Thursday, October 08, 2015

Will the World End on October 7th?

Well, since it is now October 8, I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, the answer is, "No!"

Chris McCann, the founder of the fringe Christian group eBible Fellowship, said the world was going to end on October 7, 2015.  He confidently claimed that the Earth would be completely “annihilated.” 

According to McCann, God “shut the door to heaven” on May 21, 2011, meaning that "salvation is ended."  (I am wondering how he explains all those who have come to faith in Christ since then.)

But none of this means that McCann isn’t hedging his bets.  Looking at the website yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that they had a schedule of broadcasts posted for October 8th and the days following.

Of course, in making this prediction, McCann is simply adding himself to the list of those down through history who have predicted the end of the world.

There comes a point at which orthodox Christians must say "Enough!" to foolishness of this sort.  Why?  Because our Lord is going to return and the world is going to end someday, and the Scriptures have much to say concerning that end.  Scripture tells Christians to be watchful and to be ready.  But it also admonishes us, "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36).

Just before his Ascension, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (Acts 1:7).  

The damage done by Christians who purport to know the date of Jesus' return or the end of the world is that it brings the legitimate prophecies of those events, the totality of the Bible, and even Christianity as a whole into disrepute.  Misguided teachers seeking the limelight end up making the Christian faith the subject of jokes and ridicule.  

As one who teaches systematic theology, I firmly believe that we are called to teach about eschatology—the study of prophecy and the end times.  And as a pastor I know that we are called to be prepared, sober, and vigilant.  But part of being "sober" in this context means that we are commanded to avoid those things that "promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God's work—which is by faith" (1 Timothy 1:4, 1 Timothy 6:4, 2 Timothy 2:14, Titus 3:9).

When people make sensational predictions about the return of Christ or the end of the world, it is more about them than about the Gospel, because people focus more on the prediction and the one making it than they do on Jesus.  But when the prediction doesn't come true (as it hasn't 100% of the time thus far) the world scoffs not only at the prediction but at the Lord the one making the prediction claims to represent.

My advice to Mr. McCann and other end-time speculators: Preach the Gospel, win souls for Christ, build up his Church.  It may not get your name in the media as much, but it will bring more glory to Christ, which is what Christian ministry is about in the first place. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Church of Who???

Those Aussie's sure can be a crazy lot!  Not that we haven't had our share of craziness in the US with a clown Eucharist, a Seusscharist, and the unforgettable U2charist.  (Caution: once you have seen some things, they cannot be unseen nor forgotten.)  But judging from their Facebook page, the folks in Branxton, New South Wales, sure like Elvis A WHOLE LOT--maybe even more than that other church guy...  you know...  what's His Name?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

In the Service of the Church

A few years ago I was meeting with the Council of Episcopal Seminary Deans, and we were taking turns "sharing" what had been happening in our various schools.  One dean spoke about the several new faculty he had recruited in the past year--each of them fresh out of a PhD program or post-doctoral fellowship in a prestigious university.

A while later we were discussing the challenges we were experiencing in our seminaries, particularly around the question of how well we were forming men and women for ministry in the Church.  And this same dean commented, "All my faculty want to do is advance their academic careers.  I just can't seem to get my faculty to understand that, in a seminary, our academics are to be in the service of the Church."

I interjected, "Think about what you were just saying a few minutes ago about where you recruited your faculty!  Faculty who have been brought up in that kind of academic environment have no concept of their academics being in the service of the Church."

At Trinity School for Ministry, where I was blessed to serve the larger part of my academic career, we saw our task as forming Christian leaders for mission with a commitment to discipleship of the whole person as essential preparation for ministry.  Trinity faculty were engaged in publishing written works that made a contribution to the academic world and the reading public.  But we never engaged in the "publish or perish" mentality that characterizes the pursuit of tenure in other academic institutions.  In fact, we never had tenure at Trinity.  Our commitment was that if we ever ceased to serve the mission of the School, we didn't belong there.

Some seminary faculty see the notion that their academics are to be in the service of the Church as some sort of threat, as though it risks compromising their academic integrity.  But if God is ultimate truth, how can there be a conflict between the pursuit of academic enlightenment and spiritual truth?  Are not both pursuits parallel (and sometimes even intertwining) paths to the same destination?   

