Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Gospel and Culture II – Paul on the Offense of the Gospel

We have seen from Acts 17 that St. Paul made a winsome effort to reach the Greek culture of Athens.  At the same time he would not dilute the Gospel even when it cut against the culture to the point that his audience laughed and cut his message short. 
Early in his first epistle to the Corinthians, we see more of his approach to proclaiming the Gospel to a decidedly non-Christian culture. The Greeks valued philosophical wisdom, yet Paul made a point not to go too far in preaching “with words of eloquent wisdom….”  Why?  “…Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (I Corinth. 1:17)  We should be aware of the audience culture, but we should beware of distorting and diluting the Gospel in order to reach the audience culture.
And we should prepare ourselves for rejection by recognizing that the prevailing culture and most people for that matter do not like the Gospel. Paul is downright blunt in recognizing that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…” (1:18)  And he does not let up in asserting that the Gospel transcends human cultures and should not be dragged down by what said cultures consider wisdom:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1: 20-25)
So Paul was very much aware of prevailing cultures but was all the more determined to preach the pure Gospel, undiluted by hostile cultures, in the midst of them whether they liked it or not.
Now my exegesis is not profound.  But reminders of Paul’s determination are needed today. For The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now is dead set on repeating the mistakes of deadline denominations by catering to “woke” culture.  Never mind that trying to be hip and with it and liberal or whatever you call past versions of “woke” has been a slow motion disaster for The Episcopal Church, the mainline Presbyterian Church and so on.
We are to preach right, worship right, and live right.  And if prevailing cultures don’t like it, then they don’t like it.
But the funny thing is “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” has a way of breaking into hostile cultures and saving people in the midst of them anyway.  God does not need us to make Christ and his Gospel woke or American or modern or post-modern or whatever, thank you very much.

Why are American churches such blockheads that this lesson needs to be repeated . . . and repeated the hard way? Why do so many evangelical churches not know better?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

“I Think So”

Sunday was a red letter day at my parish.  Not only did the bishop visit and confirm, but he ordained a beloved member as a Deacon.
Being the liturgy nut that I am, I found the liturgy for “Making Deacons” to be quite interesting.  Part of the examination especially caught my attention. (And this is according to the REC BCP and the 1662 BCP.)

Do you think that you are truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the Canons of this Church, to the Ministry of the same?
Candidate: I think so.
That “I think so” startled me during the service.  The other answers in the examination are much more affirmative. And when we confirmed two people, the answers were also firm.  There was no “I think so” then!  And in the liturgy as a whole, we affirm, we believe, we will and the like. “I think so” is an unusual answer to say the least.
Yet it is an appropriate answer.  For here the candidate is making an affirmation about himself, about whether he is called.  So there is humble restraint.  The answer is “I think so” not “I am so called.”
Similar humble restraint is in the Ordering of Priests (Presbyters):
Do you think in your heart, that you are truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the Canons of this Church, to the Order and Ministry of Priesthood?
I think it.
However, I do not advise answering “I think so” when asked about scripture, the creeds, or obeying your bishop.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Esau McCaulley Asks a Question

Esau McCaulley later deleted the following tweet and protested he was just asking a question. (Yeah.  Right.) But there is a such thing as a stupid question:

A question that I can't stop asking: If all translation is interpretation and interpretation is influenced by social location, what does it mean that most of our English bibles were translated with very few Black or other Christians of color or women involved?
Leaving aside that not all translation is interpretation, this tweet reflects the “research justice” aspect of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and related ideologies. “Research justice” values the identity of the researcher as much or more than the quality of his/her work. As in politics, white males are not to be listened to much unless they are “woke”, of course, and even then Black, female, gay, etc. voices are to be listened to more.  I am not saying McCaulley buys all of this, and I doubt he does, but he clearly buys enough of it that he would question superior works of Bible translation because of the race and gender of the translators.
Dr. James White dissects the tweet quite well.
In other words, the skills and scholarship behind good Bible translation have nothing to do with race and gender. For a prominent Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) leader to suggest otherwise is troubling.
And Dr. McCaulley is a prominent ACNA leader.  While continuing to lead the Anglican Multiethnic Network, McCaulley has recently become the director of Next Generation Leadership for ACNA. NGL is “a province wide initiative committed to raising up and training the next generation of Anglican clergy and lay leadership.”
So I’ve got some questions myself.  Is it appropriate for someone with McCaulley’s race-obsessed mindset in line with Critical Race Theory to have ACNA positions of this importance?  Will ACNA exercise any church discipline with McCaulley?
I expect to revisit this matter.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Francis Continues to Stack the College of Cardinals

Some may think the above headline to be too strong.  They would be mistaken.  Francis’s latest appointments to the College of Cardinals “are, without a doubt, the most liberal group of Cardinal-Electors ever assembled.”
One even wrote a foreword for the infamous Liberal Jesuit James Martin.  But I will allow others to go over the sordid appointments in detail.
The big picture is that the College of Cardinals under Francis is getting more and more stacked with LibChurchers.  So much so that I think we are already past the point where we will have another robustly orthodox Pope in our lifetimes. Yes, the Lord can certainly do miracles concerning his church.  But more often when a jurisdiction willfully descends into apostasy, he spews them out of his mouth. (Rev. 3:16)   No, I do not think the Church of Rome is exempt from that.
I confess that under Benedict I considered the possibility to crossing the Tiber.  Had I made that crossing, I would surely be considering repentance now. Maybe my ecclesiology needs an adjustment, but I cannot conscientiously be in communion with a Francis or the future LibPopes his stacked College of Cardinals will likely produce.

