Friday, July 11, 2008

Weekly AAC message from Bishop David Anderson

From Bishop David Anderson at the American Anglican Council, his weekly message via email [boldface mine]:

Beloved in Christ,

As we comment from week to week on matters affecting the Anglicans in North America, and in a broader sense, globally, we need to be aware that we are not in a single-issue battle. Issues of theology, and especially Christology, put us in conflict with a good portion of the pseudo-intellectual Western elites, who for all intents and purposes seem to have lost their faith.

Issues of morality and culture, which are normally derivative of an intact faith system, have put us in conflict with major cultural and sociological trends that exalt the individual's rights at the expense of the family, the community, or the church's ability to set boundaries on behavior. It seems that today’s culture has made the individual consumer god. If you have the money, you have a right to do it or buy it or have it done to you. The Christian Church, carrying with it the moral and ethical life of the Old Testament, also carries a new commandment to love one another even as Jesus has loved us. The Christian Church then has and does set moral and ethical boundaries on behavior, and this now puts us in conflict in many civil and secular settings. Our boundaries derive from Holy Scripture, whereas for the secular world, the boundaries (or lack thereof) depend on the situation, derive from the exaltation of the individual, and finally become, "I am entitled to everything I say I am entitled to," and "No one is going to tell me what I can and cannot do." This often revolves around two principal foci, money or sex, things people seem intensely interested in.

A third area that concerns us as orthodox Anglicans is the invasion of Islam into supposedly solid Christian areas, and the rapidity with which Christians seem to be rolling over and not adequately responding. I used to wonder how Islam conquered North Africa so easily, suppressing such a vital Christian area and pushing the Christian faith into a small corner of the community. Watching the idiocy of many governmental leaders in the Western world today, ready to give away so much to accommodate the demands of Muslim immigrants into their land, and seeing the Christians, with only a few exceptions, fail to rise to the challenge, I think I understand a little better what happened in North Africa. One difference there was that Islam conquered cities and territories by the sword… but who needs a sword if they can accomplish the same result by making demands and through thuggery and intimidation? I am thinking especially of articles about English vicars being beaten and harassed at their churches by Muslim youths.

Now to comment on some of the issues falling into these three categories mentioned above: The Episcopal Church’s Diocese of El Camino Real, in California, has issued official guidelines for blessing homosexual relationships. The State of California's Supreme Court has ruled that homosexual marriage must be permitted under the same conditions as traditional man-woman marriage, based on equal treatment under the law. There is a popular grassroots referendum that is being prepared to change the California Constitution and effectively overturn the Supreme Court's ruling, but that referendum is several months away. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church is hurrying at breakneck speed to accommodate the homosexual marriage ruling by tacking on a blessing service for the wedding couple. These Episcopal Dioceses will be able to technically say they don't do gay weddings, because a civil authority does the vows and pronouncement part, then the church blends right in with the "spiritual" part. Episcopal bishops who are gay advocates will go to Lambeth swearing that they don't do gay weddings--for those others who find themselves at Lambeth, understand the duplicity that you are hearing.

In the UK, the issue of women bishops has been rammed down the throats of the Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals who don't believe that women Biblically can hold the episcopal order. After fervent (and we believe sincere) pleas by Canterbury, York and Durham, to mention only three, not to rush into this, and certainly not without provision for those who dissent and will need an alternative, the "our way or the highway" majority gave due notice of where the Church of England is headed.

Will this result in mass departures to Rome? Will this result in a GAFCON fellowship or even ecclesial body in England? Might a new Province even be established overlaying England? History is indeed being made.

But over and above all this turmoil, God in His wisdom rules, and His purposes will be carried out. Our job is to be much in prayer, seeking his will for our individual and corporate lives. May we carry out faithfully the tasks He gives us to do.

Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C.
Anderson, Sr.
President & CEO of the American Anglican Council

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