Monday, December 28, 2015

Why Thomas Aquinas Distrusted Islam

Just as I was quoting Hilaire Belloc on Islam in my previous post, Breitbart ran this brief but cogent article citing the great Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas' views on this subject, which is once again timely after 800 years.

From Breitbart:
Why Thomas Aquinas Distrusted Islam

(by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.  27 Dec 2015)

The 13th-century scholar Thomas Aquinas, regarded as one of the most eminent medieval philosophers and theologians, offered a biting critique of Islam based in large part on the questionable character and methods of its founder, Mohammed. 
According to Aquinas, Islam appealed to ignorant, brutish, carnal men and spread not by the power of its arguments or divine grace but by the power of the sword.
Aquinas, a keen observer of the human condition, was familiar with the chief works of the Muslim philosophers of his day–including Avicenna, Algazel, and Averroes–and engaged them in his writings.
Since Islam was founded and spread in the seventh century, Aquinas—considered by Catholics as a saint and doctor of the Church—lived in a period closer to that of Mohammed than to our own day.
In one of his most significant works, the voluminous Summa contra gentiles, which Aquinas wrote between 1258 and 1264 AD, the scholar argued for the truth of Christianity against other belief systems, including Islam.
Aquinas contrasts the spread of Christianity with that of Islam, arguing that much of Christianity’s early success stemmed from widespread belief in the miracles of Jesus, whereas the spread of Islam was worked through the promise of sensual pleasures and the violence of the sword.
Mohammad, Aquinas wrote, “seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure.”
Such an offer, Aquinas contended, appealed to a certain type of person of limited virtue and wisdom.
“In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men,” he wrote. “As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.”
Because of the weakness of Islam’s contentions, Aquinas argued, “no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning.” Instead, those who believed in him “were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms.”
Islam’s violent methods of propagation were especially unconvincing to Aquinas, since he found that the use of such force does not prove the truth of one’s claims, and are the means typically used by evil men.
“Mohammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms,” Aquinas wrote, “which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.”
At the time Aquinas was writing, Islam was generally considered a Christian heresy, since it drew so heavily on Christian texts and beliefs. Aquinas wrote that Mohammed “perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law.”
According to the noted historian Hilaire Belloc, Islam “began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was—not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.”
In his Summa contra gentiles, Aquinas ends his argument against Islam by offering a backhanded compliment to Mohammed, noting that he had to keep his followers ignorant in order for them to remain faithful.
It was, Aquinas wrote, “a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity.”
“It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly,” he wrote.
Many thanks to Dr. Williams for making contemporary readers aware of Aquinas' insights.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hilaire Belloc's Prophetic Words about Islam

The words of Roman Catholic writer, Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), writing in the early 20th century, when Christianity was the world's predominant religion and Islam was at a critical low, now seem prophetic in the light of current events.  Consider these quotes from chapter five of Belloc's book, Survivals and New Arrivals and from chapter four of The Great Heresies,"The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed":
"Islam presents a totally different problem from that attached to any other religious body opposed to Catholicism.  To understand it we must appreciate its origins, character and recent fate.  Only then can we further appreciate its possible or probable future relations with enemies of the Catholic effort throughout the world." 

"When the man who produced it (and it is more the creation of one man than any other false religion we know) was young, the whole of the world which he knew...was Catholic.  It was still, though in the process of transformation, the Christian Roman Empire, stretching from the English Channel to the borders of his own desert."  
"Now what Mohamet did was this.  He took over the principal doctrines of the Catholic Church--one personal God, Creator of all things; the immortality of the soul; an eternity of misery or blessedness--and no small part of Christian morals as well...  But at the same time he attempted an extreme simplification." 