Now, after more than thirty years in academia, I find myself in the rectorship of a parish.  (I jokingly say sometimes that I am engaged in an experiment to see if all that stuff I taught for 30 years actually works!)  But I am reminded of a colleague who left seminary teaching a few years ago (a remarkable professor who had set students on fire with a love for the Scriptures!) to take the pastorate of a church; and another colleague spoke of his departure somewhat dismissively, as if to say, "Well, he was not really a serious academic anyway."  And I wonder, now that I am a pastor, would that colleague say the same thing about me?

I have heard the same kind of dismissive remarks ("not really a serious academic") made toward John Piper who has dared to challenge N.T. Wright's contributions to the "New Perspective on Paul."  Piper, though also an academic, has been primarily known as a pastor for more than thirty years (in which he has influenced thousands of people and hundreds of fellow clergy).  Wright has, for most of the same time, been primarily an academic, (though he was, by all accounts, an outstanding chief pastor as Bishop of Durham).

Does the fact that one person is primarily an academic give him superior access to truth?  On the one hand, lengthy study may well result in greater insight.  On the other hand, the pressure to "publish or perish" or even the desire to publish to achieve a greater academic reputation can result in insights that are more speculative than true in any real sense.

Cynics tend to recognize that, if one is looking for something to publish in academic circles, a sure method is to take something around which there has been a scholarly consensus for years (or decades, or centuries) and publish a thesis which draws on all the available material (often mixed with a good deal of speculation and imagination) to challenge the prevailing consensus.  Can it be that the pressure of having something novel to publish, in a subtle and insidious way, colors a scholar's pursuit of truth?  (I am not alleging this to be the case with Tom Wright, but merely raising the question with regard to academia in general.)

What I know for certain is that, not only in academia but also on a popular level, published works that are reassertions or restatements of orthodoxy aren't nearly as successful as works that challenge the status quo, even to the point of heresy.  I am not for a minute suggesting that we blindly follow orthodoxy or that we need to suspend our search for the truth, wherever that may lead us; because, if all truth is God's truth, we have nothing to fear.  But I am suggesting that the allure of worldly acclaim has a way of influencing what we view as wise and, therefore, true.  (Cf. 1 Corinthians, chapters 1-3.) 

In evangelical and orthodox Anglo-Catholic institutions, there is less pressure to publish and more emphasis on the fact that we are forming clergy and lay-leaders.  We are, in a very real sense, producing the Church of the future.  In place of articles and books, we run into the products of our work all the time--human volumes on whose minds and hearts we have impressed the truth of the ages.  And they, in turn, impress that truth upon others, save souls, promote growth, and build churches.  Scholars of all kinds, those who teach and those who publish, each do their part in equipping the saints for the work of ministry.  And if we are to do that in a way that stands the test of eternity, we must always do it with a submission that recognizes we are doing it in the service of our Lord and his Church.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Dearth (Death?) of Anglican News

For most of the last two decades my daily ritual has included checking the Anglican blogosphere as one of the first things I do when I turn on my computer each day.  Parenthetically, I will mention for those who were probably never aware, that, in 1994, the Rev. Tom Prichard (who was then executive director of SAMS) and I (when I was on faculty at Trinity) founded the now defunct "" website and hosting service.  We hosted websites and listserv discussion groups including White Horse Tavern, which some will remember, and Virtuosity (which later changed its name to Virtue Online due to a trademark dispute).  I developed my avocation as a web designer and designed websites for many of the  member organizations of PEWSACTION, as well as the original website for the American Anglican Council, which were all hosted on  So one might say I was something of a pioneer in the the Anglican online world.

In 2001 I left Trinity to become Dean of Nashotah House. Tom Prichard left SAMS not long afterward.  SAMS and Trinity showed no interest in maintaining; and, by then, the avenues for hosting websites and discussion groups were so numerous that was no longer needed.

Having monitored the Anglican news scene for so long, I am noticing a sea change.  Some Anglican news outlets seem to be having trouble finding stories to report.  There have been slow seasons in Anglican news before, and the period following the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention (which we are now in) is often one of those seasons.

