Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Churches Without Fathers: We have "produced our own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest."

Robbie Low is vicar of St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath, a parish in the Church of England and his recent commentary on the fatherless church (requires subscription to "Touchstone") cites research done in Switzerland that showed,

"In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally."
Interestingly, the presence of faithful Christian fathers, worshipping regularly, has a greater effect on the developing child than the worship habits of the mother. Why this happens is a matter of speculation of course,
"Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates that going to church is not really a 'grown-up' activity."
"When children see that church is a 'women and children' thing, they will respond accordingly—by not going to church, or going much less." 
Boys raised by a single mom grow up seeing the church from the perspective that it is not for men. When I was young I recall that there being a disproportionate number of little old ladies present at Sunday morning services even during the baby boom years. That and the effeminate nature of some of the priests may have turned many a young boy against the Episcopal sect. Episcopalians haven't done anything to change the impression left in children's minds, and in fact have made major innovations that make things worse, just as the Church of England is doing,

"Second, we are ministering in churches that accepted fatherlessness as a norm, and even an ideal. Emasculated Liturgy, gender-free Bibles, and a fatherless flock are increasingly on offer. In response, these churches’ decline has, unsurprisingly, accelerated. To minister to a fatherless society, these churches, in their unwisdom, have produced their own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest."
They have "produced their own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest." Is that the model we want to present to children, to our fellow Christians, to the world?

Of course, the Episcopal organization and CofE are not turning back so Rev. Low's observations will not help them to climb out of their death spiral, but his words are a sharp warning to other Anglican entities,
"The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Are All Welcome At the Table?

This Sunday's reading from Matthew 22:1-14 contains the Parable of the Wedding Banquet,

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Revisionist preachers will studiously avoid comment on verses 11-14 because it goes against their standard message that "All are welcome at the Lord's table", a quote I heard numerous times from my last revisionist rectorette when she announced Holy Communion particularly at funerals when she did not know if some present were baptized Christians or not. Sadly, people who come to the communion rail unprepared may have to face far greater consequences than a polite prayer over them as the cup passes them by. As harsh as it sounds, to let them partake of the Eucharistic elements may do them more harm than good. Remember how Paul cautions us in 1 Corinthians 11:26-30:
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), in his commentaries, gives his take on the "Friend" who did not have a wedding robe and got tossed out of the banquet. Henry was not so much concerned about Communion without Baptism for he probably could not have even imagined it becoming an issue in the Church. I think the parable applies equally to the unbaptized or non-Christian as it does to what Henry calls "hypocrites in the church".
VI. The case of hypocrites, who are in the church, but not of it, who have a name to live, but are not alive indeed, is represented by the guest that had not on a wedding garment; one of the bad that were gathered in. Those come short of salvation by Christ, not only who refuse to take upon them the profession of religion, but who are not sound at heart in that profession. Concerning this hypocrite observe,
1. His discovery, how he was found out, Matt. 22:11.
(1.) The king came in to see the guests, to bid those welcome who came prepared, and to turn those out who came otherwise. 
Note, The God of heaven takes particular notice of those who profess religion, and have a place and name in the visible church. Our Lord Jesus walks among the golden candlesticks and therefore knows their works. See Rev. 2:1, 2; Song 7:12. Let this be a warning to us against hypocrisy, that disguises will shortly be stripped off, and every man will appear in his own colours; and an encouragement to us in our sincerity, that God is a witness to it.
Observe, This hypocrite was never discovered to be without a wedding garment, till the king himself came in to see the guests. 
Note, It is God’s prerogative to know who are sound at heart in their profession, and who are not. We may be deceived in men, either one way or other; but He cannot. The day of judgment will be the great discovering day, when all the guests will be presented to the King: then he will separate between the precious and the vile (Matt. 25:32), the secrets of all hearts will then be made manifest, and we shall infallibly discern between the righteous and the wicked, which now it is not easy to do. It concerns all the guests, to prepare for the scrutiny, and to consider how they will pass the piercing eye of the heart-searching God.
(2.) As soon as he came in, he presently espied the hypocrite; He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment; though but one, he soon had his eye upon him; there is no hope of being hid in a crowd from the arrests of divine justice; he had not on a wedding garment; he was not dressed as became a nuptial solemnity; he had not his best clothes on. 
Note, Many come to the wedding feast without a wedding garment. If the gospel be the wedding feast, then the wedding garment is a frame of heart, and a course of life agreeable to the gospel and our profession of it, worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called (Eph. 4:1), as becomes the gospel of Christ, Phil. 1:27. The righteousness of saints, their real holiness and sanctification, and Christ, made Righteousness to them, is the clean linen, Rev. 19:8. This man was not naked, or in rags; some raiment he had, but not a wedding garment. 
Those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, that have a Christian temper of mind, and are adorned with Christian graces, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding garment.

