Friday, August 17, 2018

Is ACNA Nearing Broken Communion?

Statements by key Forward in Faith bishops at the Fort Worth FiF meeting earlier this month beg the question of whether communion within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will sooner or later go beyond impaired to becoming broken altogether over women's ordination among other issues.
Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth’s statement was particularly strong:

“I am extremely dismayed, because the [ACNA] College of Bishops has decided to fudge the issue by allowing ‘two integrities.’ There are two practices, one is apostolic, universal, scriptural, the other is schismatic, rebellious, feminist and revolutionary. Begun by the Episcopal Church illegally and forced upon the Church.” 
Iker then said that Forward in Faith, the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in North America “came into ACNA” believing “we’d go into a theological discussion of the issue and move the right way forward. Now we’re being told that we signed on to ‘two integrities’.”…

Speeches by retired Bishop William Wantland and Missionary Diocese of All Saints Bishop William Ilgenfritz were perhaps even stronger medicine.  Read excerpts over at Forward in Christ Magazine.
In any case, this does not sound like bishops who intend to stick around if the “two integrities” status quo in ACNA remains the status quo.  Having said that, I do not expect anyone to leave before next year’s ACNA Provincial Assembly.  And with the Diocese of Ft. Worth there is the additional consideration of continuing litigation with The Episcopal Church.  They may want a resolution of that before deciding whether to stay in ACNA.  (But please note that I do NOT have any inside information in that regard.  This is my thinking only.)
As Fr. Michael Heidt concludes, “Whether and to what extent the Anglo-Catholic bishops of Forward in Faith North America will be able to live in a state of impaired communion with ACNA over female ordinations remains to be seen.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Did Pope Francis Really Change Church Teaching?

I promised to comment further on the change in the Roman Catholic Catechism on the subject of capital punishment now that the official Latin text is out. So I guess I should keep my promise.  But I do not have much more to add except to say that it is not as certain as I first thought that Pope Francis has changed official R. C. Church teaching, although I remain appalled at his arbitrary tinkering with the Catechism to turn part of it into an act of political lobbying. 
However, to avoid further ranting and to focus on the presenting question – it is unclear whether official Roman Catholic teaching has changed.  I say this for two main reasons.  First, there is a lot of debate among Roman Catholics whether church teaching has changed, which is a good sign.  Second, as Fr John Hunwicke has noted, the letter that accompanied the Catechism change is hedged and “not how the Catholic Church talks about grave moral offenses.”
My best guess is that whether the Catechism change really is a change in official R. C. Church teaching depends on what future popes do with it.
Please do not mistake that for optimism. Given how Francis is stacking the College of Cardinals, I do not expect another robustly orthodox pope in my lifetime at least.  But if this bit of pessimism and my earlier posts on the capital punishment change prove alarmist and mistaken, I will be most glad to be proven wrong.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Fr. Hunwicke on Pope Francis’ “Deathgate” UPDATED

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Fr. John Hunwicke’s observations on Pope Francis apparently changing the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on capital punishment.  Hunwicke has not disappointed me.  He rarely does.
First, to my surprise, he posits that the situation might not be quite as bad as I and others have feared.  For the official text of the revised R. C. Catechism has not yet been published.  Hunwicke:
I can't see much point in making substantive comments on the "changes made to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the death penalty" until the new text is published. All I can so far find on the Internet are some vernacular versions.

This, in itself, I object to. The world has been given the impression that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching when nobody has the wherewithal to judge whether or not this is true. I can only call this sort of behaviour in matters of faith and morals disgracefully frivolous. Can it be that PF wants to make an immediate impression on world opinion without giving theological professionals the prior opportunity to weaken by their analyses that impact?
But Hunwicke expects that once the official Latin text is published, capital punishment won’t be so completely “inadmissible” after all. 
By the way, he is very much opposed to capital punishment, yet shares my concern about how this apparent change in teaching has come about.
…such an arbitrary change in a documentary henotikon, in which X has metamorphosed into not-X in a very few years, and without (as far as we know) a detailed collegial consultation with the whole College of Bishops (such as Pius XII conducted before defining the Assumption), leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth. It is because I have been driven to the unhappy conclusion that the present pontificate is manipulative and dishonest, that I wonder if this change in the CCC may be preparing the way for some of Senor Bergoglio's other private opinions and personal convictions to be given spurious Magisterial colouring.
That is my chief concern.  I doubt that Francis will confine himself to capital punishment in arbitrarily changing church teaching.

UPDATE: The official Latin text has been released.  I will comment at a later time.

Friday, August 03, 2018

More on Pope Francis Changing Catechism on Capital Punishment: “This. Is. Big.”

Yesterday I concluded that the arbitrary change in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Catechism on capital punishment “could be the beginning of something awful.”
Rod Dreher gets this and spells out why very well.  I highly recommend reading his whole post.  He quotes Edward Feser at length in reviewing the teaching of scripture and the Fathers on capital punishment, which teaches that it is a legitimate tool of the state even if it should be used with great restraint.
Feser, anticipating that Pope Francis might change this longstanding church teaching on capital punishment, then wrote that doing so would be “effectively saying – whether consciously or unconsciously – that previous popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and even divinely inspired Scripture are in error.”
Dreher rightly asserts that this is exactly what Francis did and continues:
It seems to me that the Pope has crossed a bright line. He is denying, for the first time in nearly two millennia of Catholic teaching, and in direct contradiction to the Fathers of the Church, that the state has the right to impose capital punishment. That’s a meaningful difference from saying that the state has that right, but shouldn’t use it.
Even if you disfavor the death penalty, understand what this means: this Pope has claimed forthrightly that the Catholic Church taught error, but now, at long last, he has set the Church straight. From a traditional point of view, though, this means that the Pope is teaching error.
This. Is. Big.
Indeed it is.  And to clarify further, this is not just Pope Francis giving his opinion on capital punishment.  Hey, he’s a Libpope who likes to shoot off his mouth.  His stating his opposition to the death penalty is predictable.

