Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A shocking “confession” from Willow Creek Community Church

From [boldface mine]:

For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.

Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.

All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement. . .

Read it all.
H/t to Touchstone.

Letter from the Presiding Bishop to Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan

Posted on Stand Firm:

Letter from the Presiding Bishop to Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Bob,

There have been numerous public references in recent weeks regarding resolutions to be introduced at your forthcoming diocesan convention. Those resolutions, if adopted, would amend several of your diocesan canons and begin the process of amending one or more provisions of your diocesan Constitution. I have reviewed a number of these proposed resolutions, and it is evident to me that they would violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese conform to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. It is apparent from your pre-convention report that you endorse these proposed changes. I am also aware of other of your statements and actions in recent months that demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from The Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view, display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal Church and its dioceses. Our Constitution explicitly provides that a diocese must accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Church.

I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention not to adopt the resolutions that you have until now supported.

If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased -- and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.

It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation, and I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori


Great Halloween posting at an undercurrent of hostility:

However controversial, we are going to be ‘celebrating’ Halloween this year, again. Matt grew up with fond and warm memories of Halloween—running around safe neighborhoods, receiving safe candy, not dealing with the theological implications of celebrating Halloween and ignoring All Saints. I, for understandable reasons, never celebrated Halloween or All Saints Day—the one because it was too close to the occult for a Baptist Boarding School and the other because it was too Catholic. Both days always passed carefully unmarked. . .

Read it all.

Wednesday proverb

Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

Proverbs 21:19

Catholic church for faith, Anglican for wedding

From the Montreal Gazette:

Although they are still officially Roman Catholics, Alain Boisvert and Denise Hubert have decided to marry - in an Anglican church.

It will be a second marriage for both. They didn't like the idea of a civil ceremony at the local courthouse, and they didn't want to have to seek clerical annulments of their first marriages in order to marry again in a Catholic church.

"I could have asked for an annulment, but that would have been like annulling the two children I had from my first marriage, and morally I couldn't do that," Hubert said.

Boisvert, who is 44 years old, and Hubert, 49, had already heard through the grapevine that the Anglican church in Sorel had begun offering remarriage opportunities for divorced Roman Catholics. So when Christ Church opened its doors this past summer to guided tours, they were among 1,500 in this town of 34,000 who took advantage of the opportunity to peek inside.

As a result of that visit, the couple decided to get married in the church next August, after marriage-preparation sessions in the spring with local Anglican priest Holly Ratcliffe.

As a result of a 1999 edict from the office of the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, which includes the Sorel parish, priests in the diocese are now free to offer marriage services to non-Anglican couples at their own discretion. Newlyweds don't have to convert to the Anglican faith.

In Sorel, however, some of those who have remarried in Christ Church have taken to showing up in the pews on Sunday mornings and are part of an almost entirely francophone and Roman Catholic congregation of 30 people.

Ratcliffe, who gives her church services in French, married four Roman Catholic couples in 2005, her second year as pastor in the Sorel parish. Last year, she married two before having to cut back on her activities in order to complete a doctoral thesis.

"Every couple is different," Ratcliffe said. "Some want more religious language than others."

Hubert said her spiritual side has grown as she has aged through her 40s. After her parents died in 2006, she said she started noticing in her hospital work that churchgoers seemed to cope much better than other people with the death of a loved one.

As for the issue of why they are getting married in a Protestant church, Hubert said, "That's not the question (people) ask. The big question we get is why we want to get married at all, after 18 years.". . .

Read it all, and ponder the ramifications of the attitude (and the reporter's title for the piece). Interesting, huummm. . .

Watching the Tiber go by

Check out this 7-part series by Will Duquette at The View from the Foothills. Here's an excerpt [boldface mine]:

In 1997 everything changed. Our first son was born that year, and though we continued faithfully attending St. Luke’s every Sunday our lives were (and are) consumed with parenthood. Coincidentally, it was also at about this time (December of 1996, actually) that I began posting book reviews on line–but I digress. And so we were more or less distracted until 2003, when Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, an event that polarized–and well-nigh created–the Anglican Blogosphere. I don’t see any value in rehashing all of the details here; if you’ve not been following along, I’ll simply note that the events of 2003 revealed that the division in the Anglican Communion on matters of sexuality, biblical interpretation, and Christian orthodoxy was far deeper and wider than most of us had realized up until that time. Kendall Harmon, who blogs at Titus OneNine, dubbed the two camps the “reappraisers” (those who wish to interpret scripture in accord with modern needs) and the “reasserters” (those who wish to interpret scripture as the Church has always interpreted scripture).

Jane and I, along with most of the people at St. Luke’s, were and are firmly in the “reasserters” camp. The phrase our pastor used was “biblical orthodoxy”–at St. Luke’s, as at a handful of other parishes in our diocese, we would strive to be “biblically orthodox”. And that was well and good. “Biblically orthodox” described in a nutshell what we wanted to be, and what the reappraisers did not seem to care about.

Only, what did it mean? What did being “biblically orthodox” entail?
Being true to the scriptures, obviously; but what were the specifics? The Nicene Creed was involved, and I knew something about that and what it meant and where it came from; but the “reappraisers” also recited the Nicene Creed. In the end, I decided that Kendall Harmon had it right: to be a “reasserter” was to interpret scripture as the Church has always interpreted scripture. So…how had the Church always interpreted scripture?

H/t to Aimee Milburn at Historical Christian.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2006 Episcopal Church data released

According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mondays with C.S. Lewis

I am not here thinking solely, perhaps not even chiefly, of those who are our public enemies at the moment. The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man, goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many a mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany. Traditional values are to be ‘debunked’ and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. The belief that we can invent ‘ideologies’ at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere νλη, specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. Once we killed bad men: now we liquidate unsocial elements. Virtue has become integration and diligence dynamism. . .

C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man (1947)

UTAH: Bishop calls for cancellation of Lambeth Conference

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church Center
812 Second Avenue
New York NY 10017-4503
October 27, 2007

Dear Katharine:

With reference to your letter of October 17 inviting us to comment on the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent and urgent request of you, The Episcopal Diocese of Utah Bishop, Deputation, Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and Diocesan Convention make the following recommendation in the next steps part of the request: We urge you to ask the Archbishop to cancel the Lambeth Conference for 2008.


* The Communion is in such disarray over who recognizes who, and the participation of irregularly consecrated bishops, that little good can come from the fragmented gatherings sure to take place at the Conference, and even attendance at common worship is unlikely.

* We are unclear about the other issues being raised around the Communion, although the Archbishop suggests they are very specific. Within the constitution and canons of our church we have responded faithfully and courteously to the demands of others, even though questioning their authority to set the conditions of our continued participation in the Communion.

* We are leery about using the occasion of the Conference to present a Covenant that is exclusionary, that centralizes authority, or that adds to the core doctrine of our faith.

* The cost of holding the Lambeth Conference under the present circumstances is disproportionate to its benefits, and to the good we can do elsewhere in the mission of the church.

