Thursday, June 20, 2019

3 and Other Numbers in the York Minster East Window

With this being the first week in Trinity season, I thought this a good time to point out something medieval, fun, and slightly nerdy at York Minster.
The main theme of the Great East Window of York Minster is the beginning and the end as indicated by the very tip top where God the Father holds a book with “I am the alpha and the omega” in abbreviated Latin.  At the same time, there is also a strong Trinitarian undercurrent to the window particularly in how it is organized using – you guessed it – the number 3.

The tracery as a whole is, as is common, in a dome shape – one dome.  At the bottom of the tracery is three domes.  Hmmm.  Under that is the bulk of the window, and there are lots of threes and multiples of three.  First, it is organized in three vertical rows dividing each horizontal row of panels in three. Each of these divisions in turn contains three panels.  So 3 x 3 is 9, of course, which is the number of panels in each horizontal row.
At the bottom is one row of worthy bishops and kings – nine panels. Multiply that by 3 and you get 27, which happens to the number of panels dedicated to Creation and the Old Testament. These are the top three rows of the rectangular bulk of the window.  Now multiply by 3 again, and you get 81.  And there are 81 panels dedicated to the Apocalypse of St. John (i. e. the Book of Revelation).
Now here’s where it really gets weird. Multiply 9 x 27 x 81.  You get 19,683.  That points back to the main theme of the window, the beginning and the end, as it is the number of years that some medieval calculations had between Creation and The End.
That is a bit of Trinitarian end-of-the-world fun, is it not?

By the way, if you find the East Window of York Minster the least bit interesting, then I highly recommend The Great East Window of York Minsterby Sarah Brown.  This book is scholarly yet pleasant reading and very well illustrated.  Most of the recently restored window may be viewed in the catalogue which takes up about two-thirds of the book.  Amazingly, it is very affordable as well.
If your church or group would enjoy a presentation of the East Window and its history, taking about an hour, my presentation has been well received, and I may be available.  Feel free to message me in the comments.  (You will need a Google identity.  I do moderate all comments, so I can keep your communication private if you express that wish.) Or you may message my twitter account.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Russell Moore’s Address to the ACNA Provincial Assembly

I have to apologize if I seem a bit disoriented.  I just listened carefully as Russell Moore gave his address to the Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and – you may need to sit down right now – I loved it.
It was edifying, challenging, engaging, digging very relevant truth out of Luke 4:14-30.  Not only did I enjoy it, I will have to watch again for my own edification.  And, no, there wasn’t any of the past annoying stuff, not even any straw men that I can recall. Yes I know, shocking.
I could speculate on what happened. Perhaps, as I recently suggested might be the case, he is toning down the social justice angle.  Perhaps he simply felt there were more important things for ACNA to hear.  I don’t know.  I do have to give credit where credit was due – Moore’s address was excellent.
His main theme was that there are two errant Christian responses to the secularization of culture: 1. Not taking secularism and its effects seriously enough,  2. Or taking secularization as inevitable, which in turn leads to accommodation or outrage.
He advocated a better way – embracing the challenge of proclaiming what has always been a counter-cultural Gospel and of being willing to be distinctive, to “bear our strangeness . . . knowing that the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ is enough.”
I urge not just Anglicans and Baptists, but all Christians to watch for yourselves.  It begins at about 53 minutes.

Yes, I just made a strong recommendation for something from Russell Moore. . . .  I may have to be very Anglican and drink strong ale this evening. 

Yet Another Open Letter to the Dean of King’s College Cambridge

Dear Rev. Dr. Stephen Cherry,
This seems to a time for open letters, does it not?  So I thought I would throw mine in, which I hope you will find more supportive than Dr. Paul B. Rimmer’s.
First, I want to thank you and King’s College for how you have enriched me.  And that not only through Choral Evensong, although that is wonderful enough, but how you all (Sorry. I’m Texan.) have been accommodating far beyond the call of duty in a number of ways.

One example: Some years back, I asked to be able to visit the Chapel to study and photograph the windows as part of my studies.  Not only was permission granted, but the entry fee was waived although I did not ask for that. Further, and this also without my asking, I was invited to visit the College library and study relevant documents there.  In that and other ways through the years, I have found King’s College most hospitable and accommodating.
I say that because I am confident that if Dr. Rimmer would have approached you before that Trinity Sunday, you would have been most glad to make arrangements suitable to his family while still respecting the service and those attending.  I’m sure you would have come up with an excellent experience for the boy and family.  (And I have a special place in my heart for autistic children due to personal experience.)
I am also confident that your staff would not ask anyone to leave Evensong unless disruption was out of hand.
But instead of showing consideration and exercising common courtesy (which is becoming less common nowadays, it is not?), it appears that Dr. Rimmer showed up with his child who, by Rimmer’s own admission, expresses himself in ways that are “often loud and uncontainable.” Further, “there is no realistic way for him to be quiet.”  So he knew frequent disruption was likely, yet he willfully presented you and your staff with a difficult situation anyway – not to mention those attending that Evensong. 
And you have received much undeserved criticism for how that was handled on the spur of the moment.  I cannot help but notice that much of the criticism comes from those who dismiss Evensong at King’s as a concert disguised as worship.  Most of these have never attended.  And, yes, I very much worship when at King’s, and am thankful for that.  Also, many of the critics display contempt for those who attend to worship and/or enjoy the music.  Dr. Rimmer appears to be among the latter with his attitude that he has the right to “[lessen] the satisfaction of certain tourists around the world who attend.” 
I admire your grace to Dr. Rimmer and to others under such undeserved criticism.  At the same time, I urge you not to allow such people, who hardly respect the rich tradition of worship and music at King’s nor respect those who wish to experience it – many at great traveling expense – please do not allow such people to pressure you, your staff or the Director of Music to diminish the worship at King’s, whether that be by allowing frequent disruptions or in other ways.
But you have surely heard enough advice already.  Again, though I come from a slightly different churchmanship, I greatly appreciate you and King’s College.  I hope I am not too forward by thinking this a time to say that openly.
May God bless and guide you and King’s College.
Warm Regards etc.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The New Totalitarians are Targeting Pro-Lifers

