Friday, July 30, 2004

If you want an interesting and sharp discussion among conservatives on how to deal with the apostasy of the Episcopal Church, I highly recommend this post with comments over at Pontifications.

I agree with the Pontificator’s post for the most part. I don’t yet think the ECUSA is at the point where a new orthodox bishop who opposes same-sex unions and actively gay bishops can’t be consecrated . . . yet. (Yes, I do think we are getting there though.)

On the comments, I most agree with Brother Q in comment 18.

Well, I have to leave what passes for civilization now.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Hypocrite Bishop

This is too rich. The Episcopal bishop of Missouri decries polarizing political stands because they are so . . . so, so MEAN while he, of course, takes a polarizing political stand himself and all but accuses his opponents of hate.

I’m waiting for Americans United for Separation of Church and State to descend upon the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and demand that its IRS tax exempt status be taken away.

I’m waiting . . .

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


The Anglican book I’m reading now is English Reformations. I really like it (Thanks to the good professor who mailed it to me!) and will review it in due time.

For now, I want to focus on one passage I’ve read in it. Early in Elizabeth’s reign, there was quite a shortage of Protestant preachers.

Through the first half of Elizabeth’s reign the shortage of Protestant preachers was acute. A survey of the diocese of Peterborough in 1560 found only nine preachers among 166 clergy. . . . There were more preachers in some areas, and fewer in others . . . . But virtually everywhere preaching resources were inadequate and over-stretched.

. . . there had been no sermons in six years at Ellerker, none in seven at Skerne, none in ten at Wressle, and none in twenty at Thorp Arch.

Compare that with today, when we have a multitude of good teachers and Bibles and good books teaching from the Bible. Today, the problem in the church is that we are spoiled and lazy. We have a great wealth of God’s word and the teaching of it to feed on, but do we?

Too often, we are like the sluggard who is too lazy to eat the food right in front of him. (Prov. 19:24) Therefore “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing.� (Prov. 13:4)

The church in the West would do well to get some historic and spiritual perspective and realize that God has lavished his grace upon us by providing us so much of His word and good teaching of it -- a wealth unprecedented in the history of the church.

But instead we are all too often bored, spoiled, and lazy, not even reaching with our eyes and minds to feed upon His word. Or we reject God’s grace in His word altogether. Sad -- and contemptible.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail

Well, I finished Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, which focuses on why many evangelicals are drawn toward Anglicanism. I’m glad I read it. It is one of the more well-known 20th Century books on Anglicanism and deservedly so. It’s not without its faults, but we’ll get into that later.

First, some of the many positives. The book is perceptive in going through a variety of reasons evangelicals might be drawn to a liturgical church. One reason is a longing for the experience of worship. Speaking of his own experience, the author, Dr. Robert Webber, writes, “Something within me was pushing me toward an experience of worship . . . that was different than the plate being served in the [evangelical] churches where I had been involved.� I can say the same thing.

He writes that evangelical worship is often too man-centered, especially too centered around the pastor and his sermon. And he’s correct.

Webber expresses his and many evangelicals’ yearning to be a part of the whole church. He criticizes the tendency toward division and excessive separation among some evangelical churches. He appreciates the diversity within unity in Anglicanism. (And I do, too . . . to a point, as you’ll see.) One reason he likes the Book of Common Prayer and the church calendar is it brings about not just individualistic or local worship, it brings about Christians worldwide worshiping together.

Going further, Webber expresses a desire to be connected with saints through the ages. For “our family tree begins not with the Reformation or the twentieth-century evangelical movement but with Jesus Christ, and it continues though the Apostles, the primitive Christian community, the Apostolic Fathers . . . and all who say ‘Jesus is Lord.’� I agree and desire that connection as well.

These are just some ways in which Webber very well captures, largely by discussing his own experience, why evangelicals might be attracted to Anglicanism. Much of the book is also given to the experiences of other evangelicals who have become Anglican.

But Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail at times reads like low-key recruitment to the Episcopal Church USA. (Webber writes mainly in the context of evangelicals attracted to the ECUSA.) And in so doing, it treads too lightly on very real problems most evangelicals would have in considering the Episcopal Church, especially its liberalism. Now I’m going to harp on this a little bit, but bear with me.

I freely grant that the book was written in 1985, when the liberalism of the Episcopal Church was not as obvious as today. Still, even I, who didn’t know much about the ECUSA back in the 80’s, knew enough to know that it was liberal to a large extent.

When Webber does address this issue, his view is unrealistically optimistic. This paragraph stands out:

In recent years many evangelicals have acknowledged that a significant shift away from a liberal theology toward apostolic Christianity has been occurring within the halls of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches.

Huh? Now I did follow the World and National Council of Churches closely in the early 80’s (much to the consternation of some of my fellow Presbyterians). And I saw no such shift, nor read of any evangelical perceiving any such shift. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any such evangelicals, but if there were, they were surely engaging in wishful thinking. For these councils were too busy being useful idiots for the Communist cause and other leftisms to shift in any way toward orthodoxy.

Webber engages in additional wishful thinking himself when he writes:

In the Episcopal church I find a healthy sense of unity and diversity. In this tradition we recognize that that which holds the church together is more important than that which divides the church.

This is something ++Griswold could write. But to be fair, yes, unity and diversity is a hallmark of Anglicanism and is a Biblical and attractive trait for a church to have when it does not go beyond the bounds of orthodoxy. But for an Evangelical professor to write this about the ECUSA while it was at the very least well on its way to apostasy (which by its very nature is divisive) is missing the mark. Granted, orthodox Anglicanism has this healthy sense of unity and diversity. But the Episcopal Church USA?

Guessing why Webber’s book has this blind spot would be pure speculation on my part. Maybe Webber was so attracted to the Episcopal Church that deep inside he just didn’t want to see how badly its foundations had eroded – not unlike someone who so falls in love with a house that he doesn’t see that it’s falling apart. I can understand that. At this point, I find myself so attracted to Anglicanism that, if I couldn’t find a good Anglican church for me where I’m moving, I would be sorely let down.

But in 1985 even this casual observer saw there was a serious problem. Now most evangelicals see the same. To his credit, so does Dr. Webber. I contacted him and he has graciously swapped e-mails with me. Although he makes a point of not demeaning evangelicals who stay in the ECUSA, he feels there is now a new “litmus test� of being a good Episcopalian – affirmation of gay relationships. He feels that the Episcopal Church “will become an increasingly uncomfortable place for those who disagree . . . .�

If you cross out “Episcopal� in Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail and replace it with “orthodox Anglican,� then it is a helpful and perceptive book that captures well why there are evangelical WannabeAnglicans in the world. But not dealing adequately with the liberalism of the Episcopal Church USA and issues evangelicals might have with that liberalism, even back in the 80’s, is a significant shortcoming in any book on evangelical attitudes toward Episcopalianism.

Still, if one takes into account that shortcoming, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail is a perceptive book I recommend if you want to get a good grip on the attractiveness of Anglicanism to evangelicals. It even helped me understand why I’m a WannabeAnglican.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Outrage and Truthtelling

Now that I’ve recovered somewhat from the news of ++Rowan’s planned trip to kiss the Islamic feet that run to persecute Christians -- on 9-11 no less -- it’s time for some truth telling.

First, Franklin Graham was right, if impolitic – Islam is an evil religion. It started as a Satanic counterfeit of Christianity and Judaism, twisting the Bible’s teachings and history into a religion of lies and murder. It spread by military conquest and once threatened to wipe out the Christian West. Persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims is today endemic in Muslim countries and is usually supported by Muslim governments.

And with the support of many millions of Muslims, Islam has produced one of the great evils in the world – Islamic terrorism. Yes, yes, most Muslims don’t support it, blah blah blah. Well the Islamic support of terrorism is much louder and whole-hearted than Islamic condemnation of it. And the evil doctrine of jihad is what gave birth to Islamic terrorism.

