Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Justin Welby: The harsh reality sets in


If you still had any lingering doubts that Justin Welby is an unmitigated disaster as Archbishop of Canterbury, the events of the past week should clear them all up. First came a press release bearing his name in which he heaped praise upon Madam Oven Mitt on the occasion of her "richly deserved" honorary doctorate from Oxford. It was a statement which, to the many victims of the Presiding Bureaucrat's "intellect" and "compassion," came across as hurtful, insensitive, and mean-spirited.

As Canon Phil Ashey observes:
How can Justin Welby ascribe “remarkable intellectual gifts dedicated to the service of Christ” to a leader who has been challenged time and again over the last ten years by the Windsor Process itself, who has ignored the moratoria begged of her and TEC, and whose acceleration of those innovations was the very cause for the response of the Anglican Churches in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and elsewhere in the majority Global South which offered pastoral care and covering to those Episcopalians, now Anglicans, who would not submit to her innovations as a matter of conscience and fidelity to Biblical teaching and Lambeth Resolution 1.10?

Is such conduct really an expression of remarkable intellect in the service of Christ?

What possessed Justin Welby to say that Jefferts Schori “richly deserves” an honorary award for her “remarkable gift of compassion which she has dedicated to the service of Christ,” in the face of the following facts:

On February 17, 2011, The American Anglican Council published a documented report of how Bishop Jefferts Schori and the leadership of TEC had violated the very text of its canons, due process and natural justice to inhibit and depose (at that time) 12 bishops and 404 deacons and priests. Since then, the estimate of total inhibitions and depositions of bishops, priests and deacons has risen to 700. This represents the largest exercise of penal discipline by any Presiding Bishop in the history of the TEC—and perhaps in the history of any Church in the Anglican Communion.

In one notable case, Bishop Jefferts Schori deposed Bishop Henry Scriven of the Church of England! In another notable case, her “compassion” led her to inhibit retired Bishop Edward MacBurney (VII Quincy) on April 2, 2008. On April 4, his son died, leaving the grieving father and bishop unable to conduct his son’s funeral rites.

Through her Chancellor, Bishop Jefferts Schori authorized and continues to authorize litigation against volunteer vestry (parish council) members and other volunteer leaders in church property cases. Although volunteers do not hold title to the property of the departing congregations, we documented at least 48 instances (as of the date of our report) where such volunteer vestry members have been sued by TEC or the diocese—in some cases, seeking the personal assets of these volunteers for monetary punitive damages in excess of the value of the property at issue. Such claims represent a position by Episcopal bishops and attorneys that a volunteer vestry member‘s vote to leave TEC is oppressive and malicious illegal behavior that justifies the forfeiture of a volunteer‘s personal assets. In addition to suffering the intentional infliction of emotional distress at the possibility of losing their personal assets, volunteer vestry members and other leaders have suffered damages by the mere filing of such claims including difficulty in refinancing their homes, difficulty in obtaining security clearances for new jobs, and prejudice to their credit reports.

When “Christian compassion” might have moved Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and the leadership of TEC to accept the Primates call for a moratorium on litigation at their 2007 meeting in Dar es Salaam, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori chose instead to accelerate the litigation. In 2009 when TEC cut staff and program by 30%, it increased the line items in the budget for litigation. We documented at least 56 complaints filed by TEC and its Dioceses against individual churches, clergy and volunteer vestry members. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori led a delegation of bishops to Lambeth 2008 who demonstrated reckless indifference to the truth by telling other Anglican bishops in their “indaba groups” that TEC was being sued by local churches—when precisely the opposite was true. The Episcopal Church has continued to stonewall every request for an accounting of the funds it has expended on such litigation, and conservative estimates based on public records indicate that the cost is already in excess of $30 million.

Really-Is this “compassion dedicated to the service of Christ?”

Next came the Archbishop's speech to the Church of England General Synod, presented with that typical winsomeness which British clerics seem to think can cover a multitude of sins. Matt Kennedy, however, was not fooled.

This speech by Justin Welby could have easily been given by Rowan Williams or, indeed, any number of revisionist Episcopalian bishops. It is, of course, about women bishops and how those who rightly oppose the move to make them ought to open themselves to the “perfect love” that casts out all that curmudgeonly concern for biblical fidelity which as we all know inhibits “human flourishing”. But this speech is not only about women bishops. The language he uses here is “precisely” the language he uses to push reconciliation with those leaders in the Communion who want to mainstream and bless homosexual behavior. This subtext breaks to the surface quite clearly in the paragraph below

“This sort of gracious reconciliation means that we have to create safe space within ourselves to disagree, as we began to do last summer at the Synod in York, and as we need to do over the issues arising out of our discussions on sexuality, not because the outcome is predetermined to be a wishy-washy one, but because the very process is a proclamation of the Gospel of unconditionally loving God who gives Himself for our sin and failure. It is incarnational in the best sense and leads to the need to bear our cross in the way we are commanded.”

Note here that Welby identifies the gospel with the “very process” of creating a “safe place” to disagree about human sexuality.

No. That is not the gospel. The gospel is the truth that God became Man to save sinners from the consequences of sin and its enslaving power. God did not become Man to make peace with those who lead people into sin. To those who do such things, quite contrary to the Archbishop’s claim, Jesus suggested millstones and deep lakes would be far more bearable compared to what he has planned for them apart from repentance.

Remember, if you will, the constant revisionist refrain beginning in 2003: “These issues do not have to divide us. We still gather round the same table and worship the same Jesus. Let us work on being brothers and sisters despite our differences…”

But these very pleasant sounding coaxings only obscured the truth. The “differences” that divided us then and continue to divide us now are gathered around two options: 1. teach the biblical truth about sexual sin and call people who experience with same sex attraction to live lives of repentance and faith resulting in eternal life or 2. teach people with same sex attraction that the behaviors the bible says will keep people out of the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9) are really no sins at all.

There is no “middle road” here. There is no reconciliation ground between these two viewpoints. None. If those who believe #1 above are correct, then then those who believe #2 are leading people God loves to hell. These leaders must be called to recant or be subject to discipline and expulsion. What Archbishop Welby wants to do, and he does it clearly in this speech, is re-cast the question as if it were tantamount to “should Christians drink wine?” or “What is the appropriate length for women’s skirts?”. He wants to reduce the question to “adiaphora”, to the level of a matter about which God does not speak. This is a lie as anyone equipped with reason, a bible, and the ability to understand human language ought to know. To promote this notion is to sully and obscure the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is time for orthodox, evangelical Anglicans to face the harsh reality about Justin Welby. He is no better than Rowan Williams, and possibly even worse.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.