I’ve hesitated to write this post.  It has a Captain Obvious quality.  For don’t totalitarians target everyone for banishment or elimination who do not agree with them or at least submit to them 100% once they have enough power?  That’s how totalitarians roll.
Nonetheless, it is important to document and warn of the progress of totalitarians, so . . .
Two chilling events happened recently which, in addition to threats to boycott Georgia and other states that pass laws protecting unborn children, show that totalitarians are now targeting pro-lifers, seeking to exclude them from acceptability and public life.
The first was a statement from New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that stated that pro-life views (views against “reproductive freedom” as she stated it – totalitarians just love their euphemisms) are as unacceptable as racist views.

The second was that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), about as close to a centrist as one gets in politics nowadays, was, due to his pro-life views, suddenly disinvited from being a keynote speaker . . . at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference.  As if cybersecurity and the abortion issue have anything to do with each other.  But, yes, the New Totalitarians think pro-lifers must be banished from all the things.  And this particular banishment speaks volumes on how much or most of high tech industries are now captives of the totalitarians.
Now, of course, these would never admit to being totalitiarians, even to themselves.  But if it walks like a totalitarian and talks like a totalitarian . . .
Face it – we have two choices.  We can defeat these totalitarians again and again, or we can submit to them and that totally.  That may seem stark.  But if we do not thoroughly defeat them, they will makeus submit or else.  In areas of society they control – and those are now ever increasing – they are already getting the policy of submission or banishment they demand.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Old tricks were used to pass Resolution 9 at the SBC.

Not only is the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution 9 endorsing “critical race theory and intersectionality . . . as analytical tools” unacceptable in itself, the manner in which it was passed this week displayed unethical gamesmanship that is all too common at political and church conventions.
This became clear to me in watching this recap of the convention by James White and Tom Buck. (You may want to skip the first 12 minutes to get to the SBC recap).  The first trick is mentioned at roughly 16 minutes -- the resolutions were not published until the morning they were to be voted on.  I’ve seen that before – spring a resolution on a convention at the last minute or close to it so that any possible opposition cannot organize and educate adequately.
I’ve also seen important business rushed through at conventions by leaving it until the end when people have planes to catch or when the reservation for the facility is about to run out or when people just want to get out of there and go eat dinner.  It’s easier to ram stuff through then, don’tcha know.

And, sure enough, Resolution 9 was rushed through when time was short and people wanted to get to dinner or other plans.  (See about minute 36 of the video.) Now I do not know if that was intentional.  And maybe Resolution 9 would have passed anyway. But that is not an ethical way to deal with an important and contested resolution.
But then we should not expect false teachers to be ethical, should we.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now III: Spiritual Gifts

I’ve mentioned American Evangelicals are prone to fads.  A huge fad in the 80’s was an obsession with spiritual gifts.
The Charismatic movement grew in evangelical churches (and also amongst Catholics and Anglicans) in the 70’s.  And one result is that even churches opposed to the movement saw they needed to pay attention to Biblical teaching on spiritual gifts.
And that was a good thing.  The passages on spiritual gifts had been neglected for . . . , well, for centuries.  But the emphasis on spiritual gifts soon got out of balance in the other direction.  I know.  I was caught up in it.
It wasn’t just that I was taught frequently on spiritual gifts.  I was also given at least one self-administered survey to assist in finding one’s spiritual gift.  Yes, there was much exhortation to find one’s spiritual gift(s) back then. Now, of course, it can be helpful to find out what one is good at as well as what one is not so good at. But usually the best way to do that is to get out there, get involved at a good church, and find out how you can best help out there.  On the other hand, navel gazing such as those spiritual gifts surveys too easily tends towards self-centeredness and self-deception.
And I remember the survey leading me to both – or to be exact, making both those negative qualities in me worse.  I remember concluding from the survey that I had the gift of discernment.  Hoo, boy.  In hindsight, at that time in my life, I did not have much common sense, much less discernment. But I sure thought I did. And that survey fed that inflated self-deception.
What I needed to taught on more was the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22, 23), and that said fruit are more important than spiritual gifts (as indicated by I Corinthians 13).  And I was taught that and knew that.  But I didn’t know it well enough.  So it is probably more accurate to say I should have listened and taken it to heart more intently.  But the navel gazing on spiritual gifts was more alluring and interesting than becoming more mature along the lines of Galatians 5:22, 23.
It ironically stunted my spiritual growth. A teaching of the Tractarians that does not get much attention is that it is wise to exercise reserve in imparting spiritual truth, even scriptural truth.  In other words, you do not feed a big steak to a new born.  There are some teachings, even in the Bible, that many Christians are not yet able to handle well.  Wait until they are mature enough to handle them well.
Accordingly, I suspect spiritual gifts is a subject that should be selectively and carefully taught, not broadcast.  The over-focus on spiritual gifts in the 80’s was not something I handled well.  It was too easy to slip into self-centeredness and self-deception. And there were more important aspects of the spiritual life that called for my attention.  
I am surely not the only one who can say that.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Southern Baptist Convention Passes Resolution 9, The Aftermath

