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It's as though the primates of the two churches are standing on the deck of The Titanic after it has hit an iceberg, chatting about needed changes in the Prayer Book over marriage language, with drinks and rainbow flags in hand, hoping that someone will patch the hole as they contemplate a wonderful future for their respective churches. Like the Titanic, the two Churches' end will be the same.

Sadly, it appears, the Church of England is heading along the same trajectory.

This colossal blindness could be seen this week when the Anglican Church of Canada, by one vote, rejected same sex marriage by its house of bishops, resulting in several leading bishops defiantly announcing that they would go ahead and perform same sex marriages based on another resolution - A Word to the Church, which, in fact, gave carte blanche for dioceses to act as they wanted homosexual marriage. Fred Hiltz, the outgoing primate, pleaded, "our children are crying" after the vote was taken. He made no recognition of the other side's point of view.

The bishop of the Arctic, who had previously written that a vote for same sex marriage is a conflict that cannot be reconciled said, "The Bible teaches against same-sex sexual activity and does not endorse same-sex marriage. I must call the promotion, teaching, and endorsing of same-sex marriage false teaching and heresy." Bishop David W. Parsons was later denied the right to speak his views at synod.

The following day, Parsons announced that the Diocese of the Arctic, while remaining a diocese within the Anglican Church of Canada, would now distance itself from those who violate the Marriage Canon. The implication of this is a state of "impaired communion". "By using the phrase 'self-determining,' we are reserving the right not to affirm or submit to decisions that violate the doctrine of the church on marriage," he said.

Silence, denial, spin, it was all there. And then came the reality check.

At Synod it was revealed that the Church's finances were in free fall; the Church was running a deficit. More money was being spent than was coming in, a recipe for bankruptcy.

From here:

A fall in revenues, especially contributions from the dioceses, combined with increased expenses to put the Anglican Church of Canada in a deficit position in 2018, General Synod heard. The national church's audited financial statements for the year show that overall revenue was $11.1 million, down by $800,000--7%--from 2017, Fraser Lawton, bishop of the diocese of Athabasca and a member of the financial management committee, told General Synod. But expenses were $11.8 million--$400,000 more than the prior year, he said, citing rounded figures from the statements.

The deeper truth is that there are no next generation converts coming into the churches. Across the country, churches are closing, the money pool is drying up, the new primate, a woman, Bishop Linda Nicholls, heads the second fastest dying diocese - Huron- in the ACoC. What a portrait to present to the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Church of Canada, which is squeamishly shy about publicizing how many people attend its churches, has published no complete statistics for membership and average Sunday attendance since 2001, although the ACoC did claim a membership of 545,957 in 2007. Assuming a loss of 13% per annum, the Church today can only boast about 118,000 average Sunday attendance.

And you wonder why African Anglicans scorn western Anglicanism as they watch it slowly die and repudiate the whole pansexual enterprise the West has opted for.

Is it any wonder that GAFCON was formed, repudiating the Lambeth Conference! Is it any wonder that the ACNA and the ANiC (Canada) came into existence to counter TEC; if they had not, the very stones would have cried out!

From the moment the vote by the HOB was announced, the liberal and religious media went into overdrive; picturing women crying, interviews with aggrieved members of the LGBTQI community, who painted those who disagreed with them as homophobic and haters. Not a single media outlet interviewed a single orthodox bishop asking him he felt. The first response was the announcement by the Diocese of the Arctic saying that they would go their own way, while still remaining in the ACoC. But for how long?

The Episcopal Church has been on a long steady decline since the halcyon days of Gene Robinson's consecration.

Both Churches could be thought of as being on suicide watch. Both Churches believe that brokering in sodomy and homosexual marriage would be winning strategies and both have been proven wrong. The Episcopal Church has millions of dollars it can draw down on to push its agenda; the Anglican Church of Canada has no such pot of gold; it is running on empty. Hence it will die sooner.

If the Diocese of Alaska does decide to leave, would it start an avalanche? It is hard to say. Indigenous Anglicans are mixed on the issue of homosexual marriage as it goes against their culture (they once they stood firmly against it in 2016).

