Wednesday, June 20, 2018

An S.O.S. Message Sent From the Episcopal Ship's Presiding Bishop

 The Episcopal Ship is in trouble. As a result of having sold its soul to the sexual revolution and to the LGBTQ lobby, membership is dying, Sunday attendance is falling, money is being wasted on lawsuits against faithful Christians, so something has got to give.

You.

You have got to give.

Never before have Episcopalians been asked to cough up their hard earned greenbacks and send them directly to the front office at 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY. In the past money was sent from each diocese at a percentage of the diocesan budget. Those budgets are getting squeezed and less money is flowing to 815. Now, for the first time, a fundraising campaign to save the sinking ship has been started. Here is how Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, explains it.
Dear Friends, 
Today, I write to share some of the ways we, together as The Episcopal Church, witness to the loving, liberating, and life-giving way of Jesus Christ, and to ask for your financial support through this first Annual Appeal. 
Most of the Church’s ministry is done by dioceses and local congregations and ministries, and your support of these is vitally important to the work of Jesus in the world. But there are some ministries that only can be accomplished by the entire Church working together.  Here are a few examples: 
Our Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of the Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. The Office serves as a public witness for the Church, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally and sharing our values. The office hosts a morning prayer service for legislators and  staff, bringing Episcopalians together across the aisle to rest, pray, and listen for God’s guidance in their lives and the work they do. 
Our Armed Forces and Federal Ministries support chaplains serving in the military, VA hospitals, and federal prisons. Most of this work is with people ages 18-30. Our presence brings spiritual healing and comfort to people who need to know God’s love in a troubled world. 
Our Evangelism Ministries have helped Episcopalians to rethink and reclaim thesharing of the Good News. Our Episcopal Revivals campaign has trained more than 1,000 diocesan leaders to practice evangelism (in English and Spanish), welcomed more than 5,000 people to discover new and renewed life with Jesus, and gathered 200,000 participants on Facebook. This spring, we will host the second Evangelism Matters conference and launch the Beloved Community Story-Sharing Campaign, a churchwide effort to share and welcome stories of faith, race, and difference. 
This Annual Appeal is intended to support ministries that can only happen when we work together as a whole Church. Why do I make this appeal now? The dioceses of our Church are generous in their giving to support churchwide ministry, and income from endowments is steady; however,  the work before us requires more.
Please prayerfully read the stories in this booklet about these ministries. I hope they inspire and energize you as they do me. We will continue to share these narratives with you throughout the year. 

Then I hope you will join me, House of Deputies President Gay Jennings, and the Executive Council, along with the staff of The Episcopal Church, as we launch this annual campaign to support the whole Church’s work. Your gift or pledge to the Annual Appeal will directly impact our life and witness as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. 

Please consider making a gift to the Annual Appeal at any level. You can also make your gift here online, via text (Text APPEAL to 91999), or call us at (212) 716-6002.
The 2018 Annual Appeal Brochure
 
Yours in Christ,


The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society The Episcopal Church, Development Office, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017Phone: 212-716-6002 · 800-334-7626  |    |  Email: afrazier@episcopalchurch.orgGIVE
Donating to the Episcopal sect's leadership cadre is like trying to spread manure on a dead tree. You won't see any fruit, but you will get more stink. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

More Missing Verses

This week the Sunday Lectionary according to the Episcopal sect gives each parish a couple of options for the reading from the Psalter.  Psalm 92:1-4,11-14 is one choice. I will present this as another example of how the Sunday Lectionary cleans up many psalms for the Sunday pewsitters so that they don't have to struggle with parts that might make one feel that God punishes the wicked. An imprecatory psalm is thus converted into something something more palatable.  

First, let's read it the way our pewsitters will recite it,
1 It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, *and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High; 
2 To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning *and of your faithfulness in the night season; 
3 On the psaltery, and on the lyre, *and to the melody of the harp. 
4 For you have made me glad by your acts, O Lord; *and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands. 
11 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, *and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon. 
12 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord *shall flourish in the courts of our God; 
13 They shall still bear fruit in old age; *they shall be green and succulent; 
14 That they may show how upright the Lord is, *my Rock, in whom there is no fault.
That is what we would call "Happy Clappy".

Now what was it that the sect chose to hide from its members? Here it is,
5 Lord, how great are your works! *
your thoughts are very deep.