Last night, I did not sleep well.  Part of that was likely being upset. (And if this post seems a bit stream-of-consciousness, I apologize ahead of time.)  But I did sleep on yesterday’s passage on Resolution 9 by the Southern Baptist Convention, and I’m glad I did.  For I now do not see the situation as bad as I did last night.
But it is bad.  There is no getting around it – Resolution 9 endorses the use of “critical race theory and intersectionality . . . as analytical tools” in the church. Yes, they are to be subordinate to scripture and not used “as transcendent ideological frameworks.”  Yes, it is just one resolution from one convention passed after a reportedly rushed debate.  But the fact remains that today the SBC is officially on the record as okaying the use of these racist Leftist ideologies “as analytical tools” in the church.
But read for comprehension the whole resolution for yourself.  (Scroll down.  And, no, I do not yet think “the Southern Baptist Convention is gone” or some of the other conclusions at the source.)
So, as of right now, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson hold to a better, more biblical view of radical feminist inspired Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory than Southern Baptists.
So what to do now?  First, my free advice for Southern Baptists. It may be worth as much as it costs, but anyway…

First and foremost, being unhappy about this is not enough.  The now dying and dead mainline denominations once had lots of people unhappy about the direction they were going.  But they continued to enable the liberals by continuing to send in their offerings.  Yes, an important start is to stop enabling the social justice cabal with your offerings.  Cut them off and let church leaders know why.  And if your congregation won’t cut off the money spigot to them, then cut off the money to your congregation and perhaps find another church home. The Lord’s money shouldn’t be spent for evil anyway.  So don’t let it.
Second, organize and/or support those who are organizing. And not just for a year or two.  Those old enough, remember the conservative resurgence in the SBC? Maybe I am too optimistic, but I think it can be done again with God’s help.  But it took years.  And it took work.
I do think the Southern Baptists are too important and too committed to scripture to give up on them just yet.  But it will take more than grousing to turn things around.
Resolution 9 also puts us Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in a bad position.  For Russell Moore is on tap to be a keynote speaker at our Provincial Assembly next week.  And he supports Resolution 9 by endorsing all the resolutions passed:

Frankly, I suspect he had a role in drafting it. But that is pure speculation on my part. 
It is that much clearer that inviting Moore to speak was a mistake, but what to do now?  Perhaps, the ACNA College of Bishops should consider disinviting him, but they won’t.  And I am not sure that is now the best way to proceed.  I personally support disinviting him but realize that would likely cause a lot of tumult at this late date.
I would suggest key bishops ask him to stay away from social justice issues during his speech.  But that’s like inviting Trump and asking him not to mention The Wall.
There is one thing the bishops should do for sure – the procedure for selecting speakers at Provincial Assemblies must be changed.  And the bishops should let it be known that it will be changed.  That would nicely and indirectly acknowledge that selecting Moore is a mistake and that efforts will be made to avoid similar mistakes in the future.  And the selection of speakers this year demonstrates the process must be changed anyway.
What about the rest of us in ACNA who oppose critical race theory and other “social justice” madness?  Don’t be quiet about it.  Respectfully but firmly talk to your rectors and bishops. 
And the time may be near to redirect your offerings although I hope it doesn’t get to that point.  If you do at some point find it necessary to withhold funds from ACNA or diocese offices or from other ACNA entities, let church leaders know why.  I have for reasons of conscience in one instance, but I’m not ready to recommend that for others. 
Again just being unhappy doesn’t work.  See The Episcopal Church for how that ends up.

Also, if I were attending the Provincial Assembly, I would likely walk out immediately after Russell Moore begins his speech.  But that’s just me.  Attendees are free to consider doing likewise.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Southern Baptists Battle Over Resolution Endorsing “Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality” UPDATE: RESOLUTION PASSES

The Southern Baptist Convention is just beginning, but already battle lines are drawn over “social justice” issues.  For the Resolutions Committee is offering a resolution endorsing “critical race theory and intersectionality” as “analytical tools.”
Concerns that J.D. Greear’s appointments to the 2019 Resolution’s Committee would promote Social Justice were well founded. The Resolution’s Committee report offers a resolution that promotes Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory.
According to RESOLUTION 9 – ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND INTERSECTIONALITY, “WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences.”
And, in the Resolved section,
“RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks,” the resolution declares.
Well that is so nice that the resolution subordinates Holy Race Theory and Sacred Intersectionality to scripture. But to endorse these divisive, Leftist, and, yes, racist tools as good for anything in the church is asking for war. . . . which may be what Southern Baptists are getting to about now.
Read more, including sane Christian responses already coming out, at the Capstone Report.