Newly anointed Archbishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada said, "It must be said that there is nowhere near a unanimous view on issues of marriage and gender among Indigenous peoples. The reality of Indigenous peoples' various views on these matters is more complex."

Both Churches are reaping what they have sown; they have sown to the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. Hiltz leaves the helm of the ACoC, a conflicted and torn body, and when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was asked what strategies he would employ to address the 24% loss of membership in The Episcopal Church in the last decade, he said, "None! Questions about church attendance and church decline are second-order questions."

In finem in aspectu -- the end is in sight.

END

TEC and ACoC would sooner go out of business than repent for embracing pansexuality
Diocese of the Arctic announces "impaired communion" with ACoC

PHOTO: BOO HOO. Lyds Keesmaat-Walsh (centre), delegate from the diocese of Toronto, revealing her faux pain by not getting her way over a failed same-sex marriage resolution at the ACoC Synod. She is being comforted by Bishop Riscylla Shaw, one of four bishops in the Diocese of Toronto. By contrast, Ashwaq a Yazidi girl who, at the age of 14, was captured by ISIS and sold as a sex slave for $100 to someone called Abu Humam, was raped and beaten for three months until she finally escaped and fled to Germany. Now that’s real pain.

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
July 19, 2019

It is now apparent that The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada would sooner go out of business than repent of their stated position on human sexuality.

So deeply embedded is homosexuality and the full range of LGBTQI sexuality's in these two churches, that it is impossible for them to turn around, recognize they have made a terrible mistake and repent.

It will never happen, even as both churches are sinking in numbers and money (income) year over year.

Saturday, July 20, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
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* parish ministry in England and the USA

* serving as South American Mission Society (SAMS) mission partner in Argentina and Europe

* church planting in Spain

* serving as Suffragan Bishop in Europe and Assistant Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

* serving as Church Mission Society (CMS) Latin America Mission Director

* serving as Honorary Assistant bishop in Oxford, Winchester and Chichester

Bishop Henry formerly served as a Board member of SAMS USA, SOMA USA, Anglicans for Life and New Wineskins and currently with ICS, Overseas Bishoprics Fund, CMS Latin America Forum and is an Honorary Vice President of CMJ.

All enquiries can be directed through the EFAC website at https://efacglobal.com/.

*****

Standing Committee Statement Regarding Bishop Henry Scriven

DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH
January 27, 2009

An article that appeared on Episcopal Life Online on January 23, 2009 reported that Bishop Henry Scriven, the former Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, had renounced his orders and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, had accepted that renunciation. Although the article may suggest otherwise, the Standing Committee understands that this action was not in any sense a disciplinary action or an action taken because of Bishop Scriven's support for the attempt to realign the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Before he relocated to England, Bishop Scriven had submitted his resignation as a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, inasmuch as he was planning to return to England and serve as Assistant to the Bishop of Oxford. In order to permit that, the Canons required that he be released from his orders in the Episcopal Church for reasons not affecting his moral character, which is what occurred. This is a routine way of permitting Bishop Scriven to continue his ministry. Orders in the Church themselves are indelible, but licensing is required to exercise them.

The Standing Committee gives thanks for the gracious way in which Bishop Scriven exercised his ministry in the Episcopal Church while he served here as Assistant Bishop and we hope he and his wife Catherine will visit us in the future.

END

The Evangelical Fellowship in The Anglican Communion Appoints Interim General Secretary

From Bishop Stephen Hale
Chair of the Executive
July 17, 2019

The Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC) is pleased to announce that at a meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday 16 July 2019 the Rt. Revd. Henry Scriven was appointed as interim General Secretary until the next meeting of the full Council. Bishop Henry succeeds the Revd Richard Crocker who did an important and much needed work in reviving international co-ordination of the many EFAC national fellowships and promoting new EFAC fellowships.

Bishop Henry was ordained in the Diocese of London in 1975. His experience includes:

Saturday, July 20, 2019
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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This General Synod has given us permission to decide for ourselves what direction we should take. We choose now to walk as the self-determining Anglican Church of Canada in the Arctic. Joshua 24:15 says "...choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

We understand that many have walked away from our Anglican Church of Canada's doctrine, but we have not.

