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April 27 __2007-21_ - Virtue Online

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April 27 __2007-21_ - Virtue Online Powered By Docstoc
					VIRTUEONLINE Digest - 20 Apr 2007 to 27 Apr 2007 (#2007-21)
Fri, 27 Apr 2007


There are 28 messages totalling 1627 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

 1. Table of Contents
 2. VirtueOnline Viewpoints - April 26, 2007
 3. HOB TASK FORCE REVEALS STRATEGY TO RETAIN PROPERTIES, BLASTS
    ORTHODOX
 4. Williams Sends Ambiguous Signal On Homosexuality To Global South
    Primates
 5. West African Archbishop responds to Maryland Bishop's Brush Off,
    Charges Racism
 6. WESTERN MICHIGAN: Bishop Closes Cathedral, Third Church Closed by
    Gepert
 7. CONNECTICUT: Liberal Bishop to Attend Ordination at Renegade Parish
 8. NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate
    Conduct" Charges
 9. BOSTON, MA: Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights
10. VIRGINIA BEACH: Episcopal Bishop says few leaving over same-sex
    issues
11. LOUISIANA: Anglican leaders set to converge on New Orleans
12. VIRGINIA: Breakaway Anglicans Ask Court to Dismiss TEC Church's
    Property Suit
13. KENTUCKY: Louisville sues to block Episcopal Church's claim to land
14. DALLAS: Parish leaders plan departure from diocese
15. LAMPASAS, TX: Episcopal Rector charged with sexual assault
16. ATLANTA: Holy Innocents' says priest misused $100,000
17. TUCSON, AZ: 'Lord' is fading at some churches
18. LONDON: Enemy of liberal Anglicans was poisoned
19. LONDON: Bishop of Southwark must explain drink riddle
20. LONDON: Archbishop attacks 'erosion of Christian values'
21. COLORADO: Vestryman Rips Bishop's attack on Vestry as"pure
    vilification & libel"
22. Personal Jesus: John Shelby Spong's "nontheistic" Christianity
23. A Pastoral Response to Bishop Tom Wright - Dr Lisa Severin Nolland
24. A Case for More Gun Control - by Mike McManus
25. Ashamed of the Gospel? Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech
26. The cunning of evil
27. The Cross and the Caricatures - by Tom Wright
28. LOVE ALWAYS HOPES

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:08:28 -0400
From:    Robert Turner <webmaster@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: Table of Contents

1. VIEWPOINTS: TEC under judgment.Schori Downplays Schism.Task Force
Will Fight for Properties
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5905
>

2 . HOB TASK FORCE REVEALS STRATEGY TO RETAIN PROPERTIES, BLASTS
ORTHODOX
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5906
>

3. WILLIAMS SENDS AMBIGUOUS SIGNAL ON HOMOSEXUALITY TO GLOBAL SOUTH
PRIMATES
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5899
>

4. West African Archbishop responds to Maryland Bishop's Brush Off,
Charges Racism
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5894
>

5. WESTERN MICHIGAN: Bishop Closes Cathedral, Third Church Closed by
Gepert
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5898
>

6. CONNECTICUT: Liberal Bishop to Attend Ordination at Renegade Parish
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5888
>

7. NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate
Conduct" Charges
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5889
>

8. BOSTON, MA: Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5896
>

9. VIRGINIA BEACH: Episcopal Bishop says few leaving over same-sex
issues
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5903
>

10. LOUISIANA: Anglican leaders set to converge on New Orleans
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5886
>

11. VIRGINIA: Breakaway Anglicans Ask Court to Dismiss TEC Church's
Property Suit
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5880
>

12. KENTUCKY: Louisville sues to block Episcopal Church's claim to land
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5878
>
13. DALLAS: Parish leaders plan departure from diocese
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5877
>

14. LAMPASAS, TX: Episcopal Rector charged with sexual assault
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5876
>

15. ATLANTA: Holy Innocents' says priest misused $100,000
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5874
>

16. TUCSON, AZ: 'Lord' is fading at some churches
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5887
>

17. LONDON: Enemy of liberal Anglicans was poisoned
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5901
>

18. LONDON: Bishop of Southwark must explain drink riddle
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5893
>

19. LONDON: Archbishop attacks 'erosion of Christian values'
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5891
>

20. COLORADO: Vestryman Rips Bishop's attack on Vestry as 'pure
vilification & libel'
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5883
>

21. Personal Jesus: John Shelby Spong's "nontheistic" Christianity
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5900
>

22. A Pastoral Response to Bishop Tom Wright - Dr Lisa Severin Nolland
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5904
>

23. A Case for More Gun Control - by Mike McManus
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5897
>

24. Ashamed of the Gospel? Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5881
>

25. The cunning of evil
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5879
>

26. The Cross and the Caricatures - by Tom Wright
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5895
>

27. Devotional: LOVE ALWAYS HOPES
<http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5884
>

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:10:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: VirtueOnline Viewpoints - April 26, 2007

"The apostles' concern was not to defend themselves but to uplift
Christ. *We must obey God rather than men. Then she said this: "I don't
believe that there is any will in this church to move backward, ." She
compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women's
rights. She believes that it is a vocation for the Episcopal Church "to
keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just
the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world."

Then she took a swipe at African Evangelical Anglicans saying this:
"Where the protesters are, in some parts of Africa or in other parts of
the Anglican Communion today, is where this church and this society we
live in was 50 years ago, and for us to assume that people can move that
distance in a year or in a relatively instantaneous manner is perhaps
faithless. That kind of movement and development has taken us a good
deal of pain and energy over 40 or 50 years, and I think we have to make
some space so that others can make that journey as well."

TRANSLATION: The Global South archbishops and bishops have got it all
wrong and need to catch up to us (read TEC) about homosexuality. How
patronizing, colonialist, imperialistic and racist of Mrs. Schori to
even suggest that. You wonder why the Primates came down hard in
Tanzania with a deadline for the TEC to repent or else. Now you know why
all the talk of covenants and Windsor Reports is a giant
smokescreen...absolutely nothing is going to change with the TEC between
now and Sept. 30. Nothing. The Network bishops will have to decide, and
soon, what they are going to do. To do nothing is not an option. You can
read the full report of what Mrs. Schori said here or in today's digest.
http://tinyurl.com/2oqvxp

Later, she journeyed to Virginia Beach where she downplayed the notion
of a denominational schism over homosexuality, saying only a tiny
fraction of congregations have moved to break away. She told a group of
Episcopal communicators (where VOL is not welcome) that congregations
had "gotten a lot of attention and been very noisy," but accounted for
less than 1 percent of the country's total number of parishes, which she
put at 7,500.

Mrs. Schori conveniently overlooks the fact that while the parishes are
few in number, the number of dues paying Episcopalians is huge. Just one
example. The departure of Christ Church, Plano, formerly in the Diocese
of Dallas, is the equivalent of the entire Diocese of Nevada, Mrs.
Schori's former diocese - over 4,000 members.

To cap off the week's TEC news, the HOB Task Force on Property Disputes
released its memorandum declaring once and for all that it is going to
be open season on fleeing parishes and dioceses. David (Wilkes) Booth
Beers, Mrs. Schori's legal Doberman, will rain down legal hell on anyone
who tries to flee the squid-like embrace of TEC.

 Watch for sparks to fly in the coming months as the dreaded Sept. 30
 deadline draws near. An interesting case to watch will be the DIOCESE
 OF SOUTH CAROLINA. If Mark Lawrence doesn't get consents in a second
 run off, will they consecrate him anyway? Bishop Ed Salmon, though
 orthodox, is very much a TEC team player. It will be interesting to see
 if he will lay hands on Lawrence if the San Joaquin priest doesn't get
 the required consents from liberal dioceses. Interesting days lie
 ahead.

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, sent an ambiguous
signal to the Global South Primates over remarks he made recently in
Canada concerning the Scriptural interpretation of biblical passages
regarding homosexual practice and truth. His words sent up question
marks that will undoubtedly cause Primates like Nigerian Primate Peter
Akinola to wonder if the archbishop still supports Lambeth Resolution
1:10! I have examined what he said in today's digest drawing on the
expertise and wisdom of men like Dr. Robert Gagnon and John R. W. Stott.
You can read that here: http://tinyurl.com/yphp8w

IN OTHER NEWS THE ABC has announced that he will visit the U.S. in
September, in response to an urgent request from the Episcopal Church.
He will meet with the HOB in Louisiana. Dr. Williams announced the
meeting during a visit with Canadian bishops in Toronto this week. He
will attend meetings Sept. 20-25 and will be accompanied on his visit by
key archbishops from conservative overseas Anglican churches. You can
read the full story here: http://tinyurl.com/22qylo He has also
confirmed that the Lambeth Conference will go ahead as expected in 2008.

Dr Williams reiterated his desire to avoid a split along with his
passionate belief in the mutuality of the Anglican Communion. He hoped
that the meeting with the US Bishops, to be held in New Orleans, would
result in a better understanding, on the Episcopal Church's part, of
what the Primates were trying to communicate; and, on his own part, of
the problems the request was causing to the whole Church. "I'm still
waiting to see what the Episcopal Church will come up with as an
alternative," he said.

Sources in England and Washington have confirmed that Dr. Williams will
take part of his summer sabbatical at Georgetown University. Williams
has stayed at the Jesuit university twice previously during seminars of
interfaith scholars, and is friendly with the university's president
John J. DeGioia. The news that Williams would be spending his sabbatical
in the U.S. became public before Williams announced whether he would
accede to a request to meet with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal
Church in an effort to defuse the crisis over homosexuality that
threatens the future of the Anglican Communion. That meeting is now set
for late September in New Orleans.

Anglican leaders are set to converge In NEW ORLEANS where lie the bones
of the first Bishop of Louisiana, Leonidas Polk who grew his protestant
ministry to exemplary proportions. It has been forecast that this is
where the TEC will die. He was known as "the Fighting Bishop Polk." Now,
they are all fighting bishops and it is here all the bishops will fight
and TEC will die. Wrote a VOL reader: "It is amazing that TEC comes to
an end in the city where Protestantism came as a pioneer and gave so
much good to so many. Here in the city where pioneer missionary Bishop
Polk fought and died, lies their one last chance to reclaim historic
Christianity. They can save our church from collapse. They will need to
look to the Faith delivered through warriors such as Polk, and reject
Spong and all his followers." One can only hope.

WHILE the TEC continues to decline (see the latest news from the DIOCESE
OF WESTERN MICHIGAN about closing cathedrals and more), the GLOBAL SOUTH
continues to forge ahead. This week in NIGERIA six new bishops were
consecrated to further its quest for evangelistic growth in Nigeria. The
consecration took place at The Good Shepherd Cathedral in Enugu and was
presided over by the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter
Akinola. He had this to say: "You are to make evangelism a watchword,
and endure any suffering encountered in the pursuit of this course, just
as Christ endured on the cross." About 90 bishops, three archbishops and
5,000 faithful attended the consecration service, while former Vice
President Alex Ekwueme also graced the occasion. In the SUDAN, they
consecrated three new bishops at All Saint Cathedral in Juba for that
burgeoning part of the world even as they face persecution and more. All
the while Western Anglicanism continues to decline. The Archbish
 op of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Marona
 presided at the consecrations. In their appreciation remarks, the newly
 consecrated Bishop of Torit, the Rt. Rev. Bernard Oringa Balmoi,
 appealed to the government of southern Sudan to help in stopping the
 bleeding of his congregations at the hand of Ugandan Lord Resistance
 army. Another bishop advised the new bishops to disassociate themselves
 from tribalism rather to preach peace to all through reconciliation and
 uniting them as one nation of south Sudan.

IN ENGLAND, the last census revealed 72 percent of people identified
themselves as Christians, but the Church of England has said that fewer
than 10 percent of its members are regular churchgoers. By contrast,
evangelicals make up 40 percent of all the nation's regular churchgoers,
according to Peter Brierely, head of Christian Research, a London-based
think tank. Part of the evangelical growth is the result of immigration.
Since 2001, Africa has supplied the largest pool of new British
citizens. Evangelical churches - both black and white - also intensely
evangelize in a way that other British Christians don't. Perhaps the ABC
needs to talk to these folk and remind his friend Jeffrey John that his
bizarre atonement theology won't and can't win converts. Is it any
wonder that African leaders like Akinola, Orombi, Nzimbi et al don't
feel the need to compromise. It is THEIR people who are re-evangelizing
England. Dr. Williams take note.

IN CANADA, the Rt. Rev. Bruce Howe, 59, is in the running to lead the
Anglican Church of Canada, say reports out of Toronto. The bishop, who
oversees Anglican churches in the Waterloo Region, is one of four
candidates on the slate to lead the troubled Anglican Church of Canada.
The church's 41 active bishops chose the nominees during a meeting in
Niagara Falls last week. Primate Andrew Hutchison, who was elected three
years ago, is retiring. Other nominees for the primate's post are: Rt.
Rev. George Bruce, a bishop in Eastern Ontario; Rt. Rev. Fred Hiltz,
Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; and Rt. Rev. Victoria
Matthews, Diocese of Edmonton. If Matthews is elected primate, she will
be the first woman to be primate of the Canadian church and only the
second woman to head a church in the Anglican Communion. On the spectrum
from theologically liberal to conservative, one theologian places Hiltz
and Howe into more liberal camps while Matthews and Bruce are more theo
 logically conservative.

The Anglican Church of Canada will decide at its General Synod in June
whether to allow dioceses to make their own decisions on the blessing of
same-sex unions. Dr Williams would not speculate on possible outcomes,
but commented: "I don't think it takes rocket science to work out that
that would pose some problems."

ON A LIGHTER NOTE, the Bishop of Rhode Island Geralyn Wolf, 60, got
married to Thomas Charles Bair, Jr. before a crowd of nearly 400 at her
diocese's Cathedral of St. John. "I think it was the most spirited
wedding I ever attended," said former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, a
long-time friend who had baptized Wolf on her conversion from Judaism to
Christianity 36 years ago and preached at her ordinations to deacon,
priest and bishop. It was a first for her, second for him. While there
are six other bishops of the Episcopal Church who are known to have
married after taking office, the others have been low-key, private
affairs. Bishop Wolf not only invited the entire House of Bishops but
she also invited every member of the diocese, making for what Bishop
Griswold referred to later as a more intense, enthusiastic celebration.
Bishop Wolf has been bishop of RI for 11 years

The latest count from NORTH FLORIDA reveals 21 Congregations with 39
Clergy have left the DIOCESE OF FLORIDA and TEC.

IN NEW ORLEANS, Fr. Jerry Kramer writes that his Church of the
Annunciation is in urgent needs of funds. "We're beyond running on
fumes, been bouncing checks to the contractors for weeks. The need here
is only getting greater and the interest around the nation is waning.
People either think we're all fixed or entirely hopeless. Neither
scenario could be further from the truth. We're fighting for our lives
daily if not hourly. The good news is that we're growing in faith and
numbers and all facets of ministry here are just getting stronger. As
we've said from day one, with no script to follow, '"We don't know what
we're doing...but we're getting better at it.;" I urge VOL readers to
open their checkbooks to this priest and his parish. Their website is:
www.annunciationinexile.homestead.com. For volunteers they have another
link: www.resurrectionhouseofneworleans.org. If you are weighing whether
to write out a check to VOL or the ministry of Fr. Kramer may I urge you
to support this dear brother and his vital work. He wrote me this week
with
this note: "Please pray for us. There were 25 crack heads living in the
abandoned house right across from our relief centre in the Lower 9th
Ward. They were throwing things at us regularly. The National Guard
came in last week and flushed them out. Our politicians are beyond
hopeless. But we persevere by grace."

FROM THE SUBLIME to the ridiculous, the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of
California, will celebrate Gay Pride Day by riding in a convertible with
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a token Anglican Nigerian gay man.

THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL task force of the TEC has prepared a study guide
to assist Episcopalians interested in commenting on the proposed
Anglican covenant. Comments must be sent to Council headquarters at the
Episcopal Church Center in New York City no later than June 4. The
six-page study guide, available on The Episcopal Church website or
through diocesan offices, presents the proposed covenant line-by-line,
along with a commentary on the proposed language. After the commentary,
one or more questions are offered. The Presiding Bishop will then
appoint a second Executive Council task force to compile the comments on
the proposed Anglican covenant and draft a response for Executive
Council to consider at its October meeting in Detroit.
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/CovenantStudyGuide_English.pdf
The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed the Covenant Design Group (CDG.)
Every Province (Church) of the Anglican Communion has been asked to
respond to this Draft by January 1, 2008. The Report of the Covenant
Design Group is in three sections: "The Report of the Covenant Design
Group", "An Introduction to a Draft Text for an Anglican Covenant", and
"An Anglican Covenant Draft".

FINALLY, Bishop John Shelby Spong took it on the chin this week in a
brilliantly written piece in National Review magazine which you can read
here or in today's digest http://tinyurl.com/3czhrv Towards the end,
commentator Jason Lee Steorts writes: "It is hard to see how the new
story can survive when the God at its center is nothing but an
overwrought sentimentality plummeting down an abyss. If that is all we
have left, Spong can keep his Christianity."

And to cap the week's TEC news, the HOB Task Force on Property Disputes
released its memorandum declaring once and for all that it is going to
be open season on fleeing parishes. The Task Force's report reveals a
non-Christian, morally bankrupt church with millions of dollars being
spent to retain empty buildings. David Booth Beers, Mrs. Schori's legal
Doberman, will rain down legal hell on anyone who tries to flee the
squid-like embrace of TEC. Watch for sparks to fly in the coming months
as the dreaded Sept. 30 deadline draws near.

CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM, a CD featuring sermons by TJ Johnson, Canon
Ellis Brust, Rev. David Rich, J.I. Packer and Rev. Ed Hird can be
purchased by sending an e-mail to: stuart@lightspeed.ca They are being
made available by Norlynn Audio Visual Services. Strongly recommended.

Among today's stories you can read what an orthodox West African Primate
had to say in response to an American liberal bishop's brush off after
the Primate refused to celebrate the Eucharist with Mrs. Schori in
Tanzania and was then uninvited to perform sacramentally and to preach
in the Diocese of Maryland.

CORRECTION: A reader from St. James Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City,
OK writes that St. James is still open for business despite a group of
parishioners who left to form St. James Anglican. "They did not cause
the demise of St. James Episcopal Church. Indeed, St. James Episcopal
Church is alive and well and growing also," he wrote.

IF YOU HAVEN'T visited VOL's website and seen its hundreds of new and
archived stories then take a moment to visit www.virtueonline.org. You
can read past digests you may have missed, catch up on the latest news,
join one of a multitude of forums, make a comment of your own at any of
the hundred or more stories that are just one click from reading. More
than 25,000 of you go daily to the website, making it the most widely
read orthodox Anglican Online News Service in the Anglican Communion.

If you would like to receive a FREE weekly digest of stories coming
directly into your e-mail then you can sign up by sending a note to
david@virtueonline.org.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE   TO SUPPORT this ministry with a tax-deductible
donation we would   be most grateful. VOL depends totally on its readers
to make this news   service available to readers in more than 48
countries. Please   be generous.

You can send a check by snail mail to:

VIRTUEONLINE
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West Chester, PA 19380

or you can make a donation through PAYPAL by clicking on
www.virtueonline.org and following the link.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

All blessings,

David W. Virtue DD

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:11:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: HOB TASK FORCE REVEALS STRATEGY TO RETAIN PROPERTIES, BLASTS
ORTHODOX

HOB TASK FORCE REVEALS STRATEGY TO RETAIN PROPERTIES, BLASTS ORTHODOX

Special Report

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/26/2007

Fleeing orthodox parishes from The Episcopal Church will be met with the
full weight of a multimillion dollar legal attack against them, a HOB
Task Force on Property Disputes which included eleven bishops and 19
lawyers with a well-funded strategy concluded.