Friday, August 30, 2019

About Bishops Who Remoan

I’ve oft stated that bishops and other church leaders should be very selective and careful in making political pronouncements.  The most important reason is that most political questions are ones on which faithful Christians can and do disagree. Therefore for a church leader to use their position to take sides on such political positions is a sin against church unity.
That also can harm evangelism.  Now as St. Paul and I pointed out yesterday, we do not water down truth for the sake of evangelism.  But we also do not dilute our message or repel people with questionable political posturing.
So to frequently pontificate on political matters on which faithful Christians can and do disagree asks for division, people simply walking away, and ineffective evangelism.  Combine that with the more grievous  sin of wimping out on Gospel truth or departing from it altogether, and you are asking for the collapse of a church.
Well, all of these sins have been committed by most bishops of the Church of England in recent decades, and, sure enough, that august institution is in slow motion collapse.  (Yes, I freely concede that rampant apostasy is a far more important factor in this than rampant political pontificating.)
The public pitiful remoaning of C of E bishops gives us an example of the foolishness of such political pontification.  A majority of those voting in the Brexit referendum voted for Brexit.  And many of those who did not now want just to get it done with.  And after Teresa May’s years of dithering, who can blame them? 
Yet, instead of keeping their own counsel (as I would as a church leader – I very much am for Brexit but realize faithful Christians very much disagree on that question as Christian teaching addresses that only in a tangential manner if at all), C of E bishops are opposing their people. And when they seem more exercised against Brexit than they are against false teaching and when, further, they are often sources of false teaching, well what is to attract and keep people other than the beautiful buildings and choirs?
Instead, political remoaning and often apostate bishops are surely driving people away much as the Leftist and apostatizing mainline Presbyterian Church drove me away.
So the remoaning bishops not only seem a bit silly, they are actively harming the church.  Likewise for all church leaders who abuse their positions to push for political causes on which faithful Christians can disagree.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Gospel and Culture: Paul in Athens and Corinth

At my church we’ve been slowly going through 1 Corinthians in Sunday School.  And on my own time I have been reading, listening and thinking about the divisions among evangelicals and among Anglicans on issues concerning social justice – and on how The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN) is handling said issues poorly.  So when we got to 1 Corinthians 1:17, I saw that it might have some application to these issues.  Writing to Greeks, who greatly valued philosophy and wisdom, Paul wrote, “For Christ [sent me] to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”  And he went on to more or less repeat his commitment to this approach and explained why he took it.  We shall attempt to return to that in due time.
As I was reflecting, it occurred to me that his activity and address in Athens, found in Acts 17:16-34, also reveals much about Paul’s approach to preaching the gospel in the Greek culture.  Even better, the passage shows him in action.  He at first glance appears more sympathetic to Greek culture with its emphasis on philosophical wisdom than he appears in his first letter to Corinth.  But a closer examination reveals a consistent approach that gives important principles in preaching and ministering to a non-Christian (or post-Christian) culture.
We could begin our examination in either city, but since Paul visited Athens first, let’s start there.
While in Athens, “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16) Paul made himself aware of the cultural landscape of Athens.  But he did not allow it unduly to shape his Christian worldview (as TECoWHaN is so prone to do).  Instead his Christian worldview shaped his response.  Part of that response was to see the idolatry of Athenian culture as wrong and offensive.
St. Paul was no multiculturalist.
But his further response was not to withdraw from the culture but to engage it.
So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.  And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” (17:17-19)
Paul learned enough about Greek culture not just to oppose it but to engage it and to do so in such a winsome way that the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were among those who wanted to converse with him.  Paul made his listeners want to hear more. But note that although he spoke to Athenian culture, he did not conform to it.  His gospel message was still “strange” to them.  And it continued strange to them as we shall see.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.(17: 22, 23)
Paul began with common ground in order to gain further the openness and interest of his listeners.  But then he immediately pointed out areas relevant to the Gospel where the prevailing culture was mistaken.  He told them God was not who they thought He was.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (17: 24, 25)
In other words, God is not needy like pagan gods.  Today, Paul might have pointed out that God is not a social justice warrior revolutionary, nor a flag-waving super-patriot. God is not of man’s making; nor does he conform to cultural whims.
Paul then again utilizes common ground followed by again criticizing the prevailing culture’s views about God.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for [And now he quotes two Greek poets, the first likely Epimenides of Crete, the second Aratus.]
          “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
 as even some of your own poets have said,
          “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.(17:26-29_
And now Paul proclaims that man and his culture must get in line with the truth of God, the Gospel, and notthe other way around.
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”(17:30-31)
And on this Gospel, St. Paul will not compromise.  But there is a problem.  For reasons I will not get into here, the resurrection of the dead struck the Greek mindset as absurd and not something for which to hope. (And the same could be said for much of increasingly secular Western culture today.)  Paul, a learned man, surely knew this.  But he did not back down. He communicated to Greek culture as winsomely as he could, but he would not compromise the truth of God to please anyone.
Therefore he got a mixed response which brought his discourse to an end.