We are grateful that the vote to change the marriage canon failed but saving the marriage canon did not save the biblical understanding of marriage. We are saddened that so many bishops have defied General Synod and have announced an independent decision to approve same-sex marriage. We are now in a state of impaired communion.

The scriptures tell us to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:3) and to not allow ourselves to "grow weary in doing good." (Gal 6:9). To that end we call on everyone in our Diocese to join us in a season of prayer, worship and the study of scripture. As bishops we will be interceding for you and looking to the Lord for guidance.

We ask you to join us in renewing our commitment to the mission of the Diocese of the Arctic: "to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, as revealed through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to enable all members of the Church to live out their Christian calling in parishes, in the wider church, in society at large and in the world."

Our mission statement has guided us for generations and will, God willing, into the future. We follow in the footsteps of our Godly leaders from the past who have so faithfully shared the Gospel in this land.

Your servants in Christ,

Rt. Rev. David W Parsons
Rt. Rev. Joey Royal
Rt. Rev. Annie Ittoshat
Rt. Rev. Lucy Netser

END

CORRECTION: Dear VOL readers. The headline I originally wrote was inaccurate. A further reading revealed that the diocese had not withdrawn from the ACoC but was in impaired communion. We regret the headline.

Diocese of the Arctic Declares "Impaired Communion" with Anglican Church of Canada
Statement from The Arctic House of Bishops

July 18th 2019

To all people in the Diocese of the Arctic,

Greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty.

General Synod 2019 has just finished. After taking time to meet as bishops, to seek the Lord's will for our Diocese, to pray, listen and talk, we have prepared this statement for our Diocese and for the Anglican Communion at large.

Friday, July 19, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
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This General Synod has given us permission to decide for ourselves what direction we should take. We choose now to walk as the self-determining Anglican Church of Canada in the Arctic. Joshua 24:15 says "...choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

We understand that many have walked away from our Anglican Church of Canada's doctrine, but we have not.

We are grateful that the vote to change the marriage canon failed but saving the marriage canon did not save the biblical understanding of marriage. We are saddened that so many bishops have defied General Synod and have announced an independent decision to approve same-sex marriage. We are now in a state of impaired communion.

The scriptures tell us to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." (Heb 12:3) and to not allow ourselves to "grow weary in doing good." (Gal 6:9). To that end we call on everyone in our Diocese to join us in a season of prayer, worship and the study of scripture. As bishops we will be interceding for you and looking to the Lord for guidance.

We ask you to join us in renewing our commitment to the mission of the Diocese of the Arctic: "to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, as revealed through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to enable all members of the Church to live out their Christian calling in parishes, in the wider church, in society at large and in the world."

Our mission statement has guided us for generations and will, God willing, into the future. We follow in the footsteps of our Godly leaders from the past who have so faithfully shared the Gospel in this land.

Your servants in Christ,

Rt. Rev. David W Parsons
Rt. Rev. Joey Royal
Rt. Rev. Annie Ittoshat
Rt. Rev. Lucy Netser

END

Diocese of the Arctic withdraws from the Anglican Church of Canada
Statement from The Arctic House of Bishops

July 18th 2019

To all people in the Diocese of the Arctic,

Greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty.

General Synod 2019 has just finished. After taking time to meet as bishops, to seek the Lord's will for our Diocese, to pray, listen and talk, we have prepared this statement for our Diocese and for the Anglican Communion at large.

Friday, July 19, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
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It originates from the village of Theadelphia in central Egypt and belongs to the famous Heroninus archive, the largest papyrus archive from Roman times.

The letter was sent by Arrianus to his brother, Paulinus, and discusses day-to-day matters, from updates on the family to a simple request for some fish liver sauce.

"Greetings, my lord, my incomparable brother Paulus," the letter reads.

"I, Arrianus, salute you, praying that all is as well as possible in your life."

According to University of Basel researcher Prof Sabine Huebner, the brothers appear to have been young, educated sons of the local elite, as well as landowners and public officials.