UPDATE:  Bad news.  The resolution passed.  I do not yet know if it was amended or not or any other details.  I may post again when I know more.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Cardinal Pell Conviction Appeal Proceeds (UPDATED)

After only one of three trials against Cardinal Pell resulted in a conviction, I opined that the one conviction did not pass the smell test.  I am far from alone in that opinion.
So far the appeal of that conviction seems to be going well:

On the first of the two days, Cardinal Pell’s lawyer, Bret Walker, defended the cardinal principally on the grounds that Cardinal Pell’s conviction last year on charges of sexual abuse was unreasonably based on the testimony of one surviving victim and that the trial judge unfairly disallowed defense evidence.
Walker argued that the guilty verdict was returned despite the lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The following day, June 6, prosecutor Christopher Boyce reportedly struggled to answer questions from the three appeals court judges, and accidentally named the alleged victim, which is suppressed in these cases.
Boyce appeared to have difficulty articulating his own arguments, or was lost for words under judicial questioning. One of his arguments was that the alleged victim’s story was too outlandish to be invented.
Prior to the appeal hearing, the three judges visited Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s cathedral, the place where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. The visit, which was apparently unprecedented for the Australian legal system, was to help them understand the evidence that was considered by the jury.
So clearly the three appeals judges are giving this appeal more than the usual consideration.  Their decision is expected this month.  Let us pray it will be just.


UPDATE: Julia Yost has a good summary of the case so far at First Things.  Again, this has several marks of a wrongful conviction.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

D-Day With The Queen

I hesitate to post on the 75thAnniversary of D-Day; so much has already been said.  But I cannot let it pass.
Those who reinvaded Europe on D-Day were amazing and courageous.  And so many of them lost their lives for the freedom of the West.

To have served in World War 2 and to have survived to this day is also amazing.  Few can say that now.  Not many are still living.
But one of them is The Queen.  And she seems able and willing to outlive us all!

I enjoyed her brief speech today, particularly when she said in her typically understated way the equivalent of “I’m still here.”
God bless the souls of those who served and have passed on as well as those few who remain.  And God save The Queen!

Due to a flood of spam comments, I with regret have restricted comments to only google users at least for a time.

I hope a better way to stop the spam arises as I want to post any legitimate comment from anyone.  Advice is welcome.

More Housekeeping: The previous video link went dead, do I posted a better one.

Monday, June 03, 2019

About That Russell Moore Immigration Video

I’ll be honest – when I began watching Russell Moore’s latest on immigration, I braced myself for a rise in blood pressure.  And my temper may have blipped up for a moment when he engaged in his usual practice of turning opponents into straw men and visa versa.
But he only did that briefly and not as obnoxiously as he has in the past.  And he actually made some good points and was somewhat balanced.  He even proclaimed, “Borders are Biblical.” Further, he put that front and center in the accompanying tweet.
Now I do not find his video particularly profound.  But it certainly is an improvement on his past videos and podcasts on topics dear to the “social justice” crowd.  And (I can hardly believe I am saying this.), his video finds more common ground with those wanting to crack down on illegal immigration than it does inflame them.
But see what you think.  I think the best way to watch the video is with Jon Harris’ balanced analysis of it.
Reflecting further on this video, I wonder if Moore has decided to seek to find more common ground with politically conservative and/or Trumpist faithful instead of smearing and alienating them.  Yes, wishing thinking perhaps.  But one can hope.
Since he is a keynote speaker at the ACNA Provincial Assembly, we may find out in about two weeks.

Friday, May 31, 2019

87% of Recent “Refugees” Not Showing Up to Asylum Hearings

I know.  This subject may seem very off-topic.  But it is not; so bear with me.
We hear a lot of propaganda about the poor, poor “refugees” now surging into the U. S.  Here is a basic fact that speaks volumes:

In testimony before Congress this month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said that the agency had recently conducted a pilot program with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to test how many recent illegal aliens would show up to their asylum hearings after being released into the U.S.
The results, an ICE official told Congress, were that about 87 percent of illegal aliens, or almost 9-in-10, recently released by DHS into the U.S. did not show up to their asylum hearings. 
So 87% of these recent “refugees” don’t even show up for their hearings.  Most are not legitimate refugees in the first place; they are country shoppers. Otherwise they would seek refuge closer to their home countries, which would be in Mexico for most of them. Then they perpetuate their fraud by not even showing up for their asylum hearings.  That is the respect they show for our laws.

That’s not to mention the child smuggling, including fake families.  Or that Illegals commit a disproportionate amount of crime once in the U. S.
Why am I posting this?  There is a lot of sentimental weaponized compassion that opposes taking the measures necessary to secure our border and to deport at least the worst of the illegals.  We hear sob story after sob story about these poor, poor “refugees” and “undocumented immigrants” and how we should welcome them.

And a lot of this weaponized compassion comes from the organized church, including some in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
We need to call it out for the bull manure it is.  I do not pretend to know the balance between compassion on one hand and self-defense and not enabling criminal behavior on the other.  But we as churches and as a nation need to be realistic about who is entering the U. S. And we need to cut the crap that would have us think measures to defend our home are racist, bigoted, un-Christian, etc.