But this time it is different, and I find myself questioning whether the Anglican news scene will ever be the same again.  In July, I wrote a piece entitled,  "Probably My Last Post about General Convention--Ever."  I felt safe in entitling it that because, not only has the Episcopal Church moved beyond my ability to care, it has moved beyond the ability to surprise.  For something to be newsworthy, there has to be a certain "Man Bites Dog" element to it; and, frankly, we will never see that kind of newsworthiness from the Episcopal Church ever again.

Gay bishops--done that.  Gay marriage--done that.  Transgendered clergy--done that.  Panentheist theology--now so much a part of the landscape that orthodoxy is virtually extinct.  Episcopal Church tries to co-opt African churches with its money--entirely predictable.  What is left to surprise us?  Polyamory?  Rewriting the Prayer Book for a gender-neutral or feminine God?  These are just the next stops on the train ride to Perdition.  The track is already laid and the destination is certain.  Any stops along the way are already mapped.  We may even get to the stop where the old canard comes true: "Farmer Marries Cow in Episcopal Ceremony."  (Though it appears the Russians may have us beat in the Bovine Matrimony race.)

Now the focus has shifted to the Anglican Communion, where we see the same pattern the Episcopal Church has followed for decades being played out all over again:  The official structures become increasingly heterodox, and a orthodox resistance movement forms which becomes the foundation for a movement of renewal.

But therein lies room for surprise!  It will make news when the Anglican Church in North America surpasses the Episcopal Church in average Sunday attendance.  It will make news when GAFCON separates from the dying Communion structures to establish structures of its own to which all orthodox Anglicans look.

The focus of our news will change:  We can now turn from the Obituary page to the page announcing new births.  New churches.  New dioceses.  New seminaries.  New mission enterprises.  New efforts to complete Christ's Great Commission and take the Good News to every people, tribe, and language.

Why do I know this is true?   Because Christ has promised that he will return and that his Great Commission to take the Gospel to every people group on earth will be fulfilled before he does so.  As we see events with apocalyptic significance happening in our world, our eyes should be mainly focused on this:  "And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).  That is good news indeed, and that is where our energies should be focused and our prayers concentrated.  

We may be witnessing a dearth--and a death--of Anglican news.  But for those who are looking for Christ's kingdom, the best news is yet to come.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Island

Last night I saw a movie I had somehow missed when it came out in 2005: The Island.  Once I realized the plot of the movie, my attention was riveted.

Lincoln Six-Echo (played by Ewan McGregor) is a resident of a seemingly Utopian but totally enclosed, underground facility in the year 2019.  Like all of the inhabitants of this carefully controlled environment, Lincoln hopes to be chosen to go to the "The Island" -- a paradise that is reportedly the only uncontaminated spot on the surface of the planet.  But Lincoln soon discovers that everything about his existence is a lie.  The earth's surface is not contaminated.  It is, in fact, very much like the earth we know.  He and all of the other inhabitants of the underground facility are actually human clones, being raised as "insurance policies" to provide organs and body parts for transplants to prolong the lives of their look-alikes on the surface--people who have no idea that the "tissue" and organs they receive are harvested from the clones.  Those inhabitants of the facility chosen by "the lottery" to go to the Island are actually selected to be killed when their organs are needed.  

Lincoln makes a daring escape with a beautiful fellow resident named Jordan Two-Delta (played by Scarlett Johansson).  Relentlessly pursued by the forces of the sinister institute that once housed them, Lincoln and Jordan engage in a race for their lives to literally meet their makers and to let them know that their "insurance policies" are actually human beings who are being killed for their organs and body parts.

What compelled my attention was the similarity between this work of science fiction and the recent revelations of  Planned Parenthood's involvement in harvesting fetal organs and body parts.  As in The Island, Planned Parenthood perpetuates the myth that those from whom the tissue and organs are harvested aren't actual human beings. 

In the now famous video, Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discusses harvesting tissue and organs from aborted fetuses over lunch in Los Angeles:
I’d say a lot of people want liver.  And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.  The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is the calvarium, the head is basically the biggest part.  Most of the other stuff can come out intact . . .  So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.
Is this not the most callous discussion of harvesting human organs you have ever read?