Far from withdrawing from the world, the letter is evidence that Christians in the early third century were involved in civic life alongside their pagan neighbours.

Arrianus writes: "Now, I remind you about the gymnasiarchy, so that we are not troubled here.

"For Heracleides would be unable to take care of it: he has been named to the city council."

Importantly, the letter sheds light on their Christian faith, with Arrianus wishing his brother well "in the Lord".

"I pray that you fare well in the Lord," he writes.

Prof Huebner, who teaches Ancient History at the University of Basel, said the concluding greeting formula of the letter sets it apart from the "mass of preserved letters" from Greco-Roman Egypt.

"The use of this abbreviation -- known as a nomen sacrum in this context -- leaves no doubt about the Christian beliefs of the letter writer," said Prof Huebner, who writes about her findings in her new book Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament.

"It is an exclusively Christian formula that we are familiar with from New Testament manuscripts."

She said that the name of his brother, Paulus, was also revealing as it was an unusual name for the period.

"Paulus was an extremely rare name at that time and we may deduce that the parents mentioned in the letter were Christians and had named their son after the apostle as early as 200 AD," she said.

Ancient papyrus offers fresh glimpse into everyday life of early Christians
The papyrus P.Bas. 2.43 has been in the possession of the University of Basel for over 100 years. The letter has been dated to the 230s AD and is thus older than all previously known Christian documentary evidence from Roman Egypt.

https://www.christiantoday.com/
July 15, 2019

A small fragment of papyrus is providing valuable insights into the ordinary lives of the first Christians and the Roman Empire within which they lived.

The document, part of a collection of ancient manuscripts at the University of Basel in Switzerland, is a private family letter from Greco-Roman Egypt and has been dated to around 230AD - at least 40-50 years older than all other known Christian documentary letters worldwide, the university said.

Friday, July 19, 2019
Monday, August 19, 2019
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Friday evening, July 12, 2019, the historic vote happened and though the overall vote was overwhelmingly for the change, because it was to be a Canonical change it required a 2/3 majority in all three houses: Laity, Clergy and Bishops.

The outcome was the motion was defeated by the narrowest of margins because, although the laity and clergy houses both had votes far exceeding the 66.6 % vote required, the House of Bishops only had just over 62% which meant the motion was defeated.

In reflecting on this outcome, while knowing that many Dioceses have already gone ahead for years and have no intention, it would seem, of changing, the ANiC House of Bishops would humbly like to share the following thoughts:

We Commend the courage of the 59 who voted "no"--all of whom (but especially in the House of Bishops) stood for scriptural integrity in spite of intense pressure from within and the culture from without. They have resisted the temptation to confirm the motion and through their faithfulness have managed to avert, even temporarily, the tragic path their church seemed to be taking.

We are relieved that General Synod has paused somewhat in its departure from the clear teachings of Scripture, and from the Global Anglican majority. This trajectory of departure has not just been evident in questions of sexuality, but also sanctity of life, and key areas of belief in the person and work of Christ.

It appears to us that with such narrow margins no one has won and the Body of Christ is fractured even further.

The vote seems to confirm that two incompatible gospels are being promoted within the Anglican Church of Canada, tearing the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level.

We pray that even now a transformation can take place in the church that so many of us loved and served for so many years, and for that we will continue to pray.

We call on The Anglican Church of Canada to return to the common Christian witness that Christ is Lord of all, that he lays claim to every human heart, and that he summons the world to holiness and truth.

We express solidarity with many within present Anglican Church of Canada structures who tirelessly upheld and advanced these beliefs over so many years of endless controversy and decline.

We rejoice that a realignment is underway in Anglicanism around the globe through the Global Anglican (GAFCON) Movement. We seek ecumenical unity with partners in other Christian traditions upholding strong biblical beliefs. We rejoice that in just 10 years The Anglican Church in North America has launched over 1200 churches throughout the continent who share in these aims.

We believe that the Lord wants a great and eternal future for every follower, and for every Church that honours His sovereignty.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, we are very thankful for those who have stood so faithfully in these days and assure them of our prayer for them and for us all in the days ahead, and desire to stand with them in any way that they might find helpful.