* Given the disarray we referred to above, we think that a Lambeth Conference in the near future would be disastrous to our public image around the world.

We send you our love and prayers, rejoicing in your strong and grace-filled leadership in these challenging times.


Carolyn Tanner Irish (The Rt. Rev.)
10th Bishop of Utah

H/t to the Midwest Conservative Journal.

It's official: Consents given for the election of Mark Lawrence as next South Carolina bishop

From the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina:

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has been notified a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of Standing Committees have consented to the election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as the 14th bishop of South Carolina. A consecration is planned for Saturday, January 26th, 2008. The diocese looks forward to a continued vigorous mission under its new bishop.

And from EpiscopalLife Online:
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced October 29 that the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence had received the consents needed for him to become the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The consecration will be held January 26, 2008 at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jefferts Schori has been invited to visit the diocese February 25-26, 2008. "This will give us an opportunity to state with clarity and charity the theological position of this diocese in a manner similar to when we met with [the] Most. Rev. Frank T. Griswold shortly after his installation as presiding bishop," the diocese says in a statement on its website.

The Rev. J. Haden McCormick, president of South Carolina's diocesan Standing Committee, said the diocese has received the news with much appreciation. "We're delighted and blessed, and look forward to pressing on with the mission of the church," he said. "The diocese is so convinced that Bishop-elect Mark is the man God is calling. He has his own unique gifts that he will bring to the diocese, which will become clear as God leads us forward."

Lawrence was re-elected as South Carolina's bishop on August 4 at a special electing convention held at St. James' Church on St. James Island, South Carolina. Lawrence was the only candidate in the election.

Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.16.4 (a)), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees had to consent to Lawrence's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

Lawrence, 56, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bakersfield, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin, was first elected September 16, 2006 to be South Carolina's 14th bishop.

On March 15, Jefferts Schori declared that election "null and void," saying that a number of the consent responses did not adhere to canonical requirements and thus Lawrence's election did not receive the consent of the majority of diocesan standing committees
. . .

In the weeks following Lawrence's September election, questions arose about his intentions concerning the diocese's continuing membership in the Episcopal Church. Some diocesan standing committees announced their intention not to consent, and some publicized their decisions.

During this consent round, at least one instance, a diocesan standing committee changed its mind. The Diocese of Kansas, which opposed Lawrence's consecration earlier, placed a statement on its website saying that it was now convinced "that it is his intention to remain in the Episcopal Church and has stated that he would heartily make the vows concerning the 'doctrine, discipline, and worship' of the Episcopal Church."

"We wish to thank Dean Lawrence for his willingness to discuss our concerns with him and for his responses to those concerns," the statement added.

Read it all.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Heretical Friday: Manichaeism

(Okay, I know it's really Sunday, but what can I say?)

St. Augustine was initially a Manichee, follower of a Gnostic belief, which is how I first heard of this particular heresy.


Named after a Persian prophet, Manes (or Mani), born near Baghdad, who wandered for several years as a meditative ascetic and came forward (c. 240 A.D.) as the inspired prophet of a new religion. Rejecting all of the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament, Mani claimed Buddha, Zoroaster, Hermes, and Plato as his predecessors and always called himself “Mani, Apostle of Jesus Christ” and held that he was the Paraclete promised by Jesus.

Manichaeism as a type of Gnosticism holds that there is a conflicting dualism between the realm of God, represented by light and by spiritual enlightenment, and the realm of Satan, symbolized by darkness and by the world of material things.

To account for the existence of evil in a world created by God, Mani posited a primal struggle in which the forces of Satan separated from God. Humanity, composed of matter (that which belongs to Satan) but infused with a modicum of godly light, was a product of this struggle, and was a paradigm of the eternal war between the forces of light and those of darkness. Christ, the ideal, light-clad soul, could redeem for each person that portion of light God had allotted.

Light and dark were seen to be commingled in our present age as good and evil, but in the last days each would return to its proper, separate realm, as they were in the beginning. The Christian notions of original sin and of personal sin were repugnant to the Manichees—they felt that the soul suffered not from a weak and corrupt will but from contact with matter. Evil was a physical, not a moral, thing, and a person's bad actions were miseries, not sins.

Manichees saw the flesh as evil. Since the Devil had created the material world, they thought he had made sex to entrap souls in the prison of the flesh. The Manichees abstained from sex, from all animal food, and eggs, believing all flesh was evil if begotten by copulation.

There were two classes of Manichees:
  • the elect, or perfect - assured of immediate happiness after death because of the resource of light they had acquired through strict celibacy, austerity, teaching, and preaching

  • the auditors, or hearers - the laity who administered to the elect, and who could marry. Believing in metempsychosis (transmigration of souls), the auditors hoped to be reborn as elect.

All other were sinners, doomed to hell.

Several Christian emperors, including Justinian, published edicts against the Manichees. St. Augustine, in his youth a Manichee, describes in his Confessions his conversion to Christianity. Little is heard of the Manichees in the West after the 6th century, but their doctrines reappear in some medieval heresies, although it was the practice in the Middle Ages to call by the name of Manichaeism any dualist Christian heresy. The sect survived in the East, notably in Chinese Turkistan (Xinjiang), until about the 13th century.

The Mystica
Columbia Encyclopedia

Previous heresy posts:

MCJ's learned response to the Executive Council

Responding to the draft proposal to an Anglican Covenant, TEC's Executive Council laughs into its hand and chokes out, "Yeah. Right."

This posting at the Midwest Conservative Journal is way too nuanced to just pick sections to highlight. You have to go read it yourself - how Christopher Johnson wades through this stuff is totally beyond me. Just enjoy (in a macabre sort of way)!

Breaking: Mark Lawrence receives consents

From Stand Firm:

Several readers have emailed to say that Mark Lawrence has received, from a majority of bishops and standing committees, consent to his election as Bishop of South Carolina. The consecration is said to be scheduled for January 26th, 2008 in Charleston.

Facing Reality reaction

I watched the Fox News documentary, Facing Reality, Choices, which aired Saturday. This program followed three young women as they wrestled with the question of whether to carry their babies to term or not. What I found so striking was that in each case, what the father of the baby said and did seemed to be the most determining factor on what the woman decided to do. Knowing that the support of the father was there was essential.

And in the one young woman who decided to have an abortion (and then you find out it's her second one), one can almost see the hardening in her spirit taking place, especially the scene towards the end where she and her mother are talking in a diner and she's criticizing people at church that might have judged her for having a baby out of wedlock. The misplacement of responsibility and necessity of not looking at one's own actions begin to drive her conversation. And she ends up judging them, and feels justified in doing so.

Executive Summary: Executive Council insults conservatives

Thanks to Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC (posting on Stand Firm) for his fine (and accurate) summation of the response of the Executive Council of the Episopal Church to the HOB statement, as articulated (and passed this afternoon without any amendments) in Resolution NAC 026, "Response to House of Bishops Statement on Resolution B033."