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (17:32-34)
God brought fruit out of the faithful preaching of His truth even if it did clash with the prevailing culture.
And thus we should not follow the chameleon ways of The Church of What’s Happening Now, but follow the godly example of St. Paul.  We should become aware of the culture around us.  We should communicate and relate to it as best we can.  
But we should not compromise God’s truth.  We do not allow the culture to erode or twist our faithful holding to the truth and our communication of it.  We communicate the truth of God clearly and call men of whatever culture to get in line with it.  And if the culture doesn’t like it, then the culture doesn’t like it.  Jesus is Lord, not any culture of man.  We do not compromise or twist the truth of Jesus.  
Yes, that may result in unpleasantness.  Remember all the Apostles, save St. John, were martyred. But nonetheless the Gospel of Christ is to be preached to all cultures; it is to appease none of them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

When “White Supremacy” Isn’t What You Think It Is II: Smearing Pro-Lifers

Earlier I noted that under Critical Race Theory and related Leftist ideologies, just about anything can make you a White Supremacist or in league with White Supremacy.  Heck, trying to stay out of politics puts you in the “Pyramid of White Supremacy”.  There’s no escape!
So it should not surprise – although it is profoundly illogical – that being pro-life makes you a target for those wishing to use “White Supremacy” to smear political opponents.  Yes, the Left is actually trying to link the pro-life movement with White Supremacy.  Never mind that real White Supremacists, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, want non-Whites to abort their children.
But pro-lifers instead defend children of all colors . . . which somehow gets twisted into “White Supremacy”, never mind the illogic.  A smear from Amanda Marcotte is especially blatant: “Not an exaggeration to say conservatives believe white women should be forced to breed in order to maintain white supremacy.”
So yes, trying to save children of all colors puts you in league with “White Supremacy”.  Just letting you know.
By the way, this makes it that much more important that churches that oppose abortion, including the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Southern Baptist Convention, confront the Critical Race Theory view of racism and White Supremacy and the accompanying smears.

Monday, August 26, 2019

When “White Supremacy” Isn’t What You Think It Is

When most of us hear “White Supremacy,” we tend to think of the few Klansman and Neo-Nazis today, or the time of Jim Crow laws or of slavery in the past.  And we rightly oppose such.
The problem is when someone influenced by Critical Race Theory says “White Supremacy,” their definition is so broad as to encompass simply disagreeing with Leftists.  Further, opposing “White Supremacy” is actually used as a cover to promote and justify racism.
If you think I am being overwrought, examine this “Pyramid of White Supremacy” being used to teach “diversity”:
 Let’s see.  If you oppose or claim reverse racism, you are about a third of the way to White Supremacist genocide.  Same for being color blind. So opposing racism is racism! 
“Anti-Immigration Policies” – and we know that really means opposing illegal immigration and open borders – well that puts you two-thirds of the way to being guilty of genocide.  
Heck if you are just sick of all this racial division and politics and just want to be quiet and apolitical about it all, you too are part of the genocidal pyramid.
Oh, and a “Euro-Centric Curriculum” is about high way up the pyramid.  So if you educate about Western Civilization, that’s practically genocidal!

I could go on but you get the picture: if you are rational enough to oppose a Leftist Critical Race Theory view of the world, you are probably a “White Supremacist”.
Now if you are thinking, “So what? It’s only loons who buy that silly pyramid,” then think again.  This ideology is being taught in schools and churches, including in the Southern Baptist Convention, which has now officially endorsed Critical Race Theory as an “analytical tool.”  And, yes, it has infiltrated the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), too.
I will leave aside for now the question of what should be done about this.  But at least be aware that those who talk and talk about “racism” and “White Supremacy” are probably using different definitions than you and other rational people.  Beware of the racialist division they are pushing.  And, yes, have the courage to oppose it.  It will take courage.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Asked for comment, Satan replied, “Well for a symbol, I’m doing quite a job on the Jesuits, am I not?”

