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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Since we know (courtesy of the West Kent Masons) that:
The Service has been prepared in conjunction with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, who has kindly agreed to deliver the Sermon on this occasion. We shall be joined by several of the High Rulers in the Craft and the Holy Royal Arch Chapter together with Brethren from the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex......
here’s the interesting thing..
The scriptures chosen have greater significance (and a very different meaning) to Freemasons than they do to (other) Christians. Indeed, they are used at the highest degree of Masonic initiation in their rituals of exaltation.
There’s nothing wrong with morality and good fellowship: these are virtuous Christian pursuits. But we might well ask the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral why so much of this Order of Service is steeped in covert references to Masonic ritual, with twisted scriptural interpretations known only (now not quite) to the initiated? Why the secret syncretism?
Read it all
Justin Welby, the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury, is allowing a full Masonic service to be conducted in Canterbury cathedral on the same day that Cardinal Nichols reconsecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster cathedral on the18th February 2017.
Canterbury cathedral was the Mother-Church of All England from 597 till the death of the last Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Pole, in 1558. It was the heart of the Catholic Church in England and one of the major shrines of Christendom because it housed the shrine of St Thomas a Becket.
Justin Welby's and Canterbury Cathedrals decision to allow a Masonic service is controversial among certain groups of Anglicans in light of the 1987 summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England, Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible?:
It was "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil." Some believed that Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities." It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges "precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief. The Synod's primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry's use of the word "Jahbulon," which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God."
In view of this history of masonic anti-Catholicism, is it more than an unhappy coincidence that a major Masonic service is being conducted in the ancient mother Church of the Catholic faith in these lands on the very same day that England is reconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honour of Our Lady of Fatima? Even if it is coincidence, it is a conjunction of events that is profoundly significant and meaningful.
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In the lead up to the vote there was nothing short of furious campaigning on all sides. The liberals’ campaign was clear to see from bodies such as the newly-amalgamated “One Body, One Faith” who urged their supporters to vote against the motion and to call their General Synod reps to do the same.
Within the conservative camp there was also an inclination by many to vote against the motion for the reasons outlined above. Those I spoke to in the days leading up to the vote took no pleasure in this position but were resigned to a split in the church as being inevitable and longed for the bishops to stop papering over the cracks. As a result we began to see an unprecedented move by more conservative bishops to encourage a “yes” vote as (it was explained) a last-ditch attempt to hold everything together. There was a great danger, it was explained, that if the take note vote failed then the fissures would rupture with not a small number of bishops being prepared to take a contrary position in future. It has to be said that this argument appears to have been somewhat successful if the noises key conservatives were making in the last 24 hours were any indication.
..there you have it. A split Church of England which has voted against taking note of the bishops’ report, thereby ensuring it cannot be further debated in this current synod (until 2020). The bishops will now go back and, presumably, prepare another report that may have a different flavour.
But that’s not the half of it. If the conservative bishops’ warnings are correct we can now expect to see the collegiality of the House of Bishops begin to fracture well beyond the isolated crack that is Alan Wilson in Buckingham. To Wilson’s credit he at least had the chops to say what he believed. At the moment we have a set of bishops, some of whom are by conviction opposed to orthodox teaching and yet who continue to (at least nominally) support it. No wonder the liberals are frustrated. But they may now break ranks.
One last thought. The bishops really can’t complain about this result. It is they who are ultimately responsible for recruiting, training, ordaining, supporting, leading and (if necessary) disciplining their clergy. That there has been a more laissez-faire approach by them in recent years on these matters is now well-documented. While there have been some occasions where discipline has been carried out, there are many more moments when they could have stood up and spoken, withheld Communion, said no to ordination and so on. But they didn’t. Blessings of same-sex unions are allowed to pass with not so much as an irritated tut. Bishops attend and endorse services that promote either explicitly or implicitly a rejection of orthodox teaching on marriage. Clergy who hold heterodox views are promoted to higher office. Put simply, there has been a concerted effort by revisionist clergy to put “facts on the ground” and the bishops appear to have not resisted the move with many of them effectively supporting it. As Sam Allberry put it so well in his contribution to the GS debate, we want bishops who genuinely believe that what they wrote in the report is good news to be proclaimed to everyone.