The Memorandum, obtained by VirtueOnline, said TEC conservatives are
dealing with a well-thought out, well-organized, and well-funded
strategy designed to enable and justify the removal of assets from use
for the Church's mission and ministry in the world.

The Task Force concluded that there were two rules for determining
church property disputes in the U.S. which are determined under state
law rather than federal law - a deference to Hierarchical Authority Rule
and Neutral Principles of Law Rule, the latter has been most effective
in the State of California where a number of parishes have kept their
properties in legal disputes with the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The Task Force said that since TEC has been recognized by courts as a
hierarchical church, TEC's determinations should be dispositive in those
states which defer to denominational hierarchies. On the other hand, in
states that apply the neutral principles of law rule, a departing
congregation would still have to overcome the Canon 1.7.4 and II.6.4 of
the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church (2006), which
declare that all parish property is held in trust for both the relevant
diocese and TEC.

The Task Force of ultra-liberal bishops included Pennsylvania bishop,
Charles E. Bennison who is under ecclesiastical and civil indictment and
faces both church and civil court trials for fraud and the misuse of
millions of diocesan dollars.

The Task Force said that "the strategy at play must be revealed and
understood if we are to protect the faithful from having their places of
worship, and the assets accumulated by generations of Episcopalians,
removed from them and removed from their use in the mission of TEC."

At no point does the Task Force give any attention to what the Church
stands for and what it proclaims. They did not talk about Christ, his
gospel of redemption and there was absolutely no compassion for those
who did not share their understanding of the gospel, nor the immoral
implications of what they did say and the church's pursuit of a
pansexual agenda.

As a result millions of dollars will be wasted and even "victory" will
mean empty church buildings like St. James the Less in Philadelphia.

Their conclusions beg the question, protect what? The Episcopal Church
has shown itself to be morally and theologically bankrupt, unable to
affirm even the most basic doctrines of the Christian Faith (resolution
B001) and to cover its sins it has a non-Christian obsession with
property the report shows.
In their 8-page tirade against conservatives in the Episcopal Church the
liberal bishops and attorneys mention Bishops Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh)
and John-David Schofield (san Joaquin) as being among the culprits
fomenting dissension in the church, and they warn of dire consequences
for them and anyone who attempts to take properties out of TEC.

Their concern for properties completely overrides any mention of the
'faith once delivered to the saints'. There is no mention, by name, of
Jesus Christ or of His gospel they are supposed to be preaching and
proclaiming that saves souls from eternal damnation. These bishops and
their attorneys could not care less about anything that has to do with
using these churches to proclaim God's eternal Word, only that all 7,500
plus properties belong to the Episcopal Church.

Even if the churches are emptying faster than a riverboat grounded on a
sand bank, no matter, the church can be sold and the money used for the
Episcopal Church's new gospel - Millennium Development Goals - while
diminishing congregations quietly die off and go to Hell.

Bearing in mind that the average age of the average Episcopalian is 66
and the average size congregation is about 77, within a decade most of
them will be empty, as new younger generations of Episcopalians cannot
be found. Generations X and Y have no denominational loyalty, most have
no faith at all, and opening the churches up to more bizarre sexual
practices is laughably stupid if it wasn't so soul-damning. An x-rated
church is not nearly as interesting after all as an x-rated movie even
if all the clergy dress like mother. The seminaries are filled with
second-career wannabe clergy, usually middle-aged angry divorced women
and weak feminized men, hardly a draw card for predominantly middle
class couples the Episcopal Church has attracted in the past.

These bishops want to bring the full weight of their alleged authority
plus spend huge amounts of money from Trust Funds, Endowments and sold
off parishes, running into the millions (lawyers don't come cheap) in an
attempt to capture empty buildings with the only thing full being the
columbarium's in the church grave yards.

And for this report the Task Force of ultra-liberal bishops and
attorneys was allocated $100,000 by the Executive Council of the TEC
with another $25,000 from the Church Pension Group to prepare the report
- money that could have been more wisely spent on MDGs!

The Task Force accused those bishops and priests who wanted to remove
property from TEC of "creating confusion as to the nature of the
hierarchy of TEC by claiming that its authority is subservient to the
Anglican Communion. They hope to be able to argue that a departing
faction is recognized by a competing hierarchical authority within the
Anglican Communion. They either will urge the court to refrain from
choosing between competing hierarchies and picking winners and losers or
they will claim that they are acting under the authority of some other
body that is within the Anglican Communion as a higher authority to
TEC."

The only true "confusion" in the Church are liberal and revisionist
bishops who want to plant a new religion in the church that more
resembles Spong's 12 Theses than the Sermon on the Mount!

Conservatives want to retain their properties in order that the faith
might be preserved, not done away with!

Liberals want to change the Christian Faith for something that has
little or no connection to historic Christianity, say the Creed with
fingers crossed and spread a social gospel that has no ability to change
a single life!

The Task Force concluded its memorandum by saying that it found it
necessary to address much larger issues than mere property disputes.
"Experience has shown that, at the root of every property issue, there
is an issue of identity and integrity, and not merely an issue of
polity."

On this point the Task Force is correct. The issue of "identity" is to
ask what it means to be truly Anglican and in communion with other truly
like-minded Anglicans who share the same faith, and the issue of
"integrity" is believing in the same Gospel that St. Paul, St.
Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Wesley and Billy Graham have
preached and not in "another gospel" so roundly condemned by St. Paul in
his letter to the Galatians.

One knowledgeable source in Pennsylvania on reading the memorandum said,
"It's amazing because, after eleven bishops and nineteen volunteer
lawyers have done all the work evidenced by this document, they only can
come to such a pitifully weak conclusion."

"The most astonishing part of whatever strategy they may develop - the
inescapable inference is that that they care for money and property much
more than they do than keeping and ministering to their parishioners!
They reference St. John's Church in Versailles, Kentucky, from which
half the congregation left to form St. Andrew's Anglican Church to
follow their pastor, their purpose being to impugn him as a disloyal
person, as Bishop Charles Bennison has attempted to do to Fr. David
Moyer from the beginning, and showing no concern for the half that went
down the street to a new church."

"Not only that, but even focusing on their goal - the money - they lose
sight of the fact that ongoing giving of those who are leaving will
greatly outweigh over the long term the value of whatever property and
endowments they may be able to save after the extended litigation they
obviously expect!"

After reading the memo, the Rt. Rev. Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison (SC ret.)
had this to say: "These bishops have no faith so they invoke the canons
to create unity. They are desperately trying to maintain unity by
threats of extortion and claims to property."

END

------------------------------
Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:12:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: Williams Sends Ambiguous Signal On Homosexuality To Global
South Primates

WILLIAMS SENDS AMBIGUOUS SIGNAL ON HOMOSEXUALITY TO GLOBAL SOUTH
PRIMATES

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/25/2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has, once again, sent
mixed signals to his fellow Primates over remarks he made in Canada
recently concerning the Scriptural interpretation of biblical passages
regarding homosexual practice and truth.

Addressing divinity students in Toronto, Dr. Williams made four head
scratching, heavily nuanced observations that require delineation.

Firstly, he says Paul's letter to the Romans 1-2 was to critique the
self-righteous who judge others, a point that challenges the position of
persons today who judge those engaging in homosexual relations.

"It is precisely the same perversity that affects those who have
received the revelation of God and persist in self-seeking and
self-deceit," he wrote.

Secondly, it is a misuse of Rom 1:24-27 to use it as a "foundation for
identifying in others a level of sin that is not found in the chosen
community."

Thirdly, "Paul insists on shifting the focus away from the objects of
moral disapprobation in Chapter 1 to the reading/hearing subject who has
been up to this point happily identifying with Paul's castigation of
someone else."

Fourthly, Paul is not making a primary point about homosexuality but
about the delusions of the supposedly law-abiding, said Williams.

Dr. Williams also truncated the context of John 14:6 ("I am the Way and
the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me")
by suggesting that we can go into interfaith dialogue with the view that
salvation does not depend on explicit confession of Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Gagnon, America's foremost author, theologian and
interpreter of biblical sexuality, wrote a response to the Archbishop's
claim saying that the titular head of the Anglican Communion got it
wrong.

"With due respect to the Archbishop, Paul never argued that believers
should not judge sexual immorality committed by those inside the church.
To the contrary, Paul was emphatically not telling believers in Rome to
avoid passing judgment on persons who actively engage in sexual
immorality of an extreme sort, including homosexual practice. When Paul
next used the term "sexual impurity" (akatharsia) in his letter (6:19),
a term that he used elsewhere in Romans only in 1:24-27 to describe
homosexual practice, he did so in direct address to the Roman believers.
He reminded them that believers in Christ are no longer "slaves to
sexual impurity," for to continue in such behavior was to engage in acts
of which they should now be "ashamed" (echoing the shame language that
dominates Rom 1:24-27 regarding homosexual practice). Such acts, he
says, lead to death and the loss of eternal life (6:19-23; compare
1:32). Indeed, Paul's entire argument around the question "Why not sin?"
since w
 e are "under grace and not under the law" (6:15; cf. 6:1) culminates in
 8:12-14 with the response: If you continue to live in conformity to
 (the sinful desires operating in) the flesh you are going to die. But
 if by means of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you
 will live. For only those who are being led by the Spirit of God are
 children of God," said Gagnon.

"This quotation makes it clear, if it were not already, that mouthing a
few words of confession that Christ is Lord does not exempt Christians
from leading a life consonant with that confession, nor even from the
dire eternal consequences that would arise from failing to do so. For
Paul the outcome for a believer who lives under the primary sway of sin
in the flesh is no different from the outcome for an unbeliever who so
lives. Both alike face the prospect of exclusion from God's eternal
rule."

Williams has seriously misread Romans, said Gagnon. "I say this with all
due respect to the archbishop, who is a bright man and an able
theologian (although not a biblical scholar)."

Gagnon writes: "Indeed, nothing in the immediate context of Romans
1:24-27 suggests that Paul would have been opposed to believers making
the judgment that homosexual practice puts the offender at dire risk of
facing God's wrath, warning in the most earnest terms those who engage
in such practice, and insisting that a church puts its status as church
in jeopardy when it affirms or tolerates such immorality (this last
point, incidentally, is not limited to Paul in the New Testament; see,
for example, the risen Christ's warnings to the churches in Pergamum and
Thyatira in Revelation 2). For Rom 1:24-27 depicts homosexual practice
as a particularly egregious instance of "sexual uncleanness," grossly
"contrary to nature," and an "indecency." In fact, Paul treats
homosexual practice as analogous on the horizontal dimension of life to
the vertical offense of idolatry, since in both cases humans suppress
the truth about God and his will for our lives that ought to be
self-evident in
  creation structures still intact in nature (1:19-23, 25).

"Does Williams think that Paul would have chastised believers as
"self-righteous" for speaking vigorously against Christians who
worshipped gods other than the God of Jesus Christ? I would hope not
since Paul clearly regarded belief in Christ as absolutely antithetical
to idol worship. For example, he described the conversion of the
Thessalonians as a turning from idols to serve the living God (1 Thess
1:9-10). Moreover, he severely chastised the "strong" among the
Corinthian believers just for eating in an idol's temple, to say nothing
of worshipping an idol, because it could provoke God to jealousy and
wrath (1 Cor 10:14-22). Yet, if Williams would concur with this point,
then he would have to give up his point about Paul being opposed to
"judging" persons who engage in unrepentant homosexual practice. For
Paul's remarks in chap. 2, where Paul allegedly says, "don't judge"
(incidentally, he doesn't say this, as we shall see), as much follow the
indictment of idolatry as the
 y do the indictment of homosexual relations."

Gagnon's interpretation is also supported by Britain's foremost
evangelical preacher and biblical interpreter, the Rev. John R. W. Stott
who, in a booklet on biblical interpretation on Rom. 1:27-28 said this:
"Pro-gay theology argues that Paul was referring to unnatural homosexual
promiscuity in Romans and pederasty in the other two texts. However, the
clear interpretation is that Paul is referring to individuals whose
sexual behavior - i.e. homosexual behavior - contradicts God's created
order for sexual expression. Taken together, St. Paul's writings
repudiate homosexual behavior as a vice of the Gentiles in Romans, as a
bar to the Kingdom in Corinthians, and as an offense to be repudiated by
the moral law in I Timothy".

The pro-homosexual lobby often argues that the Scriptural prohibition
against homosexual behavior is based on exegetical proof-texting. There
are only seven texts, which directly refer to homosexuality. However,
"the negative prohibitions of homosexual practices in Scripture make
sense only in the light of its positive teaching in Genesis 1 and 2
about human sexuality and heterosexual marriage," writes Stott.

The Evangelical leader says that Scripture makes numerous fundamental
assertions about sexuality and marriage including the truth that
heterosexual gender is a divine creation, heterosexual marriage is a
divine institution, and, heterosexual fidelity is the divine intention.

Refuting the contemporary pro-gay argument that biblical texts
condemning homosexual behavior are culturally bound, Stott says modern
loving homosexual partnerships are incompatible with God's created order
in heterosexual monogamy. Since that order was established by creation,
not culture, its validity is both permanent and universal. There can be
no 'liberation' from God's created norms.

Stott goes to the heart of the matter when he writes that treating
homosexuals with rejection, hatred and discrimination is morally wrong.
We must distinguish between true discrimination and what is often
labeled as homophobia. "If ... the 'wrong' or 'injustice' complained of
is society's refusal to recognize homosexual partnerships as a
legitimate alternative to heterosexual marriages, then talk of 'justice'
is inappropriate, since human beings may not claim as a 'right' what God
has not given them."
A much-favored argument by Dr. Louie Crew is that the heart of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ says that God loves "absolutely everybody" and
accepts us just as we are. Thus, the Church must accept homosexuals as
they are and bless their loving relationships with one another.

Stott says this is false. He writes: "It is true that God accepts us
just as we are; there are no stipulations for receiving God's love.
However, God does not condone our continued sinning. God longs to
transform our lives, as God loves us too much to leave us the way we
are. Thus, "it is true that we must accept one another, but only as
fellow penitents and fellow pilgrims, not as fellow sinners who are
resolved to persist in our sinning."

"The testimony of Scripture and the refutation of contemporary pro-gay
arguments lead us to conclude that homosexual relationships deviate from
God's created intent for human sexuality."

The message then from Dr. Williams falls short. Writes Gagnon:
"Obviously, then, in Romans 1-2 Paul is not telling his readers to stop
passing judgment on severe and obvious cases of idolatry and sexual
immorality. For Paul states that idolatry and same-sex intercourse,
among other offenses, are already and in themselves manifestations of
God's wrath (not grace). The wrath appears initially in the form of God
stepping back and not restraining humans from engaging in
self-dishonoring behavior that arises from gratifying innate desires to
do what God strongly forbids. Such behavior degrades the human being who
has received the imprint of God's image. The continual heaping up of
such sins, Paul says, will ultimately lead to cataclysmic judgment on
the eschatological Day of Wrath (1:32; 2:3-9). Thus to accept homosexual
practice in the church would be to consign persons who engage in such
behavior to the ongoing wrath of God with the ultimate prospect of
exclusion from God's king
 dom (compare also 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19, 21; Eph 5:3-8). This is not
 grace but wrath. This is not love but hate. This is not the absence of
 judgment but the substitution of one's own verdict of acquittal for
 God's verdict of wrath."

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:13:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: West African Archbishop responds to Maryland Bishop's Brush
Off, Charges Racism

West African Archbishop responds to Maryland Bishop's Brush Off, Charges
Racism
"Homosexuality in my context would constitute a scandal and undermine
the mission of the Church in Africa," says Primate

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/24/2007
The Archbishop of West Africa, The Most Rev. Dr. Justice O. Akrofi, says
that for him to have taken Holy Communion with Mrs. Katharine Jefferts
Schori when the Primates met in Tanzania, would have constituted a
scandal and undermined the mission of the Church in Africa.

The African Primate was responding to the Rt. Rev. Robert Ihloff, Bishop
of Maryland's rescinding of an invitation to preach during Holy Week in
his diocese. Ihloff said that boycotting the Eucharist, along with seven
other Primates, was to use the Holy Sacrament of our Lord's Body and
Blood as a political tool.

When Ihloff heard that Akrofi and a number of other Primates had refused
to take Holy Communion with Mrs. Schori, he wrote to the African leader
and uninvited him to preach and preside at Eucharist during Holy Week in
his diocese. It was a resounding ecclesiastical slap in the face at his
now former friend, one which indicated the depth of animosity that now
exists between orthodox archbishops and bishops of the Global South and
Western liberal bishops, many of whom can no longer say the Nicene Creed
with a straight face. (See the rejection of General Convention
Resolution B001)

Ihloff withdrew the invitation to Akrofi in a letter to him on February
17 published on VOL http://tinyurl.com/2cmra3 The VOL story circulated
widely on the Internet, finally prompting a four-page response from the
African Primate.

In high tones, the African Prelate spoke of his sadness at Ihloff's
letter writing, "It makes me very sad reading to see that things have
come to this acrimonious end. May God purge any guile."

Akrofi then noted what he called the "modern development of the
blogs...that teach us what our clientele and co-workers are saying about
us and who says what."

Then Akrofi launched into Ihloff's specific accusations one of which
charged that Akrofi was "Un-Anglican".

"I reject this charge which should be consigned to the dustbin of
history. Anglicanism is in origin not a theological "revolt" with a
theological slogan like sola fidei (Luther), sola gratia (Westminster
Confession). The Anglican Articles of religion at best are a platform
around which Anglicanism was gathered."

Akrofi said that Anglicanism was essentially a liturgical renewal, hence
the prominence of the Prayer Book in the global Anglican expression.

The African Primate then launched into a spirited defense of the Via
Media and what he called key Anglican tenets, condemning modern
interpretations of the Via Media in the American Episcopal Church. "Via
Media (the middle way) whatever this means, affirming people across the
board has never meant the overthrow of the lessons, indeed demands of
Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Sacrament. Scripture does not encourage
me to take on board different sex orientation as acceptable. To accept
it as norm in my context, will be to constitute a scandal and an
undermining of the mission of the Church in Africa."

Then Akrofi ripped The Episcopal Church. "When I talk of the mission of
the church], I mean both extensive and intensive growth of the Church -
not just numbers and geographical spread - but also, and perhaps more
importantly, qualitative Christianity."

The African Primate tore into charges by Ihloff of "duplicity" and
"inconsistency" saying, that in the light of being un-Anglican and
lacking his interpretation of Via Media, "this reads like a case of
giving a dog a bad name so as to be able to hang it." Akrofi then went
on to assert that the issues now being fought at the "Primate's level"
were because decisions had been taken there which were unilaterally
varied.

Akrofi then blasted Ihloff over charges that he was "politicizing the
faith". "I must emphatically reject this allegation too. It is
interesting when my stance is easily labeled "conservative" verses
"progressive". Are these the only camps? I know it is not that: it is
fidelity to Scripture and tradition, and dialogue with contemporary
developments, holding firmly to the Anglican principle of the primacy
of Scripture."

The Primate said such popular slogans as conservative/liberal missed the
point, "the beam must fall on 'the Kingdom of God and His
Righteousness.'"

Akrofi then accused Ihloff of what amounted to little more than racism.
"Your point about politicization has also unfortunately touched a raw
nerve here, which crudely put is as follows. Typical big brother,
America attitude and style - because of your little contribution to our
life and mission, they (you) want us to sing their (your) tune and we
have no voice and attitude of our own. This is most unfortunate."

The African Primate then said Ihloff had forgotten what it means to be a
bishop and to lead the people. He condemned the bishop's language of
"servant leader" as "an unhelpful modeling of episcopacy."