"Many another heresiarch has done this, throwing overboard such and such too profound doctrines, and appealing to the less intelligent by getting rid of mysteries through a crude denial of them.  
"With the energy of his personality behind that highly simplified, burning enthusiasm, he first inflamed his own few desert folk, and they in turn proceeded to impose their new enthusiasm very rapidly over vast areas of what had been until then a Catholic civilization; and their chief allies in this sweeping revolution were politically the doctrine of equality and spiritually the doctrine of simplicity.  Everybody troubled by the mysteries of Catholicism tended to join them; so did every slave or debtor who was oppressed by the complexity of a higher civilization.  
"For centuries the struggle between Islam and the Catholic Church continued.  It had varying fortunes, but for something like a thousand years the issue remained doubtful.  It was not until the year 1700 that Christian culture seemed for a time-- to be definitely the master.  
"During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Mohammedan world fell under a kind of palsy...  At last by the end of the nineteenth century, more than nine-tenths of the Mohammedan population of the world...had fallen under the government of nominally Christian nations, especially of England and France." 
"Millions of modern people of the white civilization--that is, the civilization of Europe and America--have forgotten all about Islam.  They have never come in contact with it.  They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them.  It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past." 
"On this account our generation came to think of Islam as something naturally subject to ourselves.  We no longer regarded it as a rival to our own culture, we thought of its religion as a sort of fossilized thing about which we need not trouble."  
"That was almost certainly a mistake.  We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future.  Perhaps if we lose our faith it will rise."  
"Remember that our Christian civilization is in peril of complete breakdown.  An enemy would say that it is living upon its past; and certainly those who steadfastly hold its ancient Catholic doctrine stand on guard as it were in a state of siege; they are a minority both in power and in numbers.  Upon such a state of affairs a steadfast, permanent, convinced, simple philosophy and rule of life, intensely adhered to, and close at hand, may now that the various sections of the world are so much interpenetrating one and the other, be of effect. 
"We must remember that the subjection of the Mohammedan --a purely political subjection --was accomplished by nothing more subtle or enduring than a superiority in weapons and mechanical invention.  We must further remember that this superiority dates from a very short time ago." 
"A little more and there will cease that which our time has taken for granted, the physical domination of Islam by the disintegrated Christendom we know."
As Belloc predicted, a radical and militant Islam has arisen to fill the void left by Christianity's decline and the decadence of the West.  The ultimate answer to the threat of Islam from within or without the United States is not primarily a military solution; it is a spiritually renewed and virtuous people who believe and live their lives with faith in Jesus Christ.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

[CORRECTION:] Is the Pope Catholic?

Well, it appears that, according to Snopes, the quotation below, attributed to Pope Francis is a fake. 
“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah.  These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world.  For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths.  This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith.  Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is to respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by.  We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now.  No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God.”
Read the rest (from the website that posted the fake quote!)
However, I am struck by the fact that, if you read my previous post about the professor at Wheaton college who is wearing a hijab during the season of Advent, she also believed the Pope said we all worship the same God.  To quote Professor Hawkins again:
"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.  And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God," Hawkins stated.   
The great tragedy is that, given the rise of an uncritical, unthinking pluralism among so much of establishment Christianity, it was entirely believable that Pope Francis could have said the words falsely attributed to him.  After all, a professor at Wheaton College bought this line of thinking to the point she started wearing a hijab and got suspended for itShe may well have read the same fake quote that I did and said to herself, "Yup, sounds good to me!"

So the rest of what I had to say about the theological issues at stake when trying to say that Christianity and Islam are compatible still applies.  Professor Hawkins, quoted this sentiment approvingly in order to gloss over the differences between Christianity and Islam, and, in doing so, is engaging in universalism and syncretism that diminish and even deny the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel. 

Which is all the more reason to cite Pope John Paul II, who, while being very impressed by the religiosity of Muslims, nevertheless wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope,
Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation.  It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son.  In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside. 
Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us.  Islam is not a religion of redemption.  There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection.  Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad.  There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent.  For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity. 
That the revelation of God through his Son has been "set aside," as John Paul says, is seen in verses from the Koran such as these,
  • “The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle . . .God is but one God. GOD FORBID THAT HE SHOULD HAVE A SON!” (4:171)
  • Those who say: “The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son, preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack . . .” (19:88)
  • “Praise be to Allah who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom . . .” (17:111)
The challenge of Islam to both Christianity and Judaism is seen even more clearly when one considers the construction of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque (completed in AD 691 and 705, respectively) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which was a popular site for Christian pilgrimage in the Byzantine era, thus precluding Jewish worship at Judaism's holiest site, while, at the same time, challenging Christianity with words emblazoned in Arabic on both buildings: “God has no Son.”  In the very place where God says his Son's throne will be established (Psalm 2:6, 10-12), Islam challenges the very existence of the Son and the reality of the promise.