After an extended and exciting chase, Lincoln and Jordan eventually reach the home of Lincoln's clone donor (also played by McGregor), who in a twist of deception proves to be more interested in prolonging his life than in caring about where the necessary body parts come from.  I couldn't help but wonder if those who support Planned Parenthood's outrageous conduct could see themselves in this character.

Finally, Lincoln and Jordan break back into the underground facility in order to destroy it and liberate the residents, eventually being aided by the very mercenaries who were sent by the facility to track them down and kill them.  Even in science fiction, the idea of harvesting human organs is too repugnant for all but the worst villains.

Write or call your representatives in Congress and demand that they stop funding Planned Parenthood with our tax dollars.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet.  It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ.  Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry.  The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake.  For there is no professional childlikeness (Matt. 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph. 4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps. 42:1).
But our first business is to pant after God in prayer.  Our business is to weep over our sins (James 4:9).  Is there professional weeping?

Our business is to strain forward to the holiness of Christ and the prize of the upward call of God (Phil. 3:14); to pummel our bodies and subdue them lest we be cast away (1 Cor. 9:27); to deny ourselves and take up the blood-spattered cross daily (Luke 9:23).  How do you carry a cross professionally?  We have been crucified with Christ, yet now we live by faith in the one who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).  What is professional faith?
Thus begins, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, by John Piper.  Released in a second edition in 2013, this convicting and compelling work is probably more necessary now than when Piper wrote the first edition thirteen years ago.  It is more necessary because the "professionalism" of the church has only increased in the intervening years.

The seduction of the Church takes many forms.  The most obvious seduction is the one that has occurred in mainline traditions that have adopted the sexual morality of the culture.  The seduction that has affected the evangelical church is the one to which Piper points prophetically--the notion that a professional style and management techniques learned from a secular culture can somehow substitute for the radical nature of our calling and the spiritual graces and power that are God's gift along with that calling.

This outstanding work is now available as a FREE .pdf download from John Piper's ministry, Desiring God.  It is also available for purchase as a paperback or Kindle version.

If you are a pastor, or if you train or disciple clergy and lay leaders in the church, this book is an indispensable part of your formation in how to raise up servant leaders who have a passion for God and who are truly useful in his service.

And, after all, isn't that what it is all about?

Download or buy this book and read it now!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It's official: The universe is dying

From here, where there is more:
"The universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze," the leader of the Galaxy and Mass Assembly project said.

Scientists have speculated since the '90s that the universe has been in decline.  This latest project between dozens of universities is just a further confirmation of that.

The researchers measured the energy being emitted from more than 200,000 galaxies.  They measured at 21 different wavelengths, between ultraviolet and the far infrared.

Theoretically, the Big Bang created all the energy in the universe, some of which became mass.  Thanks to Einstein and his equation E=mc2, we know stars shine by transferring that mass back into energy.

The stars have already lost half their brightness, not just in terms of visible light but in all the 21 wavelengths measured.

But, there's good news:  Researchers say the universe has a few billion years left to live.  That's plenty of time for us to figure out our next move, right?
Read the rest.

The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 21: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away..." (21:1).   As Christians, we know that the One who has the whole universe in his hands already has that next move figured out.  But these confirmations from science help us to realize that, even though it may be billions of years away, everything we take for granted in this physical universe will someday come to an end.  And the reminder of our own universe's mortalty puts everything we do now in a new perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sometimes there is pain...

Being an introvert, I tend to process things, not in the moment they are happening, but afterwards.  So vacations are often a time for recollection and introspection.  And, as I am getting older, that introspection tends to turn to thoughts of how I have lived my life, what I have stood for, and how well or unwell things have gone.

A few weeks ago, at the Anglican Congress in Fort Worth, one of the workshop leaders--an emerging leader in his diocese and a graduate of Nashotah House during my deanship, referred to that decade as "a golden era" in the life of the House.  A former faculty member with whom I had dinner last week said the same thing.

Again, being an introvert, I have never been good at self-promotion and, indeed, as a matter of godly principle, have eschewed it.  During my ten years as Dean and President at Nashotah House, whenever someone complimented the good things that were happening, I invariably gave credit (usually with a finger pointed upward) to God--and rightly so--without Him we can do nothing.  "God is doing great things; I am just going along for the ride," I often would say.