He has gone far beyond expressing his opinion.  He has taken his opinion, which is contradicted by scripture, the Fathers, and many faithful today, and enshrined that opinion in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and that without the backing of a church council. (In fact, several have made that case that Vatican I forbids what Francis just did.)  Regardless of whether the subject is capital punishment, changing official church doctrine like this crosses “a bright line” that even Francis has not crossed before.
Both the tyrannical act and its implications are greatly alarming. Having pulled this doctrinal coup, does anyone think Francis will stop with only capital punishment? I fear for the damage he may do to the church in his remaining years.
This. Indeed. Is. Big.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Pope Francis Changes Roman Catholic Catechism on Death Penalty

First, the facts which Crux spells out well.
The Vatican announced on Thursday Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II.

“The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church now says on the death penalty, adding that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
This is a departure from what the document, approved under Pope John Paul II in 1992, says on the matter: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
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As it’s been re-written, the Catechism now also says that “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.”
Yet today, “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.”
“Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” says the Catechism now, as it was approved by Pope Francis.
It’s for this reason, and “in light of the Gospel,” that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Let me say that I consider capital punishment an issue on which faithful Christians can differ.  However, the weight of Scripture and of the Fathers leans very much for capital punishment in certain instances.  Steve Skojec reviews that background well.

Thus for the Pope to change the Catechism so that it is dead against all capital punishment is the height of arrogance, dismissing much scripture, the Fathers, and the consciences of many faithful.  That the Catechism is then twisted into a lobbying tool, e. g. the church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide” is outrageous and an attack on the consciences of those faithful who are convinced that there are times when capital punishment is appropriate. 
As Rorate Caeli points out, this is at the very least an egregious abuse of authority:
The current Pope has far exceeded his authority: his authority is to guard and protect the doctrine that was received from Christ and the Apostles, not to alter it according to his personal views. We are reaping the rewards of an unchecked hyper-clericalism: the same hyper-clericalism that allowed for abuses of people like Theodore McCarrick to go ignored and unpunished and now allows for the recklessness of the alteration of established doctrine received from Christ and the Apostles…. He is in open violation of the authority recognized to him by Christ and His Church throughout the ages: he has abused his authority by pretending to have an authority that he has not.
I cannot add much to that at this time. Well, I could rant and rave. But, looking at the bigger picture, it reveals a grave weakness of the Roman Catholic Church that such a man as Bergoglio could become pope and then be very hard, if not impossible, to depose.  I fear that he is now doubling down on his tyranny against the faithful in his final years.  This arbitrary change in RCC teaching on capital punishment, bad enough in itself, could be the beginning of something even more awful.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

World Vision Responds to Islamic Relief Agency Concerns

To their credit, World Vision has contacted me and issued a statement addressing my and others’ concerns about their role in funding the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA or IRA).
I do not have any value-added commentary to add, but I find their statement plausible at least.  I post it below in full.
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World Vision’s work in Sudan is focused on improving the lives of the most vulnerable children. In 2017, our programs reached approximately 674,000 vulnerable people, 70 percent of these were children and women.  The work sub-granted to IRA in 2014 was a very small percentage of our significant program expenditures in Sudan, less than 1% of our total at that time.
In March 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) approved World Vision’s grant proposal that clearly listed Islamic Relief Agency (IRA) as a proposed sub-grantee. At the time of selection, there was no indication that IRA had any possible ties to an alleged terrorist-supporting organisation.
There are several Islamic Relief organisations operating around the world which are not blocked, and when we searched the blocked parties lists for "Islamic Relief" in "Sudan," the searches produced no results.  That is still true today on the website of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
In May 2014, when WV applied to renew its registration with OFAC as a charity working in Sudan, it identified IRA as a sub-grantee in its application. OFAC approved the renewal in August 2014 without any comments or questions about IRA.
In November 2014, we informed OFAC and USAID that we had concerns about IRA in Sudan possibly being related to certain other organisations with “Islamic Relief” in their names, designated by the US government as organisations allegedly supporting terrorism.  Because of these concerns, we suspended further grant implementation by IRA pending clarification from OFAC.
In January 2015, OFAC responded that IRA in Sudan “appears to be the same entity” as the one on OFAC’s blocked parties list. The sub-grant by then had expired, it was not renewed, and we discontinued any future collaboration with IRA.  At this time, OFAC authorised us to pay IRA $125,000 for the humanitarian work that was verified to have already been completed under the grant.  The payment made to IRA was not a diversion of funds but payment for programming services of confirmed quality.
World Vision took its compliance obligations seriously, but respectfully asked permission to pay IRA money owing for legitimate humanitarian work (salaries, humanitarian aid and supplies for beneficiaries, travel etc.) already incurred. World Vision explained failure to do so could have exposed it to potential legal liability for breach of contract, resulted in the very real chance of Government expulsion from Sudan and as a consequence, the loss of a lifeline for tens of thousands of children and their families.
World Vision has robust controls and screening processes in place and condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for those activities.  
We have no evidence that any of our funds have been used for anything other than urgent humanitarian work.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Pope in the Waterloo Gallery