"St. Augustine said one can lead either from the front or from behind.
While leading from in front may not be allowed to become a dictatorship
(as in the Medieval Church) neither may leading from behind be allowed
to become the leader being dragged by the nose by the people. The
essential role of the bishop (episcopos - shepherd) includes teaching
the true gospel; to animate the community of faith and through them,
society (mission) and to celebrate the mystery of faith and life."

Akrofi noted that his tiff with the American bishop also demonstrated
yet another expression of Caucasian negative treatment of Blacks coming
at a time when his own nation of Ghana was celebrating 50 years of
independence from colonialism and the bicentenary of the abolition of
the slave trade, and once again reminded him of the cruel treatment of
Africans as things rather than bearing the imago dei.
END

The following is the Letter from the Episcopal Bishop of Maryland to the
Anglican Archbishop of West Africa

The Most Reverend Justice O. Akrofi
Archbishop of West Africa and Bishop of Accra
Bishopscourt, P.O. Box GP 8
Accra, Ghana

February 17, 2007

Dear +Justice,

It is with sadness that I need to rescind my invitation to you to be
with us in late March into early April, 2007. Yesterday I learned you
were one of seven primates who have boycotted the Eucharist at the
Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, and +Peter Akinola's statement on
behalf of the seven of you is in all the newspapers. I have received a
number of emails from clergy in this Diocese expressing their
disapproval of your action. The Diocesan Council met today and agrees
that you cannot be welcomed in Maryland under the circumstances. For my
own part, I am disappointed you would use the Holy Sacrament of our
Lord's Body and Blood as a political tool-I had assumed you sacramental
theology was more thoroughly Anglican. Mostly I am sorry after so many
years to end our personal relationship on this note.

It is obvious to everyone here that it would now be completely
inappropriate for you to celebrate the Eucharist at our Cathedral on
Palm Sunday. Surely, many parishioners would protest you visit by not
receiving Communion from you. Since I do not allow such behavior in this
Diocese, I cannot encourage it by your presence. Clearly it would be
inappropriate for you to preach Tuesday in Holy Week to a combined group
of Lutheran and Episcopal clergy, since you do not even share Communion
with other Anglicans. Finally, it is sadly clear to Nancy and me that
your presence at my retirement celebration is out of order as well. I
give thanks for the eight years we have been in relationship; we have
many friends in Accra and in Ghana, and I am aware that there are a
number of them who will be shocked and grieved by your behavior. I have
always shared honestly with you (even though I have not felt in the past
two years you have been so honest in your sharing) and want to say we
have gre
 at affection for the +Justice we knew in those earlier years. Since
 becoming Archbishop, you have changed and I do not feel I know you
 anymore.

I am not at this time calling for an end of the Companion Diocese
relationship, although this development puts that relationship at risk.
I am content to let the Holy Spirit guide our Dioceses into appropriate
discernment (a discernment which will take place after my retirement and
without my input). As a Diocese, Maryland is committed, as am I, to the
continuation of projects already begun in Accra and relationships in
Accra which I and many others here cherish. Our special Lenten offerings
will go to assist children in your Diocese, I continue to be very
supportive of Ghanaian Mothers' Hope spearheaded by Debbi Frock, and we
celebrate our ongoing Cursillo commitments.

Let me assure you I am not angry as I write this but deeply
disappointed. The Diocese of Accra and its parishes remain on our
Diocesan Prayer list from week-to-week, and you will remain in my
prayers and those of our Diocesan family. Please continue to pray for
us. There was much I had hoped to show you and tell you in your upcoming
visit, much we had hoped to plan together, especially as it relates to
youth ministry, a high priority for both of our Dioceses. Perhaps some
of that can continue in some different form; personally, I am sad that I
will not be a part of it.

Your faithful brother in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ihloff
Bishop of Maryland
4/17/2007

The April 4, 2007 Letter from Archbishop Akrofi (West Africa) to Bishop
Ihloff can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/yoce7z

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:14:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: WESTERN MICHIGAN: Bishop Closes Cathedral, Third Church Closed
by Gepert

WESTERN MICHIGAN: Bishop Closes Cathedral, Third Church Closed by Gepert

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/25/2007

The Bishop of Western Michigan, Robert R. Gepert, has sent a "pastoral
letter" to the diocese explaining why he is being forced to sell the
Kalamazoo-based Cathedral of Christ the King, built by his predecessor
Charles E. Bennison.

In a convoluted explanation entitled "A Long Journey", Gepert explains
that when the Cathedral was founded, a Cathedral Corporation was formed
to be the responsible party for the care and maintenance of the building
and grounds. He said the Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the
Diocese of Western Michigan, had a $1.5 million fund to support the
operations of the Cathedral.

The cathedral was built in 1969 at a cost of over $2 million and has
steadily dropped in value. It is now on the market for $1,275,000, less
than half of what it cost to build. The organ and other significant
items will be sold separately. According to the Portage city assessor's
office, the cathedral would be a good location for a hotel.

The cost to run the cathedral has kept rising. At a Cathedral
Corporation meeting in 2002, Chancellor Ward Kuhn identified the
financial trouble the Corporation was experiencing and its future
potential direction. Renting, as a way of bolstering the financial
viability of the Cathedral, was considered. The Convention increased the
rent to $75,000 in 2003. In 2004, $80,000 was paid to the Cathedral
Corporation "to continue to assist with its finances," wrote Gepert.

"However, in 2005 the assessment was made that the Diocesan Budget could
no longer provide a higher level of support, and the rent was lowered to
$30,000, an amount determined to be consistent with the space usage of
the diocesan offices. When the diocesan offices were moved in 2006, the
Convention voted to no longer pay rent to the Cathedral."

Gepert said that Linda Puckett, a consultant from the Church Pension
Group, came to the diocese in April 2005 and recommended that the
diocesan headquarters move out of the Cathedral based on the
inappropriateness of the space for effective staff development and
community. The diocese moved to new office space in March 2006.

The bishop then said the Diocese had to review its spending priorities.
At a Special Diocesan Convention in April 2005, the diocese prioritized
its giving and said the first order of support was the national church
at the level of 10-15% with the second area of support being the paid
staff/volunteer commissions and committees,; and, lastly, support of the
Cathedral.

Money was quickly running out. The cathedral, built at over $2 million
by ultra-liberal Bishop Charles E. Bennison as a monument to his
enormous ego, could not be sustained. At the October 2005 Convention,
the diocese voted down additional funding for the Cathedral.

Breton Group did a fund raising feasibility study during the fall of
2006. No one interviewed for the study was willing to contribute time or
money for the long-term support of the Cathedral. The writing was on the
wall.

The dean of the soon to be closed cathedral in Kalamazoo, The Very Rev.
Cynthia L. Black, a reported lesbian, was president of the Episcopal
Women's Caucus from 1995-2000. She currently serves on the Executive
Council of the Episcopal Church and is a member of the Claiming the
Blessing steering committee. She was ordained to the priesthood by John
Shelby Spong. She serves on the board of Claiming the Blessing
http://www.claimingtheblessing.org/whoweare.html, and was given a DD by
Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

As one source noted, the kind of liberal, homosexual-friendly
congregation that the diocese tried to plant at the cathedral (and that
is typical of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan generally) has
not gone over very well in the conservative, predominantly Dutch
Reformed areas of western Michigan.

A VOL reader said that Gepert and the diocese face serious financial
shortfalls. "This is the third church this bishop has closed: The first
was St. Matthew's, Sparta (after they changed the name to Holy Spirit).
The church was sold and the dollars were used to set up a church plant
in Belmont. St Paul's in Grand Rapids, Michigan has also closed, and now
the Cathedral."

In a note of irony tinged with sarcasm, a priest in the diocese told VOL
that these are all signs of a re-invigorated, healthy and growing
diocese (a microcosm of TEC and its new religion). "Apparently +Gepert
was successful in closing parishes before he was elected here, so, he
was very well qualified for the episcopate, at least as it operates in
TEC of today," he wrote.

Apparently, members of the diocese did not see the cathedral as a
diocesan or parish asset, preferring to contribute their resources to
support their own individual parishes.

The castle-like structure was doomed from day one, according to sources.
Bishop Gepert, leader of the diocese's 14,000 members, isn't any more
theologically enlightened than Bennison. The diocese is going down hill,
financially. It has strapped finances and a dwindling church maintenance
fund. Last year, the diocese had to move its administrative offices out
of the building. Gepert did say a burial garden, containing the ashes of
former priests and members, will remain property of the diocese. We
remember the dead, even as the living, flee The Episcopal Church.

It's ironic; the late Bishop Charles E. Bennison, an imperious and
liberal bishop, is the father of the Rev. John Bennison who was recently
removed from his parish in California for committing sex offences with a
minor and for having sex with other women. His brother, Charles E.
Bennison, the Bishop of Pennsylvania, faces presentment charges, as well
as civil suits. The majority of that diocese wants him gone. Like his
father, who had a penchant for spending other peoples money, Bennison
(the son) has spent millions of Diocesan dollars to purchase a property
in Maryland even as parishes close, diocesan funds fall off, and as he,
himself, faces possible eviction.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:15:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: CONNECTICUT: Liberal Bishop to Attend Ordination at Renegade
Parish

CONNECTICUT: Liberal Bishop to Attend Ordination at Renegade Parish by
Orthodox Bishop

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/23/2007

In what can only be described as a bizarre turn of events, the
ultra-liberal Bishop of Connecticut, The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith has
written a letter to the clergy of his Diocese saying he will attend the
ordination of an evangelical priest at a conservative parish that will
be conducted by the orthodox Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt.
Rev. Henry Scriven.

The Rev. Bill Hesse, a graduate of Trinity School for Ministry will be
ordained to the priesthood in Bishop Seabury Church, Groton on May 12 -
an ordination that has the permission of Smith.

The priest of the parish is the Rev. Ron Gauss, a converted Jew. This
parish along with six other congregations has been on the outs with
Smith going back to 2005 when they wrote and informed Smith that while
he would be welcome in their parishes it would be inappropriate for him
to preach or to preside at the Eucharist.

Gauss wrote to VOL saying that that this was not necessarily good news
from Connecticut, rather only news. "In conversation with the Bishop
Smith he said he would only give permission for Bishop Scriven to come
to Connecticut if I allowed him to meet with the Parish then with the
Vestry before the Parish Meeting, then to be allowed his legal Canonical
visitation. I told the Bishop that we have never refused his visitation,
however I could not assure him of who would receive communion from him.
After I agreed to his requests, he gave permission for Bishop Scriven to
come and conduct the ordination. It was accommodation not
reconciliation."

The clergy and parishes, known as the "Connecticut Six", have been at
odds with their bishop for the past two years following his abandonment
of Anglican Church teachings. Citing Bishop Smith's repeated public
attacks against them, the churches stated that he has created an
"atmosphere of hostility and mistrust" that makes the sanctity and
dignity of a shared Eucharist impossible.

Recently Smith was cleared of presentment charges brought by the "Ct.
Six". He also triumphed in a lawsuit that was dismissed against him.

Bishop Scriven, in a phone call to VOL from Mombasa where he is
attending a meeting of the Kenyan House of Bishops, said he was
delighted with the generosity of Bishop Smith, and that he was happy to
work with the Rev. Bill Hesse in the furtherance of the gospel and in
the mission of the church. "I am happy for Bill and for his ministry in
the life of the diocese."

In 2005 the Rev. Mark Hansen became the first fall guy of orthodox
priests in the diocese, when Smith seized his parish, St. John's,
Bristol. Hansen was then inhibited and deposed. The other five parishes
have stayed largely below the radar screen preferring negotiation with
Smith rather than confrontation.

"I want you to know that the ordination will be celebrated with my
permission," Bishop Smith stated in an April 20 letter sent to clergy of
the diocese. "As I have in two other recent Connecticut ordinations by a
visiting bishop, I intend to participate and will share in the
ordaining.
"As with every ordination in the diocese, I encourage our clergy to be
present, and to hold Bill Hesse in your prayers as he approaches May
12," he wrote in a letter posted at the diocesan website.

Deacon Hesse, whose canonical residence remains with the Diocese of
Pittsburgh, graduated from Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pa.,
last June without an offer of employment from a parish. The Diocese of
Pittsburgh has a policy under which seminary graduates cannot be
ordained to the transitional Deaconate until they have first obtained a
parish appointment.

Last fall, Deacon Hesse began worshiping as a layperson at Bishop
Seabury and after learning about his seminary degree, Fr. Gauss
encouraged Deacon Hesse to help with hospital visitations and other lay
ministerial functions. Some months later, the parish extended an offer
of employment to Deacon Hesse and after that he was ordained to the
transitional diaconate. In order to be ordained to the priesthood,
Deacon Hesse needed the permission of Bishop Smith and a license to
officiate in the Diocese of Connecticut.

END

Here is Bishop Smith's Letter

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

April 20, 2007

To the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I am writing to you in advance of your receiving an invitation to the
Ordination to the Priesthood of the Rev. Bill Hesse, in Bishop Seabury
Church, Groton, on Saturday, May 12, by the Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven, who
will be acting for the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

First, I want you to know that the ordination will be celebrated with my
permission. As I have in two other recent Connecticut ordinations by a
visiting bishop, I intend to participate and will share in the
ordaining.

Also, on Trinity Sunday, June 3, I will make a canonical Episcopal
Visitation in Bishop Seabury Church. I will preside and preach as Bishop
of the Diocese at the regular services of the parish that morning.

To prepare for these events, members of the Vestry and I will meet on
Tuesday evening, April 24. On Thursday evening of the next week, May 2,
all members of Bishop Seabury Church have been invited to an open
meeting with me. Our time together will include worship and discussion
modeled on the two conversations I have had with the members of the
Church of Christ and the Epiphany, East Haven.

I am very grateful to the Youth Group of Saint Peter's Church, Hebron,
and to the parish of Christ Church,Tashua, for changing commitments we
had made, in order to make these arrangements possible.

As with every ordination in the Diocese, I encourage our clergy to be
present, and to hold Bill Hesse in your prayers as he approaches May 12.

These plans have come together over these past weeks in an atmosphere of
hope and respect. I am deeply heartened and grateful for the talks I
have had with Father Gauss and Deacon Hesse as we have prepared for the
four events. May the grace of Christ continue to flow abundantly. I ask
you to hold our whole diocese in your prayers as we enter and explore a
new day.

Yours in Christ,

The Right Reverend Andrew D. Smith
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

------------------------------

Date:      Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:16:36 -0400
From:      David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject:   NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate
Conduct"   Charges

NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate Conduct"
Charges

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
4/23/2007

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, priest of the breakaway congregation of St.
James Newport Beach has resigned from his duties as priest of the parish
over allegations of "inappropriate conduct" toward a female parishioner.

A terse three paragraph statement issued by the church, said The Rev.
Praveen Bunyan has resigned his position as rector of St. James Anglican
Church, having confessed to the inappropriate behavior. The vestry,
wardens and bishop were informed of the inappropriate conduct, promptly
investigated, and then accepted the resignation last week.

The 1,200 member congregation was informed at Sunday services yesterday.

Pastoral duties are now being provided by the church's Rector Emeritus,
the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, and by its Associate Rector, the Rev.
Richard Menees.

Anderson told VOL; "I will commute one or two Sundays a month to provide
continuity and stability."

St. James Church in Newport Beach is one of three churches, (a fourth,
St. Luke's later departed) that left the Episcopal Church in August 2004
because of differences over homosexuality and the rejection of the
authority of Holy Scripture. The parishes placed themselves under the
ecclesiastical authority of The Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of
the Province of Uganda who placed them immediately with The Rt. Rev.
Evans M. Kisekka, Bishop of Luweero.

At that time Fr. Bunyan exhorted his parishioners to "stand by the word
of God that is never changing."

END

*****

NEWPORT BEACH: Once-rebel Newport priest quits as rector
Episcopal cleric who was part of opposition to gay unions resigns,
reportedly after a woman complained of unwanted attention from him.

By H.G. Reza
Times Staff Writer
http://tinyurl.com/2zacr7
April 26, 2007

A conservative Episcopal priest who helped lead a 2004 revolt against
the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles over homosexuality has resigned as
rector of a Newport Beach church after a female parishioner complained
about unwanted attention from the married clergyman.

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, who ministered at St. James Church, resigned
last week after confessing to "inappropriate conduct" with the woman,
said church spokeswoman Karen Bro. Church officials declined to identify
the woman, but another priest said there was no sexual contact involved.

"He was taken by her, but thank goodness it didn't go any further than
that," said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson.

Bunyan, 44, did not return telephone messages left at his Newport Beach
home. The native of India took over the 1,200-member congregation in
January 2003, coming from a church in Aurora, Colo. His wife is also an
Episcopal priest.

A year into his ministry at St. James, Bunyan joined priests from two
other conservative Southern California parishes who cut ties with the
Episcopal Church over issues of homosexuality and differences in its
scriptural message. The three churches placed themselves under the
jurisdiction of a Ugandan bishop whose conservative views jibed with the
religious views of Bunyan and the other priests.

The Episcopal Church, which is the American branch of the Anglican
Communion, consecrated its first gay bishop in 2003, and other bishops
began authorizing same-sex marriages. This caused a rift that has split
the U.S. church between liberals and conservatives. In February,
Anglican leaders gave the U.S. church until Sept. 30 to stop sanctioning
same-sex unions and consecrating gay bishops.

Bunyan opposes gay marriage and in a 2004 interview with The Times said
the alternative to heterosexual marriage was celibacy. But he said the
split with the Los Angeles diocese was not just over homosexuality. He
said more liberal bishops did not consider Jesus to be God and did not
believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Diocesan Bishop J. Jon
Bruno, who heads the six-county Los Angeles diocese, has said that is
not an accurate portrayal of his theology.

On Wednesday, Anderson said he was saddened by Bunyan's predicament.
Anderson was rector at St. James for 16 years and is now president of
the Atlanta-based American Anglican Council. The council has assisted
conservative parishes that want to leave the church.

Anderson said the unidentified woman brought her complaint about Bunyan
to a member of the church's vestry, its governing board, around Easter.

"She said she didn't appreciate the attention he was giving her and said
it was wrong. It wasn't sexual, but it clearly crossed the boundary,"
Anderson said. "He confessed and asked for forgiveness."

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:17:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: BOSTON, MA: Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights

BOSTON, MA: Episcopal leader holds firm on gay rights
Says N.H. bishop's election a blessing

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
http://tinyurl.com/3dhbr5
April 25, 2007

Saying "I don't believe that there   is any will in this church to move
backward," the top official of the   Episcopal Church USA said yesterday
that the election of an openly gay   bishop in New Hampshire has been "a
great blessing" despite triggering   intense controversy and talk of
possible schism.

In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine
Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery
and women's rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation
for the Episcopal Church "to keep questions of human sexuality in
conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the
rest of the world."

Jefferts Schori said that it could take 50 years for the debate over
homosexuality to be resolved, but that she believes it will happen. She
said she hopes that the Anglican Communion, an umbrella organization
including the Episcopal Church and the Church of England, will stay
together.

"Where the protesters are, in some parts of Africa or in other parts of
the Anglican Communion today, is where this church and this society we
live in was 50 years ago, and for us to assume that people can move that
distance in a year or in a relatively instantaneous manner is perhaps
faithless," she said. "That kind of movement and development has taken
us a good deal of pain and energy over 40 or 50 years, and I think we
have to make some space so that others can make that journey as well."

Jefferts Schori, a 53-year-old oceanographer who was ordained an
Episcopal priest just 13 years ago, has been attempting to guide the 2.4
million member Episcopal Church through controversy since she was
elected the 26th presiding bishop last summer, three years after the
Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire triggered the controversy by choosing
the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a long-term partnered
relationship, as its next bishop.

The Anglican Communion has been embroiled in a debate about whether and
how to punish the American church for its consent to Robinson's
election, which some Anglican primates view as a violation of biblical
teachings about sexuality.