So yes, ++Rowan’s planned little trip and speech is an outrage. For me, it’s the last straw. If I were the Dread Sovereign of England, I would dismiss him and tell both him and Tony Blair to bug off from running the church. But that’s not going to happen, alas.

Which begs some more truth telling. The manner in which the Anglican Communion chooses its leader, however symbolic he may be, is no longer acceptable. No church has any business letting the Prime Minister of England or any politician, whoever he or she may be, pick its leader. Having the Sovereign or Prime Minister of England pick the Archbishop of Canterbury may have worked well enough in the past when there was more of an orthodox consensus. But it doesn’t work now.

If the Anglican Communion survives, its leader should be chosen by the Primates, not by a politician.

As it stands, my desire to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury just went down several notches.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


I'm at a loss for words. I just found out that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams plans to speak in praise of Islam at a Muslim university in Egypt. On 9-11 no less.

Maybe I don't want to be in communion with him.

(Hat tip to Chris at the Midwest Conservative Journal)

Friday, July 23, 2004

More on open communion

Here’s some succinct comments on open communion from retired orthodox Episcopal bishop William Wantland.

He helpfully spells out what the ECUSA canons are on this question. And, yes, those liberals who want to open communion to everyone would be violating those canons. Oh, but I forgot . . . ECUSA canons are only for use against conservatives. Liberals are given a pass because they are so right.

Or as the good bishop notes, “It appears that too many in the Episcopal Church are either ignorant of the teaching of the Church, or simply don't care.� Since ECUSA liberals oft and suddenly become canonical fundamentalists when it suits their ends, I don’t think ignorance is the problem.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Open Communion?

There’s been some discussion this week about open communion over at Titusonenine and Pontifications among other places.

As I’ve mentioned before, like most American conservative Christians, I’m ecumenically minded when it comes to other conservative Christians of differing backgrounds. That’s a quality I like about the Reformed Episcopal Church. It’s even in their liturgy when they invite all baptized Christians to come to the communion table.

That’s the kind of open communion I like. But now open communion too often means that anyone may come regardless of their beliefs.

I have a confession to make. I exercised naive judgment a couple years back and participated in such an open communion at a family member’s United Church of Christ at Christmas. As I took the raison bread (Please forgive me!), the server said, “Happy Hanukkah.�

Now I have nothing against Hanukkah. I think it’s an excellent holiday. But I do strongly object to dragging communion down into an interfaith mishmash, where anybody can come and believe anything. At the very least, that is disrespectful to the Christ who instituted communion as a remembrance of Him and His sacrifice for us.

Yes, we need to be inviting and strive to make non-Christians feel welcome in church. But to give the impression that what you believe doesn’t really matter – “You don’t believe Jesus is Lord? Noooo problem! We’ll baptise you, confirm you, serve you communion. Heck, we’ll serve you communion right now! Come on down!� – THAT is another matter altogether.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I don't want this to become too much of a news blog. But there is a story out this morning that could be very important. Yet it's not getting much attention, at least not yet. There a report that hidden nuclear arms have been found in Iraq.

If this report is verified, it would put a different light on the Iraq War, would it not?

UPDATE: The report has now been denied by Iraq's Interior Ministry. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

church politics stink II

I was floored to read this in today’s Corpus Christi paper. (Free registration required.) In one large Baptist church, if you don’t think the pastor is Moses incarnate, you’re outta there:

Members of Gardendale Baptist Church voted Sunday to expel about 165 members from their congregation because they did not support the leadership of the church's pastor, according to a church spokesman and several ousted members.

In a letter to the congregation, Micah Davidson, the church's pastor, called a business meeting after a July 18 baptismal service at which members would vote on the following statement: "Pastor Micah is the God-called pastor for Gardendale and is leading us in God's direction or not."

Davidson also stated in the letter that he would leave immediately if the church voted against him.