During that decade, we established two master's degree programs through distance education and a Doctor of Ministry program.  If you look at the enrollment of Nashotah House today, it is apparent that, without these programs, the House would be faced with closure.  We built Adams Hall, with its large assembly room and additional classrooms (the first public building constructed on the Nashotah campus since 1965), without which there would have been no room for the expanding degree programs or for the conference venue which the House seeks to become.

One of my greatest fears in life is having success be given the appearance of failure.  The machinations and betrayal that resulted in my stepping down as Dean and President are, without doubt, the greatest pain of my life and, have, quite frankly, left wounds that may not heal this side of heaven.

In 2007-2008 I underwent the standard evaluation specified in my contract prior to the renewal of that contract.  The external examiner for that evaluation was the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Turner, whose experience in the deanship of two other Episcopal seminaries makes him the unrivaled expert in the field.  (He was selected by the Board, not by me, for this evaluation.)  A Board committee conducted its own internal evaluation and the two reports were presented together.  Both reports constituted a glowing evaluation which resulted in a five-year renewal of my contract and an embarrassing (but much appreciated) 33% raise.

Two events ensued almost immediately that proved challenging to the House.  (1) The departure of four of the House's most supportive dioceses from the Episcopal Church and the subsequent formation of the Anglican Church in North America.  (2) The Great Recession, from which many individuals and congregations still have not fully recovered.

For many years, the Diocese of Quincy had taken "refugees" into its ordination process (conservative aspirants for Holy Orders who had been rejected in more liberal dioceses).   In the 2007-2008 academic year, Quincy alone accounted for 23 students in the House's student body, roughly one-third of the House's residential enrollment.  When Quincy left the Episcopal Church, that pipeline closed down immediately, and over the next three years, we watched a portion of those 23 students graduate each year with no replacements forthcoming.  A couple of the other supporting dioceses that left the Episcopal Church experienced "freezes" or moratoriums on their ordination processes with the result that nearly half of our residential enrollment was affected.  If it had not been for the distance education degree programs we had already put in place, the situation would have been bleak indeed.

Then, in 2009, the Recession hit.  I received letter after letter from rectors who expressed their continued support for the House but who said, sadly, that they were being forced to reduce their outreach budgets and that they would, for a time, have to reduce or suspend their giving to Nashotah House.

Both of these storms could have been weathered.  The four dioceses that left the Episcopal Church now constitute only a small part of the growing Anglican Church in North America--which is not only a substantial source of new students and financial support, it is a Church which shares the orthodoxy that the House says it wants to maintain.  

And so the second pain I feel is for Nashotah House.  Instead of pursuing stronger relations with the Anglican Church in North America, the Board leadership could only misread the signs of what was happening in this crucial period to conclude that the House needed to redouble its efforts to reach out to the Episcopal Church.

By continuing to pursue the Episcopal Church to the neglect of the Anglican Church in North America and other conservative bodies, Nashotah House has placed itself in a paradoxical and untenable position:  a seminary that has no ordained women on the faculty or staff and doesn’t allow women to celebrate at the altar, and that doesn’t recognize same sex marriages or allow same sex couples to live together on campus—and yet they are desperately pursuing the Episcopal Church where these things are all but mandatory.  Nashotah House has missed a golden opportunity to “come out of the closet” as a conservative, countercultural seminary, serving orthodox Anglicans of whatever jurisdiction and conservative Christians of other traditions—and to let the Episcopal Church continue on the path to its own inevitable destruction. 

There is no future in simply being another seminary of the Episcopal Church.  (The examples of Seabury-Western and General Seminary should be lesson enough--and the contrast with the success of Trinity School for Ministry, which has pursued a more independent course, is startling!)  But the House has too many trustees who are living in a romantic delusion, incapable of recognizing that their brand of Anglicanism is no longer welcome in the Episcopal Church.  They will probably never figure this out in their lifetimes.  But the House may well not survive either the dangerous fantasy or downright cluelessness in which many of the Nashotah Trustees are living.  This situation could still be turned around; but, alas, there is no one with the vision to lead them.

