Thursday, June 04, 2020

Southern Baptists See Biggest Membership Drop in 100 Years

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) lost 2 percent of its membership last year—the largest drop in more than a century, according to its annual report.  Certain state conventions did report increases in baptisms and church growth, including in places outside the SBC’s Bible Belt strongholds. But overall, the denomination’s Annual Church Profile—released today by LifeWay Christian Resources and capturing 2019 statistics—shows a trajectory of serious decline and a sharp challenge for leaders concerned about evangelism and retention.

Both the CT and LifeWay articles go to pains to mention factors other than the elephant in the room likely behind the acceleration in SBC membership losses – the SBC’s now overt pushing of wokeness, particularly its endorsement of Critical Theory as ratified by Resolution 9 at last year’s convention.  Flip the report and note that inside the Bible Belt strongholds were significant declines.  That seems to confirm that SBC’s wokeward lurches have not been helpful.

As much as the Woke Church crowd may be in denial about it, many/most Bible-believing Christians in America do not like Leftist ideologies and political advocacy infiltrating their churches.  One can argue whether American Christians are right to be that way (They are.), but that’s the way it is.  Such infiltration helped drive me and many out of the mainline denominations the past several decades.  And now the SBC is learning that lesson the hard way, if they will ever learn.

Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), please take note.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

A Call to Prayer from Archbishop Foley Beach

Today Foley Beach, the Archbishop of ACNA, issued a heartfelt and needed call to prayer.  I appreciate its spirit and balance and will most certainly participate.
His call to prayer follows:

Dearest People of God in the Anglican Church in North America:
I write you with a tremendous heaviness in my spirit and soul as I observe and participate in what is happening today in the United States of America. If ever there is a time for the people of God to fall on our faces before God and plead for his mercy and intervention, now is the time. As believers, we are given the privilege of coming to the Throne of Grace with our petitions and requests, and he promises to hear us. (1 John 5:14,15)
Consider what we have experienced in recent days and weeks:
  • Another senseless killing by a police officer of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people participating in peaceful protests.
  • The unleashing of a spirit of lawlessness where rioting, violence, destruction of businesses and properties (mostly minority owned), unbridled theft, personal assaults on bystanders, store owners, the elderly, and police officers.
  • Covid-19 closing whole countries down, reportedly killing over 100,000 people in the U.S., over 7,000 in Canada, and over 10,000 in Mexico, and creating an economic calamity with tens of millions of people unemployed across North America.
  • Numerous businesses and churches have had to close down and many will not reopen.
  • Incredible generosity of strangers helping strangers in the midst of calamity.
Sisters and brothers, I am asking you to join me in spending the next week in prayer and fasting for North America (Wednesday, June 3 – Wednesday, June 10). For those who can fast the whole week, a day, or a meal, I ask you set aside time to intercede on behalf of your community, state, and nation.
Pray in the Holy Spirit and as the Holy Spirit leads you, and as you do, consider these petitions:
  • Show me my own sin; reveal to me the darkness of my own heart (Ps.139:24)
  • Reveal to me the repentance I need in my own life.
  • The ending of the lawlessness and violence.
  • Justice for those who have had their lives taken from them, especially George Floyd, and comfort for their families.
  • Comfort for the family and friends of the thousands of people who have lost their lives because of Covid-19.
  • Help for the millions who find themselves suddenly without a job.
  • Provision for all those business owners who have lost their business because of rioting, for those who have insurance and those who do not.
  • Strength for the health care workers, nurses, doctors, technicians in hospitals and medical facilities who continue to work fearlessly to save lives.
  • Wisdom for our government and civil leaders as they seek to keep us safe both from the virus and from the violence in our cities.
  • Food and provision for those who are hungry and in need.
  • Fresh anointing for the Church of Jesus Christ to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and reach people who are hurting, suffering, alone, and in need.
  • Specific acts of grace and mercy that You want me to carry out in this time.
If you would like some specific prayers to help you pray, consider these from the Book of Common Prayer 2019 on pages 657-661:
  • #39 – For our Nation
  • #40 – For All Sorts and Conditions of Men
  • #41 – For Cities, Towns, and other Communities
  • #42 – For the Human Family
  • #43 – For Social Justice
  • #44 – In Times of Social Conflict or Distress
  • #45 – For Those Who Serve Others
  • #46 – For Commerce and Industry
  • #47 – For the Unemployed
  • #48 – For Agriculture and Farming
  • #49 – For Schools, Colleges, and Universities
  • #50 – For the Medical Professions
  • #51 – For Those Who Inform Public Opinion
Jesus said: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9,10)
Your brother in Jesus Christ,

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Statement from Archbishop Foley Beach

A blessed Pentecost to all.  Speaking of which, I post this in haste as I need to get ready for church but wanted to get this out first.