Jesuits have *COUGH* a recent history of downplaying and denying the things of God.  So it should not surprise that the Superior General Arturo Sosa Abascal, an ally of Pope Francis, of course, is downplaying the things of Satan as well and saying Satan “exists as a symbolic reality, not as a personal reality.”
Well, for a symbolic reality he sure is having his way with the Jesuits.  For one thing, as many, including C. S. Lewis, have noticed, Satan’s best trick is conning men into thinking he does not really exist.  He has apparently succeeded in making the Superior General one of those foolish men.
Normally, the only Popes whom I ask for prayers are Gregory and Leo the Greats.  But in this case, as at other times when the Jesuits unfortunately come to mind, I will conclude as follows:
Pope Clement XIV, pray for us!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now VII: The “Emergent Church”

A recurring pattern of The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN) is to urge, for the sake of being “missional,” becoming more relevant to aspects of contemporary cultures. And there is certainly a needful place for that within limits.  But also part of the pattern is that, before long, it becomes clear that so being missional and relevant is a cloak for injecting said culture’s false teachings into the church.
A classic example of that pattern is the “Emergent Church,” which was particularly active and influential in evangelical circles just before and after the turn of the millennium. I know.  In my pre-Anglican days I was influenced by it and active in it, even contributing an article or two. (Apologies to any who spit coffee or fainted just now.)  I wrote one for The Ooze before it went full LibChurch and then disappeared. I was also active in and wrote for Youth Specialties, which was very much influenced by Emerging Church people.
Around 2000, Emergent types urged that the church become more aware of how postmodernism affected how younger generations think and adjust their ministries accordingly.  I agreed.  For example, I read Tony Jones’ Postmodern Youth Ministry, in which he argues as much, with approval.  (Again this was in my pre-Anglican days.  I suspect my opinion would be different if I reread it today.) 
But later it became more clear that many/most of the Emergent leaders not only wanted more relevant ministry to a culture affected by postmodernism; they had bought into postmodernism and accompanying liberalism.  For example, the aforesaid Tony Jones has gone full LibChurch even delaying the legal contract of his second marriage until gay marriage was legal.  He also encouraged Minnesota clergy not to perform legal marriages.
Now whether Jones’ views evolved into apostasy or whether he was an apostate all along, I do not presume to know but I would guess the former with sadness.  I do think in the more famous case of Brian McLaren, Mr. “Generous Orthodoxy” was an apostate all along and simply let that become more evident when he felt comfortable doing so. In the meantime, he had a lot of people snowed. (But I personally smelled a rat all along in his case.)
Most of the “Emergent Church” followed a similar course, of gaining influence by cloaking or delaying apostasy and letting it all hang out later.  With some, the deception surely was not intentional; becoming too influenced by the culture you are trying to reach is an occupational hazard we must all guard against.  But, whether by evolution or deception or both, the Emergent Church pretty much went full apostate. And the non-apostates, including me, walked away.
Now I am greatly oversimplifying a lot of convoluted history.  But seeing this pattern of culturally relevant mission used as a cover for false teaching sooner or later is one reason us more experienced traditional Christians tend to be skeptical of things “missional.”  Yes and again, we should be aware of the cultures of those we are trying to reach. (And I intend to say more on that at a later time.)  But buying into aspects of a culture that are flat wrong is another matter.  And those being “missional” too often do just that.
Yes, this may sound all too familiar. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Democrats Go Deeper into Anti-Semitism

One would think it would be a no-brainer that a country has the right to bar from entry those who are publicly bigoted against its people and who are allied with those who oppose its very existence.  But if one’s brain is infected by anti-semitism, then apparently Israel has no right to bar from entry virulent anti-semites Ilhan Omar and Rachida Tlaib. (Israel did actually allow Tlaib entry to visit her grandmother, but she then refused the offer in what appears to be a set up designed to make Israel look bad.)
But for the rational, it is indeed a no-brainer that Israel is well within its rights to bar and defend itself from anti-semites like Omar and Tlaib. 
Now, of course, Omar and Tlaib are playing the victim – and lying to do so.  What astounds is that House Democrat leaders are backing them up and attacking Israel over this. Even relatively moderate Steny Hoyer has said Israel’s decision is “deeply disappointing,” “disrespectful,” and “unacceptable.”  And key House committee leaders are aiming to make life difficult for U. S. Ambassador to Israel and for Israel’s Ambassador to the U. S.
This anti-semitic double standard from Democrats is appalling. Heck, the U. K. has barred entry to people with less grounds.  Does only Israel not have the right to bar those hostile to its people, values, and even existence?
Early this year, I warned against the rise of anti-semitism in the West, here and while leading Morning Prayer at my church.  That I was right so to do is sadly becoming more and more evident.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Marty Sampson and the Shallowness of The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (VI)

Yes, I am a bit slow to comment on Hillsong’s Marty Sampson losing his faith.  But it speaks (sings?) volumes about The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN) so I am compelled to comment even if this is no longer a hot topic.
First, I must say to Sampson’s credit – and likewise to Josh Harris’s credit – that he is open and honest about his no longer being a Christian.  That is a much more honorable course than that taken by, say, Spong, Brian McLaren, RHE, and any number of other misleaders: of denying the basics of the faith while still pretending to be not only a Christian but to speak and teach publicly as such.  I can have a beer and a chat with a Sampson or a Harris.  I really can’t with a Spong or a McLaren (And I think scripture teaches I should not, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject.)
At the same time, it is appalling how Sampson is ditching Christianity on the most shallow grounds. In his own words:

Time for some real talk…I’m genuinely losing my faith…and it doesn’t bother me…like, what bothers me now is nothing…I am so happy now, so at peace with the world…it’s crazy/this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet-they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people…but it’s not for me. I am not in anymore. I want genuine truth. Not the “I just  believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others. All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point…I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.
Hmm, that last sentence sounds like a song lyric. But anyway, this is the sort of reasoning I would expect from a 14 year old trying to make a sophisticated rationale for not being a Christian. Actually, that’s not fair . . . to 14 year olds.  I’ve heard much better questions and reasoning from 14 year olds and younger.