Resolved, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, expresses its appreciation to the House of Bishops for undertaking the monumental task of trying to clarify the conflict between the canons of the Episcopal Church and the demands raised by the Dar E [sic] Salaam communiqué, and be it further

Resolved, the Executive Council affirms with the House of Bishops the essential and renewed study of human sexuality as noted in the “listening process” of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and be it further

Resolved, that the House of Bishops’ statement exacerbated feelings of exclusion felt by many of the lesbian and gay members of our church by defining Resolution B033 from the 75th General Convention to include lesbian and gay people, and be it further

Resolved, that by calling particular attention to the application of B033 to lesbian and gay person [sic], it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitutions and canons of the church, and be it further

Resolved, that while B033 focuses on the consent process for bishops, the broader impact is to discourage the full participation by lesbians and gay persons in the life of the church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved, that the Executive Council acknowledge with regret the additional pain and estrangement inflicted on lesbian and gay members of the church, and we pledge to work toward a time when our church will fully respect the dignity of every human being in all aspects of the life of our church.

Tory Baucum installed as rector of Truro (CANA)

Check out BabyBlue for all the scoop on the installation of Tory Baucum as Rector of Truro (CANA) in Fairfax, Virginia, including video and commentary.

I don't need to remind you that there is war on for the very soul of the Church. Your courage, if I may say this humbly, and your selflessness in the face of a very new and speciously and sophisticated manifestation of evil has won you more admirers all over the world. And now I want to suggest to you now it's time to go for it, to put out your sails for the wind of the Spirit is blowing ...

-Bishop Sandy Millar, Missionary Bishop in London at the installation of Tony Baucum as Rector of Truro, October 28, 2007

And from BabyBlue herself:
I did videoblog the service - I sat in the front transept pew and trained my webcam toward the front. I did capture all of Sandy Millar's sermon as well as other highlights of the service. They will be posted shortly, both here and on YouTube. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

God's Continent: A review

God's Continent by Philip JenkinsFrom the Kew Continuum, a review by the Rev. Richard Kew of God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis by Philip Jenkins (author of The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity and The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South [boldface mine]:

. . . First of all [Jenkins] debunks the notion that the Islamic crescent flag is going to flutter in dominance over European skies any time soon -- if ever. The statistics of past, present, and future immigration from the Islamic world, he contends, do not support such a notion. This is not to say that Islam won't be a significant minority in Europe but it radically overstates the case that Westminster Abbey's future is as a mosque or that the fashionable Champs d'Elysee in Paris will be peopled by women wearing head scarves and burkas!

Secondly, he encourages his readers not to write off Christianity so quickly. Yes, its traditional forms and liberal theologies are in trouble, but there is a great deal more to the faith in Europe than that. Many of those immigrants from Africa and Asia are often mistakenly labeled as Muslims when in fact they are Christians, and vibrantly so. Some of the largest congregations in Europe, in fact, are to be found in the minority communities (thus the old Odean theatre in Luton), and don't write off fresh energies in the Catholic or mainstream Protestant churches, coming in flavors and packages like Alpha.

And bear in mind the nature of Christianity, he encourages us, for as it is challenged in what has historically been its home territory there is the likelihood that it will perk up considerably. "Viewed over the centuries, perhaps the best indicator that Christianity is about to expand or revive is a widespread conviction that the religion is doomed or in its last days... nothing drives activists and reformers more powerfully than the sense that their faith is about to perish in their homelands and that they urgently need to make up these losses farther afiled, whether overseas or among the previously neglected lost sheep at home (pages 288-289).

What is clear is that Europe's secular elites, after having dismissed religion as a curiosity for the best part of half a century, are just starting to wake up to the fact that religion is not withering away, but that there are two major religions each with a significant sense of identity in their very own backyard. Yes, Jenkins tells us, as Islam takes root in Europe it is going to be changed by its encounter with modernity, secularity, and being a minority movement in an unsympathetic culture, but this "Islamic Revolution" is not going to change it into the empty and vacuous affair that has so gutted liberal Christianity, which is the elitist model of the way it ought to go.

Philip Jenkins works hard to tease out the various issues that Europeans, whether Christian, Muslim, secular, or something else, have to address in the coming years. These will include issues of sexuality, gender, freedom of speech, censorship, self-censorship, and so forth. Then there is the huge one of Islam being given great freedom to express itself in what has been the Christian heartland, freedoms that are utterly denied Christians in Islam's own heartland, a point brought home strongly to me in a conversation yesterday evening with a student who has come from one of those countries. Saudis, for example, are free to finance a $65 million mosque in Rome, while as one priest puts it, Christians in the Arabian peninsular function in something akin to the catacombs.

Then there is the whole issue of blasphemy, and what can be portrayed on screen, stage, and in the written word. The most significant and legitimate question related to this is whether it is appropriate for Christianity to be openly pilloried, as it often is in Europe, because Christians do not threaten violence and even murder when attacked in this way in a free society. However, society tiptoes around Muslims, censoring itself, because it fears that if treated as Christians are they would resort to violence.

I always feel much better when facts are out because then we can address them, Jenkins deliberately puts the facts on the table. Some of the facts I personally do not like, some are not as bad as I feared, but all of them are grist for the mill of what is a remarkable book that ought to be taken seriously by thoughtful Christians -- especially any who have a deep concern for the future of Europe. I would add that the thoughtful Muslim would also have much to gain from reading this helpful volume. . .

Read it all.

What goes around comes around

Iraqi donation to San DiegoFrom OPFOR:

RELEASE No. 20071026-01
October 26, 2007

Iraqi Army at Besmaya Installation Support San Diego Fire Victims
By U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Charlene Sipperly
Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq Public Affairs

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Members of the Iraqi Army in Besmaya collected a donation for the San Diego, Calif., fire victims Thursday night at the Besmaya Range Complex in a moving ceremony to support Besmaya's San Diego residents.

Iraqi Army Col. Abbass, the commander of the complex, presented a gift of $1,000 to U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, Besmaya Range Complex officer in charge, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, to send to the fire victims in California.

The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers in Besmaya. In a speech given during the presentation, Col. Abbass stated that he and the Iraqi soldiers were connected with the American people in many ways, and they will not forget the help that the American government has given the Iraqi people. Abbass was honored to participate by sending a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego, to lower the suffering felt by the tragedy.

Read it all.
H/t to Gateway Pundit.

Meanwhile, at the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre....

From Australia via the Bible Belt Blogger:

It's a good thing the Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn has a crozier. He'll be needing it...

"THE Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop George Browning, will perform the annual Blessing of the Herd at the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre at 9am on Sunday.

All members of the community are welcome to attend and give thanks for the agricultural bounty the Bega community receives each year from our rural industries," the Bega (Australia) District News reports. . .

Read it all.

Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting

The 59th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society will be held November 14-16, 2007 (Wednesday-Friday) at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego. The theme is "Teaching Them to Obey."