It is interesting what can stick in one’s mind during travel.  Pope Pius VII sticks in my memory from my visits to Windsor Castle.
That may seem odd given that the focus of Windsor Castle is the history and housing of the British Royal Family.  And the glorious Chapel of St. George certainly stands out as well.  So my focus on a pope may indeed be odd.  
Yet I remember him indeed thanks to a wonderful portrait in the Waterloo Gallery in the State Rooms of the castle.  As one may guess from the name, the Waterloo Gallery displays portraits of worthies who played a role in resisting and defeating Napoleon and in dealing with the aftermath.  Most of the subjects are in idealized stately and/or heroic poses.  But not Pius VII.
With Pius, the genius of the man who painted the portraits of the gallery, Sir Thomas Lawrence, is most evident. Pius VII is painted very honestly, in a remarkably informal sitting posture, and with few obvious trappings of the papacy.  He is elderly yet at the same time with a lot of life and personality.  His expression is almost mischievous as if saying, “Napoleon thought he had me beaten.”
An excellent video on the Waterloo Gallery with some focus on the portrait of Pius VII may be found here.
It is interesting that Pius VII is enshrined in this gallery; for he actually had a mixed record in opposing Napoleon.   His predecessor, Pius VI was dogged in opposing attacks on the church from the French Revolution and from Napoleon.  That did not work out well as he died a prisoner of Napoleon.  The papacy itself was in peril as well.
Pius VII understandably wanted a different result, so he was beyond reasonable in seeking accommodation with Napoleon. That included attending Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor in 1804, against the advice of some of his Cardinals, and enduring petty disrespectful treatment from the tyrant while in Paris for the occasion.  And it also included later agreements that reduced the papacy’s power.
But Napoleon was not nearly as flexible as the Pope.  When Pius was pushed to the point where he felt he had to say no – the appointment of bishops in the Papal States was a presenting issue, but who knows if Napoleon could have been appeased even if Pius VII gave in on that – then the furious Napoleon had him arrested on the night of June 9th, 1812 with the intention of confronting him at Fontainebleau.

In poor health, Pius barely survived the trip.  But it turned out the health of Napoleon’s regime was even more precarious.  By the time the Pope made it to Fontainebleau, Napoleon was off to fight Russia where he would eventually lose most of his army.
But Pius VII did not know this, and when Napoleon returned, he was able to badger the isolated pope into an agreement that would have greatly weakened the papacy.  After deep regret, Pius later repudiated that.  And at that point there was little Napoleon could do about it.  He abdicated on April 14th, 1814 (temporarily it turned out -- Waterloo was in June 1815). Pius VI triumphantly returned to Rome on May 24th.
Thus for all Pius’ human frailty, miscalculations, and concessions, his imprisonment and twice saying no to Napoleon rightly turned Pope Pius VII into a symbol of resistance to Napoleon’s tyranny.
And Thomas Lawrence’s portrait captures well both the human frailty and the resilient strength of character of Pius VII. It captures the little old pope who outlasted Napoleon.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

BREAKING: Obama Admin Gave Funds to Terror-listed Group . . . After Pressure from World Vision

Overnight, some attention is being given to the breaking story that the Obama Administration granted aid funds to the terror-listed Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA).  ISRA has quite a history.

By 2000, ISRA had raised $5 million for bin Laden’s group. The Treasury Department notes that ISRA officials even sought to help “relocate [bin Laden] to secure safe harbor for him.” It further reports that ISRA raised funds in 2003 in Western Europe specifically earmarked for Hamas suicide bombings.

Lovely.  But what I find most troubling about this story has not yet been given much attention – World Vision’s role in pressuring the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to make the grant to ISRA:
Despite this well-documented history, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in July 2014 awarded $723,405 to World Vision Inc., an international evangelical charity, to “improve water, sanitation and hygiene and to increase food security in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.” Of these funds, $200,000 was to be directed to a sub-grantee: ISRA.
Responding to a Middle East Forum (MEF) inquiry, a USAID official explains that World Vision had alerted it in November 2014 to the likelihood of ISRA being on the terror list. USAID instructed World Vision to “suspend all activities with ISRA” and informed the State Department, OFAC, and USAID’s Office of the Inspector General. USAID and World Vision then waited for OFAC to confirm whether ISRA was designated or not.
USAID emails obtained by the Middle East Forum reveal that in January 2015, World Vision was growing unhappy while waiting for OFAC’s assessment. Mark Smith, World Vision’s senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs, wrote to USAID, stating that the Islamic Relief Agency “had performed excellent work” for World Vision in the past, and that “putting contractual relationships in limbo for such a long period is putting a significant strain” on World Vision’s relationship with the Sudanese regime. Smith also revealed that World Vision had submitted a notice to OFAC indicating its “intention to restart work with [ISRA] and to transact with [ISRA]” if OFAC did not respond within a week.
World Vision’s statement stunned USAID officials, who complained that World Vision’s behavior “doesn’t make sense.”

But the grant was eventually made anyway.

Then, incredibly, on May 7, 2015 — after “close collaboration and consultations with the Department of State” — OFAC issued a license to a World Vision affiliate, World Vision International, authorizing “a one-time transfer of approximately $125,000 to ISRA,” of which “$115,000 was for services performed under the sub-award with USAID” and $10,000 was “for an unrelated funding arrangement between Irish Aid and World Vision.”
An unnamed World Vision official described the decision as a “great relief as ISRA had become restive and had threatened legal action, which would have damaged our reputation and standing in Sudan.” 