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach posted a statement last night addressing the rioting and violence since the killing of George King.  It is needful and I appreciate it.  It is the first statement from ACNA bishops that I have seen that addresses the rioting.  (Feel free to comment if I’ve missed something.)

The Archbishop’s statement follows:

Call to Prayer on Pentecost Sunday...

To the Clergy of the Anglican Church in North America,

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be people of peace and love, reflecting our Lord and Savior. We are called to be light in the darkness and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, shine Christ's love not only in our churches but in our communities. Watching the lawlessness and violence in cities all over the United States is not only heart-breaking and tragic, but completely defeats the purpose of the protests for justice. With our city here in Atlanta on fire, our own mayor broke into tears when reminding our citizens that our city's heritage is one of non-violent protest as the home and ministry center of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

For those of you in the United States, I am writing to ask you to lead your congregation in specific prayer during worship tomorrow (Pentecost Sunday) for peace and justice in our communities; for the violence to stop; for wisdom for our leaders; for comfort for those who have lost loved ones or have been injured in the violence; and for people to be drawn to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 2019, pg. 659)

A blessed Pentecost to you! Shalom.

Friday, May 29, 2020

About AND’s Statement on the George Floyd Killing and Subsequent Riots

To say there is a need for unity in the church and in this country after the George Floyd killing would be an understatement.  Christians and Americans are united in condemning the killing.  But the “social justice” crowd is mishandling their response to the aftermath, particularly the looting and arson, and that is making our divisions worse and even less tolerable.  I certainly include the response of the AND Campaign in that.

Months ago I exposed the AND Campaign as a Democrat front group.  So I was not expecting much from them.  But their statement goes below even my low expectations.  I wonder if I should even bother to respond to it.  But I’m a fool, so here goes…

The riots in Minneapolis are not to be glorified or romanticized, but we must realize that they are a product of a riotous and unjust system. The disorder began when a man’s rights were violated and his life was taken. American racism was rioting against the people long before they took to the streets. We must condemn and address the cause before we can appropriately address the broken reaction. 

So the looting and arson is just “a broken reaction” AND won’t condemn.  The riots are unjust Amerika’s fault anyway.  Got it. 

By the way, the killing has been roundly condemned and is being addressed.  That will not make George Floyd come back.  But the “system,” however imperfect, is striving for justice in this situation.  AND on the other hand cannot even bring themselves to condemn widespread looting and arson.  The excuses for the riots and for AND’s failure are lame.

We cannot place our cultural preferences, partisan interests and flawed race narratives ahead of the Christian justice imperative. 

If you want “partisan interests and flawed race narratives,” look in the mirror, AND.

A spirit of racial hatred and violence has engulfed the United States of America for too long; in fact, it’s our nation’s original sin.

Yes, it’s all AmeriKKKa’s fault.  And the founders came over here because they hated Black people or something.

Now, the Church must offer a sober, determined and steadfast witness against white supremacy as contrary to no less than the very word and judgment of God.

What “white supremacy”?  There are more flat-earthers than white supremacists today.  Cut the CRT posturing.  The church has better things to do than chase around the few remaining idiot white supremacists. 

This is where we stand: not on the shaky ground of man-made ideology or carried by the shifting winds of societal judgment,…

Just a little lack of self-awareness there.

We don’t have to deny our pain, sadness or anger, but we do have to turn it over to God and respond in ways that glorify Him.

Well, you failed, AND.  But then your real objective is conning Christians into supporting Democrats, isn’t it?  That has been Michael Wear’s job for years.

What makes this more sad is that some prominent ACNA clergy are supporting this tripe.  Overall, it is sad that many/most woke church people cannot even bring themselves to condemn looting and arson that is hurting Black people more than anyone else.  Can’t we even unite on that?  Can’t we?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pusey’s The Doctrine of the Real Presence

I remember many years ago seeing a very large commentary on Psalm 119.  If I recall, it was by a Puritan and was in two thick volumes.  I immediately commented that it’s amazing what a man can do when not distracted by television.  Of course some Puritans tried not to get distracted by any sort of fun, but anyway…

Reading E. B. Pusey’s The Doctrine of the Real Presence As Contained in the Fathers now prompts me to think that it’s amazing what a man can do when not distracted by the internet.  Yes, the internet can assist research (when it’s not concealing it, but do not get me started on that), but it is more impressive to become a human google, and the internet can only do so much to bring that about.