6 The dullard does not know,
nor does the fool understand, *
that though the wicked grow like weeds,
and all the workers of iniquity flourish,

7 They flourish only to be destroyed for ever; *
but you, O Lord, are exalted for evermore.

8 For lo, your enemies, O Lord,
lo, your enemies shall perish, *
and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

9 But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild bulls; *
I am anointed with fresh oil.

10 My eyes also gloat over my enemies, *
and my ears rejoice to hear the doom of the wicked who rise up against me.
That would be considered hate speech by today's standards. Snowflake pewsitters would melt if they had to speak those words. 

What kind of God is being presented to the average snowflake? One stripped of His power is what they hear about. If that is all they learn, they will be gone when things heat up. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

For Whom The South Carolina Church Bells Toll



Historic St Philip's Church Charleston

The Supreme Court of the United States recently declined to hear an appeal of a decision by the Supreme Court of South Carolina which could force 28 parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina (ACNA) to find new homes. It is possible that the Episcopal Sect will be allowed to take many historic buildings and impose their twisted theology upon the citizens of Charleston and its environs. If this happens, the current congregations could move out peacefully, they could stay and act as an underground insurgency against any new clergy, or they might offer to purchase the property since it is unlikely that there are enough Episcopalians to fill the pews and pay the bills. We don't know when or even if that will happen because some vow to fight on. Witness the rector of St. Philip's in Charleston who writes,
"There remain two actions in the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas, both of which regard the property rights of the Diocese and its parishes. 
In one, the remittitur case, we will seek a specific evidentiary inquiry as to whether or not St. Philip’s and twenty-eight other parishes actually acceded to the terms of the Dennis Canon. The Dennis Canon was found by the S.C. Supreme Court to have created a trust interest over the church properties, with the Episcopal Church as the trust beneficiary. In the other, the Betterments case, we will seek recovery, under a South Carolina statute, of the value of certain improvements on the respective church properties.  
There is also a federal court trademark action, brought by TEC and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina against our Diocese and its parishes, which seeks damages for the alleged improper use of the term 'Episcopal' and other related relief. So, though the Supreme Court of the United States could have ended most or all of this litigation by agreeing to hear our property rights case, its unwillingness to do so will cause us to continue the litigation in the state and federal court systems in South Carolina."
The longer this drags on, fewer Episcopalians will be left to occupy those 28 church buildings because of the continued decline in their numbers as documented by the Episcopal Sect itself in their posted statistics.

At the present time we still don't know for whom the bell tolls in South Carolina.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Unforgivable Sin

This Sunday's Gospel reading is Mark 3:20-35,

and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
 ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’ Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.  crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ 
I have heard this reading many times as the lectionary calendar cycled every three years through my life, but I never heard any priest discuss blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin, the eternal sin.

It is a scary thought, an unforgivable sin. It goes against every revisionist teaching that has ever been preached.

All your sins will be forgiven? Forget it if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.

Score one for the doctrine of the Trinity.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Growth: It Is a Matter of Biblical Interpretation and (sigh) Electric Guitars

A year and a half ago there was a story from the Guardian.com that required a little bit of background checking before posting it here. Their report on research into the characteristics of growing and declining mainline Protestant churches in Canada piqued my interest,
"Among the key findings are:
  • Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was 'very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians', compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
  • 71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
  • 46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
  • 93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement 'Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb'. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
  • 100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that 'God performs miracles in answer to prayers', compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches."
These findings would seem to be self evident to my fellow reasserting Christians. This type of research generates hypotheses which The Guardian must have been thinking about when they jumped the gun and titled their piece, "Literal interpretation of Bible 'helps increase church attendance'". That is called drawing a conclusion based on an association, and the findings are not proof of the hypothesis.

Alas, the social sciences and The Guardian were never really big on science, so they might also have felt free to conclude (they didn't) that "electric guitars and drums help increase church attendance" if they had written about more of the data in the original paper,
 67 %  of growing churches always used drums or other percussion instruments compared to  8% of declining ones.
 78 %  of growing churches always used Electric guitar or bass compared to  8% of declining ones.

I encourage readers to read the paper by Haskell, Flatt, and Burgoyne in order to better appreciate the magnitude of difference between growing congregations and declining ones. The main differences appear to be along the lines of "revisioning" versus reasserting historic Christian beliefs. It is sad that so many declining churches have to say the Nicene Creed with their fingers crossed.