"This is an issue for some clergy and a handful of bishops in our own
church, and for a handful of primates across the communion, who believe
that this issue is of sufficient importance to chuck us out, but the
vast majority of people and clergy in this church, and I would believe
across the communion, think that our common mission is of far higher
importance," Jefferts Schori said. "If we focus on the mission we share,
we're going to figure out how to get along together, even if we disagree
about some things that generate a good deal more heat than light."

Jefferts Schori was in Massachusetts to visit with local Episcopal
clergy, who are meeting in Brewster. She spoke to the Globe yesterday
morning in the office of Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, leader of the Diocese of
Massachusetts, at the diocesan headquarters in downtown Boston.

"This is a ministry filled with joy and challenge, and for somebody who
thinks that the cardinal sin is boredom, it's feeling like a good fit,"
she said of her new role. "Anglicans have always said that our role is
to live in tension and to live in the midst of tension, and, frankly,
the only thing that doesn't exhibit tension is dead."

Asked about her message to those who are critical of the direction of
the Episcopal Church, she said: "If we are not willing to reexamine our
assumptions about who is in and who is out, I don't think we are
adequately faithful in our spiritual journey. We may come to different
conclusions about who is fit for inclusion in the community, but I don't
think it excuses us from a willingness to wrestle with that question."

Michael Paulson can be reached at mpaulson@globe.com

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:18:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: VIRGINIA BEACH: Episcopal Bishop says few leaving over same-sex
issues
VIRGINIA BEACH: Episcopal Bishop says few leaving over same-sex issues

By Steven G. Vegh
The Virginian-Pilot
http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=123562&ran=89412
April 26, 2007

VIRGINIA BEACH - The Episcopal Church's presiding bishop on Wednesday
downplayed the notion of a denominational schism over homosexuality,
saying only a tiny fraction of congregations have moved to break away.

In an interview, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the
congregations had "gotten a lot of attention and been very noisy," but
accounted for less than 1 percent of the country's total number of
parishes, which she put at 7,500.

"The Episcopal Church is alive and well," she said. Jefferts Schori was
in Virginia Beach on Wednesday to speak at the Episcopal Communicators
annual meeting at The Cavalier Hotel.

In the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, which encompasses Hampton
Roads, a couple of the approximately 120 parishes have left the
denomination.

She was elected last year as the first female to head the 2.4
million-member Episcopal Church. The denomination is part of the 77
million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.

Episcopal conservatives, as well as some in the wider Anglican
Communion, were outraged in 2003 when the denomination endorsed the
ordination of a non celibate gay man as a bishop in New Hampshire.

Jefferts Schori, who voted for Gene Robinson's ordination, likened the
ongoing debate to past controversies over the ordination of women and
changes to the Episcopal hymnal and prayer book.

What is different, she said, are the global dimensions of the debate
over gay ordination and church blessing of same-sex unions.

She credited the spread to unhappy Episcopal conservatives who contacted
"other parts of the Communion that probably wouldn't have paid nearly as
much attention, or been so concerned, without some encouragement."

She said research indicated 15 percent of Episcopalians were unhappy
with the denomination's stance on gay issues, while 15 percent want the
church to liberalize more quickly.

"The bulk of the church is really committed to including people of all
sexual orientations," she said.

Many conservative Episcopalians say the controversy reflects a wider
debate within Anglicanism over how literally the Bible should be
interpreted. But Jefferts Shori said Anglicans have long avoided basing
moral decisions only on the Bible.
Jefferts Shori said the controversy had created "a little bit of
turmoil" in a couple Southern Virginia parishes but had no major impact
on the diocese.

One local parish, Church of the Messiah in Chesapeake, voted last year
to leave the denomination. It still claims ownership of its property and
grounds, though the dioces e calls itself the legal owner.

At Galilee Church in Virginia Beach, traditionalists split away from the
parish and the Episcopal Church this spring to form Trinity Church.

Galilee remains in the Southern Virginia diocese, but is hardly
peaceful: three associate staff ministers recently left. One of them,
the Rev. David Ball, said this week that none of the three would comment
on their departure.

The Rev. Coleman Tyler, Galilee's senior minister and a critic of the
denomination, could not be reached Wednesday.

The Southern Virginia diocese is led by an interim bishop pending the
election in May 2008 of a permanent bishop. The diocese has about 35,000
members spread across the southern part of the state.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:19:36 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LOUISIANA: Anglican leaders set to converge on New Orleans

LOUISIANA: Anglican leaders set to converge on New Orleans
September gathering to tackle growing rift

By Bruce Nolan Staff writer
The Times-Picayune
http://tinyurl.com/yplw3q
April 20, 2007

The head of the worldwide Anglican church will meet with Episcopal
bishops from across the country in New Orleans this fall, in an effort
to keep the 77 million-member Anglican Communion from breaking apart
over opposing views of homosexuality.

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, announced
the meeting during a visit with Canadian bishops in Toronto this week.
He will be accompanied on his visit by key archbishops, or "primates,"
from conservative overseas Anglican churches, where pressure has been
steadily building to eject American Episcopalians from the global
confederation of churches.

The meetings will be Sept. 20-25.
The event will briefly position the Crescent City at the center of the
Anglican universe, but for an unlikely reason.

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops previously scheduled a meeting
here to see its church-related hurricane relief work. That will come
precisely as Anglican leaders worldwide demand an answer from Americans
on contentious questions of homosexuality dividing the worldwide church.

Williams, who has struggled to keep opposing sides together, is head of
the Church of England and the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion,
the world's third-largest church, behind the Catholic and Orthodox
churches. Yet his New Orleans visit might not become a high-profile
celebration marked by civic receptions and mass public events, one
church official said.

That's at least partly because Williams is fully occupied trying to
steer the Anglican Communion through one of the most perilous moments in
its more-than-450-year history.

The flash point nominally is the church's teaching on homosexuality:
whether the Anglican world can live with American Episcopalians'
blessing same-sex unions and ordaining partnered gay bishops.

More deeply, it is how the church uses the guides of Scripture,
tradition and reason to make all moral judgments.

On one side are 2.3 million overwhelmingly liberal Episcopalians who
recently elected as their presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori,
not only the global communion's first woman primate, but one who, in her
former Nevada diocese, supported same-sex unions and the ordination of
the Rev. Gene Robinson as the church's first partnered gay bishop.

Opposed are conservative Anglicans in the Southern Hemisphere,
especially Africa and Asia, who take a traditional Scriptural view of
homosexuality.

American Episcopalians have the wealth, sending tens of millions of
dollars to Anglican churches overseas. But conservatives have the
numbers. Nigeria alone, headed by the outspoken conservative Archbishop
Peter Akinola, has 17 million Anglicans -- seven times the United States
membership.

In February, Anglican primates from around the world met in Tanzania and
issued the American church an ultimatum: Stop authorizing same-sex
unions and stop ordaining partnered gay bishops. They gave the Americans
a Sept. 30 deadline, giving the New Orleans meeting an unexpected
prominence.

In March, U.S. bishops meeting outside Houston rejected the ultimatum,
but they begged Williams for the face-to-face meeting he will grant in
New Orleans.

Like Williams, Bishop Charles Jenkins of the Diocese of Louisiana has
sought to keep disaffected conservative Episcopalians from walking out
of the American church, but since Katrina, he has been occupied with
other issues, including raising money and organizing local
church-related relief work.

He said New Orleans' needs were much on his mind as he thought about
Williams' visit.

"I hope this will be an opportunity for him to visit and see and bless
the work of Episcopal Relief and Development in New Orleans," Jenkins
said.

"It's when we're involved in this kind of work that some issues that so
divide us take on their proper perspective. I think one of the reasons
we're holding together here in the Diocese of Louisiana is that we have
a relief and development focus, and not on ourselves or others."

Jenkins said the meeting might bring 500 to 600 visitors to New Orleans.
About 100 would be bishops, and the rest staff, said the Rev. Jan
Nunley, a church spokeswoman.

Jenkins said he has asked each bishop to come with a gift of $10,000 to
be split between the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Louisiana's share would help support a post-Katrina Episcopalian church
that relief workers founded in the Lower 9th Ward, he said.

---Bruce Nolan can be reached at bnolan@timespicayune.com or (504)
826-3344

------------------------------

Date:      Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:20:37 -0400
From:      David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject:   VIRGINIA: Breakaway Anglicans Ask Court to Dismiss TEC Church's
Property   Suit

VIRGINIA: Breakaway Anglicans Ask Court to Dismiss Episcopal Church's
Property Suit

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070420/26991.htm
April 20 2007

 A month after calling for dismissal of the state diocese's lawsuit over
 property rights, breakaway Anglican churches filed their responses to
 the national church's suit asking the court for its dismissal.

The Diocese of Virginia had filed lawsuit earlier this year to secure
the properties of 11 Anglican churches - including two of the largest in
the state - which voted to break from the diocese and the Episcopal
Church. The national body joined the diocese in the property battle when
it filed a complaint in February.
The breakaway churches and all of the individually-named defendants
asked the court on Wednesday to dismiss the Episcopal Church's suit,
which they have called "un-Christian," for failure to state any claims
on which relief could be granted.

In their filed response, the Anglican churches said the national body
cannot base any claim to the churches' property on an assertion of
trust-based rights. Virginia law does not recognize either expressed or
implied denominational trusts in their property, the response noted.

"As we file our responses to The Episcopal Church's lawsuit, it is
important to keep in mind that the eleven churches have chosen to remain
with the worldwide Anglican Communion, and hold fast to their faith,"
said Mary McReynolds, chancellor for the Anglican District of Virginia,
in a released statement. "While confident in our legal position and
despite The Episcopal Church's repeated refusal to stay all litigation,
our churches still remain willing to resolve amicably their differences
with The Episcopal Church. In the meantime, the churches are moving
forward with their mission and will continue to be part of the worldwide
Anglican Communion."

After overwhelming votes last December to leave the American church body
due to its departure from Anglican tradition and scriptural authority,
the churches joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America - a
missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria.

Anglican leaders   around the world had recently asked parties in the
United States to   back away from property litigation, but lawyers for the
Episcopal Church   said the Anglican Communion "has no legal authority
over the affairs   of its members."

Stating that there was no basis at that time late February to put the
litigation on hold, the attorneys added that suspension of litigation
would not be appropriate.

In the complaint, the Episcopal Church argues that Virginia canons say a
parish's property is "held by and for the mission of the Church."

Breakaway churches filed papers responding to the Diocese in March and
some have also separately reported their December votes to comply with
the requirements of Virginia law, which recognizes the right of the
congregations to keep their property when separating from a divided
denomination or diocese.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:21:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: KENTUCKY: Louisville sues to block Episcopal Church's claim to
land

KENTUCKY: Louisville sues to block Episcopal Church's claim to land
Project planned at River Road site

By Sheldon S. Shafer
sshafer@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal
April 19, 2007

Louisville has filed suit in an attempt to block any claim by the
Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky to two small parcels at the site of the
$200 million RiverPark Place development.

The church's claim of an ownership interest in the two tracts along
River Road east of downtown won't disrupt the residential and office
project, Mike Miller, chief financial officer of The Poe Cos., the
developer, said yesterday. "We are proceeding with construction."

The tracts in question involve about two acres.

The plans show a five-story building with 64 residences to be built on
one of the two disputed tracts. The second tract lies in a planned
second phase of the development, but the state several years ago widened
River Road through a portion of the second parcel without any question
about ownership.

The family of S. Thruston Ballard in 1919 and 1925 donated the two
parcels to the city as part of Thruston Park, with the stipulation that,
if the land ceased to be used as a park, playground or for recreation,
the land would revert to the Episcopal diocese.

Under an agreement with Poe, the city promised to provide the land for
RiverPark Place.

But negotiations between the city and diocese on what compensation, if
any, the church should receive broke off last week, said Chris Poynter,
a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Abramson.

When the talks failed, the city filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit
Court seeking clear title to the two parcels and a ruling that the
diocese had no claim to them.

"We will not discuss what was offered" to the diocese, Poynter said.
"The important thing is that they are two small parcels" in a 38-acre
area targeted for development and that the dispute "will not affect the
project."

The city contends in the suit that any claim the diocese might have to
the land lapsed long ago and that any such property rights can't endure
indefinitely.

The suit notes that the land is prone to flooding and that other
property at RiverPark Place has been designated as open space or for
public use.

The Right Rev. Edwin Gulick, Episcopal bishop of Kentucky, couldn't be
reached for comment yesterday. But the diocese released a statement
quoting Gulick as saying that "our parishes have unmet needs which the
Ballards' gift could help serve. We are very disappointed that the city"
has resorted to filing the lawsuit.

Don Cox, an attorney representing the diocese, said that there is no
statute of limitations on such property rights. He said that under state
law, cities can't convey public park land to a developer for private
use. He said the church wants a ruling that it owns the land. If that is
the case, the diocese would be willing to discuss selling it to the city
for a fair price, Cox said.

Poe officials said yesterday that they expect the first units at
RiverPark Place to be ready for occupancy early next year.

Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:22:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: DALLAS: Parish leaders plan departure from diocese

DALLAS: Parish leaders plan departure from diocese

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
April 20, 2007

 The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas announced April 19 that priest and lay
 leaders of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Dallas, Texas,
 have decided to leave the Episcopal Church.

"Any separation of brothers and sisters in Christ is painful in its own
right," Dallas Bishop James Stanton said in a news release issued late
in the day. "I am saddened that the leadership of Resurrection has
chosen to walk apart from the diocese; however, the ministry of Church
of the Resurrection will continue."

The release said that the majority of the congregation, which has
approximately 160 people attending Sunday services, has voted to follow
the Rev. Donald R. McLane and form a non-Episcopal congregation
affiliated with the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) elsewhere in the
Dallas area. The departing members and clergy will vacate the church's
buildings by May 31, according to the release.

The parish's website lists a new mailing address of a Post Office box in
Garland, Texas, a northeastern suburb of Dallas. The website contains no
information about the departure.

In a final meeting with the bishop and Standing Committee, McLane said
that he felt it was necessary to leave the Episcopal Church, according
to the news release, but added he "had no quarrel with Bishop Stanton."

According to the parish profile, McLane joined Resurrection in January
2003 as an associate priest and became Priest in Charge Under Special
Circumstances in July 2003 when the rector of two years, the Rev.
Michael McClenaghan, accepted a call to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in
Modesto, California in the Diocese of San Joaquin. McLane became
Resurrection's rector in April 2004.

During the search that brought McClenaghan to Resurrection, the parish's
building and sanctuary were destroyed in a still-unsolved arson fire.
The congregation opened a new 600-seat sanctuary in March 2003.

The diocesan news release said that the Church of the Resurrection has
played an important role in the diocese for the past 40 years. It was a
leading parish nationally in the charismatic renewal movement in the
Episcopal Church in the 1970s and 1980s. At one point, Resurrection had
an attendance of more than 1,500 persons on Sundays. In the past decade,
the parish has suffered substantial declines in attendance, membership,
and finances.

In 2005, the last year for which statistics are available on the
Episcopal Church's congregational development website, Resurrection
reported approximately 610 baptized members, 210 average Sunday
attendance and about $515,000 in plate and pledge.

Stanton appointed the Rev. Canon Victoria Heard, a diocesan staff member
in charge of church planting, as priest-in-charge of Resurrection. In
addition to her pastoral duties with the remaining congregants, Heard
will "direct the process of recasting the ministry of Church of the
Resurrection toward the future," the release said. "The area is
changing and we see great mission opportunity in this multi-cultural
community," she said in the release. "I look forward to working and
worshipping with those who remain in Church of the Resurrection to shape
a strong and vibrant future."

That future includes starting a Spanish-speaking service later this year
at the church, according to the release.

Resurrection is the second major Dallas congregation in recent months
where the majority of its members and clergy have departed and joined
the AMIA, which describes itself as a "missionary outreach of the
Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda." In September, the rector
and vestry of Christ Church in Plano announced that the parish would pay
the Diocese of Dallas $1.2 million for its title to the parish property,
take total responsibility for its $6.8 million in debt and disassociate
themselves from the Episcopal Church.

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the
Episcopal News Service.

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:23:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LAMPASAS, TX: Episcopal Rector charged with sexual assault
LAMPASAS, TX: Episcopal Rector charged with sexual assault

By Kristine Favreau Killeen
Daily Herald
http://www.kdhnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=15279
April 11, 2007

A preliminary trial date of May 11 has been set for a Lampasas rector
charged with sexually assaulting a child.

According to Lampasas District Clerk Terri Cox, the Rev. Jim Carlton
Wooldridge, 61, has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and a
charge of indecency with a child who was 15 years old at the time of the
alleged event. Wooldridge was indicted on March 14.

Cox said arraignment for Wooldridge has been waived. The rector was
released on an $8,500 bond after his arrest on Jan. 11.


Also arrested in connection with the allegations was John Christian
"J.C." Wood, 20, who was charged with sexual assault, indecency with a
child and unlawful possession of a firearm. Wood's total bond was set at
$13,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 20.

The male victim, now 16 years old, and his lawyer, filed the charges
with the Lampasas Police Department on Dec. 1, 2006, according to the
arrest affidavit that detailed how Wooldridge and Wood allegedly
sexually exploited the boy.

Wooldridge, of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Lampasas, was placed on
administrative leave from the church after turning himself into the
Lampasas County Sheriff's Department. He had pastored the 131-year-old
Lampasas church since 1994.

"The Diocese of Texas learned that charges of sexual misconduct have
been made against Jim Wooldridge, rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church
in Lampasas," said spokeswoman Carol E. Barnwell. "Wooldridge remains on
administrative leave and both the leadership of St. Mary's and the
Diocese of Texas are cooperating fully with authorities."

The Lampasas Police Department was assisted in the investigation by the
Texas Rangers.

Contact Kristine Favreau atfavreauc@kdhnews.com or call 547-3535

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:24:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: ATLANTA: Holy Innocents' says priest misused $100,000

ATLANTA: Holy Innocents' says priest misused $100,000

By CYNTHIA DANIELS & JENNIFER BRETT
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/04/19/0420met
innocents.html
4/20/07

There were Sundays when the Rev. David A. Galloway needed no notes to
deliver his sermon at Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church. Instead, former
congregants recall, his command of the Bible would flow easily into an
extemporaneous message.

"He was a real scholar," said Jack Adams, a member since 1958.

What congregants may not have not known is that Galloway, the head of
one of Atlanta's oldest Episcopal churches, misused more than $100,000
of parish funds, according to the church.

His preaching career may be over, but the church does not plan legal
action.

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta found that Galloway, 52, abused funds
that were part of his discretionary account at Holy Innocents' Episcopal
Church in Sandy Springs, said the Rev. J. Neil Alexander, bishop of the
Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

An internal church investigation found "some legitimate expenses and
others that were highly questionable," Alexander said. "Through normal
processes of the church, we have addressed that on all levels and taken
actions.

"The parish is moving on with its life in ministry, the priest is moving
on with his life," Alexander said.

"As far as the Diocese of Atlanta is concerned, the matter is closed."

Alexander declined to comment further, citing a confidentiality
agreement between the church and Galloway.

Efforts to reach Galloway, who had served the church since 2002 and
lives in Sandy Springs, were unsuccessful Thursday evening.

Alexander said the church plans no legal action against Galloway.
Instead, he said, the Diocese sought an "ecclesiastical remedy."

"They inhibited him, which means he can't be a priest in any parish in
the U.S., period," said Adams. "That's a pretty big blow."

Through a spokesman, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he
was unaware of the particulars of the matter.

Generally speaking, Howard said, "as long as there is probable cause,
the district attorney has the authority to initiate an investigation
into alleged or suspected wrongdoing."

In addition to the 2,500-member church, Holy Innocents' is home to the
fifth-largest private school in Atlanta, Holy Innocents' Episcopal
School. The 46-acre site includes a new middle school, a fine arts
building and an athletics complex for the school's 1,390 students.

