our faith even in the face of the most overwhelming challenges.

If we look just on the surface of things, it is easy to be discouraged. While in Africa and the Middle East Christian communities are being destroyed and intimidated by Islamic radicalism, in the West we are seeing the faith for which these believers are dying being betrayed by compromise with an increasingly intolerant secular culture.

Two of the greatest challenges to world Christianity, and therefore to GAFCON as a global and confessing movement, are Islamic radicalism and the re-evangelisation of the West. At the heart of our response to both must be faithful and costly witness to the gospel by people who are deeply convinced that, in season or out of season, their work will not be useless or wasted because it is done for Christ and in the hope of the resurrection. Such hope leads to a determination to be ‘abounding in the work of the Lord’, to excel in the cause of the gospel, and let me share with you two recent examples of how GAFCON is inspiring bold initiatives for gospel witness.

Firstly, last week it was my privilege as Chairman of GAFCON to share in the launch of the Australian branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. I believe this is a new beginning for united gospel witness across the continent, sharing the same determination and passion for the gospel as that of the pioneering Anglican chaplain and missionary, Richard Johnson, who led the first recorded act of Christian worship on Australian soil on Sunday 3rd February 1788. It was also a great privilege to meet delegates from New Zealand and they are deeply concerned that their Church may formally accept rites for the blessing of same sex unions next year.

Secondly, GAFCON is also facilitating reciprocal international mission to fulfil the Great Commission of the Risen Christ. I am hearing very positive reports about the team from All Saints’ Cathedral here in Nairobi who ministered at ‘Send 2015’, a campus mission in Chicago held a few weeks ago by church planters of the Anglican Church in North America. I hope we shall have many more initiatives like this. We need an outward looking unity in diversity that serves the truth of the gospel, not the inward looking unity in diversity of projects like ‘Continuing Indaba’ that open the doors of the Church to a false gospel.

The GAFCON Primates Council will soon meet in London, from the 13th to the 17th April, and we shall take counsel together so that our movement can grow strongly and be equipped to fulfil the vision of restoring the Anglican Communion’s commitment to biblical truth. It will also give us a special opportunity to meet with leaders of the British and Irish branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Mission in England. Please uphold us in prayer during this time.

Finally, please also be in prayer for the people of Nigeria, including some twenty million Anglicans, under a new President after the recent elections. May they know peace, security and stability and may the work of the gospel speed forward in that great nation.

So let us resolve to set all our hopes on the Risen Christ and give ourselves fully to the service of the one who makes all things new.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council

It's Friday . . . but Sunday's comin'

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.