So no, not all are welcome until they accept the invitation and put on the Mantle of Christ, and then they are welcomed like the prodigal son into the arms of our loving Father. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Do We Need Archbishops? :The Failure of "Episcopas"

After last week's pointless meeting of the pointy hats in Canterbury, I am left wondering if we really need Archbishops, Primates, or an Anglican Communion at all.

The Anglican Communion's loose structure and lack of discipline are often touted as its greatest strengths by progressives and revisionists. Their goals have certainly been facilitated by the current "instruments of communion" and the failure to effectively discipline and correct Churches that have departed from Anglican tradition and the teachings found in the Bible.

Who actually operates those instruments of communion? The guys in the pointy hats, for the most part, are the ones running the show.

Bishops and their like have been with us since the earliest days of the Church. But Archbishops and Popes maybe not so much.

1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are the only times in the NT when "bishops" are directly referred to, and some Bibles translate the Greek word, "episcopas", which more likely means "overseer", to mean "bishop."

1 Timothy 3 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
3 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Titus 1
5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Paul clearly had a local structure in mind with one or more ordained overseers in a particular region such as in Crete. No mention of an "Arch-overseer" can be found unless one considers Paul to be the overseer of overseers.

So we do need "Bishops" that meet Paul's criteria, but history is replete with bad examples, and Paul himself had to write strong letters to his churches when he learned that they were going astray. To date, no Church has come up with the perfect solution to the problem of oversight.

The Anglican Communion certainly does not have a Paul at the helm. Their titular overseer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has no real power of oversight except when deciding who comes to a meeting of provincial leaders.

Just look at how recent events were handled by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church (USA), and the Scottish Episcopal Church have all altered 2000 years of teaching on homosexual activity and were still invited to Canterbury to meet with the rest of the Anglican Primates.

The Anglican Church in North America, which has not changed the Church's teaching, was not invited to the gathering and is considered by the Archbishop of Canterbury to not be part of the Anglican Communion.

The invitations say a lot about oversight in the organization we call the Anglican Communion. When those who flaunt their disregard for what is revealed in scripture are honored at the banquet while those deserving a seat at the table are left out on the street, there is a serious problem.

Let me speculate as to why things seem to work out the way they do in this organization.

Imagine you are having a family reunion in this day and age of blended families, divorces, and unwed mothers, and you have to decide whom to invite and who to exclude.
Should you invite the cousin, brother, or sister who had numerous adulterous affairs and is now legally re-married? "But that is family!", you say, and you are stuck with them so of course, you will extend an invitation. Many in the Anglican Communion feel this way about their wayward Provinces.

But what if you change the hypothetical to a team meeting in which the game plan for next week's contest is to be put together? Should you invite the players who don't follow the playbook and are busy writing their own rules and making new playbooks? No, of course, you will not even let them into the meeting room unless they admit that what they are doing is harmful to the team. A few leaders in the Anglican Communion feel this way about the Provinces thay are approving of same-sex marriages and blessings, as well as gender-neutral language and are revising their prayer books to reflect the change in the game plan.

Are we a "team" or are we a "family"? That is the crux of the problem. Christians traditionally refer to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ so "family" would appear to have the upper hand. But are we still bound to someone as a brother or sister when they change traditions, coming up with unChristian innovations, and leading their children astray through false teachings? Again, looking to Paul and the problems he encountered in the early Church, we find the answer, and the answer is "No", they are to be treated as tax collectors and Gentiles (Matthew 18:17).