Pope Benedict XVI invited controversy when he said, regarding Islam, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The early 20th century Roman Catholic author,  Hilaire Belloc, was prophetic in predicting: “We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future.  Perhaps if we lose our faith, it will rise.”

I plan on posting more quotes from Belloc later this week because his warnings are prescient.  And while most of the world would rejoice at the prospect of genuine peace between Christians and Muslims, naïveté and bad theology in the face of a radical and aggressive Islam are not the way to achieve that end.


The Hijab-wearing Wheaton College Professor: Why It Matters

Last week Wheaton College Associate Professor of Political Science, Larycia Hawkins, announced that she would wear a hijab — a Muslim headscarf — during the season of Advent.  Controversy ensued in the evangelical world and the professor has since been suspended.

While I am a strong supporter of both the freedom of speech and academic freedom, I applaud Wheaton College's decision.  An academic institution such as Wheaton, if it is to continue to be considered an evangelical Christian school, must be clear about the uniqueness of the Christian faith.  Prof. Hawkins' decision about wearing the hijab and her comments in defense of it raise a number of very serious theological issues

Hawkins made her announcement on her Facebook page, saying her outward gesture — she’ll don the hijab everywhere she goes during Advent — is a demonstration of “human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor.”

Larycia Hawkins (Image source: Facebook)

"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.  And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God," Hawkins stated.  "But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all.  Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity."

“As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport, and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws, and at church,” Hawkins said, adding that she hopes others will join her cause.

Hawkins said she also sought the “advice and blessing” of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to make sure her gesture wouldn’t be “haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims.” Well, it was all good with CAIR, she said.

One would hope that even political science professors at Wheaton College, long considered a bastion of evangelical Christian higher education, would have a better understanding of the religious and theological issues involved in such a statement.

The God of the Christian New Testament is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ--the First Person of an eternal Trinity, which consists of one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The eternal Second Person of that Trinity, the Son, became incarnate as Jesus, the Christ, through being conceived in the Virgin Mary by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  This same Jesus died as an atonement for sin, rose bodily on the third day and ascended to the right hand of God the Father, from whence he shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

This is the teaching of the New Testament and the witness of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.  And herein lies the problem: Islam completely and absolutely denies and rejects everything about this description of God.  Consequently, the Allah of Islam and the God of biblical Christianity cannot possibly be the same.

We all too often hear it said that Christians Jews and Muslims are all "people of the book."  People of what book?  Just as the Allah of Islam is not the God confessed by orthodox Christians and Jews, the Koran is totally incompatible with the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  The Koran mentions Jesus but denies that he is God's Son and that he died and rose again.  Indeed, the Koran denies the cardinal teachings of the New Testament concerning Jesus and corrupts the teaching of the Old Testament concerning Abraham to the extent that the teaching of Islam can only be accurately described as apostasy from the teaching of Judaism and Christianity.

So, no, despite the attempt of some religious leaders to equate "the three Abrahamic faiths" and to say that they are compatible, they are not.  Christian - Muslim relations will not be helped by blurring the distinction between the two religious but rather by being very candid and truthful about the differences.  Wheaton College is taking a very clear and necessary step in that direction.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

After Muslim Truckers Refuse to Deliver Beer, Obama Administration Sues... Their Employer!!!!

[Verified on Truth or Fiction:]

The administration of Barack Obama just sided with Muslims to enforce Islamic Sharia Law on an American business, leaving many outraged and two Fox News anchors absolutely stunned.

Two Muslim truck drivers — former Somali “refugees” — refused to make deliveries of beer to stores for their employer.  So they were understandably fired.  They claimed it was a violation of their religious beliefs — even though Islam bars only the consumption of alcohol.  And, as the employer pointed out, the workers knew they would have to deliver alcohol before they took the job.