I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Perhaps ISRA somehow reformed, and World Vision knew that better than bureaucrats up the line?  But World Vision has been at the very least careless about partnerships before, even (apparently without their knowledge) funding Hamas.  This ISRA story, too, is troubling and bears watching.  
If I see a response from World Vision, I will post it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

C. S. Lewis and Getting Ideas in Church

Ever get an idea while sitting in church (other than muzzling annoying children, perpetual conversationalists . . . or the preacher)?  C. S. Lewis did once. In July 1940, he wrote to his brother:
Before the service was over – one cd. wish these things came more seasonably – I was struck by an idea for a book wh. I think might be both useful and entertaining.  It wd. be called As one Devil to Another and would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first ‘patient’. The idea wd. be to give all the psychology of temptation from the other point of view.  
Many of you can already surmise that this was the beginning of The Screwtape Letters.  Lewis wrote that he had returned to church after a “many weeks” absence due to illness.  I am glad he felt up to going to church that day!
I note this now because I just had a similar experience this past Sunday.  I don’t recall it being prompted by anything in the service of Holy Communion itself.  Nor was it as momentous as Lewis’ idea to be sure.  Perhaps it was just my mind wandering as it is prone to do when it should be fixed on the Lord?  Nonetheless I got an idea how better to put my studies to use.  And I already consider it so much better than what I previously had in mind that I am rejoicing and thanking God for his guidance.  (More on the guidance perhaps in due time.)
But I do think God sometimes rewards attending to him in worship by very personally giving us good ideas as to how better serve him out in the world.
Or at least that’s my excuse for my mind wandering.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Anti-Semitism in The Episcopal “Church” (Yes, I will use scare quotes.)

William Murchinson documents well the vomits of anti-semitism at the General Convention of The Episcopal “Church”:

Resolution after resolution targeted Israel for its apparently endless failures to bestow full rights on Palestinians in the so-called “occupied” territories. Resolution authors wanted the church, through its investments, to pressure Israeli acquiescence in a pro-Palestinian policy.
A convention deputy from Hawaii spoke of Israel’s “brutal occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza (from which, actually, Israel withdrew formally in 2005), saying, “We as a church are complicit in the occupation. We have money invested in it.”
The resolution’s authors desired an “investment screen” to make sure Episcopalians, bless their compassionate hearts, refuse help to the Israeli oppressors, affirming that “Palestinian lives matter.” As they do: just as Israeli lives matter — lives menaced daily by the Hamas terrorists whose anger breaks out whenever there seems any chance of getting away with it.
The resolution passed the convention’s House of Deputies 619-214, only to stall in the House of Bishops. Six other resolutions, out of 15, passed both houses . . .

Now don’t give me the bovine excrement that criticism of Israel does not amount to anti-semitism.  Yes, Israel isn’t perfect nor beyond criticism.  But this sort of obsession with bashing the most free nation in the Middle East while paying little to no attention to, say, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Muslim persecution of Christians, etc. comes from one source – the Satanic evil of anti-semitism.
Which brings me to a matter which has been implied here on this blog but should be spelled out, and now is as good a time as any: why do I use scare quotes when referring to The Episcopal “Church” and to likeminded “bishops” as well?
First, I do not consider The Episcopal “Church” to be a legitimate church anymore. Likewise for similar libchurches such as my past “mainline” Presbyterian “Church.”  You go apostate; you lose the right to be called a church.
Second, TEC, PCUSA, etc. push such pure evil such as anti-semitism and abortion on demand, that I consider it important for Christians to denounce them and not allow them the dignity of being called a church.  Christians, the faithful church, should disassociate themselves from such evil in the strongest possible terms.  And that includes making it clear that those who advocate for such evil are not the faithful church.  To fail to do so enables the deceptive evil of apostates and their pseudo-churches.
(I realize that some faithful Christians remain in the Episcopal Church.  The presence of such in an otherwise evil organization does not make said organization a legitimate church.) 
I fully realize that some consider my use of scare quotes to be rude, even *gasp* uncivilized.  I refer those to how the church fathers and even St. Paul referred to heretics and apostates.  They make scare quotes look very tame.
I will also say that if one is more offended by my scare quotes than by The Episcopal “Church,” one’s priorities need serious self-examination.
So I intend to continue to use scare quotes and the equivalent and may increase my use of them in referring to libchurches. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

C. S. Lewis Warns of Ideology Hijacking Christianity

Another letter of C. S. Lewis that has gotten my full attention was written to Dom Bede Griffiths in January 1940, early in World War II.  This is the passage I find remarkable:

Fascism and Communism, like all other evils, are potent because of the good they contain or imitate. Diabolus simius Dei…. [“The devil is the ape of God.” Tertullian]  This does not for me alter the conviction that they are very bad indeed.  One of the things we must guard against is the penetration of both into Christianity. . . .  Mark my words: you will presently see both a Leftist and a Rightist pseudo-theology developing – the abomination will stand where it ought not.

Lewis’ prediction borders on the prophetic. “A Rightist pseudo-theology” did indeed develop and hijack the mainline churches in Germany under the Nazis. After World War II, Marxist Liberation Theology became a parasitic plague on the Roman Catholic Church and no doubt influenced the current occupant of the See of St. Peter. Most mainline Protestant denominations in the West became far more adamant about pushing left of center politics than about the Faith once delivered to the saints.  The World Council of Churches listened more to the Kremlin than to Christ.  Trust me; I could go on.
As Lewis warned, we must guard against our churches being hijacked by ideological politics.  It happened with remarkable ease to the Episcopal Church and other once mainline churches.  And, yes, it can happen to the Anglican Church in North America.  I’ve seen it happen to past churches and parachurch groups of mine and so am alarmed when I see what may be the beginnings of it happening to ACNA.  Maybe I am being an alarmist.  I hope so at least.
Nonetheless, in this, as in many areas, we would do well to listen to C. S. Lewis.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

God and Man in Genesis 18 (A Sermon for Trinity 6)

When Father Ben invited me to preach today, I was glad to see that Genesis 18 was among the assigned readings for Morning Prayer.  It is not only a very interesting and engaging chapter; it contains a great deal of mystery.  And who doesn’t enjoy mystery?
And in the midst of its narrative is profound teaching concerning God and man.  It contains themes that are vital to the rest of scripture and that are vital to us if we are to understand ourselves and to begin to comprehend God and his dealings with men and women.  It is such a rich chapter we can only begin to dig into its treasure in one sermon; so let’s get with it.
The mystery begins in the first two verses:
…The LORD appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.  He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.