"If the church votes for me to stay," he wrote, "those who vote against me will be removed from membership in the family immediately."

The vote was about 750 to 165 in favor of the pastor, according to John Gilbert, administrative pastor of the church. Immediately after the vote of confidence, members voted to revoke the memberships of those who voted against Davidson. Gilbert said that of the 165 members who were "removed from membership," all could come back to church if they "signed a covenant for church unity."

I would have voted against the pastor simply because he called such a vote, even if that did mean I was kicked out of the church.

Apparently, there’s a cult of personality thing going on here. If memory serves me right, this is the church that has a big billboard on the main drag in Corpus featuring – you guessed it – the pastor and his wife. Yes, I know (too many) other churches do that. It still sets off alarm bells for me.

Whatever you think of congregational government (I think it stinks.), the problem with some U. S. Baptist churches is that they are really dictatorships of the pastor. Even those that are not are often far too pastor-centered.

But this is over-the-top even by Baptist standards. That a man would exercise such raw power to consolidate his personal position and cast out those who disagree automatically disqualifies him from leadership.

By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, that’s one of my criteria for a church – the leadership must not be power-hungry control freaks.

(And sorry if I’m beating up on Baptists a bit here. You may have noticed I think most churches across the denominational spectrum botch how they handle authority.)

UPDATE: Here's a follow-up story.

Monday, July 19, 2004


Well, I’m back in what passes for civilization. And lately, it’s not passing very well. One of the first things to greet me is this piece from one Dan Savage, a self-admitted promiscuous gay man who with his partner has adopted a child and may adopt another.

I’m at a loss for much commentary on this one. Allowing such openly immoral men to adopt children is an outrage upon children. Inflicting perversion on oneself and a willing partner (or partners in Mr. Savage’s case) is one thing. But to raise children in that atmosphere with state support no less? In any case, chalk this up as Exhibit 34,678 that God has given certain parts of American culture over to a depraved mind and moral insanity.

Unfortunately, those parts have undue influence in federal courts among other high places.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

two court decisions

I guess I’ll poke my head in here to let you know I’m not totally cut off from the real world.

Two court decisions still have my goat even though they’ve been out for a while.

First is the World Court saying that Israel’s planned security fence to keep terrorists out is illegal. When did the World Court, the U.N. etc. ever give a d**n about protecting Jews from Islamic terrorists? Then the World Court has the gall and arrogance to issue this decision. Frankly - and I mean this from my heart, after much reflection – the World Court can go to Hell.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has said he’ll do the right thing about this decision – ignore it.

Speaking of court decisions that beg to be ignored, the Supreme Court ruled that making pornographers make their slimy websites child-proof is unconstitutional. Look, it’s already a stretch to say pornography is protected by the Constitution at all. But, as I’ve made clear, free speech is important to me, so I can tolerate some erring in that direction. But to say the Constitution says pornographers can’t be required to take measures to make their web sites inaccessible to children?

I’ve long thought that it might be necessary for a President and Congress to defy an egregious Supreme Court ruling to put the Court in its place. After all, the Constitution gives both the President and Congress responsibilities and avenues to keep the Supreme Court from becoming a dictatorship of black robes. And both branches have dropped the ball. The result is outrageous attacks on Constitutional democracy such as this internet porn ruling.

This case has been sent back to a lower court, so it’s not completely decided yet. But maybe this will be a good case for a President and/or Congress to say to the Supreme Court, “No, the Constitution does NOT say that. You don’t have the Constitutional authority to rule thus. And we will defend the Constitution and our democracy by ignoring your ruling.�

It’s obviously preferable to avoid that. Constitutional crises can get ugly. But if an arbitrary dictatorship of black robes getting stronger and stronger is the alternative…

Thursday, July 08, 2004

In case you still think I was being alarmist in my Fourth of July comments about dangers to the freedoms of speech and religion, there’s a new and vicious attack. Lumping “right-wing Evangelicals� and Islamic terrorists together in the same sentence, British Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for a clampdown on religious speech.