It is documented: most surging across our border are hardly good people and do not respect our laws.  The church should not enable them to defraud us. The government should defend us and deport them.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Vigano: Francis Lied

It is getting harder to escape that Pope Francis is a liar.  To be specific, he has lied about his knowledge of Cardinal “Uncle Ted” McCarrick’s sexual predations.
The Pope has said he knew nothing, nothing:

“I knew nothing, obviously, of McCarrick,” the pope says in the new interview. “Nothing, nothing. I said several times that I didn’t know, that I had no idea. You know that I didn’t know anything about McCarrick; otherwise, I would not have stayed quiet.”
Archbishop Vigano has been quick to call that out as a lie.  For he himself told Francis about McCarrick after Francis had asked:

Immediately after, the Pope asked me in a deceitful way: “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?”  I answered him with complete frankness and, if you want, with great naiveté: “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.” The Pope did not make the slightest comment about those very grave words of mine and did not show any expression of surprise on his face, as if he had already known the matter for some time, and he immediately changed the subject. 
One Peter Five is on top of this, including some *creative* editing by the Vatican of Francis’, well, lie.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Peter Toon’s Last Days

Last week in Oxford, as part of the proceedings accompanying the Peter Toon Memorial Lecture, hosted by The Prayer Book Society and Pusey House, the Rev’d Tony Noble preached the sermon at Evensong. Noble happens to be Peter Toon’s last rector, and he began his sermon by telling of his time with Fr. Toon, including administering last rites:
I first met Peter Toon about 12 years ago, when I was Rector of All Saints, San Diego. I knew of him as an evangelical scholar, writer & defender of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. 
It was a Saturday night & my phone rang. The voice said, “Is that Fr Noble?”. I replied, Yes. “I understand that you use Rite 1 with catholic close to the Prayer Book are your Services?”, he asked. I said that the 8 am Mass was mostly from the Prayer Book. 
Next morning Peter & his wife, Vita, attended the 8 am Mass. he introduced himself & I felt quite honoured that such a notable evangelical had attended my church. They continued to attend faithfully every Sunday. Thus began a pastoral relationship which became a friendship. 
Peter described himself as an evangelical catholic & his great theme was that the Anglican church was “reformed catholic”. He believed that the 1662 BCP was the foundation document for this understanding. I enjoyed our theological discussions & listening to him. 
Peter came to San Diego for health reasons & to be near his family. In due course his health declined. I visited him with Holy Communion in hospital & at home. Then came the day. It remember it well - it was a Saturday & St Mark’s day. I had just finished saying our usual Saturday Mass & the phone rang. It was Vita, saying the time was near for Peter to go to his Lord. 
I got the Blessed Sacrament & Holy Oil & drive to their home. Upon arrival Peter asked for the Last Rites “in your tradition”. I was humbled to be asked by this great evangelical scholar to administer the last rites. It was a grace-filled experience for me. 
I spent the rest of the morning with Peter, listening to his favourite hymns on an old cassette player, occasionally praying or reading the bible. In the afternoon I went home to prepare for Sunday. About 8 pm the phone rang - Vita telling me that Peter had passed. I went over & Vita had lovingly dressed Peter in his robes. His instructions were that I should commend him using the 1662 Burial Office, which was typed out in Peter’s non-nonsense way. 
It was a privilege to have ministered to Peter & his family. 
This and the remainder of Noble’s winsome sermon may be downloaded from the recent sermons page on the Pusey House site. (If you are reading this some time in the future and the sermon is no longer there, try the sermon archive page.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Kennedys Explain the CANA Situation

For those who find the CANA situation in ACNA and the Church of Nigeria perplexing, Matt and Anne Kennedy in their Preventing Grace podcast have the best explanation I’ve heard (beginning after around 8 minutes).
To rehash, the three CANA dioceses, by agreement between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America had to choose which of the two provinces to stay in.  CANA East chose ACNA and therefore changed their name, to the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.  CANA West and the Diocese of the Trinity will be staying in the Church of Nigeria.
Sadly, there has been some heat during this process.  But I will let the Kennedys discuss that.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now II – Scripture Fads

In beginning this series on The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN), I emphasized the American Evangelical penchant for fads.  (And something I should have mentioned yesterday: this series will focus on the American Evangelical scene.) 
Now fads are not all bad, particularly when they focus on good things.  And what is better than scripture?  There have been a number of TECoWHaN fads focused on scripture through the years.  I will mention two.
During my teen years in the mid-1970’s, I heard again and again and again Philippians 2:3-11.  Yes, that is a particularly important passage. Yes, focusing on it was good. But as a young teen, I heard that passage so often, I got sick of it.

And that was not because I was not eager to read the Bible and be taught from it.  In about two years, beginning at 13, I read the entire Bible and kept on reading it just about every day. No one suggested that to me either. And I not only heard good Bible teaching but sought it out.  Still, I got really tired of hearing Philippians 2:3-11 or portions thereof.
Now, granted, little harm was done.  I did take some years before I began to appreciate what an excellent passage that is.  And it would have been better for me and for others in evangelical churches to get more balanced teaching on scripture.  But if focusing on such an important passage was the worst Evangelical fad of the past fifty years . . . well, then I wouldn’t be bothering to write this series.