So guess what Barack Obama did.  He SUED the employers on behalf of the pair, Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale, claiming religious discrimination.

Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) represented them in the case, providing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal support, judicial filings and court appearances against the employer who was hopelessly outgunned by the Federal government.

And this week the Muslims were awarded a stunning $240,000 by a jury, presided over by an Obama appointee who stunned analysts by allowing the case to go forward at all.

Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly and Andrew Napolitano were flabbergasted:

“The Obama administration actually represented the two Muslims in this case.  But has sometimes taken a very different position in the case of Christians trying to assert their religious beliefs.”

She then said to Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano:  “So in the case of the Muslim truck drivers, the Obama administration through the EEOC is all in.  This is what they said: ‘We are proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices; it’s fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance.’  But when it comes to the Christian bakers, it’s not as fundamental.”

Napolitano was equally perplexed:  “That’s correct.  It’s unfortunate when the government interferes in a private dispute over religious views, and takes sides, and chooses one religion over another.”   To their point, the Christian owners of “Melissa’s Sweet Cakes” were fined $135,000 by the state of Oregon for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.  And Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Napolitano offered an explanation for the administration’s interest in the Muslim truck driver case:  “The way the feds intervened … they wanted this case because they wanted to make the point that they've now made.”

The U.S. Government and the courts can't legally have one set of laws for Christians and another set of laws for Muslims and other religious groups.  But now they do.  Obama’s actions and this court’s ruling makes it clear that not all Americans are legally recognized as possessing religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

As George Orwell might put it, Obama has now established that Muslims are more equal than Christians in America.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots

Often attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, but actually first published by Fritz Edmunds, who posted it to his "Politically True" blog back on 3 February 2013 (albeit with a disclaimer noting that "some of the ideas were from an e-mail that did not contain any copyright"):

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders [Muslim Brotherhood] in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.​


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yes, Virginia, There Is a War on Christmas

VA Medical Center Reportedly Bans Christmas Trees From ‘Any Public Areas This Year’ — and Now Lawyers Are Making a Demand

From The Blaze where there is more:
A conservative legal firm fired off a letter to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center on Tuesday in an effort to push back against a memo that was reportedly emailed to staff last week, effectively banning Christmas trees from display in public areas within the facility. 
That decision was overturned following outrage, but the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, is now requesting a written assurance that the medical center will respect the religious rights of its employees and of those it serves. 
The veterans’ center, located in Salem, Virginia, purportedly said in the memo that staff members could only engage in ”private religious expression in their personal work areas that are not regularly open to the public” in an effort to be welcoming to all. 
“The wording of the memo leaves open the possibility that employees could be punished for Christmas decorations or ‘merry Christmas’ greetings to veterans except in personal workstations that are out of public view,” reads a press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom. 
Here’s the memo that was reportedly emailed to staff:
A copy of the memo that was reportedly distributed (Alliance Defending Freedom)
A copy of the memo that was reportedly distributed (Alliance Defending Freedom)
The document reportedly took specific aim at Christmas trees as well, with the text proclaiming that such decorations are unwelcome in public areas. 
“Please note that trees (regarless of the types of ornaments used) have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year,” reads a copy of the document that was posted by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

French Lesson

This World War II poster illustrates a lesson about ISIS that should be clear from the tragedy in Paris:

Friday, November 06, 2015

Col. James S. Munday, Happy 100th!

I was in Savannah, Georgia last weekend for my last surviving uncle's 100th birthday.

Lt. Munday in 1942
Col. James Stanley Munday's flying career began several years prior to World War II, when he and some buddies barnstormed all over the Midwest.  When the war arrived, "Uncle Stan," as many in the family now call him, went off to flight training for the US Army Air Force (before the US Air Force became a separate branch of the military) and emerged as a First Lieutenant and pilot (yes, you read that right, he skipped 2nd Lieutenant), commanding the crew of a B-24 "Liberator" bomber.