Some of our liberal Supreme Court justices and congressmen have a thing about imitating Europe, by the way.

Some housekeeping: I will be preoccupied away from the internet for most of the next ten days. My posts will be infrequent to nonexistent during that time.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I hope this story is true.

I haven’t yet seen this from a wide variety of sources, so I can’t vouch for its reliability. But it’s reported that Cardinal Ratzinger has told American Catholic bishops that pro-abortion politicians must be denied communion.

Judging from the above report, ++Ratzinger is right on target. Kudos (or the Latin equivalent) to him.

I’m not concerned about the political impact of this, which will be mixed I expect. I am concerned about any part of the church giving cover to active public pro-abortionists. I am provoked when any part of the church pretends that everything is o.k. when someone is engaging in such grave public wrong (as I said on 6-29). If ++Ratzinger is saying that must end, then good for him.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Those of you involved in youth ministry may want to read a webarticle I wrote for Youthworker about rules.

It says volumes about the Democrat Party...

...that Kerry's Veep pick is a freakin' trial lawyer.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Criteria for my next church, continued

What I’m looking for relationally in a church is different than in the past, in some ways less demanding, in other ways more.

You might remember that a church having plenty of opportunities to find a wife, particularly a lively singles group, was once a big priority for me. Now, getting married is nowhere near the obsessive priority that it once was. And it’s been years since I’ve been to a singles group of any kind. My past priority wasn’t wrong (as some sanctimonious singles seemed to feel at the time). But my priorities have changed.

But having supportive friendships in a church is a bigger priority for me now than in the past. I’m not near as much of a loner as I once was. (I know. That seems to contradict that I don’t want marriage as much, but I’m a complex guy.) I know more than in the past that I need good friends around me for good company and support.

I particularly need support as a single. I’ve seen and experienced that some churches will look down on an older single, thinking something is wrong with him and questioning his motives for his life and ministry choices, even when they are perfectly good and Biblical. I need the opposite in a church. I don’t need a differing measure that says I shouldn’t do this or that because I’m single*. I need a church that supports me – and not just with words – as I seek to follow God’s leading on my life.

(*Obviously, I don’t think churches should support or condone singles being sexually active. That’s the one thing singles shouldn’t do that is perfectly good for marrieds.)

Small Continuing Anglican Church – that’s the one I’ve been checking out – seems to be a good place relationally for me. I already have good SCAC friends. It’s been surprisingly easy to make friends there, and not just friendly acquaintances. After church, there seems to always be invites to lunch and this and that for me and others. People know and like spending time with each other. Few are in a hurry to leave. It’s very easy to get to know people.

It being a small church certainly helps in this area, but I suspect even most small churches don’t excel like this one in being a family.

From what I can tell so far, singles are not treated with a differing measure. I know of at least one older single in a leadership role. But I do need to investigate and ask some questions on attitudes toward singles. I’ll probably get together with the rector and ask him. I think I’ll end up liking what I hear though.

Even though I like SCAC so far, this is a make or break question before I join any church. I never want to be in a situation where I am discouraged or hamstrung in following God’s leading in my life because I’m single. Instead, I know I need my church’s support and encouragement.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Fascism is alive and well…

… among some brands of Liberals and Leftists worldwide. In Kansas, the so-called Mainstream Coalition is monitoring conservative churches for “improper� political activity. They are particularly monitoring sermons. Yes, even Kansas has its own religious speech police.

If you want to see the direction we’re going, look to Sweden, where a pastor has been sentenced to one month in jail for denouncing homosexuality. Swede heil, anybody?

If you think I’m alarmist, remember that we already have special legal categories of “hate crimes.� It’s not a big step from that to outlawing whatever the liberals want to categorize as “hate speech.�

On this Independence Day, remember that our forefathers had to fight for our freedom.

And we still have to fight.