We believe our faithful friends have indeed contended "for the faith once for all delivered to the saints"(Jude 1:3) and with them we rejoice in the Lord:

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Jude 1:24-25

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC)

CANADA: Statement from the ANiC House of Bishops

The following is a statement from the ANiC House of Bishops regarding the 2019 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

July 17, 2019

Our dear friends,

For the last while many of us have been much in prayer, knowing that the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) would be convening July 10-16, 2019 in Vancouver for some very significant decisions.

Among them was the second vote potentially to confirm the decision of the 2016 General Synod to change the Marriage Canon.

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I believe that conservatives in the United States have vastly underestimated the reality and comprehensiveness of the challenge we face. All of us see parts, but it takes concentrated attention, a devotion to history, and a serious reckoning with ideas to see the whole--the vastness of our crisis. We see religious liberty denied when a cake baker in Colorado experiences sustained efforts to put him out of business, or worse, accompanied nationwide by florists and photographers and a host of others. We see the Fire Chief of Atlanta, Georgia removed because he dared to teach a biblical pattern of human sexuality, and then dared to put his convictions into print--primarily for his own church. We see Christian schools and ministries confront unprecedented challenges across several fronts and we see a continual effort to coerce Christians to surrender to the new regime of sexual rules, gender identity, intersectionality, and identity politics. The enemies of religious liberty are playing hardball, and we were warned.

Chai Feldblum, formerly of Georgetown University Law Center and later appointed by President Barack Obama to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, over a decade ago admitted in a public statement that religious liberty would have to give way to the new sexual or erotic liberty. This new sexual liberty was invented by moral revolutionaries, enshrined by the U.S. Supreme Court, and now used as a weapon of cultural and legal warfare. Then, looking to the day when same-sex marriage would be legalized and religious liberty would be inevitably denied or redefined, Feldblum said: "I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win... Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner."

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States, President Obama's Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, was asked if the legalization of same-sex marriage might require a Christian college to be coerced into compliance on the question, for example, of married student housing. The Solicitor General responded candidly: "It will be an issue." Indeed, it will.

It will be an issue for every Christian school, college, or university. It will be an issue for every Christian in the professions, in business, in public service, in uniform. It will be an issue for us all, and particularly for our children and their children and their children's children.

Denis Diderot, the philosopher of radical Enlightenment, once infamously stated: "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." The agents of coercive secularism evidently believe that the American public will not be safe until the last religious symbol is pried off of the last square inch of public property. They lost their challenge to the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland a few weeks ago, but they will be back. Rest assured of that.

Every vestige of Christianity -- every single symbol of theism -- haunts and infuriates a cultural elite and a secular movement which denies God and are determined to erase his memory.

How did this happen?

My argument tonight is very simple, but essential. I want to argue that we cannot understand our stewardship without three essential words: God, truth, and liberty, and in that order. Every one of these words is indispensable. Each of these words is controversial. There can be no lasting defense of religious liberty without understanding how these three words hold together, and in what order.

First, GOD.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once spoke of hearing older Russians explain the disasters their nation had experienced in the twentieth century. Their witness: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." I remember older Americans citing these words of Solzhenitsyn, one of the bravest voices of any age, as they explained Soviet tyranny. But these words ring differently in my ears now. We are living in our own age of threatened liberties. Men have indeed forgotten God, and that is indeed why all this has happened.

We are living in an age of accelerating secularization. The causes and courses of secular motion are debatable, but the essential truth is beyond question. Belief in God, any theistic belief, is in eclipse. This is especially true among the intellectual elites and the cultural creatives. Decades ago, Yale law professor Stephen Carter argued that the intellectual elites had reduced God to a symbol and religion to a hobby. Now, those same elites see God as a dangerous symbol and religion as a scandalous hobby.

Consider the argument made by Frank Bruni, columnist for the New York Times. He just put into concise words what many in the political class have been saying for years -- that religious liberty is to be tolerated so long as believers keep their religion in the hearts, homes, and pews. No public significance. Keep your religious beliefs where they belong, out of public view. That is the denial of religious liberty.