For someone who is very young or very new to investigating Christianity to have the issues Sampson mentions is one thing. But this man was a leader in Hillsong for years.  Who taught him the faith?  Who put him forth as a leader? My intent is not to bash him but to point out that it takes a profoundly shallow, short-sighted, and negligent church or parachurch to produce a leader like Sampson.  But that is exactly how shallow Hillsong and the rest of The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now can be.  Hillsong, TECoWHaN and “faith” without substance is what you get when you are grounded in trendy “faith” instead of traditional faith.  
God help those raised under such lightweight leadership.  If you are grounded in air, falling is likely.  As Rod Dreher recalls:
I think about what an Evangelical college professor told me in 2017 about the kids in his university: that 99 percent of them carry in their hearts a Christianity that is entirely based on youth-group emotionalism, and that has no serious theological foundation. 
There has been much alarm about how many youth ditch the faith once they leave home and their home church to go off into the world.  The shallowness of TECoWHaN is one big reason why.
It is past time to ditch TECoWHaN evangalatainment and bring back traditional catechesis. That is not a cure-all – there will always be apostates as scripture makes clear – but it is necessary. 
But most in TECoWHaN do not even know what catechesis is and might guess that it’s an infectious disease spread by too much exposure to incense in church.  If so, that would still be better than the shallowness being spread by The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Matt Kennedy Banned From Twitter

Many of my readers know Matt Kennedy as the Rector of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in upstate New York. Along with his wife, the almost famous author and blogger Anne, he is adept at sarcasm and very dry humor. More importantly, he is both measured and straight-spoken in what he says and writes.
But that is not good enough for Twitter. He is banned and is likely to remain so.  I will let Fr. Matt tell the story from his Facebook account:
Well, I've been suspended from Twitter for 12 hours. Remember the man posing as a woman and trying to force poor immigrant women working in spas to give him a "brazillian wax" treatment. 
Yep, that . . . whatever again.  
He tweeted that he had been victimized by women refusing to touch his genitals and I wrote the following under his tweet: "@trustednerd You are a man pretending to be a woman trying to force real women to touch your testicles. It is perverse and sickening. It has nothing to do with love. But you can be forgiven if you will forsake yourself and turn to Jesus who bled and died for sinners. He can heal you." And so, now I am suspended. So fascinating to see "progressives" defend, angrily I might add, an attempt by a man to legally force women to touch his reproductive organs. Here's the note from Twitter: "We've temporarily limited some of your account features. We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for violating our rules against hateful conduct. You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."
It’s not Matt Kennedy who is doing the harassing.  And to his credit, he is not backing down.
Update 1: They said I could lift the ban by removing the tweet or by appealing. I will not remove the tweet. So I appealed the banning. Here's what I wrote. They only gave me a limited number of characters: "a Canadian man is trying to legally force women to touch his genitals. I objected to this. I have no idea why this violates twitter standards." 
Let's see what happens.
Update 2: Here's what happened: 
"Thank you for your patience as we reviewed your appeal request for account, @lambeth98, regarding the following:
Matt Kennedy
'@trustednerd You are a man pretending to be a woman trying to force real women to touch your testicles. It is perverse and sickening. It has nothing to do with love. But you can be forgiven if you will forsake yourself and turn to Jesus who bled and died for sinners. He can heal you."
Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision.
You will not be able to access Twitter through your account due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules around:
Violating our rules against hateful conduct
In order to restore account functionality, you can resolve the violations by logging into your account and completing the on-screen instructions."
Which are….
"By clicking the above button, you are removing the content of your Tweet and forgoing the option to appeal this violation. Please note that the original content will be replaced with a notice stating your Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules."
Now in case you do not already know that Fr. Matt is not one to back down, his conclusion is:
Yeah, no, that's not going to happen. 
I will update if anything new happens. But knowing Fr. Matt’s backbone and Twitter tyranny, I am not expecting any change.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The Political Litany of ¡Caminemos Juntos!

I post this with sadness.  My church supports ministry to Hispanics, and our beloved bilingual Rector is remarkably active in that.  As part of his ministry, working with ¡Caminemos Juntos!  (CJuntos) has been a possibility and may still be; it’s up to him (although because of the following I have advised him to work with other groups instead).  I had thought that perhaps CJuntos had backed away from its previous political activism for the sake of ministry and unity.  So I find their Litany Of Lament And Repentance For Our Treatment Of Immigrants And Refugees disappointing to say the least.
First, there is this introduction on the CJuntos site:

The last weeks have seen a dramatic increase in tension even in what has already been an incredibly tense climate for immigrants in the United States. Threats of raids and deportation, rapidly changing and confusing immigration law making it harder to legally enter the country to request asylum, rumors of the ending of all refugee resettlement and the increase of negative rhetoric in the news media has terrorized the immigrant community including those within out Caminemos Juntos family. We are in many ways a persecuted people. . . .