From their website:

Founded in 1949, the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) is a group of scholars, teachers, pastors, students, and others dedicated to the oral exchange and written expression of theological thought and research. The ETS is devoted to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Society publishes a quarterly journal, the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS), an academic periodical featuring peer reviewed articles, as well as extended book reviews, in the biblical and theological disciplines. The ETS also holds national and regional meetings across the United States.

Doctrinal Basis
"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."

Purpose Statement
"To foster conservative Biblical scholarship by providing a medium for the oral exchange and written expression of thought and research in the general field of the theological disciplines as centered in the Scriptures."
(Constitution, Article II)

Executive Council receives draft response to proposed Anglican covenant

From EpiscopalLife Online:

Members of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council received copies of a proposed Council response to the draft Anglican covenant during private conversation the afternoon of October 26.

The Council, the church's governing body between meetings of General Convention, will discuss the draft response on October 27 in another private conversation during the second day of its three-day meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, Michigan.
Also on October 26, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, during her opening remarks to the meeting, discussed her plan to reorganize the staff of the Episcopal Church Center in New York.

The goal is to create an "organic and flexible structure that is mission-driven" that is dispersed in terms of decision-making and actual location, she said.

"We're looking for a system that tends to be more self-organizing rather than directed from the top," she said.

Draft covenant response consideration begins

Rosalie Ballentine of the Virgin Islands, chair of the work group assigned to draft the response, told the Council's International Concerns Committee (INC) earlier in the day that the drafting group was representative of the whole Episcopal Church and set a goal "to try to be reflective of the various views within the Episcopal Church."

She said the group found that "the Episcopal Church is not of one mind with respect to anything in the draft covenant."

The Rev. Canon Mark Harris of Delaware, a member of the drafting committee, told INC that "there was a lot of generosity with the group itself," adding that "there was real listening" during the group's writing efforts. Harris said that the resulting draft makes "an honest attempt" to reflect the diversity of the church's feelings.

Ballentine reminded the committee that the idea of an Anglican covenant is "evolving" and that she understood that "the decision about signing any covenant would have to be General Convention's."

In a letter to the Episcopal Church at the close of its March 2-4 meeting in Portland, Oregon, the Executive Council said "responding to the draft covenant does not presuppose agreement with the terms and principles advanced in the draft."

Responses to the proposed draft covenant from around the Anglican Communion are due by January 1, 2008. Responses received thus far are available here. . .

Jefferts Schori summarized her work since the Council's last meeting in June, beginning with her description of the "health and vitality" she has seen during her travels around the Episcopal Church. She said it was exciting "to see the passion with which dioceses and parishes in this church are engaged in mission."

"More and more people in this church get mission," she said.

Jefferts Schori cited the vitality of the health ministry of the Diocese of Puerto Rico and the Diocese of Northern Michigan's exploration of various models of an episcopacy to succeed Bishop Jim Kelsey, who died in June, as the kind of "unexpected places" from which others in the church can learn lessons about being responsive to mission needs.

The Presiding Bishop also told the Council that she'd twice spoken to Diocese of San Diego Bishop James Mathes on October 25 concerning the devastating effects of the wildfires burning in southern California. "They are enormously grateful for the ministry of ERD" and others across the church, she said.

She also spoke during lunch on October 26 with Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno about the somewhat less-dire wildfire situation in his diocese.

Saying that many dioceses and congregations will be taking up special collections on October 28, Jefferts Schori said "please, please, please keep the people of southern California in your prayers and bless them with your generosity."

Jefferts Schori also reported briefly on the September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Noting the presence of members of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the New Orleans meeting, she said "the bishops heard some very challenging words from the visitors."

She said that she was pleased with the statement the bishops issued to the Anglican Communion at the end of the meeting. "Not everyone was comfortable where we stood, but we stood together," she said.

The JSC also recognized that the Episcopal Church has a "vocation in this season to keep the issues of human sexuality before the communion," Jefferts Schori said, adding that not all of the JSC members like that situation, but she said they do recognize the Episcopal Church's vocation.

The communion is involved in a "signal shift" these days, Jefferts Schori said, back to mission questions and "basic living issues." She cited the recent communiqué from the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa as an example.

Anderson spent the majority of her opening remarks describing her September visit in the Diocese of Fort Worth to meet with those Episcopalians who are not happy with the diocesan leadership's desire to distance the diocese from the Episcopal Church. Her presentation included a series of questions asked of her during that visit which were projected onto a screen in the Council's meeting room. . .

Read it all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Facing Reality

Fox News has produced a documentary on abortion, Facing Reality, that will air Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9:00 p.m. on the Fox News Channel. From Fox:

The FOX documentary profiles three women to explore the abortion issue by following their agonizing decisions to have their babies or terminate their pregnancies.

FOX News follows Kayla, a 20-year-old student, as well as a 20-something married couple, Brooke and Tom, desperately trying to have a second child. Brooke finally conceives, but four months into her pregnancy they learn that their baby has a fatal genetic defect and that it will survive no more than a few hours after it is born.

FOX News followed a third woman, Jeanne, for more than a year. A single woman battling a drug problem, she already has five children by two different men. None of them live with her.

When she become pregnant again, she allowed FOX cameras to follow her as she decided between abortion, adoption or keeping her baby.

The FOX News documentary is groundbreaking in that it does not touch at all on the political debate or legal analysis surrounding abortion.

All that is seen and heard during the hour are the women and families as they struggle to choose what to do about their pregnancies.

And a review by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online:
“Emotionally, it’s tough.”

That’s the completely accurate and totally understated description of what a woman goes through when choosing to exercise her legal right to “terminate” a pregnancy — and it comes from Dr. William Harrison, an abortion provider. But his understatement underscores the raw emotion and honest testimony that are also on display in the new Fox News Channel documentary, Facing Reality, about abortion in America.

Harrison also says that he announces to his patients that abortion is “really not going to be nearly as bad as they anticipate,” and declares that “I’m not in the business of murdering children. I’m in the business of saving the lives of my patients.” But this attitude of his is in marked contrast to the realities depicted during the hour-long program. (Twenty-year-old Kayla, for example, knows her life was never endangered by her pregnancies. A baby would crimp her style, to be sure, but hers isn’t the life ended by the end of the show.)

The gynecologist’s comments are drowned out by the sound of tears and the stark details of an abortion chamber. And the rich details of a sonogram, and the sound of hope in a mom and dad’s voices. And the faux-confident tone of a beauty-school student who claims to have no regrets just often enough to make you question. And the desperate cry for help of a drug addict, dating a drug addict, on her seventh pregnancy at 30.

In Facing Reality, viewers are introduced to three women, one husband, one healthy toddler, a few grandparents in limbo, and a number of children whose fates are the ultimate reality behind the loaded word “choice.”. . .

With its honesty, Facing Reality only heightens the desire for compassionate, grounded conversations about alternatives to abortion — and about help for vulnerable women (which describes all the women we meet) in need. . .