In February, after questions arose about the use of his account,
Episcopal officials removed Galloway from his duties and began an
internal audit looking at his fiscal transactions over a five-year
period.

The pastor's discretionary fund, a part of the church's budget, is
designed to provide money that a priest can use for people in need.
Often, it's supplemented by parishioners' donations.

The news, released to the media on Thursday, has left many in the flock
stunned, angry - and wanting answers.

During a meeting last week at which church officials discussed the audit
with members, many had to be turned away because the meeting site was
filled to capacity, Adams said.

Carmen Noel has been a member for 29 years.

"I would never in a million years think he would've done anything
dishonest," she said. "I was floored when I found out. And the amount-
we heard $82,000, and then it kept going and going.

"And then, what got me was the fact he couldn't account for it- he just
said 'I don't know what happened to it'- that was not good enough."

Bill Grove is about as dedicated as a church member can be. He's been
showing up faithfully at Holy Innocents' for about 50 years. The
situation at his longtime church has left him disappointed.

"If I did this kind of thing in the corporate world, I would be turned
over to the legal system," Grove said.

Church member Carolyn Yost, who remembers Galloway preaching without
notes, says the matter won't drive her from the church.

"It's a wonderful place to worship," she said.

"They're not going to lose me. It was a sad day when this happened, but
they will be strong enough to overcome this."

She's proud of the church's mission work in Haiti and programs like the
youth ministry and vacation Bible school.

"There's activities for everyone," she said. "Everything looks very
positive."

END

------------------------------
Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:25:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: TUCSON, AZ: 'Lord' is fading at some churches

TUCSON, AZ: 'Lord' is fading at some churches

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
http://www.azstarnet.com/dailystar/179570
4/22/2007

God has no gender. And the Lord? There's not much Lord in this church
service.

At Tucson's largest Episcopal church, St. Philip's in the Hills, the
creators of an alternative worship service called Come & See are bucking
tradition by rewriting what have become prescribed ways of worship.

For the faithful, that means God isn't referred to as "him," and
references to "the Lord" are rare. "Lord" has become a loaded word
conveying hierarchical power over things, "which in what we have
recorded in our sacred texts, is not who Jesus understood himself to
be," St. Philip's associate rector Susan Anderson-Smith said.

"The way our service reads, the theology is that God is love, period,"
St. Philip's deacon Thomas Lindell added. "Our service has done
everything it can to get rid of power imagery. We do not pray as though
we expect the big guy in the sky to come and fix everything."

St. Philip's isn't the only local church to re-examine its language.
Other local religious leaders already are eschewing the use of "Lord"
for similar reasons.

First Congregational United Church of Christ in Midtown even has a
different name for The Lord's Prayer. They call it "The Prayer of Our
Creator." "We do still use the word 'Lord' on occasion, but we are
suspicious of it," First Congregational pastor Briget Nicholson said.
"Inclusive language is important. Our United Church of Christ hymnal
does have hymns that will say 'Father' and 'God.' but the next verse
will always then say 'Mother' and 'God.' It's gender-balanced."

In the strictest Christian sense, "Lord" comes from the Greek word
kyrios, which Greek culture in the first century understood in much
different ways, Anderson-Smith said. Evidence suggests the word was used
in talking about Jesus as the fullest embodied revelation of God, but it
had a lot less to do with hierarchy than what the word means now, she
said. "Jesus was for an egalitarian community. He did not have room for
titles or status. And it is recorded that many of the disciples called
him Lord.

But they had a different idea about worshipping him," she said. "Jesus
was a rabbi and teacher. It was a relationship of mentoring, looking up
to him for that kind of companionship." Grace St. Paul's Episcopal
Church in Midtown has kept references to "Lord" minimal for years.
Rector Gordon McBride said he personally - in writing, preaching and
spontaneous prayer - has not used the word in more than a decade. He
associates the word with a God that is powerful, separate, and perhaps
brooding over creation. References to "Lord" became prevalent in
singable, rhymed versions of the Psalms translated into English during
the 16th century by Myles Coverdale, McBride said.

The changes became significant to the Episcopal Church and its larger
Anglican Communion because those are the Psalms in the church's Book of
Common Prayer. Much of the liturgy is based on the Psalms, a collection
of 150 self-contained poems and prayers in the Old Testament.

The most recent version of the Book of Common Prayer, published in 1979,
is what's used in American Episcopal churches. But the book was
published just prior to a consciousness of patriarchy in linguistics,
said McBride, a history professor before he became a cleric.

"There are lots of problems in that prayer book that are just so
patriarchal it's laughable - language loaded with 'Lord' and power
references that owe their existence to the Coverdale 16th century
translation, the time of the Tudors, Henry VIII," McBride said. And
there's no question "Lord" has patriarchal connotations, he noted.

"I'm sorry, but if there is a Lord, by implication there is a Lady," he
said. St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church has been
minimizing its use of Lord for two decades, senior pastor David
Wilkinson said. "We usually change 'Lord' to 'love' or 'soul' or
'light,' " Wilkinson said.

"It's pretty much a hierarchical, patriarchal image we're getting rid
of." A lifelong Episcopalian, retired middle school teacher Jane
Chilcott calls the reduction of "Lord" usage she's heard at the Come &
See service "refreshing." She also likes the references to a genderless
God, because that's how she's always viewed the divine.

"I'm a great advocate of change, but not just for change's sake," said
Chilcott, 78. "A lot of people are turned off by traditional liturgy
because it sounds like they have to literally believe these credal
statements. I don't think that's necessarily true. Faith is very
personal."

The Come & See Sunday night alternate service changes wordings of
long-held Episcopal worship traditions, such as when the minister says,
"The Lord be with you" and the congregation responds, "And also with
you."

Instead, Come & See parishioners hear the minister say, "The peace of
God be always with you." Rewriting liturgy is not only about gender and
power balance, noted Lindell, the St. Philip's deacon.

"We don't stress the blood and gore of the crucifixion and the so-called
sacrifice of the Mass," he said. "I think that calls attention to Jesus'
death but it doesn't call attention to why we are Christians. It seems
to me, being a Christian isn't just about the birth and death of Jesus.
It's about living in the world with his life as an example." Similarly,
McBride stressed that changing liturgy isn't about political
correctness, but about conceptualizing God.

"If God is understood and viewed as within creation, acting inside of
it, loving, compassionate, hopeful, creative - all of those produce a
very different way of imagining the Christian life and living it out,"
he said. "If you are always calling God 'Lord,' you are sticking him
into that outside place. It seems to me, in order to avoid doing that,
one of the first things you do is call God something different."

While most Protestant churches still refer to God as "him" and pepper
their liturgy with references to Lord, there's been a shift among the
mainlines for the past 20 years, said Ruth A. Meyers, academic dean and
professor of liturgics at the Seabury-Western Theological School, an
Episcopal seminary in Evanston, Ill.

Such changes in liturgy often are called "expansive language" and can be
found in supplemental Episcopal Church materials, including one titled
"Enriching Our Worship," published in 1997, she said.

"Over the 12 years I've been here, I've noticed students are more and
more familiar with those materials. We are seeing it increasingly used,"
she said. But the changes are up to individual pastors, and tradition
still weighs heavy. "If we continue to water down and make ourselves
politically correct, there won't be anything left. God is the king of
the universe.

We are to bow before him. He is king, savior, Lord and master. ... God
is the great patriarch of heaven and Earth," said Mark Roessler, pastor
of Catalina Foothills Church, part of the non-mainline conservative
Presbyterian Church in America. "We call him 'Lord' because he is Lord,"
said the Rev. Joe Bettridge, senior pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian
Church on Tucson's Northwest Side.

The church is part of the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A. "If you
read the Bible, he - God - created everything from nothing. That's
pretty powerful to me."


Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or at sinnes@azstarnet.com.

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:26:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LONDON: Enemy of liberal Anglicans was poisoned

LONDON: Enemy of liberal Anglicans was poisoned

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
The Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article1706475.ece
April 26, 2007

A British missionary was fatally poisoned after helping to prevent a
London vicar from becoming a bishop in Central Africa, The Times has
learnt.

Relatives of Canon Rodney Hunter, 73, believe that his food was
contaminated by supporters of the Rev Nicholas Henderson in a battle
between the liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Church.

In November Canon Hunter was found dead at his home in Nkhotakota,
Malawi, with a strange black substance around his mouth. The day before
his death he had complained of severe stomach pains, and postmortem
examination has now shown that he was killed by three poisons.

Malawi police have charged his cook with murder and are investigating
rumours that the poisoning was organised by supporters of Mr Henderson,
who had no knowledge of the alleged plot.

Canon Hunter was an outspoken critic of plans to appoint the liberal Mr
Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi. The Province of Central Africa is at
the heart of conservative evangelical opposition to the liberal Anglican
outlook in the West on homosexuality.

Mr Henderson, Vicar of St Martin's Acton West and All Saints' Ealing
Common, was elected as Bishop of Lake Malawi last August. He had known
the region for 18 years, raising funds for religious, social and
humanitarian projects, and was learning the local language, Chichewe. At
the time, few in Malawi knew of his record as a leading liberal
theologian and that he had been chairman of the Modern Churchpeople's
Union. There was also concern in Africa at reports that he had a male
lodger.

As a result, the Primate of Central Africa, the Most Rev Bernard
Malango, wrote to Mr Henderson asking him to confirm that he subscribed
to the Creeds, the Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles and that he
"fashions his own like and his household according to the doctrine of
Christ".

The diocese's Court of Confirmation blocked Mr Henderson's consecration,
deeming him "a man of unsound faith", and instead appointed the retired
Bishop of Zambia, the Right Rev Leonard Mwenda.

Canon Hunter, who had been living in retirement in Malawi, was made
assistant priest at All Saints Cathedral. He faced continuing violent
protests against his opposition to Mr Henderson and had been physically
attacked in the pulpit.

His nephew, Mark Hunter, an accountant from Bristol, told The Times that
he had received an initial postmortem report which confirmed that three
poisons had been used, and believed that his uncle had been murdered. He
said: "I understand that in the last months of my uncle's life, local
supporters of Mr Henderson made his life hell. I know he spoke out to
the bishops, saying he should not be appointed. My uncle's beliefs were
strong. If he believed something, he would not give way."

Canon Hunter had previously served as a cathedral dean in the diocese.
He had been appointed after three priests died in strange circumstances
and witchcraft was suspected.

His nephew said: "He would come back to England every couple of years,
but his work was very important to him and he was highly thought of in
Malawi. He loved Malawi. He thought of himself as Malawian, not
English."

Archbishop Malango said of Canon Hunter, who had trained him for the
priesthood at a seminary in Lusaka: "He was brilliant, a good
philosopher. I owed him a lot - he was my mentor."

Mr Henderson told The Times: "I have not got anything to say. I have not
seen the autopsy report. I heard accusations were going round that he
was poisoned. Ihad a very high regard for Canon Hunter. But I am here in
England, 5,000 miles away. I do not know what is going on. I have not
been to Malawi for months."

A requiem for Canon Hunter is to be sung at Pusey House, Oxford, this
Saturday.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:27:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LONDON: Bishop of Southwark must explain drink riddle

LONDON: Bishop of Southwark must explain drink riddle

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/21/nbish21.x
ml
4/24/2007

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, could be formally
disciplined for his allegedly drunken behaviour before Christmas.

Senior Church authorities are investigating the incident after the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was advised by a legal
officer that the bishop had a case to answer.

The bishop could receive a rebuke or worse for "unbecoming" conduct on
the evening in December during which he lost his mobile phone and
briefcase but gained a black eye.

Such a judgment would almost certainly lead to calls for the resignation
of the bishop, who is well known for his contributions on BBC Radio 4's
Thought for the Day.
Bishop Butler said that he could not remember what happened between the
time he left a reception at the Irish embassy in Belgravia and arrived
home in south London with head injuries.

Witnesses said that a man who looked like the bishop climbed into the
back of an unlocked Mercedes on Crucifix Lane, near London Bridge, in
Southwark that night.

The man was alleged to have been throwing toys around and to have said:
"I'm the Bishop of Southwark. It's what I do." The car's owner and a
friend who witnessed the incident, dragged him out of the vehicle and,
in the fracas, the man accidentally fell to the pavement.

Bishop Butler initially explained his injuries by suggesting that he had
been mugged, although the police soon dropped that line of inquiry.

He said in a subsequent radio interview that he was worried about his
memory loss and was having medical tests to see if he may have suffered
a minor stroke.

But he described the account of his behaviour in the back of the car as
"very strange" and said it would have been entirely "out of character"
if he had been drunk. A formal complaint was made about the bishop to
Lambeth Palace by an unnamed individual living in his diocese.

Under the Clergy Discipline Measure, which came into effect in January,
Dr Williams, asked a judge to rule on whether the complaint should go
ahead.

The judge advised that the bishop did have a case to answer, but that
the person who made the initial complaint was not deemed to have a
"proper interest" and was technically unable to pursue it.

Lambeth Palace confirmed last night that the matter "is still being
dealt with", though details about the process remain unclear.

According to a code of practice that accompanies the legislation, the
bishop may face an interview or be asked to provide a statement to
explain his behaviour.

Separate guidance about the penalties that can be meted out for various
offences deals with "misconduct in private life" that includes
drunkenness.

"Drunkenness without any aggravating feature should normally be met with
a rebuke or a conditional deferment or discharge," it says. If the
authorities decide that the complaint has no substance, however, it can
be dismissed.

The most serious penalty is defrocking or " prohibition for life", but
that is reserved for the most grave cases.

END
------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:28:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LONDON: Archbishop attacks 'erosion of Christian values'

LONDON: Archbishop attacks 'erosion of Christian values'

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/24/nlabour12
4.xml
4/24/2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will launch a fierce
attack today on the "moral relativism" that is eroding Christian values
in society and Government.

In a speech that will be seen as a sharp criticism of New Labour, Dr
Williams will say that "those who run things" reject the idea that
society needs core values as "unfashionable and unwelcome". But without
such shared values, he will warn, society's definition of what is good
for people will be largely determined by powerful interest groups.

Dr Williams will say that religious leaders must be guaranteed a central
role in a reformed House of Lords to ensure moral issues are taken
seriously. Otherwise, he will argue, political debate will lack "voices
unconstrained by electoral anxiety and narrow considerations of
practical profitability".

The most recent vote in the House of Commons for a fully elected second
chamber would remove the 26 Church of England bishops who currently sit
in the Lords.

The Archbishop will also decry the lack of moral vision displayed by MPs
compared to the likes of William Wilberforce, who was instrumental in
the abolition of the slave trade 200 years ago.

Giving the William Wilberforce lecture in Hull, the birthplace of the
Christian reformer, he will say: "The old idea of political virtue is
becoming more and more remote."

And in a strong rallying cry, he will tell Christians that they are
justified in mounting vigorous campaigns against the state if it is
eroding Christian morality. "If the state perpetuates in the corporate
life of the nation what is directly contrary to the Christian
understanding of God's purpose, then Christian activism in respect of
changing the law is justified, primarily when the state is responsible
for - so to speak - compromising the morality of all its citizens."

Dr Williams will call for a return to a moral society in which the state
recognises "wider considerations than those of immediate profit and
security." "This makes sense, though, only if it is possible to convince
those who run things in the public sphere that there are human values
and ethical norms to which an entire society is answerable. In our
relativist climate, this is very difficult. What tends to happen is that
nothing much is left as a substantive moral basis for public life except
a poorly defined principle of tolerance or avoidance of mutual harm.

"The idea that you can give substance to a common social ethic,
something to which society as a whole can be held accountable, is
unfashionable and unwelcome.

"Even from the point of view of many who have no religious commitment,
there is a recognition that this is a thin diet.

"But the problem is deeper still. Without a notional standard of human
excellence and human flourishing, the definition of what is good for
people is always going to be vulnerable to what happens to suit a
dominant interest group."

Dr Williams will say that it should be "disturbing" for MPs that some of
the most effective political campaigns of recent times, such as the
campaign to cancel Third World debt, received most of its impetus from
outside Parliament.

Arguing for a role for religious leaders in the House of Lords, he will
say: "The nature and extent of religious representation in the upper
house... is not a marginal question at all in the light of this
discussion."

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:29:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: COLORADO: Vestryman Rips Bishop's attack on Vestry as"pure
vilification & libel"

COLORADO: Vestryman Rips Bishop O'Neill's attack on Vestry as "pure
vilification and libel"

The Right Reverend Robert J. O'Neill
The Diocese of Colorado
1300 Washington Street
Denver, Colorado 80203-2008

April 20th, 2007

Your Grace,

I will first thank you for your personal communication to me received
today at my home informing me of my formal removal from my elected
position as vestryman of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
effective March 26th, 2007. I believe this is the third personal
communication to me from you since the investigation about the matter of
Father Donald Armstrong began in February 2006. The two prior letters
from you, and the two face-to-face meetings with the Grace Church Vestry
in December and January of 2006 and 2007 occurred while I was a
vestryman "in good standing".

My response herein is provided in two fashions:

1. in order to fervently request your forgiveness for our action as a
vestry in abandoning our allegiance to our mother church by accepting
the alternative ecclesiastical authority of Bishop Martyn Minns of the
Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the Church of Nigeria
until the parishioners of Grace and St. Stephen's can accede to that
decision; and

2. to provide you a background to the circumstances of that sorry
decision made necessary by the complex events which have transpired
through my eyes.

Let me begin with my own history and then provide my heartfelt apology:

Although I have sat on this vestry these last two years with a one year
hiatus and service the preceding three years, I have also been a loyal
parishioner and communicant and member in good standing at Grace Church
and a member of The Episcopal Church in the USA since 1987. I was born a
sinner, repented and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ in
1968 under Presbyterian minister, Dr. Rousas John Rushdoony. I was
confirmed in the Anglican Church under Bishop Truman Davis in 1983 and
was accepted on transfer to Grace Church in 1987 by letter. My
introduction to Grace Episcopal Church occurred in 1985 upon moving to
Colorado Springs with my young family and that initial experience was
negative.

The parish at that time was in severe decline in part due to the
inadequate pastoral rectorship. Through God's grace and the blessing of
the Holy Spirit, Father Donald Armstrong was installed as rector at
Grace Church in 1987, and my family was led to return to a mightily
revived place of worship which has grown to the present state of
glorious existence. My first personal contact with Father Armstrong was
on a pastoral visit to my home in 1987 where I asked the Rector two
questions which confirmed my loyalty to this place: 1. Do you believe
Jesus Christ is Lord, and 2. Do you believe Holy Scripture is true?

My tenures on the vestry at Grace Church have been fraught with
difficulty. It has been a troublesome task to understand the
hierarchical (as I have called it, "feudalistic") nature of our church
and its leadership. I do understand implied responsibility and my
service as parishioner and vestryman has been undertaken with the utmost
seriousness and integrity and with the knowledge that decisions I and my
fellows have made are of the highest importance, from the financial
decisions we have made unto the present dilemma we are confronting in
ecclesiastical oversight.

I believe that the vast congregation in all of its variety and
backgrounds at Grace Church deserve no less than its leadership's
highest efforts and intense prayerful consideration of the history,
theology, circumstances, financial status, parishioners' and community's
needs, outreach and evangelical expectations and hierarchical
leadership's faithfulness to biblical truth in our exercise of our duty
to our parish and our Lord.