So God appears to Abraham, but not in a burning bush or in a storm but apparently as three men, as three travelers.  And the passage does not really explain that.  There are different interpretations but we will return to this mystery later.
Abraham’s response to the three sojourners is immediate and very hospitable, even though it was the heat of the day when a nap in the shade might have been his plan.  He hastens to prepare a meal for the three. It is not clear whether he yet realized that it was God that was passing through, although he clearly does realize that later in the chapter.  But his urgency indicates that he knew these three were not ordinary travelers.
And did you notice how much the passage dwells on the hospitality and preparations of Abraham, of Sarah, and of their servants?  Hospitality is a virtue given much weight in scripture.   In the New Testament, Hebrews 13:2 exhorts us, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
In Abraham’s case, he was not only being hospitable to angels, but to God Himself!

Then the three ask, “Where is Sarah your wife?”  And God again foretells that Sarah will bear Abraham a son.  Now God had told Abraham this before, but not in Sarah’s hearing.  This was back in Genesis 15.  Abraham’s response then was to exercise faith and to believe God as it says in that famous verse, quoted repeatedly in the New Testament: “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”  Now, this time the Lord has Sarah also hear the promise of a son.
Sarah’s response is not quite the example of faith that Abraham’s was.  She takes at look at herself and at Abraham and at their old age . . . and she laughs.  And it is safe to say this is not the laughter of joy but of skepticism. Her laugh is the ancient equivalent of “Yeah.  Right.”
The Lord’s response is gentle but firm.  He asks, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” And he again repeats the promise of the son.
In fear Sarah, well, lies and says, “I wasn’t laughing.” God again is gentle, but firm. “No, but you did laugh.”

There is much to learn from this exchange.  First, indeed there is nothing too hard for the Lord.  Nothing is impossible with God.  And we err if, like Sarah, we look to our circumstances more than we look to God, if we have more trust in our interpretation of circumstances than in God using circumstances and even overcoming them. From our second reading in Romans 4, we see that Abraham knew as well as Sarah that they were old, well past the normal age to have children.  But he trusted in God’s promise of a son anyway.  He trusted God to overcome the circumstances of old age. 
In short, we need to be like Abraham and remember that God is God.  And he can and will do whatever he wants whenever he wants.    
Second, God is faithful.  And his faithfulness does not depend on our faithfulness – thank God!  As St. Paul quoted an ancient creed in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful.”  God is faithful and will fulfill his good purposes.  
And that brings us to our third point – God is gracious.  Note that the Lord’s response to Sarah’s skepticism was not, “Okay, no kid for you!”  God gave a son to Abraham and Sarah anyway.
Now, we certainly should not presume on the grace of God.  We should not think that we can do whatever we want or think whatever we want without consequence.  But thank God that, although faith is necessary to receive the full blessings of God, he is patient with us, and understands our weakness, including the weakness we often have in our faith.  God is good to us even when our trust in the goodness of God is far from perfect.
And let’s not be too hard on Sarah.  God is good far beyond what we can even imagine.  As today’s collect says, he “hast prepared for those who love [Him] such good things as pass man’s understanding.”  His great goodness certainly tests and stretches our faith.  Even as we believe in God, it is sometimes hard to believe just how good he really is.
A fourth point is a bit obvious, but it needs to be said.  God is omniscient; he is all knowing.  So don’t even think about trying to sneak something past him or to hide something from him.  Sarah tried that and got embarrassed.
If and when we sin, we should be honest to God and confess our sins to him.

Speaking of sin, when it is time for the three men to set out from Abraham’s tent, God lets Abraham know that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah cries out for judgement.
But as Abraham sees them off, he does not say, “Yes, git ‘em, Lord.”  (That’s what I probably would have done.)  No, he instead boldly intercedes for Sodom and that even though he now clearly knows it is God he is talking to.  And Abraham is very persuasive, asking:
Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
And the Lord answered that he would spare Sodom if he found fifty righteous.  But Abraham is concerned about the innocent and about his nephew Lot who was a righteous man, but was also foolish enough to move to Sodom.  And he is not very confident about fifty righteous people being in Sodom.  (That reminds me of certain U. S. cities, but I digress.) So he keeps interceding:
 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 
He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Abraham was rather persistent, was he not?  Is not his persistence combined with reverence an example to us as we pray?
More importantly, we again see the grace of God here.  If there were only ten righteous people in the city of Sodom, God would have spared it.
But I will not try to hold you in suspense.  We know from the next chapter that God did destroy Sodom after rescuing Lot and some of his family and getting Lot out of there.  There were not even ten righteous people in Sodom.
Is this not a picture of how sinful mankind is?  Psalm 14 goes even farther: There is no-one righteous, not even one.  We have all sinned; we all need Christ’s forgiveness.

Since we have been studying the Book of Revelation, I will also note that this is a sneak preview of the end times and of the Apocalypse.  Mankind will go from bad to worse and isgoing from bad to worse in case you haven’t noticed. More and more the sin of man cries out for judgement.  God remains patient, but his righteous judgement will come and that suddenly.
Is it warm in here?