These are the things I ruminate over as I sit on vacation.  And sometimes it causes pain.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Probably my last post about General Convention--ever!

Between 1991 and 2009, I attended seven General Conventions of the Episcopal Church, five of those Conventions as a Deputy.  However, I was very glad not to have attended this most recent General Convention in Salt Lake City.  And I am especially glad not to have been there when the Supreme Court's decision legalizing homosexual marriage was announced.  It simply would have been too heartbreaking to watch the revelry as Episcopal bishops and deputies celebrated the nation's highest court giving validation to their degeneracy--Church, State, and Culture marching in lockstep on their relentless descent.  All that is missing is a handbasket.

Not all those present were celebrating:  Twenty-six bishops (vs. 129 in favor and 5 abstentions) went on record in the roll call vote as opposing the adoption of same-sex marriage.  Among those was Bp. William Love of Albany, who stated, "As we contemplate changing the understanding of marriage we must remember our Lord’s words in Matthew (19:5), 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.”  Love continued,
If our Lord is the son of God … God incarnate, he is quite aware of the nature of marriage and could have offered alternatives but did not,” Bishop Love said.  The argument has been based on all sorts of things.  But it is not an issue that men and women can love each other... that is not the issue.  God has told us that is not appropriate to use the gift of sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of one man and one woman.
Bishop Love stated the church should ask partnered gay and lesbian couples, “Do you love your partner enough not to engage in sexual intimacy?  The issue before us is not about relationships but sexual intimacy.”

Writing from General Convention following the decision, Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield blogged that:
Nonetheless, the Episcopal Church has, today, effectively redefined marriage--a universal and timeless human social institution that Christians have believed is, in fact, not merely a human social institution, but a gift from God that is literally prehistoric, participating in the order of creation.  We have done so, moreover, without even a pretense of consultation with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion, to say nothing of the rest of the Christian world.  It is an act of breathtaking hubris, an abuse of common sense truly worthy of the descriptor Orwellian.
But then, Bp. Martins makes two distinctions that I am inclined to question.  His first questionable distinction has to do with the definition of heresy:
Is it heresy?  This is the question I will continue to ponder.  I don't use that term loosely.  It has a high bar.  Mere false teaching (which this manifestly is) is not necessarily, or even often, heresy.  Heresy must ultimately be traceable to the denial of one of the articles of the creeds.  The creeds don't talk about marriage.  The creeds do, however, talk about creation.  They name God as the creator of heaven and earth.  If marriage was indeed established by God in creation, we are denying the character of that creation when we trivialize the sheer given-ness of "make and female created He them."  These are some preliminary thoughts, at least.
His second questionable distinction follows:
One of my ecclesiological taproots is that one is obligated to remain in communion with a church that engages in false teaching as long as it continues to be a church.  When such a church progresses from mere false teaching into formal heresy--not just de facto heresy, but heresy enshrined in its liturgies and canons--and then persists in that heresy over more than one generation--and I would suggest forty years as a benchmark for "more than one generation"--then it ceases to be a church, and a faithful Christian is obligated to not be in communion with it.  We've certainly been winding the forty-year clock. Is it now ticking? 
Here is why I say the distinctions are questionable:  The New Testament makes no such distinction between false teaching and heresy.  When the Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy and the various churches to which he wrote not to tolerate false teachers, he did not make a distinction as to whether their false teaching concerned a matter that would someday be included in the Nicene Creed.  In fact, the admonition was often to separate from false teachers who promoted immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:3).  The same is true for other apostles (2 Peter 2:1-10, Jude 3-7).

Heresy has also been defined as any departure from the faith of the Catholic Church, which Vincent of Lerins identified as that which has been believed by the whole church throughout the world, from the beginning, and by all (universality, antiquity, and the consensus of the faithful).  Who can disagree that the Episcopal Church has seriously departed from the received faith of the universal and ancient church--and on a matter of ultimate importance: God's stated will for humankind in the matter of sexual relations and God's ordained sacrament of Holy Matrimony?

And as to remaining in communion, the New Testament makes no such stipulation.  The Apostle Paul does not say, if the body with which you are associated continues in false teaching for a generation, then you (or, more likely, your children) are obliged to separate from it.  No, the admonition is that those who are serious about following the way of Christ are either to expel or to separate from false teachers immediately.