I am not arguing that there can be no defense of religious freedom among unbelievers. I am not arguing that there were no Deists among the Founders. I am arguing that there can be no sustained defense of religious liberty without intellectual respect for belief in God and cultural respect for religious devotion. Even when Americans claim to rest their argument for liberty, for human rights and human dignity on a secular foundation, they are actually borrowing intellectual capital from Christianity. Even their form of non-theism requires the inheritance borrowed from theism. But I fear, and fear is the right word, that we are witnessing the collapse and retreat of any secular notion of human rights and human dignity that would include religious liberty.

The Declaration of Independence, our most foundational national charter, spoke of "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." We should not over-read this statement, but we dare not under-read it. The Founders claimed an authority higher than themselves and natural rights and liberties that were pre-political, pre-constitutional, pre-governmental, and prior to our own respect. When belief in God recedes, the only secure ground of human rights and human dignity recedes as well. Solzhenitsyn had it right. You ask how this happened. Men have forgotten God. That is how all this has happened.

Eventually, natural rights will not be recognized if those natural rights are intellectually separated from their supernatural origin. That is now sadly demonstrated in the course of modern history. God, our Creator, has indeed revealed human dignity and human rights in the natural order, accessible to all, but men who will not recognize the Creator will soon not recognize the rights the Creator has revealed in nature -- indeed in human nature, by the imago Dei.

Second, TRUTH.

I believe that this word might actually be the most neglected of the essential vocabulary of the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident," they stated, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Every one of these words demands our rapt attention, but do not move too quickly over the word "truths." A defense of religious liberty (and all other self-evident liberties) is predicated upon an assertion of truth -- not mere opinion, or judgment, much less "values." The worldview that will alone sustain liberty is a worldview that is established upon a defense of truth -- the objective existence of reality and the necessary correspondence of statement and objective truth.

Why would we expect an academic and elite culture now pervasively shaped by postmodern notions of truth to defend religious liberty? If objective reality does not exist or cannot be known, then politics is reduced to what Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon correctly calls 'rights talk.' Politics collapses into nothing more than an endless succession of battles over contested 'rights.'

The modern denial of truth as real and knowable reminds us of the prophetic warning of Francis Schaeffer, who argued a half-century ago that those who believe in objective truth would have to declare our belief in 'true truth.' The American Patriots declared their belief in truth, not only in objective reality, but in the self-evident truths for which they were willing to sacrifice their lives, their property, and their personal honor. These truths were their bold argument, not these opinions, these values, or these social constructs. No truth, no liberty.

The postmodern, social-constructivist, non-realist view of truth is hardly debated in mass culture any longer -- not because it is so rare but because it is everywhere. Driven by academia and those who create the cultural capital, it has become the atmosphere of American life. But if there is no true truth, there are certainly no self-evident truths, and the foundation of the American experiment in liberty--including religious liberty--disappears.

Third, LIBERTY.

The Founders not only asserted truth claims -- they defended liberties. They went further to argue that the proper function of government is "to secure these rights." To secure them, not to invent them, or to create them, or even to discover them. Instead, the function of government is to secure rights and liberties that pre-exist the government, and certainly pre-exist the state. Religious freedom is truly the First Freedom, for without this prior freedom all others become fragile and contingent.

As a Christian theologian, I would ground that First Liberty in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created human beings in his own image, each a living soul. Human dignity is grounded in the loving and glorious creation of the self-existent omnipotent all-glorious God, who revealed himself perfectly--incarnationally in Jesus Christ, verbally in the Holy Scriptures, and clearly even in the very structures of creation. We owe every human being, created in God's image, the full recognition of human dignity and the sacredness of every human life--including life in the womb.

Make no mistake. These issues are not unrelated. The right to life and the right to exercise liberty, including religious freedom, are deeply related. It is no accident that that a society that devalues life in the womb will also devalue religious liberty. If we are cosmic accidents and there is no inherent meaning to our lives, then there is no sacredness to human life--any human life--and liberty is just another word for my preference over yours. The eclipse of the biblical worldview makes every arena of life deadly and dangerous--from the womb to the classroom to the courtroom to the bedroom.