On a happier note, I have saved the best for last.  Let’s go back to the beginning of chapter 18:
And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.
We should be careful in interpreting this passage.  There is a lot of mystery here, and we should not presume to be able to solve the mystery.  But isn’t it interesting how the Lord chooses to visit Abraham in this instance and how the scripture puts it: “the Lord appeared to Abraham . . . behold, three men were standing in front of him.”
Now I do not think that what he have here is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Nor have I come across a reputable interpretation that sees the passage this way.  One interpretation John Calvin proposed is that we have here a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ accompanied by two angels.  That is the most likely interpretation I have come across. One reason it makes sense to me is that only two visit Sodom in the next chapter, which may imply that one of the three is of a higher status.  
Now all this is interesting.  But we should have the humility to let mystery be mystery and not be toosure of exactly who the three men are.  What we can say with more confidence is that the Lord has provided here a marvelous picture of the Holy Trinity – “the Lord appeared to Abraham . . . behold, three men were standing in front of him.”  God visits him.  Three persons visit him.  It is an early picture of the Trinity that is hard to miss!
Now some would have you believe that the Holy Trinity is some invention of the church.  If you watch the History Channel or certain silly movies or read certain silly books and magazines, maybe the Illuminati and the Freemasons (We must include them!) conspired with Constantine and the Magisterium to invent the Trinity.  
But, no, the Holy Trinity is who God is and how he has revealed himself.  And that revelation began way back in Genesis.  The revelation of God as the Holy Trinity does not become more clear until later in scripture, in the New Testament, but that revelation certainly begins in Genesis. 
And in Genesis 18 and elsewhere in scripture, we see that God – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – is gracious, is faithful, is omniscient, that is he knows all, and he is omnipotent – nothing is too hard for him.  We can trust in him.
Indeed let us follow the example of faithful Abraham who believed in and trusted the Lord. “And the Lord counted it to him as righteousness.”

Let us pray.
O God, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Friday, July 06, 2018

“Lazy” C. S. Lewis

I’m continuing to read/skim The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis.  And last night I came across something I had to reread.  In July 1940, he wrote to Dom Bede Griffiths, “In fact I have recently come to the conclusion that a besetting sin of mine all my life has been one which I never suspected – laziness….”
I certainly would have never suspected that either.  When I read his letters and look at all the work he did then and throughout his life, about the last thing I would call C. S. Lewis is “lazy.”  When I look at his academic work only, as an Oxford student then Fellow, I sometimes wonder how he found the stamina and doubt I could have handled his schedule even in my younger days.  But he wasn’t just an academic, of course.  People often forget his work included maintaining a household which included the often difficult Janie Moore, the mother of his fallen friend from World War I, Paddy Moore, from a young age.  Lazy?
My opinion is that what we see here is that Lewis could be hard on people, including himself.  Some of his private comments on people he met and dealt with were less than charitable. He seems a snob at times. But he was perhaps hardest on himself.  He took self-examination and confession very seriously.  Some of his introspection even comes across as obsessive on occasion.  Perhaps that trait is one reason he wrote The Screwtape Letters so well. 
In any case, if C. S. Lewis was the least bit lazy, I hate to think what that makes me! 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Anglican Troll of the Year

Yes, about half of 2018 remains. Yes, I have never given such an award as Anglican Troll of the Year before.  But Jules Gomes’ post supposedly reporting that the Church of England’s General Synod may abolish the Holy Trinity to make nice with Muslims demands recognition.
Yes, it was satire and hilarious, lampooning a number of parties in the Church of England.  More importantly, in spite of giveaway names in it (I particularly like “Rev’d Janus Pliable, Rector of St Simplicio’s Church, Bishopsbottom, London.”), it was such good satire that some thought it was true.  One might say it was too close to true.
 We are aware of a blog entitled 'Church of England's Synod may abolish Holy Trinity to include Muslims'.
 Apparently some commentators appear not to have realised the author intended it to be a joke. For the avoidance of doubt, this article is entirely without basis of fact, and is published marked as 'satire'.
 The agenda for the July 2018 General Synod can be found here, including details of all Private Member Motions listed for debate. 
The Church of England remains fully committed to the doctrine of the Trinity. 
Thus Gomes’ post and eliciting that denial from the Church of England already wins the Anglican Troll of the Year award.
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NOTE:
“Troll” often has a negative meaning. It should not be so interpreted here.  Rest assured that this award is given out of great admiration for very effective and impactful satire.  Well done, Fr. Jules!

Monday, June 25, 2018

GAFCON, ACNA and Anglo-Catholics

By all reputable accounts I’ve heard, GAFCON 3 was an excellent conference.  And I concur in its closing Letter to the Churches.

At the same time, there was a serious shortcoming that occurred before the conference began.  And if this shortcoming was addressed during the conference, I am not aware of it.  GAFCON leaders failed to address with adequate firmness the consecration of a woman bishop in South Sudan in violation of an agreed moratorium.  Yes, there was a response of a sort early this year.  But she was apparently free to come to the Jerusalem conference as a full participant this past week.

It appears that because of that a number of Anglo-Catholics decided not to attend, including Bishops Keith Ackerman and Bill Ilgenfritz.  It turns out the South Sudan delegation did attend due to visa issues.  But that did not become clear until near the beginning of the conference.  In any case, the damage was done; the number of Anglo-Catholics at Jerusalem was fewer than in the past.

As for ACNA, I will not rehash the aftermath of the Conclave concerning Holy Orders.  Nor will I dive into the thorny topic of just what assurances were or were not made to traditionalists concerning Holy Orders at the formation of ACNA.  But communion with Anglo-Catholics is certainly frayed and even impaired as is the case with the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

We can hardly undo the past.  But as for the future, probably the most urgent matter for GAFCON and ACNA is to restore as much as possible communion and fellowship with Anglo-Catholics.  That is easier said than done although it is perhaps not too late to enact a moratorium on women’s ordination in ACNA and to strengthen a moratorium on women bishops in GAFCON.