I think the problem begins with the clergy's beliefs, or lack thereof, for they are the ones who should be teaching their congregants that Gospels are true. The presence or absence of electric guitars is not going to influence the Gospel message unless the music is done poorly or the words of the songs contain false teaching.

Bible study and small groups, and evangelism are found more frequently in growing churches. I remember going to my revisionist priest and asking to start a small group Bible study since he had not led a Bible study in 20 years and attendance was declining. I wound up leading that small group with no input from my rector, but I did have help from a priest in another state with whom I was in communication and who helped provide study questions.

As far as evangelism goes, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard revisionist priests and bishops state, "Numbers (of people in the pews) are not important!"

In a way they are correct. The fewer people under their charge, the better.


Sunday, June 03, 2018

Work and the Sabbath

This Sunday's Gospel reading is Mark 2:23-3:6,
"One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’ 
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him."
Both of these passages have to do with violations of the Sabbath rules against work. The Pharisees would enforce the rules to the point where a physician could not care for the sick or a hungry man could not find something to eat. A friend once related a story of when she was a waitress and a Jewish customer made her open a container of sugar and pour it into his coffee because it was the Sabbath. I told her that I was surprised he did not ask her to spoon feed him as well. I use this illustration to point out the problem with carrying a rule to the extreme.

I pointed out once before that Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand did not involve anything that the Pharisees would technically consider "work" as the man himself did all of the physical activity. The only way a Pharisee would consider the healing to be "work" is if he actually believed that Jesus was the one doing the healing.

In either case, it is wrong to say, as I have heard some preachers in their sermons teach, that Jesus was a lawbreaker. He is showing us that when there is a moral imperative to act for the well being of another, the Sabbath rules are of secondary importance. This is honoring God, by loving your neighbor first, and then taking a rest.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714)  in his Commentary gives a more in depth interpretation

[1.] Whom the sabbath was made for (Mark 2:27); it was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. This we had not in Matthew. The sabbath is a sacred and divine institution; but we must receive and embrace it as a privilege and a benefit, not as a task and a drudgery. First, God never designed it to be an imposition upon us, and therefore we must not make it so to ourselves. Man was not made for the sabbath, for he was made a day before the sabbath was instituted. Man was made for God, and for his honour and service, and he just rather die than deny him; but he was not made for the sabbath, so as to be tied up by the law of it, from that which is necessary to the support of his life. Secondly, God did design it to be an advantage to us, and so we must make it, and improve it. He made if for man. 1. He had some regard to our bodies in the institution, that they might rest, and not be tired out with the constant business of this world (Deut. 5:14); that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest. Now he that intended the sabbath-rest for the repose of our bodies, certainly never intended it should restrain us, in a case of necessity, from fetching in the necessary supports of the body; it must be construed so as not to contradict itself—for edification, and not for destruction. 2. He had much more regard to our souls. The sabbath was made a day of rest, only in order to its being a day of holy work, a day of communion with God, a day of praise and thanksgiving; and the rest from worldly business is therefore necessary, that we may closely apply ourselves to this work, and spend the whole time in it, in public and in private; but then time is allowed us for that which is necessary to the fitting of our bodies for the service of our souls in God’s service, and the enabling of them to keep pace with them in that work. See here, (1.) What a good Master we serve, all whose institutions are for our own benefit, and if we be so wise as to observe them, we are wise for ourselves; it is not he, but we, that are gainers by our service. (2.) What we should aim at in our sabbath work, even the good of our own souls. If the sabbath was made for man, we should then ask ourselves at night, “What am I the better for this sabbath day?” (3.) What care we ought to take not to make those exercises of religion burthens to ourselves or others, which God ordained to be blessings; neither adding to the command by unreasonable strictness, nor indulging those corruptions which are adverse to the command, for thereby we make those devout exercises a penance to ourselves, which otherwise would be a pleasure.