In this day and age, we have grown accustomed to dysfunctional and broken families, but this is not to be accepted as the ideal towards which we should strive. Unfortunately, dysfunction is exactly what the Anglican Communion as overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a large number of Primates seem to admire as they conspire to create a sense of unity where there is none. 

We need Bishops and maybe even Archbishops, but they need to be true to the job description or they should beware,
The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops cemented into place by Archbishops.
And yes, we need a larger Communion, but the current set up is broken because it has been failed time and time again to uphold the Gospel of Christ.

I am just not sure if we should call the new Communion "Anglican". I don't want any association with the current overseers in Canterbury.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

A Prophetic Parable

This Sunday's Gospel reading, Matthew 21:33-43, is one of Jesus' harshest prophetic parables. In it he predicts his death and infers that his murderers will be his audience, the chief priests and elders who had just confronted him in the temple and asked by whose authority he had overturned the tables of the money changers and by whose authority he taught and cured people in the temple. 
‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;*this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes” Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
No wonder the chief priests and elders were irate and wanted to kill him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Where is Jesus in the reporting of tragedy?

I generally prefer to wait until all the facts are in before commenting on tragic events like the recent Las Vegas massacre, but the absence of commentary from the mainstream media on the spiritual warfare that is the basis for man's inhumanity to man struck me as something that should be noted and reflected upon as society moves further away from a worldview based on the reality of an omnipresent God and turns more and more to a secular, agnostic, and emotive worldview.

Most reporting in the earliest stages of an unfolding story is based on facts as they occur, the planes flying into the twin towers for instance. It is not long before reporters, like the rest of us, move from talking about "what happened" to asking "why did it happen?".

In the absence of answers to the question of "why", news reporters start asking witnesses or survivors "how they felt" or "what was it like" and because the answers to those interviews create an emotional response in viewers, we remain glued to the tube for hours on end. The longer we are hooked on the emotional impact of the moment, the less likely we are to look for root causes. Indeed "emotivism" itself prevents us from making moral judgments.

Emotivism is the doctrine “that all evaluative judgments and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in character.” (h/t Crisis Magazine).

Sure, virtually everyone will conclude that what was done in Las Vegas was "WRONG", but there are several paths people take to get there.

The secular humanist might reason that the random taking of innocent life creates uncertainty, removes productive citizens from us, and thus weakens society. He would then seek to find a legislative solution.

The agnostic might reason that humans evolved with a violent nature in order to survive. He would then shrug his shoulders and tell us to arm ourselves and live with it.

The scientist might argue that such violence is due to mental illness and look to Medicine to work for a cure. 

The mainstream media has given voice to all of those worldviews.

As a Christian, I believe that we are all sinful creatures and that our murderous nature has been present since the fall of man. We are slaves to Sin, and we will remain in bondage until we surrender to Jesus. How much of the violence men suffer upon their fellow man can be traced to a rejection of Jesus?

Yes, we hear voices in the media asking us to pray in a generic sense, i.e. pray for the wounded, pray for the families, but the media is afraid to state who we are to pray to.

There is but one cure for us and that is Jesus, and that is whose name we must invoke in our prayers.

And the Gospel of Jesus is what we should be shouting at the top of the news if we hope to prevent future tragedies of this sort.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Every knee shall bow

This Sunday's Epistle reading is Philippians 2:1-13. In it we hear the words, "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow", which should sound familiar to most regular churchgoers because it is often paired with the hymn that shares the title. I think this selection is something our pro football players should study,
"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,   did not regard equality with God   as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,   taking the form of a slave,   being born in human likeness.And being found in human form, he humbled himself   and became obedient to the point of death—   even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him   and gave him the name   that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus   every knee should bend,   in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess   that Jesus Christ is Lord,   to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Note that one of the important messages Paul has to the Philippeans is that they "be of one mind". Note too that "diversity of mind" is not mentioned. Yet somehow today the Anglican Communion is trying to hold diverse minds together as if that were a good thing. This week, as some of the Anglican Primates meet with Archbishop Welby, diverse minds will pretend that they are a "Church". Let us pray that they mark well Paul's words.

Most of you will be familiar with Raph Vaughan Williams version of "At the Name of Jesus Every Knee Shall Bow",

But you may not have heard this version,

Or this one played to the tune Camberwell,

And I bet none of my readers have heard this one,

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On Accepting Another's Delusion.