Further, as Attorney Allan Haley writes, the Episcopal Church has not only committed heresy but blasphemy:  "It was God Himself who defined marriage as between a male and a female in Genesis 2:24, and thus to invoke the name of that same God in blessing (or celebrating) a pairing that is not one that he made provision for in Holy Scripture is a blasphemy on His name."

Commenting on the proposals for same-sex marriage prior to General Convention, Mr. Haley had already written
What hope is there for the Episcopal Church if any of these Resolutions passes its General Convention?  At that point, the Church will be on record as promoting and encouraging its ordained clergy to speak blasphemously of the relationship between Christ and his church every time they perform a same-sex marriage.  And so at that point, the Church will most definitely no longer be a church, let alone a part of the "one true, catholic and apostolic church" instituted by our Lord.  Instead, it will be at war with our Lord's church.
Can anyone seriously disagree that the Episcopal Church, which has chosen the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-16), has put itself in the position of being "at war with our Lord's Church?"

Bishop Martins has now issued "A Word on Holy Matrimony" in which he states the following policies for his diocese:
  • The new marriage liturgies will not be authorized in the Diocese of Springfield.
  • No member of the clergy who is either canonically resident in the diocese or resident elsewhere while licensed in the diocese may preside or officiate at any service in which the recently-adopted rites are used, either in whole or in part. This restriction applies both within the bounds of the diocese and beyond them.
  • No resident or licensed cleric may sign the civil marriage certificate for a union between persons of the same sex.
  • No resident or licensed cleric may preside or officiate at the Blessing of a Civil Marriage for persons of the same sex.
  • Failure to abide by these expectations will be understood as a breach of an ordained person’s canonical vow of obedience to the Bishop, and dealt with accordingly.
  • No church building of the diocese, nor any other venue owned by or associated with a church of the diocese, may be used for such a ceremony.
  • No such ceremony may be recorded either in the Service Register or the Marriage Register of any church in this diocese.
In giving these directives, Bishop Martins has taken the path of a faithful, catholic Christian.  God bless him!  How long he and his fellow dissenting bishops can remain on that path in the Episcopal Church remains to be seen.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Where is the Outrage?

Kathryn Steinle, 32
I am reprinting this story (below) that I posted in July 2013 for an obvious reason.  A a 32-year-old San Francisco woman, Kathryn Steinle, was shot to death last week while taking a picturesque walk with her father down Pier 14 in San Francisco, a popular tourist area.  Police have arrested, Francisco Sanchez, 45, an illegal immigrant and a repeat felon who had already been deported five times, for the crime. 

This heinous murder points to (1) the the utter failure of this administration to secure our borders, (2) the general attitude that the President's executive amnesty is encouraging throughout our law enforcement community of looking the other way when it comes to illegal immigrants, (3) the stupidity of San Francisco and other cities who have made themselves "sanctuary cities" by refusing to cooperate with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws, and (4) the fallacy of thinking that gun control laws (which only affect law-abiding citizens) have anything to do with preventing situations like this.

Louise Sollowin, 93
At the time of my earlier article (July 2013), the Trayvon Martin story was attracting all the media coverage, while a 93-year-old Omaha woman was sexually assaulted and beaten to death by a 19-year-old illegal alien.  I predicted then that, apart from a local Omaha newspaper and television station, the national media are going to bury this story.  And they did.  No one outside Omaha heard about Louise Sollowin.  While President Obama called for a "national conversation about race" over the death of Trayvon Martin, there was no outcry for a "national conversation" about illegal immigration.

The murder of Louise Sollowin two years ago and the murder of Kathryn Steinle last week are not isolated incidents.  You can Google "illegal alien crimes" and read about hundreds and even thousands of similar incidents.

A lot has changed in the two years between these two murders: (1) the President has openly defied Congress and the will of the American people with his executive amnesty orders, and (2) more than a million more illegal immigrants have entered the US.

But a lot has also not changed: (1) nothing has been done to secure the borders, and (2) no one in Congress seems to have the political will to tackle this issue.  The voters gave Republicans a majority in the Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives with a clear mandate:  Securing the borders was a principal part of that mandate.  Now, establishment Republicans are acting like Democrats on this issue.  Meanwhile American jobs, American cities, and American lives are being lost as a consequence.