Variety praised Facing Reality for being actually fair and balanced on the network that claims that tag line. Facing Reality is not heavy-handed. As Fox host E. D. Hill declares in her intro to the show, “tonight you won’t hear expert commentary, or partisan shouting, or even anyone claiming to have answers. Instead, Fox News has spent the past year looking beyond the pitched political battles to the human reality.” But it’s also hard not to come away from it thinking, among other things, that these women deserve better. They deserve better than being told abortion is not as bad as they anticipate. They deserve a life better than looking for fulfillment through sleeping around. They deserve better than being called by a doctor and told, “She’s got it [Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder]. Want to terminate?” as Brooke was. . .

Read it all.

Answered prayer

Clouds (photo credit: P. Coletta)
God is good all the time.

dpeirce says it perfectly

Dave (comment #10) at TitusOneNine says what I've been thinking:

"It’s all over but the shouting” (#1), and the loss of leadership in the Anglican Communion (#5), are telling descriptions of what is happening. I’ve always advocated waiting for the Primates to speak “officially” regarding TEC’s response to DeS… and the fat lady is just sitting there. She isn’t singing; in fact, she hasn’t even stood up. She’s just sitting there.

There’s some individual grumbling from Primates, but nothing official. +++Rowan is leading in the direction of accepting the apostacies (although he wants to try and appear “fair” and “communion-minded"), TEC is sitting back licking the feathers off its mouth, and the Primates are just sitting there.

Am I missing something?

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas

The Bovina Bloviator: Finally dealing with a colossal nuisance

From the Bovina Bloviator (an Episcopalian turned Roman Catholic, still working through residual episcobabble and obviously rejoicing in his new home):
Clown Mass from the Bovina Bloviator
The Holy Father speaks: Through prayerful reading of the Scriptures, St. Ambrose sought union with God, and urged his flock to do the same. Pope Benedict strongly recommended that example to his audience. "Whoever educates people in the faith," he said, "cannot risk playing the role of the clown," trying to entertain his listeners.

That takes care of that.

Attention Christopher Johnson!

California wildfires at a glance

From the San Diego Union-Tribune Wildfires 2007 blog:

California wildfire overall statistics:
Acreage: Nearly 493,000 (about 770 square miles).
Homes destroyed: More than 1,780, according to authorities.
Deaths: Three confirmed fire deaths, seven fire-related deaths. Authorities were investigating whether four burned bodies found Thursday east of San Diego were fire victims.
Injuries: About 30 civilians, 52 firefighters.

Major wildfires burning in California, by county:
San Diego County:
Witch Fire: Nearly than 198,000 acres (more than 309 square miles) in northern San Diego County from Witch Creek to Rancho Santa Fe. 30 percent contained. 1,061 homes and 30 commercial properties destroyed. Two burned bodies found in a charred home. Two civilians and 12 firefighters injured. Containment expected Sunday.
Poomacha Fire: About 38,500 acres (more than 60 square miles) on the La Jolla Indian Reservation and in northeastern San Diego County. 30 percent contained. 60 homes destroyed. Twelve firefighters injured.
Horno/Ammo Fire: About 20,000 acres (more than 31 square miles) on the Camp Pendleton Marine base. 80 percent contained.
Harris Fire: About 84,000 acres (more than 131 square miles) north of the border town of Tecate, about 70 miles southeast of San Diego. 20 percent contained. Ninety-seven homes, 17 outbuildings and two commercial buildings destroyed. One civilian killed, 21 injured civilians and seven injured firefighters. Containment expected Nov. 4.
Rice Fire: About 9,000 acres (more than 10 square miles) in Fallbrook in northern San Diego County. 30 percent contained. 206 homes and two commercial properties destroyed. One firefighter injured.

Ventura County:
Ranch Fire: More than 56,000 acres (more than 87 square miles) in the Castaic area near Piru. 81 percent contained. One home, eight outbuildings destroyed. One injury reported.

Orange County:
Santiago Fire: About 26,000 acres (more than 40 square miles) east of Irvine. 30 percent contained. Fourteen homes destroyed. Four minor injuries to firefighters.

San Bernardino County:
Slide Fire: More than 11,000 acres (almost 17 square miles) in Green Valley Lake area of the San Bernardino Mountains, east of Lake Arrowhead. 15 percent contained. At least 200 homes destroyed. One firefighter suffered minor injuries.
Grass Valley Fire: About 1,100 acres (about 2 square miles) in Grass Valley area northwest of Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains. 70 percent contained. At least 113 homes destroyed. No injuries reported.

Contained fires:
Los Angeles County:
Buckweed Fire: More than 38,000 (about 60 square miles) south of Agua Dulce in northeastern Los Angeles County. Contained. 21 homes, 22 outbuildings, two bridges and 40 vehicles destroyed. Three civilians and two firefighters injured.
Canyon Fire: More than 4,500 acres (about 7 square miles) in the coastal community of Malibu. Contained. Six homes, two businesses and a church destroyed, and nine homes and five commercial buildings damaged. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Magic Fire: More than 2,800 acres (about 4 square miles) in northern Los Angeles County, including Stevenson Ranch. Contained. No structural damage or injuries.

Riverside County:
Rosa Fire: More than 400 acres (about two-thirds of a square mile) near Temecula. Contained.

Santa Barbara County:
Sedgewick Fire: More than 700 acres (more than a square mile) near Los Olivos. Contained. No homes destroyed and no reports of injuries.

I think they've missed a few of the smaller ones, like Coronado Hills, that were contained quickly, but still resulted in evacuations.

Naomi Schaefer Riley: Rank and file evangelicals aren’t moving left or right

From TitusOneNine:

. . . Two weeks ago, Third Way, a self-described "strategy center for progressives," released a document called "Come Let Us Reason Together: A Fresh Look at Shared Cultural Values Between Evangelicals and Progressives." It amounted to a broad statement of principle signed by folks like Joel Hunter, a Florida mega-church pastor, David Gushee, a Christianity Today contributor, and other less-than-prominent progressives and evangelicals. Jill Pike, Third Way's deputy director of public affairs, emailed me to say that, by trying to bridge the gap between the two groups, "we are not talking about compromising each other's values but instead creating an approach that will inevitably lend itself to progress and change." The statement itself asserts that the two groups want "the same protections, public benefits, and opportunities" for gays and lesbians. The signers also agree that, to reduce the incidence of abortion, young people need better access to contraception and more sex education. Well, at least evangelicals' values weren't compromised!

Read it all. And check out an earlier TitusOneNine posting on the Third Way from a Newsweek article - in the comments on that thread this same issue of who controls the langugage was brought up.