Oh please.  First, immigrants who have entered legally have nothing to worry about as long as they continue to obey the law. That’s the way it is for citizens, too, by the way.  Second, even illegal immigrants who have not skipped their court dates, have otherwise not committed crimes, and don’t have deportation orders on them have not much to worry about either.  There are 11 million or more illegals in this country.  Only a small fraction of those have deportation orders or are being deported.  The authorities are prioritizing who to deport because they have no choice with that many illegals here.
Besides that, being removed from a country you entered illegally is hardly terror.  If I entered the UK illegally or stayed longer than permitted and were then removed, I would look rather silly if I cried out, “Help! Help! I’m being terrorized!” If you really want to be “terrorized,” live in an area where the MS-13 gang of mostly illegals operates.
I will concede that we should watch our rhetoric especially in the current climate.  I hope CJuntos is also concerned about some of the rhetoric against those who oppose open borders. 
Note the conflation of both legal and illegal immigrants as simply “immigrants.”  There are a lot of legal immigrants who find that offensive. And this conflation is throughout this litany.
Finally, to equate enforcing immigration law and restricting who may enter and stay in this country with persecution is slanderous.  
Skipping a bit into the litany itself:
Officiant: You said: “Don’t oppress an immigrant.
You know what it’s like to be an immigrant,
because you were immigrants in Egypt.”
I don’t know Hebrew, but “immigrant” seems a sloppy translation for political purposes to me.  
But we have forgotten the hardships faced
by our ancestors who came to this country…
Speak for yourself!  My Granddad was a legal immigrant.  He worked himself to early grave, a few years before I was born, to provide well for his family.  My family still benefits, and I am here because of him.  I sure have not forgotten him or his hardships.
Officiant: You said “When a stranger sojourns 
with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.         
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you          
as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”                                                                                                                                      
But we done wrong to the sojourners to this land:            
separating children from parents and husbands               
from wives, limiting opportunities for work                   
and education opportunities and not loving these              
new neighbors as ourselves. 
So much to dissect there.  First, when one breaks the law, the lawbreaker is often separated from his family.  That goes for citizens, too.  Second, as I have noted, there is rampant child trafficking along the border.  There have been several surges of migrants.  Dealing with the numbers and figuring out who are real families and who are fake families (of which there are many) and dealing with them accordingly is not an easy task at all.  There is not much question that the surges and caravans with accompanying child smuggling were designed to overwhelm the border.  So then to whinge when we struggle imperfectly to deal with that situation humanely is . . . well, I will allow readers to choose the adjectives of their choice.
Now, of course, the simplest way to keep illegals and their families together is quickly to deport them together or, better, to not allow them in at all.  But I doubt ¡Caminemos Juntos! would like that.  Instead, they likely want to let most to all of these families right on in together.  And then, after an eventual amnesty of some sort (which I would guess - just guess - CJuntos also likely wants), by chain migration, here come the extended families!  So really their whinging about “families” is advocating for open borders and mass immigration, or close to it.
Further, making too much of a priority to keep families together is encouraging and enabling the child trafficking at the border.  By the way, notice how the serious problem of child trafficking is not mentioned in this litany?

“Limiting opportunities for work…” So we should displace citizen labor with illegal immigrant labor?  Ask construction workers who have seen their wages depressed by cheap illegal labor what they think of that!  Where is the concern for those whose opportunities and wages are suppressed by cheap immigrant labor?  This lack of concern for citizens sounds more like the Democrat Party than the church.
That is another problem with this litany. It is not only out of balance; it pretends valid competing claims have no legitimacy worth mentioning.  
“Limiting . . . education opportunities…” How?  Thanks to an old Supreme Court ruling, public schools have to educate the children of illegals (which is overwhelming some school districts and harming the education of citizens).  Most universities welcome illegals and many even provide financial aid.  Many illegals get a far better education here than they would hope to get in their home countries.    
Skipping a bit…

But rather than recognizing your sovereign
disciple-making purposes in the dispersion of 
peoples across borders, we have seen 
immigrants as a threat. We have failed to 
practice Godly hospitality and instead embraced 
protectionist nationalism, not submit our ways of 
thinking to the authority of your word.

Well, MS-13 and other criminals streaming across the border are a threat to say the least.

“We have . . . embraced protectionist nationalism.”
That is a straw man.  To want controls on immigration and a secure border is hardly “protectionist nationalism.”  And what is that anyway?  If I love my country and want to protect it and its culture, does that make me a “protectionist nationalist”?  Instead of engaging with different views of what is appropriate immigration policy, CJuntos engages in buzzwords in a prayer no less. Maybe they should submit that “to the authority of your word.”