Also, future GAFCON and ACNA meetings should reflect the importance of Anglo-Catholics among us, including in worship meetings.  Frankly, the next ACNA Provincial Assembly next year presents a danger.  With it being in Plano, Texas, I presume it will be hosted by Christ Church Plano, which is a large parish in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO).  It is safe to say C4SO has a talent for rubbing Anglo-Catholics and other traditionalist Anglicans (including yours truly) the wrong way.  If the Assembly turns out to be like an expanded C4SO Synod, that would not assist any remaining traditionalist patience with ACNA.

That Assembly and the time leading up to it should instead be used by both ACNA and GAFCON to mend fences with Anglo-Catholics.


Any form of Anglicanism without a robust and enthusiastic contingent of Anglo-Catholics is an impoverished Anglicanism.  I pray that GAFCON and ACNA bishops address that danger wisely and soon.

Friday, June 22, 2018

BREAKING: GAFCON 3 “Letter to the Churches”

I haven’t yet had time to fully reflect on this final statement from the GAFCON 3 Conference.  And it does deal with much that is important in the long run far beyond Lambeth 2020.  At first reading, it seems a succinct, well-written, and reflective statement.

Having said that, the most newsworthy point is the following:

In light of the recommendations of the Synodical Council, we respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
  • not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.
     
In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion. 

Since Justin Welby is exceedingly unlikely do what GAFCON is requesting of him, this in effect calls for GAFCON members to withdraw from “Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.”

The letter follows. (Any formatting errors are mine.)



You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
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Greetings from the land of the birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The third Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) was held in Jerusalem in June 2018, a decade after the inaugural Gafcon in 2008. Gafcon 2018, one of the largest global Anglican gatherings, brought together 1,950 representatives from 50 countries, including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity. A unanimity of spirit was reflected throughout the Conference as we met with God in the presence of friends from afar. We celebrated joyful worship, engaged in small group prayer and were inspired by presentations, networks and seminars.

We met together around the theme of “Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations”.  Each day began with common prayer and Bible exposition from Luke 22-24, followed by plenary sessions on God’s Gospel, God’s Church and God’s World.

PROCLAIMING GOD’S GOSPEL
We renewed our commitment to proclaim the gospel of the triune God in our churches and in all the world. Our Chairman reminded us in his opening address: “God’s gospel is the life-transforming message of salvation from sin and all its consequences through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is both a declaration and a summons: announcing what has been done for us in Christ and calling us to repentance, faith and submission to his Lordship.” It involves the restoration and reaffirmation of God’s original creative purposes. It is addressed to men, women and children and it is our only hope in the light of the final judgment and the reality of hell. 

This is God’s gospel, the gospel concerning his Son (Romans 1:1–3). The centre of the gospel message is this one person, Jesus Christ, and all that he has done through his perfect life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection and glorious ascension. In our daily expositions, we followed Jesus’ path from the judgments by Pilate and the Jewish leaders, to his death for us on the cross,  to his breaking the bonds of death on Easter morning and to his commission to the disciples to proclaim “repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). The uniqueness of Jesus Christ lies at the heart of the gospel: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The gospel confronts us in the midst of our confusion and sin but it does not leave us there. It includes a summons to repentance and a call to believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15), which results in a grace-filled life.  The ascended Christ gave his Spirit to empower his disciples to take this gospel to the world.

Yet faithful proclamation of this gospel is under attack from without and within, as it has been from apostolic times (Acts 20:28-30).

External attacks include superstitious practices of sacrifices and libations that deny the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Some religions deny the unique person and work of Christ on the cross, and others are innately syncretistic. Secularism seeks to exclude God from all public discourse and to dismantle the Christian heritage of many nations. This has been most obvious in the redefinition of what it means to be human, especially in the areas of gender, sexuality and marriage. The devaluing of the human person through the advocacy of abortion and euthanasia is also an assault upon human life uniquely created in the image of God. Militant forms of religion and secularism are hostile to the preaching of Christ and persecute his people.

Internally, the “prosperity gospel” and theological revisionism both seek in different ways to recast God’s gospel to accommodate the surrounding culture, resulting in a seductive syncretism that denies the uniqueness of Christ, the seriousness of sin, the need for repentance and the final authority of the Bible. 

Tragically, there has been a failure of leadership in our churches to address these threats to the gospel of God. We repent of our failure to take seriously the words of the apostle Paul: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).

We dedicate ourselves afresh to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, working together to guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles.

REFORMING GOD’S CHURCH
The gospel of God creates the church of God. Through the invitation of the gospel, God calls all people into fellowship with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the word of the gospel goes forth in the power of the Holy Spirit, they respond through the work of the Holy Spirit to repent, believe and be baptised, and are thereby joined to Christ’s body which is his church (Acts 2:37-44; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). As members of Christ’s body, they are sanctified in him, called to live lives of holiness and to be salt and light in the world.

One Conference speaker reminded us: “In the councils of the church, we should not mimic the ways of the world but gather to pray, to praise (i.e., to be eucharistic), to consult, to decide, and if necessary to discipline. These gatherings should be properly conciliar in nature, decisive in moving the church forward in its mission and common life. There should be the will to exercise loving but firm discipline to bring sinners to repentance and restoration.” Likewise at the Communion level, there are times when the leadership must come together to exercise its responsibility to discipline an erring member province. 

For some time, our Communion has been under threat from leaders who deny the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture. In the late 20th century, human sexuality became the presenting issue.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference by a huge majority (526 to 70) approved Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality, which affirmed the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19 that there are only two expressions of faithful sexuality: lifelong marriage between a man and a woman or abstinence. The resolution rightly called for pastoral care for same sex attracted persons. At the same time, it described homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture” and rejected both the authorisation of same sex rites by the Church and the ordination of those in same sex unions.