Before he could depart for overseas duty, the Air Force commandeered his squadron's B-24s for anti-submarine duty and switched Lt. Munday over to the venerable B-17 "Flying Fortress."  With barely more than a few hours to get "checked out" on the B-17, Lt. Munday found himself and a crew ferrying their own B-17 over to the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, England, which would be their base for the duration of the war.

Bastille Day, July 14, 1943 found the Americans engaged in a "maximum effort" assault to show our French allies that we were determined to win their freedom and achieve victory over the Nazis.  After bombing the Nazi-occupied Villacoublay Airfield and aircraft factories outside Paris, Lt. Munday and his crew succumbed to enemy flak and strafing from Focke-Wulf 190s.  Lt. Munday himself took an enemy machine gun round from a FW 190 in the leg.  Keeping the B-17 aloft while his crew bailed out, Lt. Munday finally bailed out almost too low for safety.

Col. Munday (2nd from left) with Alex Gotovsky (left)

Landing in his parachute in a grove of trees, near the village of Les Essarts-le-Roi, Lt. Munday was aided by a young French boy, Alex Gotovsky, who hid Munday's parachute and directed him to a hiding place.  (Young Alex' family had become refugees in France following the Communist Revolution in Russia.)

The treatment and recovery from the wound in Munday's leg would take many weeks.  Finally, with the help of the French Underground, Lt. Munday was disguised as a French surveyor, equipped with forged identity papers and sent south.  Being out of uniform and in civilian clothes with forged papers meant Munday would be shot as a spy if caught.  The long journey led over the Pyrenees (traveling through the mountains at night on foot) to Barcelona, then Madrid, then at last to Gibraltar, where he could secure a flight that would take him back to his base in England.

Col. Munday in 1963
Thus began an Air Force career that would take James Stanley Munday through B-29 duty in the Pacific, hurricane hunting over the Atlantic, and finally into the ranks of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in which he would spend the remainder of a long and distinguished career.  In those years, he flew every model of bomber and tanker (and most of the transports) that the Air Force possessed, becoming a Command Pilot and rising to the rank of Colonel.

In 1997, Col. Munday returned to the village of Les Essarts-le-Roi where he was awarded a medal and had the opportunity to be reunited with Alex Gotovsky, the young boy who had once helped him hide from the Nazis, both of them now much older.

The celebration of Col. Munday's birthday took place at the national "Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum" ourside Savannah, which Col. Munday helped found and where he volunteered each week as a guide for many years.  There was nothing quite like hearing about the Mighty Eighth Air Force's many adventures from a pilot who had been a part of them all.

Col. Munday with yours truly at his 100th birthday celebration.
If you are ever in the Savannah area, I strongly encourage you to take a tour of the museum, with its many exhibits and aircraft, and the magnificent grounds with a chapel that is a reconstructed English parish church like the one near their World War II base at Grafton  Underwood, England.

Col. Munday turned 100 years old on November 1 and is still sharp, vigorous, and in good health.  In what I consider to be a real act of faith, he just bought a new computer.  He will probably outlast this one too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

John Rhys-Davies on political correctness, Islam, and the greatness of western civilization

Gimli takes an axe to political correctness in this interview:
But the real point is, if you play down the things that bind you, you weaken a society. If you do not believe that America is great, if you’re not allowed to say ‘My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty,’ you will find sectional forces in your country trying to break it down. All countries have centrifugal forces trying to tear them apart. The way that you hold your society together is because you have that extraordinary document, the Constitution. Be very wary of people who seek to change the Constitution because it is the glue that holds your disparate peoples together.

Western Christian civilization, of which you’re a part, is one of the great glories of mankind. These are the things we stand for. We stand for liberty, liberty of association, freedom of speech. We stand for the equality of everyone in our society before the law, men as well as women. We could make a list of all the things. But let’s get back to respecting these things. These are the glories of our ancestors. These are what thousands of our ancestors died to protect and preserve. And if we allow those things to go because we are afraid of being politically incorrect, or of hurting somebody by suggesting that perhaps their value system may not be quite as nice as ours, then we are fools, and ultimately, scoundrels.
 There's much more. Read it all.

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?