Here's the article from July 2013:

Where Is the Outrage?

Yo!  Trayvon Martin supporters!  How about saving a little of your outrage for this:

Church remembers longtime south Omaha matriarch

OMAHA, Neb. — A church and community are in mourning following the senseless death of a 93-year-old south Omaha woman.

A crowd is expected to turn out Friday night and Saturday to pay respects to Louise Sollowin, who lived most of her life in the home where police said she was beaten and sexually assaulted Sunday.

Sollowin died of her injuries Wednesday.

Her alleged attacker, Sergio Martinez-Perez, 19, returned to court Friday to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with Sollowin's death.

Those who knew Sollowin are now preparing to say goodbye.

"I can tell you at mass when we announced it, there were definitely tears," said Rev. James Buckley, of St. Francis Cabrini.  "I mean, we still have people in the parish who were raised with Louise, so they knew her, they remember her.  It's just a difficult time for the whole parish."

Buckley understands how difficult it is to process the unimaginable way Sollowin died.  He spent the last moments of her life at her hospital bedside praying with her and her family.  Buckley said he still can't shake the image of Sollowin's battered face or the severity of the crime.

In court Friday, prosecutors said Martinez-Perez admitted to looking for a victim because he was "mad at women."  He randomly picked Sollowin's house, prosecutors allege.
Read more (with video).

Police: Elderly woman who was beaten, raped dies

Sergio Martinez-Perez faces murder charge

OMAHA, Neb. —A 19-year-old accused of beating and raping an elderly woman who later died will now face a murder charge.

Prosecutors said Sergio Martinez-Perez beat and sexually assaulted 93-year-old Louise Sollowin in her home Sunday.  Sollowin died Wednesday.

Martinez-Perez is charged with first-degree murder.  Charges were dropped for first-degree sexual assault and first-degree assault and burglary.

A judge denied him bond on Friday.

Autopsy results showed that Sollowin's cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Sollowin's family remembers her as a strong woman with many stories and talents.

“She loved her family and her family loved her,” said Teresa Hartzell, the victim’s granddaughter.  “She was all about family.”

“(She was) a wonderful seamstress.  We all got pajamas from her for Christmas, all the grandkids.  She made her children’s clothes,” Hartzell said.

Sollowin's daughter found her suffering in her home Sunday morning.

“She heard my grandmother, and she went in the bedroom, her grandmother called, ‘Help me. Help me,'” Hartzell said.

Hartzell said her mother pushed Martinez-Perez away from her and was going to help her grandmother and saw that it was serious, ran into the other room and called police.

Hartzell and her husband arrived moments later, seeing the man police arrested.

“I was there when the police took him out and he just glared,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any words for it. I just can’t understand why someone would do that. Doesn’t make any sense.”
Prosecutors said Martinez-Perez admitted to the assault and rape, saying he was mad at women after a night of drinking.

Joe Sollowin, Louise's son, said Perez stole precious years from his mother, and the family is demanding justice.

“I want him to get the electric chair. That's what I want. Of course that can't bring my mother back, but he doesn't deserve anything,” he said.

Joe said he is haunted by the pain his mother suffered.  "I still can't get the thought of seeing what happened -- beating her up.   That's not how you want her to go and that's not right,” he said.

Martinez-Perez, who had been working as a roofer, has no ties to Omaha and no known relatives in the metro.

Investigators said Martinez-Perez is not a legal resident of the United States, and that his country of origin is not yet clear.

The victim’s family said a detective told them Perez has been in the country for about four months.  [Emphasis added.]
Read more (with video).
(with video)
Hello! White House?  Hello! Justice Department?  If the killing of Trayvon Martin is enough to merit the personal involvement of the President of the United States and the Attorney General, and if it is cause to open a national conversation about race, then shouldn't the brutal murder of Louise Sollowin by an illegal alien be sufficient to make us rethink the immigration proposals that are currently before Congress? 

Of course it is.  But the main reason it probably won't happen is because, apart from a local Omaha newspaper and television station, the national media are going to bury this story.
How many more lives will we lose before our political leaders act?