It is my understanding that a vestryman has more than the simple
fiduciary responsibility to a parish, and as expressed in Robert
Hansel's little book, Vestries in the Episcopal Church, "As church
trustees, the vestry has a dual responsibility: it carries out legal
mandates as officers of a chartered corporation and it spearheads the
congregation's mission and ministry." The "mission" at Grace Church is
to be "Devoted to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of
bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42)

Fortunately, at Grace Church, the vestry men and women have been
extraordinarily thoughtful, intelligent, and committed Christian folk.
It is truly an honor to have been associated with such integrity and
intellect and Godly people as are within our congregation and especially
our vestry. Each of these to whom you have written notice of
"...incomprehensible ... intentional and irresponsible breach of
...fiduciary responsibilities." is a pillar of leadership in our
community and beyond reproach in matters of intimate and abiding care in
the fiscal management of this parish. Your words, Your Grace, belie a
serious disingenuousness and blatant ignorance of our commitment to
Christian service, as has been the case for much of these last several
months. Your indictment, designed to give basis to your action to remove
this vestry, is a lie.

That you and the Diocese, without charitable effort of seeking
assistance or confirmation from our vestry and staff in congenial
conversation and mutual endeavor, have sought to unilaterally defame and
implicate Father Armstrong in wrongdoing; and that you and your
investigators have relied upon the hearsay and invective of a few
disenfranchised and disenchanted "goats of the congregation" at Grace
Church in your presentment of our rector is apparent and demonstrable.

What you have failed to appreciate is that the knowledgeable and loyal
parishioners and vestrymen of this parish have an abiding and real
affection for our clergy and a resolute faith in their trustworthiness
and honesty. We are also acutely aware of Mr. Nussbaum's irascible and
detailed delineation of our own complicity in every supposed
misapplication or presumptive defalcation if your presentment charges,
and we are incensed. That "secret meetings, rumor-milling, invective
harbored in the heart - sinful violations of our bond to one another"
(Robert Hansel's Vestries in the Episcopal Church) has been your modus
operandi is our sorry perception. How could it not be that we feel
divorced and abandoned by our leadership in Denver?

It is one thing to implicate our clergy in a crime, but to include
eleven vestry men and women by implication and complicity in an ongoing
scheme to defraud our parish of over a million dollars during the last
ten to fifteen years of voluntary Christian service is pure vilification
and libel.
As I have noted, I am the worst of all of God's creatures and an
inveterate sinner and a worm and no man. I have received great
forgiveness and have been an ungrateful wretch and thief of God's
gracious goodness to mankind. I can discern only what fills my belly and
satiates my base instincts. I know that I want to worship my Lord in a
hierarchical system that confirms my understanding of scriptural truth
and reasonableness and a stable tradition of a unified systematic faith
described in the Creeds, Prayer Book, and in the Anglican tradition.

In self preservation I wish to guard and I am willing to fight these
things, understanding that there are some in my own parish who will not
agree with me. I am one of the sheep who will follow my shepherd in this
regard, though I know some of my fellows will wander away and fall into
a pit. I know the voice of my shepherd and he protects me from the
wolves of this world, which he helps me recognize as wolves those who
may sometimes be in a sheep's vesture.

I am most aware that I am a member and communicant in good standing in
The Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of Colorado by the definitions
and understanding of the intent and canons of this institution. I am
unaware of any violation I may have committed as to Canon 1.17.8 wherein
I have not "...well and faithfully performed the duties ... in
accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the
Diocese in which this office is being exercised."

Indeed, I believe that myself and my vestry fellows have been
exceedingly diligent in "well and faithful" performance of our
responsibilities in these trying times and in the face of an ignominious
ecclesiastical oppression. We have not alienated nor encumbered our
parish property to any new authority, and we have preserved that which
has been sanctified to our Lord Jesus Christ intact and in functioning
good order under a continuing Anglican episcopacy in legitimate
communion with Canterbury and safe from a renegade apostasy.

I reiterate herewith my humble accession to the Preamble of The
Episcopal Church, which states: "(it is) a constituent member of the
Anglican Communion, a fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and
regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and
propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of
Common Prayer."

My present understanding is that the vestry of Grace Church holds a
"dual citizenship" of sorts, both being communicants in good standing
within The Episcopal Church (of the USA) as well as being accepted into
the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. I am unaware of any
canonical regulation or rule authorizing ANY Bishop in The Episcopal
Church to unilaterally remove a faithful vestryperson before expiration
of his term for ANY reason whatsoever. I am unaware of ANY Bishop or ANY
ecclesiastical authority in The Episcopal Church having ANY authority to
declare a communicant to not be in "good standing", less that
communicant be unfaithful in his attendance or stewardship
responsibilities as determined by his rector of his parish church.
Please explain then, Your Grace, how you can declare a thing you hold no
power to declare? We are "declared" by you to have vacated our
positions? Is this not further exhibition of your disingenuous and
unwarranted interference into matters from which you should abstain?
You, Sir, increasingly have become a tyrant and insidious snake of the
worst sort. Unless you now declare Grace and St Stephen's a mission - a
thing you have nowhere previously declared - I am unclear how you have
any authority over a duly established vestry and specifically over my
own present status as a vestry member of Grace Church? What pastoral
effect is this that your only consistent behavior with our parish
leadership has been to strike us repeatedly with the staff of your crook
by threatening us with civil proceedings and prolonged personal and
collective legal actions?

Finally, Your Grace, I do sincerely apologize and beg your merciful
understanding and forgiveness that I have been party to secessionist
decisions to divorce our parish from the Diocese of Colorado by voting
for the ecclesiastical request of protection and oversight of an
alternative Bishop in communion with Canterbury.

While I personally believe this decision is never a correct or desired
resolution of irreconcilable differences, the Declaration of
Independence of our United States does recognize that: "When in the
Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve
the political bands which have connected them with another, and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to
which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the
causes which impel them to the separation."

And better than I could say, the fourth paragraph of said document goes
on: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should
not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all
experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while
evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms
to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to
reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their
duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their
future security."

I can only place myself upon the merciful expectation and guaranty that
God Almighty has promised in our Lord Jesus Christ that our cause is
just and good in His eyes; that our desire at Grace Church to be
faithful in the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread and
the prayers is right-minded and to be blessed, and ask you to exercise
that charitable and emulative character that God does wish in His
Bishops, for you leave off your threats, legal actions, defamations,
interferences and conduct unbecoming your office of Bishop and let our
people go to worship our Lord in peace. I am

Comforted By That Peace Which Passeth All Understanding,

Keith W. Stampher, M.D.

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:30:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: Personal Jesus: John Shelby Spong's "nontheistic" Christianity

Personal Jesus
John Shelby Spong's "nontheistic" Christianity.

By Jason Lee Steorts
National Review Online
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTNkMzBlMzQ0MjkyNDUzOWQyMTMwMWVkN2Q4
MmU1NDA=
April 25, 2007

What's a religion good for, anyway?

That is the question retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong never
gets around to asking, let alone answering, in his new book, Jesus for
the Non-Religious. His title suggests an answer, and he has tried to lob
his book like a hand grenade into the institutions of Christendom. The
idea is to explode two millennia of traditional belief on which these
institutions rest, thereby making room for a new Christianity based on a
conception of Jesus that is palatable to "a twenty-first century
person." What actually crawls out of the rubble is a Jesus for John
Shelby Spong.

This Jesus would be unrecognizable to most Christians. The largest
section of the book is an attack on "the supernatural forms of
yesterday's Christianity." Spong executes this attack by means of a
lengthy textual criticism of the Gospels, sprinkled with occasional
undeveloped thoughts on the incompatibility of traditional belief with a
modern worldview. ("The ability of anyone to walk on water exists in our
world not in reality, but only in very bad golf jokes.") Along the way,
he jettisons the following claims, among others: that Mary was a virgin
at the time of Jesus's birth; that Jesus performed miracles; that Jesus
atoned for the sins of mankind; that Jesus was resurrected; and that the
resurrected Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Spong's analysis is interesting as far as it goes, though his tendency
to dismiss all disagreement as "hysterical" - his adjective of choice
for traditional believers - is unbecoming, morally and intellectually. I
offer here no evaluation of his textual criticism, as literary sleuthing
is rarely dispositive. Instead, let's assume for the sake of argument
that his thesis is correct: Jesus performed no miracles, wrought no
atonement, and rose from no tomb. When one is left with such a Christ,
what does it mean to say - as Spong says of himself - that one is "a
believing Christian"? What does one believe in? How could one persuade
anyone else to share this belief?

Spong's attraction to Jesus seems to be rooted largely in the ethics
Jesus taught and lived. Jesus was nice to Samaritans. Jesus didn't shun
lepers. Jesus protected adulteresses from the stoning mobs. All to the
good, as hysterical Christians would agree.

Disagreement is likely to begin where Spong's Jesus starts preaching the
Gospel according to Howard Dean. For instance, this Jesus would support
the ordination of homosexual bishops and oppose the "authoritarian"
institutions of the Christian churches. Why? Because "moral judgment is
not life-giving; love that transcends the boundaries of judgment, as
Jesus' love did, is." One can charitably assume that, had Spong written
more carefully, he would not have implied that all moral judgments are
to be forsworn. (His admonition not to judge rests on a judgment against
those who are judgmental in ways he disapproves of.) But the principal
message of Spong's Jesus is clear enough: We must set aside unacceptably
exclusionary traditions and moralities.

Whether this appeals to you as an ethics will depend on whether you
share Spong's opinions about which exclusions are unacceptable. But even
if you do, Spong does not want you to think of Jesus as a moral exemplar
merely. Probably he wishes to preserve some necessary connection between
Christ and Christianity, and recognizes that the soundness of an ethical
system does not depend on who taught it, or whether anyone taught it at
all. (We could pattern a very fine Christian ethics on the "life" of
Alyosha Karamazov.) How, then, does Jesus transcend the ethical? "As a
Christian," Spong explains, "I live inside a faith system which, at its
core, asserts that in the life of this Jesus, that which we call God has
been met, encountered and engaged."

A FAREWELL TO THEISM "That which we call God," eh? And what might that
be? Spong starts by telling us what it isn't. The "theistic definition
of God" is dead, he says. What he means is that he does not believe -
and does not think anyone else should believe - in "a being,
supernatural in power, dwelling outside this world and able to invade
the world in miraculous ways to bless, to punish, to accomplish the
divine will, to answer prayers and to come to the aid of frail,
powerless human beings." Our goal should be to "separate God understood
theistically from the experience of God that we claim for Jesus."

Unfortunately, Spong never explains what his nontheistic God is. His
book abounds in passages such as this: "There is something about this
Jesus that erases tribal boundaries, that calls people to step beyond
security systems and that flows into a new humanity unbounded by the
walls of protectionism. That is one huge dimension of what it means to
say that God was experienced as present in this man Jesus." One reads on
in the hope that Spong will come around to the other dimension - to
whatever it is about God that cannot be reduced to ethics. (For if the
word "God" denotes nothing but the totality of sound ethical
propositions, it is simply a metaphor for what could be discussed more
clearly without it.) One's hope is finally disappointed in the last
chapter, when Spong admits to having no idea what God is: "I cannot tell
anyone who or what God is. . . . The reality of God can never be
defined. It can only be experienced, and we need always to recognize
that even that experie
 nce may be nothing more than an illusion."

Spong's position, then, is   this: There is a higher reality, and we have
named it "God." Somehow we   encounter this higher reality in the life of
Jesus. But we have no idea   what the higher reality is, and can say
nothing intelligible about   it.

This view has one troublesome little catch: It destroys the possibility
of justifying the claim that the higher reality exists. It would be one
thing if we had a way of cognizing some aspect of the higher reality, an
ability to articulate propositions about it and adduce reasons for
thinking these propositions true. It is quite another to posit the
higher reality's existence simply because you feel you have
"encountered" it. If you can say nothing about what you have encountered
- and if the supposed encounter might in fact be "an illusion" - how can
you know that you have encountered anything at all?

The blindness of this epistemological alley is all too apparent when
Spong uses "the language of human analogy" to describe his experience of
God. What he actually describes is his feelings. "I experience life to
be more than I can embrace." "I experience love as something beyond me."
"I experience being as something in which I participate, but my being
does not come close to exhausting the content of Being itself." This is
all fascinating as one man's account of his personal psychology. But
there is no reason to suppose that what John Shelby Spong feels tells us
anything other than what it feels like to be John Shelby Spong.

Even if we could somehow know that the nontheistic God existed, its
obscurity would vitiate Spong's conception of Christian ethics. Consider
again my original question: What is a religion good for? One answer is
that it goes on where Spong stops. It offers an account of the higher
reality. It is not just an aggregation of imperatives, but a group of
answers to such questions as: Why does something exist instead of
nothing? Is there a supreme being? If so, what is his nature, and what
does he expect of me? Will I survive my death? What must I do to ensure
that my life after death is agreeable?

A religion's answers to these questions are perfectly intelligible, even
if its success in justifying them is open to debate. This
intelligibility in turn provides a secure foundation for the religion's
ethics. If you believe (1) that you owe obedience to God and (2) that
God has commanded you not to murder, it is a simple deductive step to
the conclusion (3) that you ought not murder. I am not saying that an
ethics must make reference to claims about God. But Spong thinks Jesus's
ethics is grounded in the divinity that was present in Jesus. By
insisting that this divinity is unknown and unknowable, he destroys the
possibility of such grounding.

SOMETHING ERE THE END . . . So the nontheistic God is mute. It can say
nothing about how we should live. Worse, it can say nothing about how we
should die. That too is something a religion - or a theistic one, at
least - is good for. Spong seems to recognize this. Theism arose, he
says, as an adaptive response to the irreducible anxiety of
self-consciousness, and in particular the fear of death. Whether or not
he has his evolutionary biology right, it is surely true that theism,
coupled with a belief in personal immortality, helps ease the way into
that good night.

John Shelby Spong is an old man. In a passage both moving and sincere,
he writes of his own approaching end and his hope to write another book:

I have one further literary task that I hope to complete in my already
more than 'three score and ten years.' . . . I want to take the idea of
a nontheistic but eminently real God met in the human Jesus and from
that vantage point address the subject of death and dying, as well as
what the church has tried to say throughout the ages on the subject of
eternal life. . . . If my idea of God and my vision of a redefined Jesus
cannot speak to the human anxiety of death, then I do not believe that I
have found either the new beginning for the Jesus story that I seek or
one that will survive.

It is hard to see how the new story can survive when the God at its
center is nothing but an overwrought sentimentality plummeting down an
abyss. If that is all we have left, Spong can keep his Christianity.
There would be more dignity and courage - to say nothing of honesty - in
facing life's terrible question marks with a mind that does not flinch.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:31:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: A Pastoral Response to Bishop Tom Wright - Dr Lisa Severin
Nolland

A Pastoral Response to Bishop Tom Wright - Dr Lisa Severin Nolland

April 25th 2007
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=1597

There can be no doubt he has far more in common theologically with the
basic approach and fundamental theological framework of PFOT people than
with that of Jeffrey John, yet his hostility to them and their work as a
whole indicates quite a different dynamic at work. Rather than coming
alongside as a friend who will share heaven together one day and sees
certain things perhaps more clearly and wishes to share his insights, he
seems intent on destroying what he considers their false and almost
morally contaminated theology.

Jeffrey John, Tom Wright, Steve Chalke and the 'Right-Wingers': A
Personal Response to Tom Wright's 'The Cross and the Caricatures' by Dr
Lisa Severine Nolland
We can probably all agree that both Tom Wright and Steve Chalke have
made really important and very impressive contributions to the vitality
of the church in the UK and around the globe, the former through his
theological writings, the latter through his Christian social activism.
We can also probably agree that certain of Jeffrey John's theological
views are inherently problematic and that evangelical Christians
especially have core investments in the theory of the penal
substitutionary atonement and that those who encourage us to think more
deeply in this or other areas are to be commended, whether we agree with
everything they say or not. I have no doubt but that there will be
further discussion and debate at this level, which is all to the good,
as far as I am concerned, but that is not where I intend to engage here.

My concern lies elsewhere. In particular, I am fascinated by the
emotional tone of and psychological dynamic inherent in 'The Cross and
the Caricatures', and the sociological implications. I begin with the
tone and use of language in the essay. In its initial pages, I was
impressed by the respectful nature of the discourse, its cultured,
gentleman-like and nuanced deployment of language. Jeffrey John was
consistently referred to as 'Dr John' and when Tom felt the need to
disagree-and he did, and not infrequently-he did so with some apparent
sadness and a complete lack of animosity or acerbity. This part of the
essay was resplendent with British upper-class formality, good taste,
good humour and positive intentions. Indeed, Jeffrey John was given the
benefit of the doubt whenever possible; at times Tom even seems to bend
over backwards to be warm and receptive. And though there appeared to be
little or no common theological ground found with Jeffrey John in
relation to the iss
 ues surrounding penal substitution and related matters, it did not seem
 to matter. Tom made his case and made it well.

As I read the first part I kept thinking that it sounded magisterial,
grand and glorious. I was thus not expecting what I encountered in the
second part of the essay. The mood swing was almost palpable; even the
terminology governing the use of proper names was telling. From grand
and glorious the tone became at times shrill, sour and ad hominem. Steve
Chalke remained 'Steve' or 'Steve Chalke'-you can feel the friendship,
warmth and affirmation-but Steve Jeffrey, Mike Ovey (what happened to
his PhD?) and Andrew Sacks became 'J, O and S'. Hmmm. Second wave
feminists keep reminding us of the importance of nomenclature, who is
called what by whom and the underlying power realities in such
deployment. However, it gets worse.

'J, O and S' are not only guilty of being 'angry'-if things really
matter, anger might be appropriate; and if they are angry, they are not
alone here, Tom!-and 'hopelessly sub-biblical'-most of us are when it
comes down to it, but we might be making really important points
anyway-use 'polemic' and are hearing-challenged, i.e. they can not
listen. They rely upon 'flimsy evidence', deploy 'guilt by association'
and 'witch hunt' techniques and don't think! Quite a catalogue of
academic crimes and misdemeanors, one might say. In short, 'J, O and S'
are deemed to be-and damned as being-'the new right-wing (so-called
"conservative") evangelicals'. Is this not a form of linguistic and
cultural imperialism? There is no better way to shut up one's opponent
than to call her or him 'right wing', after all. Perhaps Tom has
legitimate difficulties with 'Pierced for Our Transgressions' (PFOT),
perhaps not. But there can be no doubt he has far more in common
theologically with the basic app
 roach and fundamental theological framework of PFOT people than with
 that of Jeffrey John, yet his hostility to them and their work as a
 whole indicates quite a different dynamic at work. Rather than coming
 alongside as a friend who will share heaven together one day and sees
 certain things perhaps more clearly and wishes to share his insights,
 he seems intent on destroying what he considers their false and almost
 morally contaminated theology.

Friendship may have an important role here. Tom is obviously friends
with Steve Chalke, and is trying to assure traditional evangelicals that
Steve is still one of them, that Steve is still 'okay'. He takes pains
here, and places Steve's questionable remarks from 'The Lost Message of
Jesus' (TLMOJ)-in which the influence of Tom's own thinking is
apparent-in a positive light. However, it is not that simple or
straightforward. As Rev John Richardson has noted, Steve has made it
quite clear elsewhere that his view of penal substitutionary atonement
is not that held by traditional evangelical individuals. Steve is
perfectly free to abandon it, disagree with, modify it or whatever, but
this needs to be honestly admitted and publicly recognized for what it
is.

From John's website, I cite the following lengthy excerpt, beginning
with Steve Chalke's remarks in his article, 'Cross Purposes', 2005,
'Christianity Magazine': ... the supposed orthodoxy of penal
substitution is greatly misleading. In reality, penal substitution - in
contrast to other substitutionary theories - doesn't cohere well with
either biblical or Early Church thought. Although penal substitution
isn't as old as many people assume - it's not even as old as the pews in
many of our church buildings - it is actually built on pre-Christian
thought.

Even more tellingly, Chalke writes in the same article,

In 'The Lost Message of Jesus' TLMOJ I claim that penal substitution is
tantamount to 'child abuse - a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an
offence he has not even committed.' Though the sheer bluntness of this
imagery - not original to me of course - might shock some, in truth, it
is only a stark 'unmasking' of the violent, pre-Christian thinking
behind such a theology. And the simple truth is that if God does not
relate to his only Son as a perfect father, neither can we relate to him
as such.