The damaged family

Excellent analysis by Captain Yips, including comments on the Diocese of San Diego (you'll have to go to his full article to see that) [boldface mine]:

. . . When a diocese is in the hands of those who are determined to pursue an agenda to reshape the church into some new, maybe somewhat monstrous, form, it’s the laity who suffer. Individually, the Christian in such a place is stunted and hindered, distracted with bizarre hermeneutics of the Bible, cut off from Anglican foundational teaching and from Christian truth in general. Parishes that survive in this acid bath are also isolated, obliged to interact with the bishop with fire proof gloves, and fearful of the result of the next clergy transition. The faithful diocese within TEC also exists precariously, knowing that the next bishop’s election will be difficult and under the 815 microscope. It’s a diseased and necrotic body, and ++Rowan’s irenic vision of the godly bishop in the midst of his godly clergy ministering to their flock, all interconnected via the See of Canterbury, is unrecognizable.

For individual Christians growing in a diocese covertly or overtly committed to the Revolution, it’s not unlike growing up in a damaged family with seriously broken parents. It’s fairly well known that addicted or violent or abusive or habitually unfaithful parents damage their kids, and that without healing that damage can be perpetuated for generations. That the sins of the fathers are visited on the children is not so much a statement of God’s wrathfulness as an accurate observation of what happens without a turn to-Godward. The children of such families are left without a foundational image of healthy family life, have damaged decision-making tools, and are apt to perpetuate the problems.

So it is with the flock of erring bishops. Over the years, Christian truth becomes warped out of recognition to the point, for example, that the Bishop of California can say that proceeding with public rites for SSBs honors the Primates’ request not to proceed with public rites for SSBs: utter nonsense viewed from outside, completely normal within the toxic family. . .

Read it all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Atheists host pornographic Christian art exhibit

From the Creative Minority Report:

. . . It's an odd thing to be so pushy about a negative which is what atheism is, though. The International Federation of Atheists [Federación Internacional de Ateos (FIDA)] is a group of atheists and they do what it seems atheists do -which is to speak incessantly of religion.

I wonder what atheists talk about. Do they whisper sweet nothingness into one another's ears? Or do they always speak of those things in which they do not believe. There are any number of things in which I don't believe including Bigfoot but I don't start a group called the International Federation of Exclusively Smallfeet. It's odd how people rally around a banner of negation. Atheism is not a philosophy on life.

It seems to me completely silly to announce (and they always do) that you are an atheist. There are many things that I am not. I have never announced that I am not a Buddhist. Or a vegetarian. I would just typically say, "I am a Catholic" or "Is anyone gonna' eat that last cheeseburger?"

But anyway the International Federation of Atheists announced this week it will hold the first Council of Atheists in Toledo, Spain, during which it will present a pornographic exhibit entitled Sanctorum, which features images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints.

Organizers said the event will be held in the old church of San Vicente of Toledo, which is now administered by the Toledo Art Circle. The first Council of Atheists will be held December 7-9.

Rather odd. A bunch of people who supposedly want nothing to do with religion going to see an exhibit about religion. I suppose they want attention, the poor things. If they would just become Christians they'd realize that Someone is paying quite close attention and they wouldn't have to be so outrageous and silly.

If only all Christians would get this obsessed with religion the world might be a better place.

Read it all.

San Diego fire aftermath

Photo credit SD Union Tribune
Photo credit: SD Union Tribune
H/t to And Still I Persist.

Forward in Faith’s US bishops hope to be free in 2009

From the Church Times (U.K.):

CONVERSATIONS about affiliating the three Forward in Faith (North America) dioceses — Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin — with an overseas province were “very far along”, the Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas, the Rt Revd Jack Iker, told Forward in Faith UK’s National Assembly in London last Saturday.

“Our plan is not only to disassociate . . . from the Episcopal Church, but to officially constitutionally reaffiliate with an existing orthodox province of the Communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along, but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made the final decision,” the Bishop said.

They had reached “the end of the road” in the Episcopal Church. None of them would be able to secure consecration of “orthodox” bishops-elect under the canons of the Episcopal Church, as they would need the consent of a majority of the diocesan standing committees and of the Episcopal Church’s bishops — “and that is simply not going to happen”.

Rather than wait until an elected candidate was turned down, they had decided to secure their own futures by separating from the constitution and canons of ECUSA. The election of a woman as Presiding Bishop had made their position “untenable”; and they believed that their request for alternative Primatial oversight had been rejected: within the Episcopal Church, it was “dead”.

“The Primates put forward a very workable plan that we were willing to go along with when they met at Dar es Salaam,” Bishop Iker said; but the Bishops had overwhelmingly objected that, and had encouraged ECUSA’s Executive Council to do the same. Similarly, the Bishops had rejected the Windsor report.

It is our contention that the Episcopal Church has decided to walk away from the Anglican Communion, and our Forward in Faith dioceses will walk with the Anglican Communion.”

“Messy” litigation would reach “another level of controversy when entire dioceses attempt to separate from the Episcopal Church”, Bishop Iker said. The “official structure” had made it clear that it would declare those sees vacant, depose the bishops, and call a convention in order to reconstitute what it called “continuing dioceses”. . .

. . . FiF dioceses would have full communion only with those those Common Cause partners that did not ordain women to the priesthood. “Co-operation with the bodies which do ordain women or receive women cannot extend to communio in sacris, but we will co-operate with them in every way possible in a state of continuing impaired communion.”

Further, leaders of the Anglican Communion Network and the Common Cause Partnership were “fully committed to undertaking a substantial theological study of the question of the ordination of women, once the structures are in place and we have relatively settled in. We will have a chance, in other words, to bring those who now accept this innovation to reconsideration of their decision in the future.” . . .

Read it all.

Shoe Thursday: St. Crispin's Day

You know, I started "Shoe Thursdays" because I like shoes, I love Manolo's Shoe Blog (where I get most, but not all, of my Thursday posts), and I thought it would be something fun in the midst of the Anglican upheaval. It has been amazing to me how every week there seems to be something totally appropriate - like today:

Patron Saints and the Gentle Craft

Manolo says, the Manolo’s internet friend Charlotte has reminded the Manolo that today is St. Crispin’s Day, the feast day for the twin saints Crispin and Crispian, two of the most important of the patron saints of the cobbler.

What many of the Manolo’s friends may not know is that few occupations have as many patron saints as that of the shoemakers. Indeed, the distinction of patron may be applied to several dozen holy figures of the past ( the partial list of which may be seen at this website), including such luminaries as Catherine of Alexandria, Mary Magdalene, Homobonus, and Gangolfo.

Also not well known, is that most of these tutelary saints began life as aristocrats who later humbled themselves in the service of God, producing through the honest labor of their hands beautiful shoes for the those who had none. This is why shoemaking has historically been called the “Noble or Gentle Craft“, because its patrons saints were usually nobility.

But none of this is news to those few who have read the Manolo’s Consolation of the Shoes, which describes in detail the period in the young Manolo’s life when he was ardently devoted to the cults of many of these noble saints.

So, God blesses shoes, too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

AnglicanTV will be in Fort Worth November 16-17

Kevin at AnglicanTV reports that he has raised the funds to cover the Diocese of Fort Worth convention in November:

I have raised
$355 --
$0 to go

Thanks Jillie, Greggory (4 times), Keith, Texanglican, Jill, Anne C. and John and Randall!!!

