Sunday, September 28, 2008

The most underreported story of the past week...

A.S. Haley, an attorney from California who blogs under the name, the Anglican Curmudgeon, has posted a most interesting column in which he demonstrates that at the same time the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor were telling the House of Bishops meeting in Salt Lake City that “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" means a majority of those present and entitled to vote, David Booth Beers’ firm submitted a brief on behalf of the Presiding Bishop in the Virginia property case asserting that the virtually identical language in the Virginia statute (“a majority of the whole number entitled to vote”) meant a majority of the members of a congregation who are entitled to vote, whether or not they were present.

Anyone, including the media (hint) can check the facts for themselves. But it appears to me that the House of Bishops has, at the very least, been misled; and an injustice has been committed against the three bishops (Duncan, Cox, and Schofield) who have been deposed under this (intentionally???) erroneous interpretation of the Canons.

Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali: Duncan deposition shows need for "structural solution" and "immediate relief"

Ruth Gledhill's latest column in the Times (London) on the reaction from British bishops to the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan is a 'must read.'

The second part of that column is particularly significant--a transcript from an interview with the Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali on the growing demand for a new Anglican Province in North America and the potential for the division that has been worsened by the deposition of Bishop Duncan to affect the Church of England.

Here is an excerpt of what Bishop Nazir-Ali had to say:

'The first thing is to express huge admiration for Bishop Bob, because for so many years he has borne the brunt of the anger of those who want to make changes in The Episcopal Church. He has stayed loyally within that Church.

'I have quite often watched him in the American house of bishops or general convention, taking flak. So given all of that, I am very sad and very shocked that he's been treated in this way.

'Quite a few American bishops had come to Lambeth, knowing that nothing would change afterwards. I do not think we can take seriously what they agreed at Lambeth. This is of a piece with other meetings where they have beehn present, have agreed things and where nothing has happened afterwards.

'This does show that a structural solution is needed for the orthodox in the American church. There must be immediate relief. No talk about panels doing things in the future. We need, they need more importantly, immediate relief from this kind of action taken against them. I hope that a province in due course of the orthodox in America will be recognised in the Anglican Communion.

'Here are loyal Anglicans whose only fault is not wanting to change what they have received.

Ruth Gledhill continues:
But a robust statement this evening from Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes and others at Anglican Mainstream gives some indication of how serious the problems remain on the home front.

They said: 'The Jerusalem statement from almost 1200 confessing Anglican leaders urged the Archbishops of Nigeria, Kenya, Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa and Rwanda to recognise a new Anglican province for North America.

'This has now become more urgent due to the aggressive liberal and unprincipled behaviour of The Episcopal Church house of bishops towards the Bishop of Pittsburgh whose currently moderator of the orthodox Common Cause Partnership.

'The behaviour of The Episcopal Church house of bishops shows that the promised moratorium at Lambeth is dead and their integrity in wishing to bring peace must now be questioned.'

Read it all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Worthy to Suffer

For all who follow Christ, but especially for my friends in Pittsburgh—
27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

worthy of the gospel (vs. 27). Here the Apostle Paul is exhorting his readers to live lives that are in keeping with the standards and character of the Gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ. That standard, as we read elsewhere in the Scriptures, entails the characteristics of holiness and righteousness—two words we Christians like to throw around a lot without ever stopping to define them. The result is that many people don't know exactly what they mean, or sometimes view them as interchangeable or synonymous. They are complementary, but they are not synonymous.

Holiness means "set apart," and there is a two-fold connotation: set apart from the world by our integrity and purity, and set apart for God by our complete and total dedication—thoroughly and unreservedly belonging to God.

1 John 2:15-16 says,
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."

This is the essence of holiness, not loving those things that our fallen nature (our flesh) craves, nor those things that are alluring to our eyes, nor those things that appeal to our egos (the pride of life) but instead having our hearts totally fixed on God.

Righteousness (vs. 27) is related to "rightness"— letting God's priorities and values be our thoughts and values, and letting His Word and His will direct our thoughts and actions to the exclusion of all else.

in one spirit... (vs. 27). Having a common disposition and purpose with other members of the Body of Christ so that we are one, even as Christ and the Father are one (John 17:20-22).

contending as one man... (vs. 27). Particularly where the Gospel is being attacked, Christians need each other. They must stand together and let their unity in the Truth be a witness to the world.

without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you (vs 28).   "...for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed... (vs. 28). Persistent opposition to the Gospel is a sure sign of eventual destruction because it is a rejection of the way of salvation. By the same token, when Christians are persecuted for their faith, it is a sign of the genuineness of their faith.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

granted... to suffer (vs. 29). Given as a gift or privilege, suffering identifies the Christian with Christ, who suffered for our salvation, and with the prophets and saints who have suffered for the Truth of God's Word in every age.

same struggle... (vs. 30). The Philippian believers (and all who suffer today) are undergoing the same opposition Paul faced in his ministry.

Finally, from 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12,

3We ought always to thank God for you, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Cost of Not Following the Canons

Over at Stand Firm Sarah Hey has a great piece on this week's vote by the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops to depose Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, entitled: Why It’s A Great Day To Be A Traditional Anglican.

Here's just a sample:

No, there are two other reasons why an Episcopal bishop would not want to support the deposition of Bishop Duncan. First, some bishops -- obviously 30% of the House -- care about following the canons, not convenience or political advantage. And second . . . and make no mistake about this . . . some bishops know just how very bad this looks to the rest of the Communion: to the bishops that they sat in indaba with, to fair-minded liberals, to Rowan Williams, and to moderates everywhere who have tried to be fair-minded with TEC.

Katherine Jefferts Schori and her advisors had two choices. They could violate the canons flagrantly and hang 'em high now, further shattering TEC's global reputation . . . or they could attempt to follow the canons scrupulously. They chose the former -- and I think they knew the cost within the Communion.

The cost is TEC's further distancing from the rest of the Communion. And Bishop Jefferts Schori was willing to pay that cost.

Read it all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

General Convention adopts Ubuntu as 2009 Theme

I think I have figured out the problem with this General Convention thing: Part of us are spinning to the left, while part of us are spinning to the right.