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..Trying to avoid ‘taking sides’ in the debate, the document inevitably failed to reconcile diametrically opposing theological understandings. It even attempted to spiritualise this conflict as if it were a form of creative diversity mysteriously pointing to the Kingdom of God.
This is why we did not share the optimism of some that an orthodox view of marriage would prevail in the proposed ‘teaching document.’ The committee responsible for such a document would have been composed of representatives of both sides in the debate, resulting either in impasse, further theological muddle and confusion or, as occurred with the Pilling Report, majority and minority views.
As the Synod debate was introduced, Bishops made clear that the proposed retention of the historic teaching of marriage, or the ban on liturgical blessings of same sex relationships, was not a ‘stake in the ground’ beyond which the church will not move. To the contrary the Bishops saw it merely as a description of where the church is at the moment from where we would then ‘move forward’. This was a clear encouragement to innovations led by the loudest voices.
Our view was that orthodox believers could have no confidence either in the Report or in the process it was intended to initiate. Whichever way the vote went, there would be no happy outcome. The Church of England now finds itself in disarray.
After the very expensive ‘holding operation’ of the Shared Conversations and the production of GS2055, the inevitable crisis in the C of E is now upon us; one that cannot be covered up by more platitudes about reconciliation and unity.
There is a better way. We would like to suggest seven principles to guide orthodox Anglicans as they start to envision and plan for a better church future:
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As a new era begins in Washington, it is worth asking whether the similarity between President Trump and King David goes any deeper.
Both men came out of nowhere to deal with an urgent national matter. Each was initially treated as a joke by the experts. When David offered to face Goliath, King Saul told him, “You are a lad, and he is a warrior since his youth.” Yet both prevailed, and each did so by spending far less than his adversaries....
Don’t look to David’s life for a detailed road map of what to expect from the Trump administration. Members of the U.S. government take an oath to the Constitution, not to a leader. But anyone who experiences the rabbis’ mash-up of Jacob and David would have no trouble matching Mr. Trump with David, rather than with Jacob.
The sudden and surprising rise of King David and President Trump make them, in modern parlance, “disruptive innovators.” Contemporary society exhibits a remarkable amount of forgiveness for rule-breakers in high-tech industries. Now, some people are agonizing over whether Mr. Trump should be “normalized”—treated the same way that any other leader would be. It is worth remembering that the Bible didn’t fully normalize David’s actions. The king was denied the pinnacle achievement that he sought, building the Temple. The Lord told him: “You have shed much blood to the ground before Me.” Still, David remains revered.
Whether Americans classify Mr. Trump as “normal” is less important than how they respond to his administration. One wise approach was enunciated by David Petraeus. During a November interview with the BBC, the retired general was asked whether Mr. Trump had the “correct” temperament to be president. He replied: “It’s up to Americans, at this point in time, not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavor to help him.”
Read it all.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President President Donald Trump * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
..What is being proposed here is more conversations, more discussion, and more documents from the House of Bishops.
I doubt there is one member of General Synod who will welcome the idea of more conversations and more debate time on this issue. The House of Bishops is such a diverse group, so thus far they have not produced any documents with a coherent doctrine of marriage, and proposals for practices on the ground that are consistent with that, all lacking any ambiguity or the proverbial fudge.
The archbishops are proposing that the next thing is to do more of the same thing that's already been done. This will not solve things any more than the previous incarnations of the same strategy.
There is no way around the fact that what we now need is a clear decision. A decision as to what our doctrine of Scripture is to be going forward. A decision as to what our doctrine of marriage is to be. A decision as to which God we will serve - the God of this age, or the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ..
Read it all and there is a useful earlier analysis When it comes to the boundary of tolerance you have to choose
..The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.
Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.
We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.
As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.
Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.
We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm..
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Archbishop of York John Sentamu Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Throughout his talk, Idowu-Fearon emphasized the “vigorous and robust” character of the Anglican Communion, as it pursues the “apostolic mandate given by the Lord Jesus, to make disciples of all the nations.” Again and again, he referenced “missionary calling,” the “sacrificial offering” of generations of English Anglicans zealous for global mission, and the C of E’s contributions to the Anglican Communion.
“This is a wonderful, if complex, story that I hope will never be forgotten,” he said. “I hope you realize this, because it is a fact that the Church of England today is giving necessary, effective, and beautiful gifts to the wider Communion.”