Lambeth Resolution I.10 reflected the rising influence of the Global South in the Communion. The ground for the Resolution had been prepared by the 1997 Kuala Lumpur Statement of the Global South Anglican Network. Our collaboration with the Global South Network has been ongoing, and its leaders took an active part in this Conference.

The subsequent rejection of Lambeth I.10 in word and deed by the Episcopal Church USA and later by some other Anglican provinces led to a “tear [in] the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”, followed by ten years of futile meetings in which the four Instruments of Communion failed to exercise the necessary discipline. The Primates’ Meeting repeatedly called upon these provinces to repent and return to the faith.  Yet their efforts were undermined by other Instruments of Communion, culminating in the failure of the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury to carry out the clear consensus of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007.

In the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, the 2008 Global Anglican Future Conference took up the challenge of restoring biblical authority (and the teaching on human sexuality in particular) by affirming the primacy of the Bible as God’s Word written and going back to the other sources of Anglican identity – the Creeds and Councils of the ancient church, the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. The Conference also constituted a Primates Council and authorised it to recognise Anglican churches in areas where orthodox Anglicans had been deprived of their church property and deposed from holy orders.

During the past twenty years, the Instruments of Communion have not only failed to uphold godly discipline but their representatives have refused to recognise our concerns and have chosen instead to demean Gafcon as a one-issue pressure group and accuse it of promoting schism, where in fact the schismatics are those who have departed from the teaching of the Bible and the historic doctrine of the Church. Slogans such as “walking together” and “good disagreement” are dangerously deceptive in seeking to persuade people to accommodate false teaching in the Communion.

We grieve for the situation of our global Communion as it has been hindered from fulfilling its God-appointed task of reaching the world for Christ. We repent of our own failures to stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). But we do not lose hope for the future, and note that there is strong support for the reform of our Communion.  Prior to Gafcon 2018, delegates overwhelmingly affirmed the following propositions:

  • Lambeth Resolution I.10 reflects the unchangeable teaching of the Bible;
  • the Gafcon movement should continue to be faithful to the Jerusalem Declaration; 
  • the Primates Council should continue to recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions.
Over the past twenty years, we have seen the hand of God leading us toward a reordering of the Anglican Communion. Gafcon has claimed from the beginning: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.” As Archbishop Nicholas Okoh stated in the inaugural Synodical Council: “We are merely doing what the Communion leadership should have done to uphold its own resolution in 1998.”

We give thanks for the godly courage of our Gafcon Primates in contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  We applaud their decision to authenticate and recognise the provinces of the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Church in Brazil, to recognise the Anglican Mission in England and to consecrate a Missionary Bishop for Europe. This has become necessary because of the departure from the faith by The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church of Brazil and the Scottish Episcopal Church.  At Gafcon 2018, we heard many testimonies of faithful Anglicans who have been persecuted by those holding office in their respective provinces, merely because they would not surrender to, nor be compromised by, the false gospel that these leaders profess and promote. We also recognise the Gafcon Primates’ willingness to assist faithful Anglicans in New Zealand where the Anglican Church has recently agreed to allow bishops to authorise the blessing of same sex unions.

As the Gafcon movement matures, it has also seen the need for a more conciliar structure of governance.  We endorse the formation of Gafcon Branches where necessary and of a Panel of Advisors, comprising bishops, clergy and lay representatives from each Gafcon Province and Branch, to provide counsel and advice to the Primates Council. Together with the Primates, the Panel of Advisors form a Synodical Council to bring recommendations to the Gafcon Assembly. The Synodical Council met for the first time at this Conference.

In light of the recommendations of the Synodical Council, we respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
  • not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.
     
In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion. 

REACHING OUT TO GOD’S WORLD
Our conference theme has been “Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations.” We have received the gospel through the faithful witness of previous generations. Yet there are still billions of people who are without Christ and without hope. Jesus taught his disciples: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matthew 24:14). 

We repent for the times and seasons when we have only preached to ourselves and not embraced the difficult task of reaching beyond our own cultural groups in obedience to God’s call to be a light to the nations (cf. Acts 13:47).  In faith and obedience, we joyfully recommit ourselves to the faithful proclamation of the gospel. 
In order to expand our ability to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations in both word and deed, we launched nine strategic networks.

Theological Education: To promote effective theological training throughout the Anglican Communion

Church Planting: To expand church planting as a global strategy for evangelisation

Global Mission Partnerships: To promote strategic cross-cultural mission partnerships in a globalized world

Youth and Children’s Ministry: To be a catalyst for mission to young people and children of all nations so that they may become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ
Mothers’ Union: To expand the potential of this global ministry to promote biblical patterns of marriage and family life

Sustainable Development: To establish global partnerships which work with the local church to bring sustainable and transformative development

Bishops Training Institute: To serve the formation of faithful and effective episcopal leadership throughout the Communion

Lawyers Task Force: To address issues of religious freedom and matters of concern to Anglican lawyers and Chancellors and to further the aims of the Jerusalem Declaration

Intercessors Fellowship: To inspire and develop globally connected regional and national intercessory prayer networks

In the world into which we go to proclaim the gospel, we shall encounter much which will need us to walk in paths of righteousness and mercy (Hosea 2:19; Micah 6:8). We commit to encouraging each other to give strength to the persecuted, a voice to the voiceless, advocacy for the oppressed, protection of the vulnerable, especially women and children, generosity to the poor, and continuing the task of providing excellent education and health care. As appropriate, we encourage the formation of other networks to assist in addressing these issues.

OUR GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE
To proclaim the gospel, we must first defend the gospel against threats from without and within.  We testify to the extraordinary blessings on this Conference, which leads us to call upon God even more, that the Anglican Communion may become a mighty instrument in the hand of God for the salvation of the world. We invite all faithful Anglicans to join us in this great enterprise of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations.

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21