A scripture fad that was more questionable is The Prayer of Jabez.  I can hear the groans now.  But wait, it gets worse: I bought and read the book back in the day (It was published in 2000.) . . . and liked  it.  Please don’t hate me.  Yes, it was in my pre-Anglican days when I could be caught up in what TECoWHaN was selling as bad as anyone.  And it sold – about nine million books.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. The book certainly got people reading a scripture that had been ignored, 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.  And it did not contain any obvious heresies, although perhaps I would find one or two if I re-read it now.  (NO.  I will not re-read it.)
The problem is it fed American evangelicalism’s penchant to be about ME (and God).  It fed Prosperity Theology.  And the book encouraged people to focus on that one passage, which many did, instead of reading and studying the Bible as a whole, which too few do.  What makes that worse is that versions of The Prayer of Jabez were written for children.  Anything for a buck, even distracting children from learning the basics of the faith.
Hey, if The Prayer of Jabez motivated people to pray and God answered, then praise God.  But it is safe to say that this fad, a craze really, was unhealthy, focusing on one small passage in a way that distracted from the truth of scripture as a whole and in a way that fed self-aggrandizing tendencies in American evangelicalism.  Personally, I now know that at that time in my life there were many better things for me to read.
And that is probably the biggest problem with scripture fads.  They enable neglect of scripture as a whole.
But having ranted a bit on that, I do freely acknowledge that it is certainly true that there are worse fads than scripture fads, far worse ones.  We will get to those in The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now

Recently, in reflecting upon the plague of “social justice” agitation in historically evangelical churches, even the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), it occurred to me that this is part of a bigger picture of evangelicals being prone to be carried away by fads and “new things.”  It is not just the Athenians of Acts 17 who are habitually obsessed with whatever seems to be “something new.”
And I have to confess that in my evangelical days, from my conversion to sometime into my Anglican years, I, too have been caught up in an evangelical fad or two . . . or three . . . or – well, lets just say my knowledge of several evangelical fads is up close and personal.
You may have already read between the lines and surmised I no longer consider myself an evangelical, and you would be correct.  It’s not that I am less committed to orthodoxy and the authority of scripture; my commitment continues hot.  It is that I have become influenced by Anglo-catholicism and that evangelicalism has evolved into something I for the most part no longer wish to be associated with.
And evangelicalism has evolved, devolved really, in part because of its tendency to be carried away with “every wind of doctrine” and practice.  Yes, many evangelicals resist this devolution and tendency doggedly sometimes with temporary success even.  But “Big Evangelicalism” is going and is too close to gone, is more The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN) than a church old school evangelicals and other traditional Christians can stomach anymore.
Thus TECoWHaN not only erodes orthodoxy; it erodes unity.  Watch the Southern Baptists to see that.
But I am necessarily painting with a very broad brush here.  And not all evangelical fads have been bad.  I still think the WWJD bracelets were a good idea for one thing. Yes, mock me if you wish.
Still the evangelical tendency to be The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now, to give itself over to fads and “new things” big and small, is so deep seated and has done so much harm that I am starting a series on it.  Yes, I will be critical, but I will be self-critical as well.  For I have oft been an enthusiastic participant in TECoWHaN with very mixed results.  And I hope my experiences will assist in being a warning not to go and do likewise.
Stay tuned . . . perhaps wearing a hard hat.

Monday, May 20, 2019

CANA East Decides to Stay in ACNA, Change Name

Matt Kennedy, though his Sunday School class (which he usually has live on Facebook. I recommend it and sometimes listen as I get ready for church.), informs that the CANA East Synod voted overwhelmingly to stay in the Anglican Church in North America rather than to remain in the Church of Nigeria.
You may recall that the Church of Nigeria and ACNA earlier agreed that the three dioceses in both provinces would separately decide which province to remain in forthwith.  Kennedy expects the other two dioceses, Trinity and CANA West, to leave ACNA and stay with the Church of Nigeria.
Since CANA East will no long be in CANA, an arm of the Church of Nigeria, the diocese will change its name to the Diocese of the Living Word.

Friday, May 17, 2019

George Bell Group Decries “Disgraceful” Conduct of ++Welby & +Warner

The George Bell Group under the name of its Convenor, Andrew Chandler, has issued a statement calling for the Church of England clearly to declare the late George Bell innocent of accusations of sexual abuse.
I urge reading the statement itself as quoting from it would not do it justice.  I will say that, especially when one considers the English penchant for understatement, the statement is very strongly worded.
Further, Mr. Chandler calls out Archbishop Justin Welby and the current Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, in no uncertain terms.  And their conduct as well as the conduct of others in the George Bell matter is “disgraceful” indeed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What the Church Needs Now Is Some Lancelot Andrewes

Yes, the church, in America especially but everywhere, needs an old fashioned REVIVAL!
No, not the rolling around, running around, barking, or (gag) holy laughing kind.  I am talking really old fashioned.  We need a revival along and within the lines noted by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes:

One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.
Yes, we need some boundaries, these boundaries, instead of chasing after every cloying putrid “wind of doctrine.”
What prompts this brief rant will become evident in due time. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Why the Temporary Quiet?

I am being quiet for the moment.  Trust me when I say that it is not because of any lack of things to rant about.  Oh, no.  I am being provided with so much ranting ammunition.
But I am preparing for a fun yet scholarly talk.

Those in South Texas, particularly take note.