We are living in a world where delusions spread so quickly and are so easily accepted thanks to the power of social media that it is hard to know what is true and what is false, and that may be just the way the world wants us to think.

Take the recent controversy over NFL players kneeling or staying in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem for example. This type of "virtue signaling" has become a phenomenon that all of the sports networks are fawning over. Sportscasters are afraid to criticize the protesting players, while coaches, owners and teammates, with a few notable exceptions, are joining in,  and I believe a large part of the followers are doing so because of team/herd mentality.

Or is it mob mentality? There is a fine line between herd mentality and the stampede of a mob, and that is a line I hope they do not cross.

The footballers keep telling us that they are not protesting the flag, the country or the National Anthem. They claim that they are the true patriots, but when they say this, they are offering up a delusion. I am sorry, but protesting during the National Anthem is not patriotic. Whatever they say it is, it is disrespectful of our military veterans and their sacrifices without which these athletes would be out of a job, working in the salt mines serving under a king or a dictator.
"... keep trying to tell us that protesting the flag and the national anthem is really an expression of patriotism and not of disrespect. It isn’t, and it insults our intelligence to tell us we have to treat it as if it were. It insults OUR dignity as people to tell us we have to see your protests as something other than what they are." - attributed to Brian Troyer.
The delusion that the players' protest is not disrespectful is not the only delusion being spread thanks to the age of mass communication. Think, "the right to choose", "marriage equality", and the transgender nonsense among other things.

William Kilpatrick has more on modern delusions and how they are enforced in his recent piece, "The Normalization of Delusional Thinking" which focuses primarily on the delusion that Islam is a religion of peace,

"...All of a sudden, a significant percentage of our social and intellectual elites have succumbed to the delusion that a girl can be a boy, and a boy can be a girl, or whatever he, she, ne, ze, zir currently desires to be. This is not merely a rebellion against social convention, it’s a rebellion against reality. It’s a rejection of basic biology."
"...There are several parallels here to what has become the standard response to Islam. As with transgenderism, we see an official denial of reality: Islamic terror has nothing to do with Islam, the terrorists (who are only a “handful”) “misunderstand” their faith, Islamic values are just the same as Christian values, and so on."
"Likewise, just as you’re not allowed to call Bruce Jenner 'he,' you’re not supposed to say 'radical Islamic terror' or 'migration invasion' or any other words that might be offensive to Muslims."
These days, we not only must live with another person's delusions, we must affirm them. According to one congresswoman, it is racist to disagree with the football players' protests. Even Fox News is afraid of the consequences of going against delusion when it comes to transexualism and has its newscasters referring to Bruce Jenner as "she". The power of the delusion is absolute,
...“making [others] agree to something they know is a lie is a hallmark of totalitarianism.” - Matthew Hanley
How did we get here?  William Kilpatrick claims that it is a result of the attack on objective reality which had as one of its goals the toppling of our belief in the reality of God,
"...Another objective reality that came under attack during the self-esteem era was the existence of God, or, more accurately, the existence of the God who reveals himself in the Old and New Testaments—the God who make demands on the individual self. In his place, many substituted vague, New Age-ish forms of spirituality. Either that, or they began to conceive of God as a servant of their emotional needs—an all-understanding therapist in Heaven who just wants everyone to feel good about himself, herself, zeself, zirself."
"The famous maxim attributed to Chesterton applies here: 'The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.' Once you lose sight of the central objective reality in the universe, it’s easy to lose sight of all the other realities, and you end up believing in anything—no matter how counter-factual the 'anything' might be. You might believe that same-sex couples are truly married, you might believe that males can become females. You might even believe—heaven help you—that Islam is a religion of peace."
You might even believe football players are true patriots when they disrespect our veterans.

You shouldn't have to accept another's delusion, and you shouldn't be forced to affirm it either. That is why I had to break from Bishop Waldo after he published his delusional justification for proceeding with same-sex blessings in Upper South Carolina.

I found out then that you can't reason with the deluded, and humoring them by accepting and affirming the lie just results in the delusion spreading to others. At some point you have to make your point and leave, another runaway slave from another delusional dictator.