Mike Bertaut comments on "Michael Medved: Abortion’s shades of gray"

A thoughtful comment (#2) from Mike Bertaut on TitusOneNine under a posting from USAToday's op/ed piece by Michael Medved on Abortion's shades of gray [boldface mine]:

That point is, the difference between a BELIEF and a POSITION. When you pick an intrinsically black and white issue such as A) It’s ok to kill babies before they are born or B) It’s not ok to kill babies before they are born you are espousing a belief. Belief’s have to be embraced and integrated into your personal psyche and as such are non-negotiable. Positions flow from belief’s, but are Belief-Lite, i.e. give you the ability to interpret your belief differently based on a particular set of situations. One can see how valuable the Position is to the Politician who is trying to unite a diverse coalition of believers around a particular issue. A Position gives you the ability to modify the appearance of your Belief to suit groups that might not normally agree with each other, and this article gives a PERFECT example of that technique.

Now, here’s the hard part. Christ was very hard on Positions and demanded Belief. Recall what happens to those who are lukewarm, (cast out of His mouth) because Positions are intrinsically lukewarm (compromised). Belief is an absolute, a stand, that is immutable.

“No one comes to the Father except through me.” qualifies as a Belief.

So, what shall we speak with: Belief? or Position?

Read TitusOneNine here. And read the complete article in USAToday here.

American Anglican Council launches California Wildfire Relief Fund

From email:

Beloved in Christ,

As you know, Southern California has been devastated by wildfires. These fires have forced nearly one million people from their homes and continue to rage throughout Southern California. Estimates put the damage into the billions of dollars as thousands have lost their homes.

Relief efforts are underway, and the AAC has joined those efforts through the creation of a "California Wildfire Relief" fund. We will be coordinating with AAC chapters and our Common Cause Partners to distribute funds on the local level in the Southern California region.

We encourage your participation in this important work. You may make a contribution in three ways:

1. Mail your contribution to:

The American Anglican Council
2296 Henderson Mill Road, NE, Suite 406
Atlanta, GA 30345

2. Make a secure financial contribution online . (Select "California Wildfire Relief" as the Donor Designation.)

3. Call the AAC to make a secure credit card contribution over the phone toll free at 1-800-914-2000.

In all cases, please designate your contribution as “California Wildfire Relief".

We at the AAC mourn with those who have lost loved ones and/or property and continue to pray that God would comfort and draw each hurting person and family to Himself during this difficult time. Please keep all those affected by these fires in your prayers.

Blessings and Peace in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Bishop-elect David C. Anderson
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

California wildfires continue to grow: NASA satellite image

From NASA (October 24, 2007 Update):

California wildfires, NASA

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Get Religion: Punching my ‘moderate’ button again

From Get Religion:

. . . GetReligion readers already know what we think around here about journalists who like to toss the word “fundamentalist” around. That isn’t what has me on a slow boil at the moment, however.

No, I am fed up with the use of the word “moderate” by journalists, which basically means “people that we like.” I have been doing a lot of travel in recent weeks, and at almost every location — from Prague to Princeton — I have ended up in conversations with journalists and scholars about “moderate.” This word is getting more and more and more use when married with the word Muslim.

What exactly is a “moderate Muslim”? Moderate in comparison to what? Moderate vs. traditionalist? Moderate vs. liberal? Moderate vs. radical? And in what context is a “moderate Muslim” a “moderate Muslim”? As an Al-Jazeera English executive asked recently, during an interview for my Scripps Howard column, is that “moderate” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France or the U.S. of A.? . . .

Read it all, but I do really like his understanding that the use of the word "moderate" basically means "people that we like" or, I would add, "people that think reasonably like us."

AnglicanTV fundraiser update

Okay, Kevin at AnglicanTV just needs a little more to get to the diocesan convention in Fort Worth:

I have raised
$280 --
$55 to go

Thanks Jillie, Greggory (4 times), Keith, Texanglican, Jill, Anne C. and John

Just $55 - who would like to put him over the top?

Fire hits Rincon church

From Wildfires 2007, a truly helpful blog created by the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The church on the Rincon Indian reservation burned early this morning as the Poomacha fire roared through the Pauma Valley.

Several homes also burned, said tribal councilman Bo Mazzetti. "We've lost a lot of our older buildings we had, that have been here for years and years," he said about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday. "Our church, our Catholic church, we lost that."

The loss is a spiritual blow to the tribe, he said. "That's something we've all attended, that church, it's devastating to see that," he said.

Fire surrounded the reservation at dawn, he said, and the firestorm was particularly fierce about 8 a.m. Flames died down some two hours later.

"A lot of our members lost houses, we're still assessing that," he said. "Tomorrow we have federal officials coming in."

About half of the tribe's 650 members live on the reservation. . .

Lambeth “clarifies” the Archbishop’s letter to Bishop Howe

From the episcopal cafe:

A response received via email from the Lambeth press office to the discussions around the Bishop Howe emails:
"It should be understood that the Archbishop's response to Bishop Howe was neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions, a response reiterating a basic presupposition of what the Archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church.

The primary point was that - theologically and sacramentally speaking - a priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses. The diocese is more than a 'local branch' of a national organisation. Dr Williams is clear that, whatever the frustration with the national church, priests should think very carefully about leaving the fellowship of a diocese. The provincial structure is significant, not least for the administration of a uniform canon law and a range of practical functions; Dr Williams is not encouraging anyone to ignore this, simply to understand the theological priorities which have been articulated in a number of ecumenical agreements, and in the light of this not to increase the level of confusion and fragmentation in the church."

H/t to Stand Firm.

Bella: A pro-life film

Bella, the movieFrom Mere Comments at Touchstone:

Bella, the "People's Choice Award" winner from the Toronto Film Festival is opening this coming weekend, October 26 in select theatres around the country. I encourage you to see this movie this weekend, and if you like it, tell as many of your friends as possible to go see it. I have not seen the movie, but several staff members here at Touchstone/Salvo saw it and liked it.

I met one of the producers of this film on Saturday and he spoke of his pro-life motivation behind the film. On Friday, after I gave a talk on "Voting for Pontius Pilate: Washing Our Hands of Abortion," I was told about a government hearing that had just ended the same day in which several dozen women testified to the harm they suffered due to abortion. Also, I was told, several thousand women have been filing affadavits about the after-effects, the harm they experienced from abortion.

I was told a few weeks ago by a Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois that the pro-life cause was over and that we live in a pro-choice culture, and, not these exact words, get over it. He was just being realistic.

So why bother with pro-life efforts? I have no way of predicting the results from such efforts mentioned above, but I do know that viewing Bella has already persuaded several women not to have abortions. In other words, someone's efforts just saved someone's life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mondays with C.S. Lewis

. . . Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is. . .