Friday, May 03, 2019

More Clarification Needed about CANA and ACNA

I have a confession to make.  I was about to post on the agreement between The Church of Nigeria, its CANA and ACNA.  It sounds like CANA is leaving ACNA but that their dioceses can vote to stay in ACNA if they wish.
Anyway, I was working on the post, then I read something that if true (and it probably is) would make my post look foolish and alarmist. There goes a lot of work down the drain, but then that’s where it needed to go.
I’m posting this confession not just because confession is good for the soul, but to illustrate that ACNA and CANA need to clarify matters. There is confusion and opinions flying about that do not reflect well on ACNA and on the Church of Nigeria.
Personally, I think the situation is not as bad as some think. But it’s obvious there is unhappiness out there.  ACNA and the Church of Nigeria may wish to clarify matters further.
That is all.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Charlottesville Revisited II: Dilbert Debunks a Hoax

This week, I did my humble part to debunk the hoax of Trump loving those Nazis just revived by Lying Joe Biden. But now Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has done better with a doggedly logical and detailed takedown of the Charlottesville Hoax.  At the same time he notes that hoaxes can be hard to kill due to the commitment of useful idiots (not his term – he is more polite than I) to believe them.
I doubt any further summary on my part can do his work justice, so get thee hence and read it for yourself.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Charlottesville Revisited

Joe Biden in beginning his campaign for President saw fit to smear President Donald Trump’s statement in the aftermath of Charlottesville. He is not the first to deceive about Charlottesville and Trump’s statement for political purposes, and he won’t be the last.  So it’s time to revisit Charlottesville.
First, Trump did not call white nationalists and the like “fine people.”  He did not, as Biden said, assign “a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”  Here is what Trump said, in context:

You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. ... I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name. ... So you know what, it's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture. And you had people — and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the White nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and White nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.
And Trump’s statement was and is accurate.  You had peaceful people who, like me frankly, are concerned about taking down history for current political motivations.  And on the other side you had peaceful people who, also like me, oppose extremist racist ideologies. (Please see my note below for more.)
At the same time, there were also violent extremists on both sides.  But all we hear about are the Neo-Nazis and the like and the man who ran down protesters and killed a woman. And we should be reminded of them.  But we rarely are reminded of the role violent Leftist groups, particularly Antifa, played that day.  But a great deal of violence came from Antifa and therefore some of the violence from the other side was in self-defense.  (Obviously, the car attack was not and should be condemned without equivocation.)
Don’t take my word for it.  Here are testimonies of eyewitnesses from various sides of Charlottesville, such as this:
University of Virginia student Isabella Ciambotti: "I was on Market Street around 11:30 a.m. when a counter-protester ripped a newspaper stand off the sidewalk and threw it at alt-right protesters. I saw another man from the white supremacist crowd being chased and beaten. People were hitting him with their signs. A much older man, also with the alt-right group, got pushed to the ground in the commotion. Someone raised a stick over his head and beat the man with it, and that's when I screamed and ran over with several other strangers to help him to his feet."
Such is par for the course for Antifa, along with using excrement as a weapon.  But we don’t hear much about that (By the way, although I remember numerous reports of Antifa violence in Charlottesville, search engines are not much help digging up those reports.  Funny that . . . in an Orwellian way.) – a double standard which enables more hate and violence as I noted shortly after Charlottesville.  Distorting history has consequences.
Sadly, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has enabled and even participated in distorting the history of Charlottesville. I do not think that was the intent, but it was the effect.  The Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN) issued a Charlottesville Statement.  There was nothing really wrong in it and much to be commended.  What it omitted is the problem.  While repeatedly denouncing racism and “white supremacy,” it did not even mention Antifa or other violent Leftists or their role in Charlottesville.   And ACNA and Archbishop Foley Beach endorsed and promoted this statement.
Such partial truths are inadequate and can be used to deceive.  We in ACNA must do better.  All Christians involved in the political sphere must strive for better.
NOTE: Now one may ask how the heck can “fine people” find themselves on the same side as Neo-Nazis (and Antifa for that matter).  I will tell you how from personal experience.
Back during my college days, I joined a rally against the Greensboro shooting verdict in 1980 (or 1981, my memory of the time is fuzzy.). I saw the not guilty verdict as unjust.  But during the rally, I saw that it was really more a platform to smear Reagan and promote loony Left ideas than to protest the verdict. Eventually I had enough and walked away.
Also in my college days, I participated in Marches for Life. I noticed some, well, interesting people there.  For one thing, I was intrigued by the leaflets in the Ticked Mary genre I was handed.  But the scattered odd balls were more amusing than obnoxious.  And the main cause remained the main cause.  So I marched on.

One can certainly question the judgement of those who were not White Nationalists or the like but were there in Charlottesville to protest taking down historic statues.  But sometimes when you get involved in honorable causes, you find yourself alongside dishonorable people.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Pope Francis Withheld Benedict’s Observations from Sexual Abuse Summit

Yes, I got slack in keeping up with Papist news.  But when I finally read about this yesterday, I was floored.
I’ve mentioned Pope Emeritus Benedict’s essay on the causes of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.  It turns out he wrote it with the intention that it be distributed to the participants of the sexual abuse summit.  But instead Francis sat on it and did not distribute it!
Now some think it inappropriate for Benedict to say much of anything anymore as that undercuts the current Bishop of Rome.  (I disagree.)  Perhaps, Francis, too, just wants Benedict to be quiet now. And/or perhaps Francis did not appreciate Benedict rightly implicating liberalism and a weakening of ethics as among the causes of abuses.
Whatever Francis’ reasons, Benedict and his essay merited a hearing. What a petty pope Francis is to attempt to muffle Benedict.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Presiding Bishop Sutton Issues Letter in Response to Hicks Resignation