As I read this great work, I cannot but conclude that Dr. Pusey was the 19th century equivalent of Google for Oxford in the area of the church fathers.  His research is amazing.  He quotes any number of fathers I have never even heard of.  If you want to read what the fathers said about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there can hardly be a better book.  Pusey gives a multitude of extended excerpts from the Fathers far more than he gives his own thinking.  His last and very long chapter is almost entirely such excerpts. He lets the fathers speak for themselves even when it might seem to weaken Pusey’s contentions.

Speaking of which, one may be surprised that he spends many pages disputing against the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation.  His teaching and the teaching of the fathers of the Real Presence is not to be confused with the error of the Church of Rome.

If one is the least bit interested in reading the fathers concerning the Eucharist, I cannot recommend this book enough.  I am thankful that I’ve been reading this going into the Ascension season as it has impressed me with the wonderful truth that while Christ intercedes for us before the Father in Heaven, yet is also “very present”, including in the Holy Communion.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Jemar Tisby Exposes Himself as a Hack With His Reaction to “You Ain’t Black.”

As promised, I have been watching Woke Church reaction – or lack thereof – to Biden saying “you ain’t Black” unless you vote for him.  But when I took a good look at Jemar Tisby’s twitter account, I was stopped in my tracks.  Jemar Tisby needs to be called out right now.  Usually I sleep on a post when provoked.  But enough is enough from Tisby.

I have searched all of Tisby’s tweets since Biden’s statement, and there is not one word of criticism towards Racist Joe.  Which is odd because isn’t Jemar supposed to be oh-so concerned about racism? Instead he puts on a show of outrage towards an unnamed “white evangelical public personality” (probably Eric Metaxas) for his lampoon of Biden’s racism.

So Biden makes a blatantly racist statement, and Tisby is silent.  Hmm, I thought “silence is complicity.”  But a white evangelical opposes and lampoons Biden’s racism, and Tisby calls that out as bigoted and even calls for him to be cancelled.

But it gets worse.  You’d think Tisby would sleep on it and decide he really should be somewhat balanced and call out Biden for “You ain’t Black.”  But no.  Instead he tweeted this:

So he uses Trump standing up for freedom of religion as an occasion to smear him.  But, at least on twitter, he still gives Biden a silent pass on “You ain’t Black.”  Biden demeans Blacks who dare to think for themselves, and Tisby is silent.  Trump defends religious freedom, and Tisby attacks.

This is far from the first time Tisby has demonstrated such a blatant double standard.  I’ve caught him doing that on anti-semitism.  These are among the many reasons he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt any longer.  You want “transparent”? Jemar Tisby is a transparent, race-baiting Leftist hack using a veneer of Christianity as a cover.

There are well meaning Christians, particularly within ACNA, who have supported and promoted Tisby. It is time they open up their eyes.

Friday, May 22, 2020

ACNA Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth Wins at Texas Supreme Court UPDATED

This lllllong standing case is not 100% over, but it is close to it.  Good news from the Texas Supreme Court and the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth (ACNA):

Today we rejoice that the Supreme Court of Texas has issued a unanimous decision in our favor concerning the suit first brought against the Diocese and Corporation more than 11 years ago. After considering our Petition for Review of the 2018 opinion issued by the Second Court of Appeals, the high Court has granted all the relief requested.

Page two of the opinion says in part,

Applying neutral principles to the undisputed facts, we hold that 1) resolution of this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question, 2) under the governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and 3) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction’s favor. We therefore reverse the court of appeals’ contrary judgment.

In its opinion, the Court found that the Diocese had not violated any Episcopal Church charter in withdrawing from association to TEC in 2008, and that the actions of the Diocese and Corporation were consistent with our own charters and with the state’s trust and unincorporated association statutes, and it upheld the dismissal of the Dennis Canon as determinative in Texas church property disputes.

Plaintiffs may exercise their rights of appeal, after which a mandate will go to the trial court for implementation.

We are grateful for the Court’s hard work on this decision and for the clarity with which it was rendered. We give thanks to the members of our legal team – Shelby Sharpe, Scott Brister, and David Weaver – for their sound counsel, expertise, and perseverance throughout these proceedings.

We give thanks for our visionary founding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. A. Donald Davies, and for those who assisted him in setting the legal and temporal foundations of the Diocese and Corporation. We stand on their shoulders.

We praise God for the steadfast faith and leadership of our third Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, a true shepherd of the flock, who made many sacrifices throughout his episcopate for the sake of Christ’s holy Church.

Above all, we thank God for his eternal provision and protection for his Church and the people he has called to serve him.

If you wish to wade through the opinion, it is here.

UPDATE: I've been eagerly awaiting A. S. Haley's take, and he has not disappointed.  Read what an actual honest lawyer has to say on this ruling.