C. S. Lewis
"The Efficacy of Prayer"
The World's Last Night and Other Essays

Nigeria: Anglican crises more about leadership, doctrine, not homosexuality


. . . At the conference, Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana read CAPA's statement that in part addressed the division in the church. The report acknowledged that the church had been unable to ignore the current crisis in its communion, but denied that CAPA [Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa] was to blame.

"The current situation is a two fold crisis for the Anglican Communion: A crisis of doctrine and a crisis of leadership, in which the failure of the instruments of the Communion to exercise discipline had called into question the viability of the Anglican Communion as a united Christian body under a common foundation of faith, as is supposed by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral," Bishop Mwamba read from the report.

"Due to this breakdown of discipline, we are not sure that we can in good conscience continue to spend our time, our money and our prayers on behalf of a body that proclaims two Gospels: the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of Sexuality," he added. . .

Read it all.

Greg Griffith: The ACI’s pretzel logic

From Greg Griffith at Stand Firm:

. . . As SF frequenter robroy points out at Brad's site, it was only after John Howe was faced with the threat of some real pain that he was stirred to do something - anything - and it was only after he wrote to Rowan Williams in desperation that Williams felt obliged to say something - anything. The plain fact is that the moment parishioners start moving towards a plan that stands a real chance of depriving a diocese of money, bishops and archbishops get off their duffs. As we say in the software industry, this is a feature, not a bug. . .

Read it all.

More San Diego fire info


News of what is already being called the worst wildfires ever in San Diego is being widely reported in major channels. This posting is offered as a place to list news, needs, and prayer requests as they become apparent.

Comment on this post or send an email to us at Good news is welcome. We're praying that you and your congregation are ok and would love to share that news with others in the area.

A reminder:
Cell phones, emergency numbers, emergency web sites, freeways, gas stations, schools and businesses are all shutting down in rapid succession. If you are not in danger, please limit cell phone usage (txt msg is best) and do not visit emergency web sites (such as w w w . 2 1 1 s a n d i e g o . o r g ) unless you absolutely need to.

At least 250,000 people have been evacuated in the first morning of this wildfire breakout, and it won't be clear just how much life and property has been lost until the smoke clears.

The Lord be with you.

We are now under voluntary evacuation, so we're deciding what to do.

San Diego wildfires: A personal view

So this is what we saw from our front door this morning. Most of the fires are southeast of us, but moving west quickly. Some areas south of us are advising evacuation, but so far we seem to be okay.

San Diego wildfires update

San Diego fire map
Great blog with info on the wildfires in San Diego - ain't the Internet grand? Looks like no school or work tomorrow either, and the lines at the gas stations and grocery stores are long.

H/t to Instapundit for the blog referral.

AnglicanTV Fort Worth convention update

From Kevin at AnglicanTV, the fundraising continues:

I have raised
$210 --
$125 to go

Thanks Jillie, Greggory (4 times), Keith and Texanglican

Go here to contribute.

Matt Kennedy: Will words and actions ever meet? Canterbury’s letter to Bishop Howe

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of CanterburyFrom Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm [boldface mine]:

. . . The most confusing and irresponsible decisions at this point have come from the office of the Archbishop. The issuing of Lambeth invitations to bishops who permit same sex blessings and took part in the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson was the single most divisive act since November 2003. If the Archbishop is disconcerted by the alternative bodies that have formed since then, he has only himself to blame.

It is important to note what he does say and what he does not say. He does say that all those bishops and dioceses who comply with the Windsor Report remain “clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion.”

He does not say anything at all, positive or negative, about those bishops and dioceses, like Bishop Bruno and the Diocese of California for example, that currently permit same sex blessings or dioceses like Newark that continue to embrace the possibility of electing, giving consent, and consecrating non-celibate homosexual bishops. He does not at all forestall the distinct possibility, if not probability, that Bishop Bruno, in keeping with the JSC report, will be deemed “Windsor Compliant” and therefore, “clearly in communion with Canterbury” if not the “mainstream” of the communion.

The Archbishop, then, simply assures Bishop Howe and his clergy that Windsor Compliant bishops will be in Communion with Canterbury and if that is your primary concern then I suppose this assurance will provide comfort.

But to those who hold the task of defending the Apostolic faith as primary and protecting and providing for congregations swimming against the slew of false teaching and officially sanctioned heresy within the Episcopal Church (regardless of dioceses) as vital, the Archbishop’s words provide cold comfort indeed. . .

. . . If rectors, vestries and parishes make the decision to leave the Episcopal Church primarily in order to maintain communion with Canterbury, then they are clearly making the wrong decision. Communion with Canterbury, at this point, is best maintained within the Episcopal Church. I do hope that no rector or vestry is, at this point, suggesting to the congregation in their charge that the only way to maintain communion with Canterbury is to leave the Episcopal Church. That line of argument was a possible one earlier in this controversy but it was closed when the Archbishop issued his Lambeth invitations.

What the Archbishop does not seem to understand is that “those who are rushing to separatist solutions” do not think that maintaining communion with his See is vital when compared to the theological concerns I have articulated above. Nor does he seem to recognize that if he makes the decision not to withdraw Lambeth invitations from bishops who currently permit same sex blessings or who have and/or would give consent to non-celibate homosexual bishops-elect, setting himself, in other words, firmly in the path of agreeing with the conclusions of the Joint Standing Committee Report, that many will consider maintaining communion with Canterbury to be of similar importance to maintaining good relations with the local Elks Club or the Rotary.

And so when the Archbishop says,
“Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing - which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor.”

I think it important to note in response that those “rushing to separatist solutions” are not so much treating the “provincial structure” of any entity as if it were the most important thing as they are treating the souls and bodies of the people under their charge as the most important thing. And this is good and right and honorable. . .

. . . There is only one body to “blame” for the present “lack of consolidation” and that body is not the Church of Nigeria or Uganda or Kenya. The Episcopal Church has embraced false teaching. The Episcopal Church is to blame. Likewise, there is only one person “responsible” for the current organizational breakdown in the Communion and that is the Archbishop of Canterbury who could have, from the very beginning, taken action to forestall it. He has, throughout the crisis, played the part of Eli and, as a result, Israel has crumbled.

But that is the past. There is one way, at present, the Archbishop might demonstrate his “concern” for ordinary faithful Anglicans and stem the tide of those “taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions” and that is to withdraw Lambeth invitations from every bishop primate who permits same sex blessings to occur and/or who has given consent to the election of non-celibate homosexual bishops.

Short of that, the Communion will break apart, as it should. And the responsibility for its loss will fall, as it should, squarely on the Archbishop’s shoulders.

Excellent commentary, so read it all.

Wildfires in San Diego

San Diego wildfires       San Diego wildfires
Prayers, please. The Santa Ana winds started blowing yesterday and we now have four or five fires going all around the county. Schools and businesses are closed. We don't have "snow days," we have "fire days"!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday night proverbs

a man's ways
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 16:25

All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21