It seems clear-both as I recall from reading TLMOJ and from Chalke's
comments here -that it is the entire penal notion of the cross that
Chalke opposes, which is to say, the notion that God's punishment for
our sins is borne there by Christ. Yet Wright himself affirms that the
biblical picture of the death of Christ, as understood in the light of
Isaiah 53, for example, is of 'not only a substitutionary death but a
penal substitutionary death.'
It is interesting also that Chalke's understanding of the historical
background to the doctrine of penal substitution represents precisely
one which Wright rejects. Commenting on The Mystery of Salvation, a
report from the Church of England's Doctrine Commission to which Wright
himself contributed and to which Jeffrey John appeals, Wright says it is
guilty of 'giving the bizarre impression that the idea was merely
invented by Anselm and developed by Calvin.' Yet in the article referred
to, Chalke writes in almost exactly these terms:

Initially based upon the writings of Anselm of Canterbury (1033- 1109),
penal substitution was substantially formed by John Calvin's legal mind
in the reformation.

At the point where it matters, therefore, Chalke's personal position
seems to be much further from Wright's own than Wright seems to realize
and his lengthy defense of Chalke against the critique presented in PFOT
seems at first glance, therefore, to be bizarrely misplaced. Wright's
enthusiasm to defend an author he seems not to have fully understood,
however, brings me to the second urgent question, which is why Wright
makes the attack he does on the 'stable' from which PFOT comes. For it
seems to me that Wright's wrath is directed not objectively at the
weaknesses he perceives in the scholarship of PFOT-some of which, it
appears to me, is simply a failure to share Wright's own very particular
understanding of salvation history-but rather subjectively against the
Conservative Evangelical 'camp'. Why, for example, does Wright extend
considerable generosity and theological latitude to Chalke and not to
the authors of PFOT?

John has noted some important concerns here. I would like to finish with
one cultural and theological reflection. As a historian I regularly
inhabit decades and centuries now long gone. I attend to and engage with
the worldviews and realms of thought and belief of those now long
departed. At least in certain ages subjects like God's wrath, divine
justice and human culpability received far more positive air time from
the pulpit and elsewhere. Christians knew they were divinely, gloriously
created but also profoundly and radically fallen. And God both loved and
judged. And Christians then seemed to cope. I also do a great deal of
listening to the voices of 2007. Many of these are Christian voices,
evangelical Christian voices. And their churches are ones which rarely
if ever preach on sin, hell and judgement - those topics are so
antiquated and negative, after all! - and yet the people I listen to now
have never felt so judged, flawed, inadequate or profoundly bad about
themsel
 ves. Most are encumbered with dysfunctionalities of various forms. It
 is almost as if reverse psychology is at work here. It seems to me that
 the less we speak honestly of the human condition in all its splendour
 and all its squalour, the more we actually disservice those we are
 trying to help. The truth, the whole truth, does set us free, that is,
 if we have the courage to embrace it.

END

------------------------------
Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:32:37 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: A Case for More Gun Control - by Mike McManus

A Case for More Gun Control

by Mike McManus
April 25, 2007

Katie Couric asked a legitimate question after the horrific mass murders
at Virginia Tech: "Should government impose restrictions on what kind of
guns are sold, and to whom? Would these restrictions make us any safer?"

The answer is a resounding yes. Consider the facts.

In 2004 there were 73 firearm murders in all of England and Wales.
Seung-Hui Cho killed almost half as many - 32 plus himself. That was
more than half of the 49 gun murders in a year in Cho's native South
Korea.

Japan prohibits handguns. Shotguns are strictly regulated, and rifles
can be bought only after owning a shotgun for 10 years. Result: only 35
murders and 47 gun suicides in a nation of 127 million.

By contrast, in the U.S. 11,344 were shot and killed, plus 16,750 by
suicide. That's 343 times Japan's rate! America's easy availability of
guns has made death far more likely. Life expectancy is 82 in Japan vs.
78 here.

Pierre Lemieux, of the Independent Institute in Oakland, Cal. asked in
The Washington Times, "What if some students or professors had been
armed at Virginia Tech?" The no-brainer answer is there would be many
more killings, especially after binge drinking on Saturday night.

Some say, "The crooks have no trouble buying guns. Why not let the good
guys arm?"

This is not an issue of "bad" guys vs. "good" guys. When I was 14, my
drunk father and threatened my mother with a pistol. I took it away and
hid it from him, swearing I'd never have a weapon in my home when I grew
up. I kept that pledge.

     In 1994 a U.S. ban on the sale of assault weapons went into effect.
     AK-47s, Uzis and weapons that were designed to kill as many people
     as possible in a short time - could not be purchased here for a
     decade. Consequently, firearm deaths dropped from an average of
     17,600 in 1990-1994 to 12,300 from 1995-2004. Then the law expired
     in 2004. Those weapons became available again, and bigger gun
     clips, like the 17 shell magazine in the Glock Cho purchased. If he
     could only buy 5 in a magazine, perhaps he would have killed 10
     instead of 32.

When he ran for re-election, George Bush said he supported renewing the
federal assault weapon law and trigger locks. However, he never
introduced legislation to do so.

    We will always have crazies and felons who get their hands on guns.
    But the law does not require a background check for mental illness,
    which it should. According to the FBI, 1.3 million sales of weapons
    were denied to ex-convicts, thanks to the Brady law requiring
    background checks. Cho had been treated in a mental health facility,
    and a court called him a danger to himself and others. Virginia Gov.
    Timothy Kaine is considering an executive order to require giving
    information about the mental health of potential buyers to gun
    sellers.

Also, given complaints to campus police by females that he was stalking
them, and by two of his English professors who were alarmed by his
violent writings - why did Virginia Tech allow him to be a student?

There are 51,500 people living today who would have been murdered
without the Brady law and the assault weapons ten-year ban. No hunter
was prevented from buying a gun.

Suicides also dropped from an average of 18,700 before the assault
weapon ban and the Brady bill vs. 17,250 afterwards. That's 14,500 fewer
suicides over a decade.

   . Virginia limits the number of weapons which can be bought to one a
   month. No other state does so. That reduced murders in Washington,
   because there aren't as many bad guys buying them in volume and
   re-selling them on the streets to kids who shoot to kill.

Why allow anyone purchase 30 at a time? Why not a national limit of one
gun a month?

We have weak gun laws in America. But they saved 66,000 lives compared
to the annual slaughter in past years. That's more than the population
of hundreds of American towns and cities.

Another loophole which must be closed is that no background checks are
required if a gun is purchased at a gun show. Why not? Are they any less
lethal?

It is high time for Bush to ignore the NRA and re-introduce an assault
weapon ban, a national limit of one gun a month to anyone, an expansion
of the Brady law to include gun show sales and a required check on
mental backgrounds of buyers.

---Michael J. McManus is a syndicated columnist writing on "Ethics &
Religion". He is President & Co-Chair of Marriage Savers. He lives with
his wife in Potomac, MD.

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:33:38 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: Ashamed of the Gospel? Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech
Ashamed of the Gospel? Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech

By Frank Pastore
TOWNHALL.COM
http://tinyurl.com/ypdrdt

4/22/2007

Let's test your knowledge of world religions. Below is the entire
message delivered by one of the four religious leaders at last week's
convocation at Virginia Tech, in the aftermath of the horrible mass
murders that left 32 dead and 21 injured.

The test is simple: determine the religion being represented.

We gather this afternoon for many purposes. To weep for lost friends and
family, to mourn our lost innocence, to walk forward in the wake of
unspeakable tragedy, to embrace hope in the shadow of despair, to join
our voices in a longing for peace, and healing, and understanding which
is much greater than any single faith community. To embrace that which
unifies, and to reject the seductive temptation to hate. We gather to
share our hurts and our hopes, our petitions and our prayers.

We gather also to drink deeply of the religious streams which have
refreshed parched peoples for many generations. We gather together,
weeping. Yes, we weep with an agony too deep for words and sighs that
are inexpressible. But also we gather affirming the sovereignty of life
over death.

At a time such as this, the darkness of evil seems powerful indeed. It
casts a pall over our simple joys, joys as simple as playing Frisbee on
the drill field. We struggle to imagine a future beyond this agony. If
we ever harbored any illusions that our campus is an idyllic refuge from
the violence of the rest of the world, they are gone forever. And yet,
we come to this place to testify that the light of love cannot be
defeated.

Amid all our pain, we confess that the light shines in the darkness and
the darkness has not overcome it. We cannot do everything, but we can do
something. We cannot banish all darkness, but we can by joining
together, push it back. We can not undue yesterday's tragic events, but
we can sit in patient silence with those who mourn as they seek for a
way forward.

  As we share light, one with another, we reclaim our campus, let us
  deny death's power to rob us of all that we have loved about Virginia
  Tech, this our community. Let us cast our lot with hope in defiance of
  despair. I invite you to observe a moment of silence.

Difficult, isn't it?

The message was delivered by Reverend William H. King, Director of
Lutheran Campus Ministries at Virginia Tech, and a member of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The video of the message
is available online.

Each of the four speakers were there to represent their religion, to
bring the message of comfort and hope rooted in their faith tradition.
The Muslim speaker read passages from the Koran in Arabic and appealed
to Allah, the Jewish speaker read from Ecclesiastes 3 while an assistant
repeated the passages in Hebrew, the Buddhist quoted the Dalai Lama,
while the Christian did not even quote from the Bible, nor mention the
name of Jesus - the namesake of his religion.

What Mr. King said should be studied in every seminary in America. It is
precisely what not to do when given the opportunity to bring the message
of the Gospel of Jesus to those grieving the loss of loved ones and
struggling to make sense of the evil visited upon them.

The nearest thing to Christianity anyone heard at the Convocation was
the playing of Amazing Grace and the unison recitation of The Lord's
Prayer. There was far more Bible coming from the pews than being
preached from the pulpit.

No wonder Christianity is so easily and regularly attacked on college
campuses. With advocates like this, who needs opposition? We've got guys
in our uniform playing for the other team.

Mr. King could have spoken the truth. He could have explained why
Christians are confident in divine justice, why we believe that good
will ultimately triumph over evil, why we know that there is life after
death for those that trust Christ. He could have explained that Jesus
paid the penalty for all our sins on the Cross that Friday long ago, and
rose bodily from the dead on Sunday to prove His sovereignty over evil,
sin and death.

In short, he could have preached the Gospel. After all, the murders were
only a week removed from Easter.

But, Mr. King decided to do something apparently more important in his
mind. He decided to be politically correct and not offend the members of
his interfaith community by offering hollow words of humanistic
philosophy lacking any real substance, and by appealing to various
"religious streams" and by validating the search "for a way forward," he
insulted those of us who actually believe Christianity is true and other
religions false.

In so doing, he denied his faith.

He offered those mourning no hope for the present nor any hope for the
future.

He left the hearers dead in their sins.

A minister ashamed of the Gospel should not have been on that podium.

 ---The Frank Pastore Show is heard in Los Angeles weekday afternoons on
 99.5 KKLA and on the web at kkla.com, and is the winner of the 2006
 National Religious Broadcasters Talk Show of the Year. Frank is a
 former major league pitcher with graduate degrees in both philosophy of
 religion and political philosophy.

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:34:38 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: The cunning of evil

The cunning of evil

The Leader

THE SPECTATOR
http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/the-week/29131/the-cunning-of-
evil.thtml
April 2007

In her book on the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt famously, and
controversially, wrote of the 'banality of evil'. The contemporary
variant is the awesome banality of much of the analysis and
soul-searching that evil provokes. Since the horrific murder of 32
people at Virginia Tech on Monday, there has been a spree of such
commentary.

The rest of the world treats America like a dominant but dysfunctional
family. So great is the cultural reach and 'soft power' of the United
States that an atrocity of this kind quickly assumes almost global
significance and is treated, quite inappropriately, as a metaphor for
all manner of modern pathologies. What dark impulses coursed through the
mind of the 23-year-old South Korean Cho Seung-hui as he gunned down his
fellow students will never be known. But that has not deterred an army
of self-appointed social commentators from drawing sweeping conclusions
about his actions.

The most profound error has been to use the tools of psychotherapy
rather than traditional morality to analyse the slaughter. America is
once again on the couch, as everything from the Iraq war to video games
to the pressures of modern university life is scrutinised as a possible
contributing factor.

It is certainly plausible to argue that Cho exhibited the symptoms both
of maniacal narcissism and a crushing inferiority complex. In his
deranged writings, he railed against 'rich kids', 'debauchery' and
'deceitful charlatans' on the campus. 'You caused me to do this,' he
wrote - strengthening the argument of those who believe that such
actions are the product of society's pressure-cooker rather than of
cold-blooded choice.

On Wednesday, the Independent declared that American society 'is more
divided, more pressured and more ruthless in almost every way than any
society in Europe.... There are outsiders and misfits everywhere, but
communities in the US - be they schools, colleges, businesses, small
towns or suburbs - can be particularly unforgiving.' According to this
dubious analysis, social and psychological adversity is moral destiny.

It is more understandable that the president of the university, Charles
Steger, should want the 'healing process' to begin among the young
people for whom he has responsibility. Again, however, it was
unfortunate that he called for this 'healing' to begin so quickly, only
hours after the final shots had rung out from Norris Hall. 'Healing' is
not possible, or even desirable, at such a time. Disbelief, grief and
rage are the only decorous responses while the dead lie unburied.

With the therapeutic impulse comes the stampede of the policymakers.
President Bush himself felt obliged to say that 'when a guy walks in and
shoots 32 people it's going to cause there to be a lot of policy
debate'. That is true, but it does not mean that the consequence of such
debate should be a flurry of knee-jerk measures. The Governor of
Virginia, Timothy M. Kaine, has already ordered an independent review of
Virginia Tech's handling of the massacre, and its alleged incompetence
in failing to warn students sufficiently quickly of the shootings. The
US gun control lobby instantly weighed in with demands for further
restrictions upon the sale of firearms. Those inclined to anti-American
schadenfreude in this country - fans of Michael Moore's Bowling For
Columbine - have gleefully laid the blame at the door of the National
Rifle Association.

Yet it is not the NRA that preserves the Second Amendment right to bear
arms. It is the settled will of the American people. And as the
Hungerford and Dunblane massacres showed in this country, the determined
mass murderer will always find a way round gun restrictions. One might
just as easily blame Monday's horrors on Virginia Tech's ban on students
or employees carrying guns on campus, as on the ease with which firearms
can be purchased in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

All such debate is moral squirming, a peculiarly modern refusal to
confront the reality of evil. The most chilling detail of Monday's
events is the two hours that separated the first killings at West Ambler
Johnston Hall from the second shootings at Norris Hall. It may be, as
has been speculated, that Cho's actions started as the crime passionnel
of a jilted lover. But his cold march across campus quickly became
something quite different: impersonal, arbitrary and premeditated.
Aggrieved and twisted for whatever reason, he seized power over his
fellow human beings in the most deplorable and irrevocable way possible:
better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.

If this is not evil, it is hard to know what is. Yet the modern reflex
is to recoil from such moral categorisation and to look for supposedly
deeper causes - social, psychological, even genetic - that erode and
displace the doctrine of personal responsibility. In C.S. Lewis's The
Screwtape Letters, the older demon tells his pupil, Wormwood, that 'our
policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves ...when they believe in
us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics'.

The cunning of evil, in other words, is to disguise itself. In such
cases - depressingly commonplace in our times - it is all too easy to
lose moral focus and to allow our response to become meaninglessly
diffuse. No culture can long remain healthy if it surrenders the concept
of moral responsibility to the modern doctrines of mitigation,
determinism and collective guilt.

Yet the reality of evil is mirrored in the persistence of good. The
unspeakable depravity of Cho found its match in the heroism of Professor
Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor, who blocked a
classroom door to save his students before perishing. That, rather than
the present cacophony of half-baked sociology, should be our abiding
memory of the Virginia massacre.

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:35:38 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: The Cross and the Caricatures - by Tom Wright

The Cross and the Caricatures

by Tom Wright
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=205

A response to Robert Jenson, Jeffrey John, and a new volume entitled
Pierced for Our Transgressions Eastertide, 2007 by the Bishop of Durham.

(The authors of the book in turn respond to N.T. Wright's critique of
Pierced for our Transgressions)here
http://piercedforourtransgressions.com/content/view/107/51/

Introduction

About ten days before Easter, the question of the cross suddenly
impinged on me from two different directions. Late one night, I read an
article on the atonement by the leading American Lutheran theologian,
Robert Jenson; the next day I had a telephone call from the Sunday
Telegraph, asking me to comment on a forthcoming radio talk by the Dean
of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John. Both of them - to say
nothing of other discussions I find myself in from time to time, and of
course the question of the pastoral and evangelistic meaning of the
cross within the course of a busy ministry - made me realise I ought to
try to say something further on the subject.

My resolve in this direction has been stiffened, this last week, by
reading a new book entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions by three
authors connected with Oak Hill College in London (details below). This
essay cannot be a full discussion of all the relevant matters; that
would take a substantial book. It is one small step in the direction of
putting down some markers for the ongoing debate.

But only a small step. I am under no illusions that, even if I were to
write a thousand pages on the subject, I would ever exhaust it. In any
case, I am one of those who think it good that the church has never
formally defined 'the atonement', partly because I firmly believe that
when Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his
forthcoming death was all about, he didn't give them a theory, he gave
them a meal. Of course, the earliest exponent of that meal (Paul, in 1
Corinthians) insists that it matters quite a lot that you understand
what you are about as you come to share in it; but still it is the meal,
not the understanding, that is the primary vehicle of meaning. What is
more, I happen to believe, as a reader of the New Testament, that all
the great 'theories' about atonement do indeed have roots there, and
that the better we understand the apostolic testimony the better we see
how they fit together.

1. Robert Jenson: Which Story Does 'Atonement' Belong In?

Be that as it may. I found the article by Jenson (like much of his work)
very stimulating ('On the Doctrine of the Atonement', in Reflections ,
vol. 9, Spring 2007, pp. 2-13). His main point is that standard theories
of atonement (of how, in other words, Jesus' death effected our
reconciliation with God) have located the cross within conceptualities
and narratives other than the biblical one, to which the gospel writers
and Paul all point as the proper matrix for understanding the event
('Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures'). Anselm
cut the cross loose from its scriptural moorings and placed it within a
feudal system of honour and shame; Abelard, within a story of a divine
teaching programme; the Greek Fathers, within the world of mythical
satanic powers. None of these is without biblical resonance, but equally
none grapples with the actual story the biblical writers tell, and the
way in which the gospel writers in particular present the meaning of Jes
 us' death primarily through a narrative, a narrative which offers
 itself not just as an echo of bits and pieces of the ancient scriptures
 of Israel but as the continuation of that story and the bringing of it
 to its climax. (This last way of putting it is my own; it is, in
 effect, a summary of the third chapter of my recent book Evil and the
 Justice of God (SPCK, 2006); but is I think true to what Jenson was
 arguing.) Unfortunately (from this point of view), Jenson's own
 positive proposal seems to me merely to propose another story, this
 time a theologian's analysis of the work of the three persons of the
 Trinity, which, though it is I believe intimately related to the story
 the biblical writers tell, yet appears to pay scant attention to (for
 example) the narratives of creation and fall, of the call of Abraham,
 of the exodus, the conquest, the monarchy, the exile and restoration,
 and so on. Jenson is clearly aware of this problem. I suspect that the
 article is a 'taster' fo
 r a book Jenson is still to publish, in which he will work it all out
 in proper detail.