[2.] Whom the sabbath was made by (Mark 2:28); “The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath; and therefore he will not see the kind intentions of the institution of it frustrated by your impositions.” Note, The sabbath days are days of the Son of man; he is the Lord of the day, and to his honour it must be observed; by him God made the worlds, and so it was by him that the sabbath was first instituted; by him God gave the law at mount Sinai, and so the fourth commandment was his law; and that little alteration that was shortly to be made, by the shifting of it one day forward to the first day of the week, was to be in remembrance of his resurrection, and therefore the Christian sabbath was to be called the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10), the Lord Christ’s day; and the Son of man, Christ, as Mediator, is always to be looked upon as Lord of the sabbath. This argument he largely insists upon in his own justification, when he was charged with having broken the sabbath, John 5:16.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bishop Michael Curry's Problem with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Let me start out by saying that Bishop Michael Curry does not have a problem with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as he referenced him during the wedding sermon for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently.
"French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic." - Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Well, the rest of the world has a problem with the late Jesuit. There is a papal warning on Teilhard's books, a warning that some are trying to remove. It seems that great minds like Teilhard's and Curry's are not immune to false teaching. A couple of years ago, Crisis Magazine published an article, "Challenging the Rehabilitation of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin", that documents some of the problems with Teilhard's thinking and why the Pope slapped the warning label on his work. I have selected a few quotations from that longer critique,
"The problem with Teilhard’s 'scientific theology' is not evolution per se but the definition or interpretation of such a term and its application to Christian theology. According to Smith, Teilhard artificially rules out God’s intervention and insists that God can only create through evolution. First, Teilhard limits God’s providence by following a deterministic view of physics (entailing a closed universe) without real justification. The science of quantum mechanics was already in existence during Teilhard’s productive years. A view from quantum mechanics would not support a neatly fashioned deterministic biosphere as Teilhard envisioned. Nor could a professed Christian assert that the universe is a closed system disallowing outside intervention from God. In his work, Christianity and Evolution, Teilhard implicitly asserts this",
"In the earlier conception, God could create, (1) instantaneously, (2) isolated beings, (3) as often as he pleased. We are now beginning to see that creation can have only one object: a universe; that (observed ab intra) creation can be effected only by an evolutive process (of personalizing synthesis); and that it can come into action only once: when ‘absolute’ multiple (which is produced by antithesis to trinitarian unity) is reduced, nothing is left to be united either in God or ‘outside’ God. The recognition that ‘God cannot create except evolutively’ provides a radical solution for our reason to the problem of evil (which is a direct ‘effect’ of evolution), and at the same time explains the manifest and mysterious association of matter and spirit."
"It is clear that Teilhard has an agenda to reconstruct the traditional conception of God, one in which eventually even God must bow down to the process of evolution and goes from being the evolver to part of the evolved."
"Teilhard has also a peculiar vision of Christ in lieu of his views on evolution. He sees Christ as an evolving Christ, much as his vision of God becoming part of the evolutionary process. Christ is dependent upon the cosmogenetic process, as Teilhard intimates himself a month before his own death, in a quote found in The Heart of Matter: 'It is Christ, in very truth, who saves—but should we not immediately add that, at the same time, it is Christ who is saved by Evolution?'” 
"Teilhard’s views in fact have no place for the Incarnation in the traditional Christian sense since nothing can ultimately enter up in the universe unless through a process of evolution since all is reducible to a cosmic evolution. Teilhard’s metaphysical impositions of evolution on the divine nature are completely heterodox because they overthrow the traditional conception of an eternal transcendental God. Teilhard’s heterodoxy extends beyond God’s nature. He accepts the separation of the soul from the body at death but does not allow for its origin via ex-nihilo through God’s creation but instead through gradual physical evolution."
"In The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard theorizes that all matter is in the process of becoming spirit through progressive complexification that entails 'matter [giving] birth to life, consciousness and thought—in a word, gives birth to ‘spirit.’”
Lets list some of the problems we have with Teilhard,

  1. God can only create through evolution.
  2. It is Christ who is saved by Evolution.
  3. "Spirit" is born of matter, consciousness, and thought. 
I admit that I have not done an extensive review of all of the man's works, but I do see enough here to be concerned when the leading Episcopalian Bishop claims in front of an audience of perhaps two billion that,
"Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century" 
Episcopalians fall too easily under the spell of false teaching, and since Bishop Michael Curry has clearly demonstrated that he is under the spell of his denomination's teaching on same-sex marriage, is it any wonder that he would quote from a discredited Catholic priest in an important sermon?

At least he didn't quote Bishop Spong or Bishop Gene Robinson.