As noted yesterday, REC Bishop David Hicks plans to resign as the Bishop of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to become Rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Butler in the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Today, Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton issued a letter addressing this change.  As you may have surmised from my bare bones post yesterday, Hicks’ resignation may prompt some to raise questions concerning Hicks’ and the REC’s commitment on the issue of Holy Orders.  Sutton addresses that head on:
For any concerned on the matter of Holy Orders, however, it may help to know that although the Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA) allows for the ordination of women to the diaconate and presbyterate, there are also parishes in the diocese that do not share this belief and practice. St. Peter’s Anglican Church (Butler) is one of those congregations. The Reformed Episcopal Church in all of its dioceses, however, is resolute and clear on its understanding of the Holy Scriptures and the practice of the historic Church as articulated in our Constitution and Canons: only males serve in the three offices of this church (Deacon, Priest and Bishop). Please know that our bishops and clergy continue to pledge our fidelity to and remain unwavering in our convictions to uphold these ancient standards!
And with Hicks remaining an REC bishop until July 31st, that apparently includes him, a conclusion confirmed by private communications.
One may still ask if being opposed to WO in a diocese and under a bishop that supports WO is a tenable position.  Good cases can be made for yea or nay on that question. But I see no reason to think the Diocese of Pittsburgh will be ungracious in that regard.  And even in the unlikely event it becomes so, ACNA parishes are not captives as in The Episcopal Church.
More could be said, but I will leave the subject for now.
Sutton’s letter addresses much more concerning this change. I recommend reading it all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bishop David Hicks to Resign, Leave REC to Lead ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh Parish

In an Easter Monday letter to the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (DNMA) of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), Bishop David Hicks announced that he will resign as Bishop of said diocese on July 31st to become Rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church of Butler, PA the next day.  That parish is in the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh. 
Hicks had served as Chair of the Task Force on Holy Orders, which examined the issue of the ordination of women in ACNA.  At that time, he was (and is) an REC bishop.  The REC does not ordain women to Holy Orders.  The Diocese of Pittsburgh does ordain women.
The letter further states that REC Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton “will be leading the Diocese [DNMA] in the search for a new bishop….”
Do read the letter for yourself.

Monday, April 22, 2019

J. D. Greear Digs Deeper on Charging $5 for Good Friday “Worship”

President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of Summit Church J. D. Greear has tried to explain his church charging $5 for “Good Friday Worship” with the church choir.  And “tried” is the operative word.  He tweeted:
For sure limited space. & bc this is a choir concert not a worship service, choir has traditionally sold tickets. But every year they pick a mission project to give 100% of proceeds to—usually one of our community ministry partners. This year it is to send singers to SBC.
But church publicity clearly called it “Good Friday Worship.”  And is sending your choir to the Southern Baptist Convention a “mission project”?
Would it have killed Greear to say instead, “We had logistical issues to consider with this worship concert and did not handle them in the best way.  As Pastor, I take responsibility and apologize”?  Confession is a good thing, you know.
It is certainly much better than such a lame explanation.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Going to J. D. Greear’s Good Friday Service Cost $5

Passing the plate during a service is one thing, but charging admission just to attend worship?
That is exactly what J. D. Greear’s Summit Church did for Good Friday . . . for Good Friday.  They charged five dollars for admission to their “Good Friday Worship with the All-Campus Choir.”  It says right on their site: “Tickets are $5 each.”
Charging admission to attend worship.  I am at a loss for words.  It’s not exactly simony, I guess. . . .  It’s worse.
This is who the Southern Baptist Convention has as their President.  Lord have mercy upon them.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Timely Good Friday Exhortation from Keble

Once again, a Holy Week has found me reading John Keble’s Good Friday sermon, “The World’s Conduct to the Man of Sorrows.”  This time a passage stood out to me as an almost prophetic admonition for us today (Emphasis his.):
One very common and very dangerous trial is when notions and practices forbidden by God’s law and His Church are become customary under whatever pretense. . . . These things are now become so common that I suppose it must require Christian courage, something like taking up the Cross, in any one who resolutely sets himself against them on true Church principles.  Surely, then, this is a time in which we ought to be much on our guard as to how much we join in the disrespect and scorn with which the world is sure to treat every opinion or person which it calls bigoted.  If there be such a thing as Christian truth and a Christian Church, surely they are to be upheld, and we must cling to them in spite of any loss or credit, ease or purpose. 
This is more applicable now than when it was preached.  Today, standing firm on orthodoxy and against falsehood will get one called a bigot and for many it does risk loss in many forms.  But we faithful are to do so anyway.  
And, yes, that includes opposing the various falsehoods, pollutions of the gospel, and false gospels pushed on the church and in the church by “social justice” cabals.  That is part of carrying our cross.  At least that is part of carrying my cross.
And there are many Christians and faux Christians who are joining the world “in the disrespect and scorn” against those courageous faithful who are standing on orthodoxy and against “social justice” errors and falsehoods.  These scorners should stop and repent for their own good and for the good of the church and of the Gospel.
Yes, Keble’s admonition is certainly applicable to us in the Anglican Church in North America.
My God grant us all grace and strength to take up our cross and follow Jesus.