By the way, whatever 
“protectionist nationalists” are, I don’t think there are many of them at ¡Caminemos Juntos! meetings.  I thought confessing other people’s sins was an Episcopalian thing.
We have opposed change resisting any giving up of our ways of worship and life.   
That’s backward, isn’t it?  It’s immigrants (and now I include legal immigrants) who should change and become American if they are going to move to America. (Yes, different cultures enrich America.) If I were to move to England, even I would not insist it become Texan.  (Well, I have introduced Tabasco Sauce on eggs to Pusey House, but anyway….)  I would instead become at least English enough to participate well in that culture.  And if someone is going to become Anglican, Anglican churches shouldn’t change their “ways of worship” for him/her.  We should not starting dunking people and stop baptizing babies if a Baptist joins us.  We shouldn’t cavort during our processions if a Pentecostal joins us.  “Our ways of worship” are an integral part of being Anglican.
But maybe I am misunderstanding here. How should we change, even give up “our ways of worship” for immigrants other than providing language assistance? This seems to me more of what we hear from the social justice crowd, that the church should change to be more to their liking.  But that is a whole ‘nother post, and maybe I am hearing this wrong anyway. Am I?  It is a perplexing clause at best.     
At least the litany ends well:

Lord, have mercy upon us.                                            
Christ, have mercy upon us.                                    
Lord, have mercy upon us.                                                               
Let us pray. Oremos.
A Collect for Refugees and Immigrants          
Heavenly Father, from whom every family on earth derives its name, have mercy on all those who sojourn in this world. As you sheltered your Son Jesus who fled from the tyranny of Herod, so now provide new homes for all those who flee the violence of this age that they may know the peace of Christ. Grace your people with hearts of welcome and lives of courage through Jesus Christ who lives and   reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

That collect was written by Archbishop Foley Beach and serves as a godly example of making public prayer something in which all faithful Anglicans can participate.  Unlike most of the litany, I can pray that collect along with ¡Caminemos Juntos!.  Public prayer certainly should not smear and divide the faithful church along political lines.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

A Good Summary History of Recent Southern Baptist Social Justice Troubles

Many of my readers, especially the Anglican ones, may be like me – I was slow to notice the struggles in the Southern Baptist Convention over social justice issues.  A year ago it wasn’t on my radar at all.
For us, Matthew Garnett has performed a public service with a good summary history of recent divisions among Baptists over “social justice.” I commend it to you.
I do have one quibble, however.  Garnett goes a bit easy on Albert Mohler:
Mohler was repeatedly clear that politically leftist ideologies such as critical theory, identity politics, and any other notion of postmodern, neo-Marxism have no place in the church of Jesus Christ, even as “analytical tools.”
But when that “analytical tools” Resolution 9 came to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention and his voice was most needed, Mohler was silent.  In that and other ways, he has been an enabler of the SBC social justice cabal.
Probably he is trying to keep the SBC together.  But his enabling is helping bring Southern Baptists closer to division. 

Friday, August 02, 2019

Child Trafficking Used by Criminals to Enter U. S.

Earlier this week in discussing the rampant child trafficking at the border, child smuggling used to game entry, I noted that rather suddenly men trying to enter are showing up with children.  I was skeptical about the motives, and I was right, of course: 
The Department of Homeland Security treats the expanded “Flores” decree like God’s word, releasing any illegal alien who crosses the border with a child, even if border personnel can’t confirm identities, criminal records, or whether they are threats to Americans or to the children they’re using as golden tickets.
Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., announced at yesterday’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing that border agents told him, on his recent trip to the border, that they found in two separate incidents that an alleged murderer and a convicted pedophile had each been released with a kid as part of the expanded Flores catch-and-release deadline of 20 days.
In one case, “they released an adult with a child and then found out two weeks later that that adult had a murder warrant in their home country, and they just released him into the country, and they could do nothing about it.” In another case, “they had released an adult traveling with a child and then found out after they were released when they got their criminal records in from home country that, that was a convicted pedophile from that country now traveling with a child somewhere in our country, and because we couldn’t detain them for longer than 20 days and we couldn’t get those criminal records, they’re released in the country, and they’re traveling with a child.”
When Lankford asked acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan whether border personnel were able to verify criminal status within the arbitrary 20-day deadline by the courts, he answered, “Not efficiently.”
So criminals are using child smuggling, combined with the 20 day deadline mandated by a California judge in the Flores decision, to be released into our country to prey on the rest of us.  And in case one thinks I am being alarmist about exceptional situations…
In every single group, almost without fail, there is someone with a criminal record, typically males with single kids,” [an anonymous] agent said. “There is a wide misconception about the majority of these people being females. They are overwhelmingly male. While we try to prioritize referrals for prosecution based on criminal history, we only have so many computers we can utilize and so many staff members.”
When I asked him if that means there are those with confirmed criminal records, even with convictions in the U.S., who have been released, he said, “Absolutely. … They are given a notice to appear in court like anyone else.”
And we know that most do not show up for their court hearings.
Again, sentimental thinking about children and families at the border is enabling child trafficking and other criminality.  Yes, families (not the fake ones) showing up at the border should be kept together . . . by sending them back across the border immediately if they don’t have proper documentation.  If they want and merit a hearing, they can wait for it across the border.  We must stop policies which make children a golden ticket to get in and thereby make them targets of child trafficking.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now V: CRU (Campus Crusade) Goes Woke