All of this I pondered as I read the article late at night; and it
prepared me, in a way I had not expected, for the telephone call the
next day from the Sunday Telegraph. The reporter told me that the Dean
of St Albans was about to give a talk on Radio 4 denying one of the
traditional interpretations of the cross. I refused to make any comment
until the reporter had read me substantial sections of the talk; having
now read the full text I have of course seen more of the nuances in it,
but there is no reason to retract what I said then, which was (a) that
the Dean seemed to be rejecting a caricature of the biblical doctrine in
question, (b) that this rejection was bound to be heard as a rejection
of the doctrine itself, and (c) that it was a shame for the BBC to be
highlighting this kind of thing in the middle of Holy Week. One or two
other bishops, I gather, said similar things. There the matter might
have rested. I commented briefly on the controversy in my sermon to
dioces
 an clergy on Maundy Thursday, and encouraged them to embrace, and
 preach, the genuine biblical doctrine, while avoiding both the
 caricature and the rejection of the caricature as if it were the
 reality (see http://www.ntwrightpage.com/sermons/Word_Cross.htm).

2. Jeffrey John: Caricaturing the Cross

Now, it seems, the fuss has itself become news. The Church Times carried
an article (13 April 2007, p. 5) describing how Dr John has received
abusive hate mail (well, we all get that), and a silly headline ('Christ
did not die for our sins'; well, we all get silly headlines too, and
they are not usually written by the reporter). And in a letter published
in the same issue of the paper, he protests that he is simply following
the line taken by the 1995 Doctrine Commission report, The Mystery of
Salvation, which itself at this point follows the famous 1938
Commission.

I am glad, of course, that Dr John gives such a high value to such
reports - higher, perhaps, than the authors themselves would have done;
speaking as one of the authors of the 1995 Report, I would say that it
represented a complex conversation frozen in a moment of time rather
than a definitive conclusion. But he might perhaps have looked closer.
The Mystery of Salvation notes that substitutionary atonement is taught
in the Thirty-Nine Articles, and that this enshrines 'a vital truth',
which can best be got at through the language of 'vicarious' suffering
(p. 212). And, while perfectly properly emphasizing that the ultimate
subject of the action in the death of Jesus is God himself (presumably
God the Father), the Report notes (p. 213), immediately after the
passage quoted from the 1938 Report to which Dr John refers ('the notion
of propotiation as the placating by man of an angry God is definitely
unChristian'), that 'it is nevertheless true that in Paul's thought the
effec
 t of expiation is the same as that of propitiation - to neutralise the
 sin that is the cause of God's displeasure and so to avert God's wrath
 (however that should be understood).' While noting the obvious problems
 with a crude doctrine of propitiation (a loving Jesus placating a
 malevolent God), the Report goes on to point out (p. 214) that both
 Athanasius and Augustine, as well as Calvin, spoke in terms of God
 himself providing the propitiation for his own wrath. The problem of
 the crude formulation was, in other words, already well known in the
 Greek and Latin Fathers, and this did not prevent them from continuing
 to see Jesus' death in terms of propitiation even while insisting that
 the work from start to finish was the result of God's love. Granted,
 the 1995 Report does scant justice to the history of the idea of
 substitution, both penal and otherwise, giving the bizarre impression
 that the idea was merely invented by Anselm and developed by Calvin, as
 though it were not
  also to be found in several of the Fathers, a good many of the
  mediaeval writers, and more or less all the Reformers, not least
  Martin Luther. But that is only to say that the Report, like all such
  productions, should not be taken as a definitive account either of
  what Anglicans are supposed to believe or of what they believe in
  fact.

We might also note that the 1995 Report had also spoken, earlier, of
Jesus as having 'died our death, sharing our failure, condemnation,
despair and godforsakenness' (p. 103, italics added). Earlier again, and
more fully (and answering in a measure to Jenson's request for the story
of the cross to be more biblically rooted), the Report stated:

In going to the cross, Jesus acted out his own version of the total
story, according to which Israel, represented by himself, must be the
people in and through whom the creator God would deal with the evil of
the world and of humankind. The cross, as the execution of Israel's
Messiah outside Jerusalem at the hands of the pagans, was thus the great
summation of Israel's exile, which was itself the fulfilment and
completion of the ambbiguous and tragic story of Israel as a whole. At
the same time, the cross was the supreme achievement of Israel's God,
returning to Zion as he had promised, to deal with his people's sins and
their consequences. (p. 77f.)

Dr John is thus mistaken if he supposes that the 1995 Report shares his
enthusiasm for doing away with all talk of God's condemnation of sin and
of that condemnation being a key element in the meaning of the cross.
What about the 1938 Report? Here again things are more nuanced than Dr
John's rejection of a caricature would indicate. In a special Note 'On
the Wrath of God against Sin', the 1938 Report comments:

It is to be observed . . . that in the New Testament the "love" and the
"wrath" of God in relation to sin and forgiveness are closely connected
, and that is an important sense in which the assertion of God's "wrath"
against sin is the indispensable presupposition of any properly
Christian doctrine of forgiveness. There can be no forgiveness where
there is indifference towards either the offender or the offence.

After giving an illustration in which someone's 'wrath' at the betrayal
of trust expresses condemnation of the deed but the desire to be
reconciled with the perpetrator - as opposed to a pure, cold hostility -
the Report concludes that

"Wrath" in this ethical sense is not only compatible with love, but in
its purest form cannot exist apart from love. Righteous wrath cannot be
based on self-concern, nor at its best is it consistent with any loss of
self-control such as characterises the primitive emotion of anger.
(Doctrine in the Church of England. London: SPCK, 1938, 71.)

Thus we should not be surprised when the Report goes on to stress that
God's love 'is a holy love, and therefore always actively affirms itself
both in condemning sin and also in striving to restore and to remake the
sinner' (p. 91). Like Jenson, the Report insists that the meaning of the
Cross must be taken in its larger narrative context. And, like
traditional Anglicanism as expressed in Cranmer's liturgy and the
Thirty-Nine Articles - but not like Dr John - the Report declares that
'The Cross is a satisfaction for sin in so far as the moral order of the
universe makes it impossible that human souls should be redeemed from
sin except at a cost. Of this cost the death on the Cross is the
expression . . . Thus the Cross is a "propitiation" and "expiation" for
the sins of the whole world' (p. 92f.). Of course, there is much more to
what the Report says than that; but not less. If Dr John wishes to
invoke these Reports - not, I insist once more, that they carry, for
Anglicans,
 the same authority as scripture or even as the church's historic
 liturgy and Articles - he should note that they offer something whose
 existence he does not wish to acknowledge: a way of affirming that the
 Cross does after all have something to do with God's wrathful
 condemnation of sin but which is not the same as the caricature that
 both Reports, like Dr John and many of the rest of us, reject.

All of which brings us back to Dr John's talk itself. It wasn't long,
and of course Dr John would no doubt say, as I have done, that an essay
several times the length would still not be enough to do justice to the
topic. But it is therefore all the more frustrating to see how many of
his short minutes he used up in presenting a sad caricature of the
biblical doctrines of God's wrath, God's moral providence, and of the
atonement itself.

He began by discussing the widespread view that suffering is a
punishment from God. He instanced a bizarre funeral sermon, a Cretan
bishop declaring that an earthquake was a punishment for people using
birth control, and the idea that York Minster was struck by lightning in
retribution for David Jenkins's consecration. (Already his language
shows where he is going: 'some people . . . were seriously wondering
whether God had personally hurled a thunderbolt at York Minster in a fit
of pique . . .'). But this is childish. The biblical doctrine of God's
wrath is rooted in the doctrine of God as the good, wise and loving
creator, who hates - yes, hates, and hates implacably - anything that
spoils, defaces, distorts or damages his beautiful creation, and in
particular anything that does that to his image-bearing creatures. If
God does not hate racial prejudice, he is neither good nor loving. If
God is not wrathful at child abuse, he is neither good nor loving. If
God is not utterly determined to root out from his creation, in an act
of proper wrath and judgment, the arrogance that allows people to
exploit, bomb, bully
  and enslave one another, he is neither loving, nor good, nor wise. To
  trivialize - almost to domesticate, and therefore he does not require
  a propitiation. God is love, say the Apostles, and therefore he
  provides a propitiation. Which of these doctrines appeals best to the
  conscience? Which of them gives reality, and contents, and substance,
  to the love of God? Is it not the apostolic doctrine? Does not the
  other cut out and cast away that very thing which made the soul of
  God's love to Paul and John? . . . Nobody has any right to borrow the
  words 'God is love' from an apostle, and then to put them in
  circulation after carefully emptying them of their apostolic import. .
  . . But this is what they do who appeal to love against propitiation.
  To take the condemnation out of the Cross is to take the nerve out of
  the Gospel . . . Its whole vi
 rtue, its consistency with God's character, its aptness to man's need,
 its real dimensions as a revelation of love, depend ultimately on this,
 that mercy comes to us in it through judgment. (James Denney, The
 Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Expositor's Bible, Hodder, 1894, p.
 221f.)

When I read that, it sounded as though Denney were addressing Dr John
directly. And I was put in mind of a characteristically gentle remark of
Henry Chadwick, in his introductory lectures on doctrine which I
attended my first year in Oxford. After carefully discussing all the
various theories of atonement, Dr Chadwick allowed that there were of
course some problems with the idea of penal substitution. But he said,
'until something like this has been said, it is hard to escape the
conclusion that the full story has not yet been told.' For myself, I
prefer to go with Henry Chadwick, and James Denney - and Wesley and
Watts, and Cranmer and Hooker, and Athanasius and Augustine and Aquinas
- and Paul, Peter, Mark, Luke, John - and, I believe Jesus himself. To
throw away the reality because you don't like the caricature is like
cutting out the patient's heart to stop a nosebleed. Christ died for our
sins according to the scriptures, and all because of the unstoppable
love of the on
 e creator God. There is 'no condemnation' for those who are in Christ,
 because on the cross God condemned sin in the flesh of the Son who, as
 the expression of his own self-giving love, had been sent for that very
 purpose. 'He did not spare his very own Son, but gave him up for us
 all.' That's what Good Friday was, and is, all about.

3. Pierced for Our Transgressions

That is why I was all the more frustrated when I came upon a new book by
the recently appointed Principal-elect of Oak Hill College, Mike Ovey,
and two students of that college, Steve Jeffrey and Andrew Sach. The
book is entitled Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory
of Penal Substitution (IVP, 2007). It is substantial, with over three
hundred pages of text and detailed annotations, and carries enthusiastic
commendations - no fewer than ten pages of them), written in response to
the controversy triggered by The Lost Message. Here Chalke makes it
plain that it is the classic doctrine of penal substitution itself, not
merely its caricatures, that he finds objectionable.

'In reality, penal substitution (in contrast to other substitutionary
theories) doesn't cohere well with either biblical or Early Church
thought. Although penal substitution isn't as old as many people assume
(it's not even as old as the pews in many of our church buildings), it
is actually built on pre-Christian thought.'

Or again:

'In The Lost Message of Jesus I claim that penal substitution is
tantamount to "child abuse - a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an
offence he has not even committed." Though the sheer bluntness of this
imagery (not original to me of course) might shock some, in truth, it is
only a stark "unmasking" of the violent, pre-Christian thinking behind
such a theology.'

If Chalke has given private assurances to Wright that he wishes to
retract his previous denials of penal substitution, we hope that he will
realise the importance of making this public.

Secondly, Wright's central objection to our work seems not to be
directed at any of the specific biblical or theological arguments we
have advanced in support of penal substitution. Rather, his quibble is a
methodological one: he complains that we have not set our whole
discussion within the framework of a narrative-theological exposition of
Israel's history as it reaches its fulfilment in Christ. He even goes so
far as to assert that we 'ignore the history of Israel' (italics
original), which seems at best overstated. For example, we set the
Passover in the context of the Abrahamic covenant (pp. 35, 41–42), the
Levitical sacrifices in the context of the preceding Exodus narrative
(pp. 42–43), God's curse on sin in the context of Israel's exile (pp.
93–95, 122), the life of Jesus in the context of Israel's role in God's
purposes (pp. 134–135).

However, there is a difference between the kind of narrative theology
project in which Wright has been engaged for so many years, and the
approach of classical systematic theology, which looks to provide an
integrated picture of the Bible's teaching on particular themes. Surely
both are helpful and appropriate. A book professing to summarise the
message of John's Gospel must begin with the whole structure of his
narrative, the place of the signs, and so on. Conversely, the section on
John in a systematic work on the Trinity will necessarily - and rightly
- focus on those specific passages which have most to say about the
Father-Son relationship, the sending of the Spirit, etc.

Wright accuses us of 'sifting' the Gospels for material relevant to our
subject, and indeed that is exactly what we were trying to do! That does
not mean that we are free to abstract 'proof-texts' from their contexts,
but we took pains to avoid that. But Wright censures us for failing to
hit a target we were not aiming at. We did not profess to answer the
question, 'What do the gospels teach about Jesus?' nor even, 'What
picture of the atonement emerges from the gospels as a whole?' Our aim,
as we explain in the introduction to our exegetical section (pp. 33–34)
was more modest. We were trying to establish simply that penal
substitution has a place in this bigger picture.

Thirdly, Wright criticises our exegesis of Romans and Galatians.
Interpretation of these epistles must reckon with the ongoing debates
over the so-called New Perspective on Paul, in which Wright himself is a
central figure. Not wanting to privilege exclusively either side, our
approach in Galatians was to demonstrate that penal substitution follows
from both the traditional and the New Perspective approaches; we even
devoted a section to a (sympathetic) discussion of Wright's narrative
reading of the curse as exile in Galatians 3 (pp. 93–94).

In Romans we took care to avoid conclusions that depend exclusively on
either framework (p. 80). Wright objects that we should have said more
about the meaning of 'the righteousness of God' and its relationship to
the Abrahamic covenant. But he himself concedes that these things are
controversial, and since they are not necessary to establish the more
general points (on which all can agree) that God is angered by sin (Rom.
1–3) and that Christ's death turned aside his anger (Rom. 3:21–26), it
seemed wise to omit them.

Wright is clearly dissatisfied, and wants us to make his way of reading
the Bible our controlling hermeneutic; anything short of this he deems
'sub-biblical'. But to base our case solely on a position that continues
to be hotly debated in New Testament Studies would have been
counterproductive. As it is, our aim was that our exegesis should stand
'regardless of which path is taken with respect to the issues of recent
controversy' (p. 89).

As a postscript, we should say something in reply to Wright's surprise
that we 'omit all mention or discussion of Anselm.' The reason is simply
that, contrary to (popular?) belief, Anselm did not teach penal
substitution. Yes, he brought to prominence the important vocabulary of
'satisfaction', which became important in later formulations. But in
Anselm's feudal thought-world, it was God's honour that needed to be
satisfied by substitutionary obedience, not his justice by
substitutionary penalty. Thus his omission from our list of those who
have endorsed penal substitution was not accidental

END

------------------------------

Date:    Thu, 26 Apr 2007 23:36:38 -0400
From:    David Virtue <david@VIRTUEONLINE.ORG>
Subject: LOVE ALWAYS HOPES

LOVE ALWAYS HOPES

1 Corinthians 13:7

By Ted Schroder
April 22, 2007

Love always hopes because love sees possibilities where none seems to
exist. Love always hopes because love never despairs. Love is not
dependent on the fulfillment of immediate expectations. Love takes the
long term point of view. Love will not give up on others. Love does not
give up on God's purpose. Love keeps us hopeful, in all situations,
against all evidence, because hope "is stored up for you in heaven."
(Colossians 1:5)

Hope is defined as "Desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in
fulfillment...to desire with expectation of obtainment...to expect with
confidence."

* "When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light
at the end.
* When we are overworked and exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy.
* When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.
* When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.
* When we lose our way and confusion blurs our destination, hope dulls
the edge of panic.
* When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope
helps us persevere beyond the pain.
* When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in
control.
* When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our
recovery.
* When we find ourselves in financial difficulty, hope tells us that we
still have a future.
* When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to
trust.
* When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we're not
alone...we'll make it.
* When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life
beyond gets us through our grief."

(Charles R. Swindoll, Hope Again: When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade,
pp.xi,xii)

How can love always hope when the situation seems hopeless? How can you
continue to love when your alcoholic husband is abusive? How can you
continue to love when your son or daughter rejects your faith and all
the values you taught them to respect? How can you continue to love God
when an incurable disease is destroying your loved one? How can we
continue to love when prospects in this life seem hopeless?

The answer is that love's source is in God. Love's hope is not just
wishful thinking. Love's hope is not just unrealistic expectations.
Love's hope finds its confidence in God's eternal plan which is beyond
human understanding. So Paul prays for those he loves: "May the God of
hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you
may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

"Hope looks beyond a cure for disease, a solution for a problem, an
escape from pain, to an assurance from God that life has point and
meaning in spite of disease, problems, and pain. Hope looks to the
promise of the final victory of Jesus Christ over all that hurts and
kills. This is the hope that gives us courage to praise today and face
tomorrow with expectancy even when we do not expect the problem to be
solved." (Lewis Smedes, Love Within Limits, p. 103)

How do we draw on that kind of hope? It comes from being filled with the
Spirit. We ask for the gift of the Spirit which Jesus came to give us.
We open our hearts and minds to receive that which we need, when all
things seem to be hopeless and we are tempted to despair. We believe
that God who loves us, will give us the hope we need, to sustain us.

"Hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into
our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5) We can
hope because we have received the love of God in Christ who died for us.
God demonstrated his own love for us in that while we were yet sinners,
and there seemed to be no hope for us changing or being changed, Christ
died for us. God poured that redemptive love into our hearts by his Holy
Spirit to give us hope.

Simon Peter is a case in point. Jesus warned Simon, "Satan has asked to
sift you as wheat. But I have prayed that your faith may not fail."
(Luke 22:31,32) In so many instances in our lives, Satan tries to sift
us like wheat, by attacking our love so that we lose hope. Jesus is
still interceding for us that our faith will not fail. Peter tried to
brazen his way through by declaring that he was ready for anything, even
to go to prison and to death for Jesus. Jesus deflated his balloon by
warning him that before the night was out he would deny three times that
he knew him. After this happened Peter remembered what Jesus had said,
"And he went out and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:61,62)

You can imagine his despair. This strong, boastful fisherman had
disgraced himself and let his Master down. The shame and regret must
have been terrible to bear. What hope would he have to be able to put
things right. Jesus had been crucified. There was no way he could repair
what he had done. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. He would
have to live with his denial the rest of his life. Satan had won. His
faith had failed.

Yet, the impossible happened. There was life beyond death. Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, were told by the angel
in the empty tomb to "Go, tell his disciples, and Peter." (Mark 16:7)
Jesus especially wanted Peter to know that he was going ahead of him
into Galilee where he would see him again.

When he heard this message Peter began to hope again. The day came when
he was fishing and Jesus appeared. In an historic meeting he restored
Peter to his mission after asking him three times, "Simon son of John,
do you truly love me?" (John 21:15,16,17) Peter replied three times,
"Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." That love for Jesus gave him hope
when all seemed to be lost.

It is not surprising that when Peter came to write his letter to
Christian believers, he began by witnessing to the source of his hope.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great
mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that
can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you." (1 Peter
1:3,4)

Peter knew he was loved by God. The Holy Spirit had poured God's love
into his heart despite his failures. That love inspired his love for
Jesus and others. The resurrection of Jesus confirmed its reality and
gave him new hope. That hope depended not on this world but in the
reality of an eternal inheritance. The love that hopes sees possibility
which unbelief cannot see. The love that hopes does not require answers
and solutions in this life. Love continues to hope beyond the present
into the future and into eternity, where all will be revealed in the
last time. This love is willing to wait, to accept, to be patient, to
hope for all things to be resolved, not now, but in the last time. It is
this hope, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which will not
disappoint us. Thanks be to God.

END

------------------------------

End of VIRTUEONLINE Digest - 20 Apr 2007 to 27 Apr 2007 (#2007-21)
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