UPDATE: Apparently, the attacks on the freedoms of speech and religion may be further along then even I had thought.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

"an evil assembly"

Well, the mainline Presbyterians’ General Assembly was sad. Yes, they voted to not defy their own constitution on the issue of ordaining practicing homosexuals. Whoop-de-doo. But the Liberals never give up. They’ll push this issue again and again and . . .

For all their talk about unity, Liberals in the Presbyterian Church (and elsewhere, of course) seem to go out of their way to alienate conservatives. There’s the Reverend Elenora Giddings Ivory, director of the PCUSA’s Washington office, bragging of their support of abortion and of this year’s baby killing march. There’s the General Assembly passing by 78% to 22% a resolution calling the Iraq war “illegal.� So George Bush and our soldiers are war criminals?

And, as I mentioned, Clifton Kirkpatrick got reelected stated clerk with a disgusting 66% of the vote. You know when Kirkpatrick lies? When he swears to uphold the constitution of the Presbyterian Church. For he has made clear he has no intention of lifting a finger to enforce it. Yet that hasn’t kept him from using strong arm tactics against those who conscientiously can not allow their money to go to having Christian values trashed.

There was every reason in the world to dump Kirkpatrick. But the vote wasn’t even close. Conservative Presbies, if that’s the best you can do, then you should be ashamed.

More sordid details of the General Assembly can be found at

From here, it’s clear that the best we can expect out of the Presbyterian Church USA is to be stuck with liberals in leadership positions and for the same battles to be fought year after year after year.

It’s been suggested the best possible resolution is “a gracious separation� – splitting the denomination between the orthodox and others. Doing that amicably would be a positive witness and would enable both sides to move on.

But it’s unlikely liberals would agree to that, so I think that leaves conservatives in the PCUSA with only two good choices: 1. Get organized and kick the liberals out of leadership positions and keep them out. Rather unlikely. Or 2. Leave the mainline Presbyterian Church. Because right now, you’re embarrassing yourselves and aiding the enemy – just like you have for decades.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The mainline Presbyterian Church's General Assembly has reelected Kirkpatrick as stated clerk with 66% of the vote.

I have to go out the door, so I don't have time to express my disgust. Maybe tomorrow.

Conservative Presbies, if that's the best you can do...

In case you haven’t gotten your daily dose of outrage, check out this story and this one.

As for my commentary . . . I’m sorry. These items leave me beyond words.
Jeffrey John

The controversy of the day in Anglicanism is the installation of Dr. Jeffrey John as Dean of St. Alban’s Cathedral.

I once had some sympathy for Dr. John. When he was about to be offered a bishop’s mitre, then had that taken away, I thought he was being jerked around unfairly. After all, he said he has been celibate for some years. (He’s gay, for those who don’t know.)

But the more I hear him open his mouth, the less I think of him. I wouldn’t make him a deacon now, much less a dean. He is renowned for his teaching. But it is heterodox to say the least. He doesn’t want to be known at “the gay dean,� but he has been pushing a gay agenda in people’s faces.

The latest words from him that strike me wrong is his insistence that he should be a bishop. To me, that alone practically disqualifies him for the job. Shouldn’t we appoint humble men with servant attitudes as bishops? Don’t we have enough bishops who think too highly of themselves? Doesn’t the power of a bishop demand someone with the humility to use that power carefully?

So even putting aside the issue of his homosexuality (And he refuses to repent of past homosexual conduct, so it should be an issue.), why is this guy being elevated?

The Church of England might be about to catch hell for this appointment – and they deserve it.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Church courts?!

I’ve been reading a bit about English church courts in the 16th century. But I didn’t know church courts still existed. But apparently, they do. And John Kerry is being sued in one of them for heresy.

By the way, I don’t think a heresy suit is wise here. Kerry is not exactly a teacher in the church. And suing him for heresy is just a dumb p. r. move I think. Excommunicating him for his acts against unborn children is enough for me . . . that and a little torture, an inquisition, a gentle burning at the stake . . .