I guess I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t.  The campus ministry in which I was active, InterVarsity went way woke years ago.  But the last group I expected to go woke was Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU).  Yet it apparently has or is at least running in that direction.
I will leave the unhappy details, particularly the address of Sandra Maria Van Opstal to Jon Harris, Seth Dunn and others.  But this from her address particularly grated on me:
If we want to get this next generation of people who are spiritually hungry, yet disorientated and dissatisfied by what they see in the church, then the church has to change.
In other words, the church should cater to the prevailing sins and disfunctions of the “next generation.”  Ministering to people and coming generations in their brokenness byremaining true to the Faith and godly tradition handed down won’t do. “The church has to change,” particularlly become woke, to cater to “this next generation.”

I don’t call it The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now (TECoWHaN) for nothing. 
Looking at the big picture, I think CRU going woke will assist a coming acceleration of rebellion against the “social justice” cabal in Big Evangelicalism.  There are a lot of very conservative Christians who have participated in and supported what was Campus Crusade for Christ.  It, of all organizations, going woke will wake people up.  Conflict over social justice in the Southern Baptist Convention continues.  And two movies focusing the infiltration of social justice ideology into the SBC and Big Eva are coming out, Enemies Within the Church and By What Standard.  Even the trailer for the latter has the SBC stirred up.
As much as I may hope it so, I doubt the social justice cabal and enablers will be ousted from their positions of leadership in Big Eva. They became very entrenched well before most Christians noticed.  But God is stronger, so who knows.

What I do expect is greater and more heated division, with even a split here and there and with enough funds withheld to put a serious hit on church and parachurch budgets.  And, frankly, offerings should be withheld and given to more faithful organizations.  It is a matter of good stewardship.  And, sadly, it takes money to get some to really get the message.
Big Eva will soon find out that “Go woke, go broke” doesn’t apply only to businesses.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rampant Child Trafficking: Children Used to Game Border Entry

Disclaimer: I wish I didn’t find it necessary to post this and similar stories on this blog.  I know some may find it off-topic. But Anglicans are among those being taken in by and often furthering sentimental weaponized compassion about illegal entry and are being used to undermine our borders and our country. Reality checks are necessary.
There is a lot of sentimental talk in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and other churches and Christian organizations about keeping families at the border together.  (Strange that deporting them together is rarely suggested as a solution.)  This and other weaponized compassion about “refugees” and “immigrants” is enabling rampant child trafficking.  A lot of those families are fake: 
Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, sent 400 agents to El Paso and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, in mid-April to interview families that Border Patrol suspected were fake. In the last eight weeks, HSI special agents have identified 5,500 fraudulent families—about 15 percent of all cases referred.
McAleenan said agents have uncovered 921 fake documents and 615 individuals have been prosecuted for trafficking or smuggling a child.
“That tells me that we might be scratching the surface of this problem and the number of children being put at risk might be even higher,” he said.
“Everybody knows that if they bring a child, they’ll be allowed to stay in the United States—they call it a ‘passport for migration.’ I heard that directly from a gentleman from Huehuetenango, the western-most province of Guatemala.”
Yes.  Smuggling children in order to gain entry into the U. S.

Do we want people who would do this in our country at all?
But you get more of what you reward. And we are rewarding child trafficking at the border.  If you have a child with you and get across the border, you are probably in. For that we can thank . . .
The legal loophole that is fueling the sharp increase in family units was opened in 2015 by a California judge, [of course] who amended the Flores Settlement Agreement to prohibit the detention of families for more than 20 days. Previously, the 20-day rule was applied to unaccompanied minors only.
An immigration case cannot be adjudicated within 20 days, so families who cross the border illegally are now released by Border Patrol within days, with a future court date that most fail to honor.  [87% fail to show up by one study. – ed.]
One of the most telling statistics is that of men crossing the border with a child. In 2014, fewer than 1 percent of all men apprehended by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley Sector had a child with them. That number now sits at 50 percent, according to Rodolfo Karisch, chief Border Patrol agent for that sector.
Wow! It’s so nice to see male illegals suddenly become so family-oriented!
Now at least some of those men are smuggling their own children, taking them through a dangerous journey, which is bad enough. Who knows how many of those men are smuggling other people’s children.
As for unaccompanied minors, most of them are smuggled as well in part to, yes, game the system.
McAleenan said it’s often a parent, who is already in the United States illegally, who pays a smuggler to deliver their child up to the border.
“I don’t think most people realize that most of these unaccompanied children are being released to parents or relatives in the United States who are also here unlawfully, who may not have permission to work in the United States,” McAleenan said.
New restrictions, placed by Congress in the latest round of appropriations, include a provision that illegal aliens in a household with an unaccompanied minor are now exempt from deportation.
Again, rewarding child trafficking and the violation of our borders.
As I’ve said before, I do not pretend to know the balance between compassion on the 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 how they are gaining entry, even if being realistic is smeared as racist or whatever.
And, for the sake of children and the God who loves them, we must stop enabling and rewarding child trafficking.