The secretary general did not shy away from noting the difficulties Anglican Communion provinces face: “economic displacement and political uncertainty; family dissolution; refugees and migration; grinding poverty; and persecution,” but also “the dispiriting and destructive dynamic of Anglican conflict over human sexuality” and a worrisome fading of the “fertile energy of outward mission.”
He lifted up the 1920 Lambeth Conference as a potential model for how to respond to these challenges: the assembled bishops recognized that communion is founded in “the undeflected will of God,” who desires to “win over the whole human family.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Polity & Canons --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012 * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Resolving issues around human sexuality within the Anglican Communion is like threading a needle – and there is no one solution in sight at present, the secretary general of the Communion has told the Church of England Synod.
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said the disagreements and struggles facing the Church of England were not unique to it but could not easily be resolved in some institutional or structural fashion.
“We are not up to the task of resolving them faithfully right now,” he said.
Archbishop Josiah said the “dispiriting and destructive dynamic” of the conflict over human sexuality was divisive between provinces of the Communion as well as within them. He said the differences could impede their common mission to the world. And he suggested the time might be right to set aside difficult matters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Although it had been a difficult and tense week, my own sense was that the debate itself was the General Synod at its best. I've been in difficult debates on several occasions (most noticeably on the legislation of women in the episcopate). This did not feel like those debates. Over 30 people spoke. There was a 3 minute time limit throughout. Jayne Ozanne, Martin Gorick and Sam Alberry all spoke well, from different perspectives. I saw other Oxford members standing seeking to make a contribution. Over 160 people wanted to contribute. The debate was expertly chaired by Aidan Hargreaves.
We came to the vote which is normally a formality in a take note debate. As expected, it was closely contested. The House of Bishops voted 43 in favour and 1 against (the Bishop of Coventry later admitted he had pressed the wrong button by mistake). The House of Laity voted 106 in favour, 86 against with 3 abstentions. The House of Clergy voted 93 in favour and 100 against with 4 abstentions. The take note motion was therefore defeated.
Given the strength of feeling across the Church and the Synod this seemed to me an appropriate outcome. The Bishop of Norwich said afterwards: “I can guarantee that the Bishops will listen carefully and prayerfully to all the contributions made in the debate today”.
Talking with people afterwards, this felt a very significant moment but not that the Church of England is in chaos or turmoil (as the newspaper headlines indicated the following day).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The Church of England is to undergo a major "culture shift" to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives. General Synod has given its support to the report, "Setting God's People Free", which calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere - from the factory or office, to the gym or shop - to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.
The paper is a key element of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church. It asks a key question of how to empower around 1 million Christians who are not ordained to live out their faith in all aspects of life Monday to Saturday as well as Sunday.
Introducing the report, Canon Mark Russell, CEO of Church Army, said: 'We want to help Christians be even better influencers for the gospel in their everyday lives. We see this report as marking the start of a vital journey.'
Read it all.
If you go here you can see it in the Wednesday agenda. I am providing the direct link to it below (almost 2 hours and 20 minutes).
It is very worth your time to listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Watch and listen to it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970's when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, "We live today and are gone tomorrow" was the common phrase.--Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine
We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.
As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, "How do you prepare yourself for death?" Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)....
It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.
...we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.
The archbishop's arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.
For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum's Memorial Service. She said, "This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn't it?" And as a matter of fact, it did.
More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin's guards to pack St. Paul's Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the "Martyr's Song," which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, "Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord." They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books * International News & Commentary Africa Uganda
O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Picture Hagiography Circle via Wikipedia)
Jesus! Give me true wisdom from above to know thy goodness, and all those things which are most pleasing to Thee. Grant me to see clearly what is my only good, and give me grace to follow it.Grant that I may go on from virtue to virtue; till at length I shall see Thee face to face in Thy glory....Amen.
----The Narrow Way, Being a Complete Manual of Devotion with a Guide to Confirmation and Holy Communion (London: J. Whitaker and Sons, 1893), p.154
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; that men may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. He has broken my strength in mid-course; he has shortened my days. "O my God," I say, "take me not hence in the midst of my days, thou whose years endure throughout all generations!" Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.
--Psalm 102:18-27 (emphasis mine)
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