God, truth, and liberty. We need to discipline ourselves to say these words together. We must teach them to our children and to our neighbors. We must cherish them in our schools and in our homes.

And teach them in our churches. The great challenge to religious liberty in our times is no threat at all to liberal religion. Those churches and denominations have long ago surrendered to the moral revolutionaries and they simply do not believe anything sufficiently theological to get any of them into trouble. They can afford to put quotation marks around "religious liberty." They long ago put quotation marks around "God."

We cannot.

We must defend the right to believe in enough theology to get us into trouble with anyone, anywhere, in a secular age. We must defend the right of Christians, along with all other believers, to be faithful in the public square as well as in the privacy of our own homes, hearts, and churches. We must defend the right to teach our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We must defend the rights of Christian schools to be Christian--and to order our institutions around the Word of God without fearing the crushing power of the state. We must defend the right of generations of those yet unborn, to know the liberties we have known and now defend.

Oddly enough, this will mean defending florists and cake bakers and fire chiefs, and pharmacists, and teachers, and preachers, and moms and dads who dare to resist the secular powers that be.

For Christians, eventually it all comes down to our faithfulness in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and nurturing biblical churches and raising our own children in the grace of God.

No God, no truth. No truths, no liberty. No liberty, and nothing remains but the heel of someone's boot.

Those who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Sacred honor. How dare we pledge, to one another and to our posterity, anything less?

Remember this: Liberty depends upon the existence of truth. Truth depends upon the existence of God. No God, no truth, no liberty, no human dignity, no human rights, no religious liberty.

But do not despair.

God is not dead. Truth is not a dream. And liberty is ours to defend.

May God grant us grace for the challenge we face.

The Eclipse of God, the Subversion of Truth, and the Assault upon Religious Liberty

By ALBERT MOHLER
WESTERN CONSERVATIVE SUMMIT
https://albertmohler.com/
July 13, 2019

DENVER, COLORADO --- Our concern in this gathering is the assault on religious liberty now experienced within the United States and throughout Western Civilization. The very civilization that paid such an incalculable price through the centuries in order to defend and preserve human rights and human liberty, now grows hostile to the most basic liberty of all. History's most courageous experiment in self-government, predicated upon unalienable rights, now seeks to alienate the unalienable. The cultural Left in the United States now dares to use the term "religious liberty" only with scare quotes.

How did this happen?

Thursday, July 18, 2019
Sunday, August 18, 2019
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Dr Habib Malik from Lebanon, the son of Dr Charles Malik who drew up article 18 of the UN Charter of Human Rights, which guarantees religious freedom and the right to convert, argued that that article, on which Saudi Arabia abstained but did not oppose, was the rock on which to build the case for FORB.

The elephant in the room was named by Christy Anastas, of i61 collective which works for reconciliation and bridge building with a particular focus on the Middle East.

She argued that the purpose of religion is to establish a personal relationship with the God we acknowledge, but that much religion had become too much involved with politics and the nation. Young people could see the damage that this has produced. She grew up Christian in Bethlehem which used to be 80% Christian but is now 90% Muslim and said that Christians are being made to accept that the Palestinian territories are Islamic. Aware that what she was saying would be dangerous for her family she nevertheless said that such politicised religion is oppressive, unrealistic, unjust and violates human rights. She pointed to the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday when he challenged not the Roman occupiers but the religious leaders in the temple who imposed their beliefs on people.

Ekhlas Bajoo, a Yasidi from Iraq, spoke of how aged 14 she had been held captive by the forces of Daesh after her father was killed and when she was taken from her mother. For six months she had been repeatedly tortured and raped. She and Jacqueline Isaac, her Egyto-American lawyer colleague have been campaigning for four years to have those responsible for such atrocities against both Yasidi and Christians prosecuted not just for terrorism but for sex crimes and genocide. "I will never surrender," Ekhlas said to a standing ovation.

By live feed from the Vatican, H.E Judy Axworthy, the UK Ambassador to the Papal See was seen handing over the report to the Pope's representative.

Addressing the next steps, Bishop Mounstephen hoped that Churches would move on from charitable support to advocacy for persecuted Christians and use their political muscle to encourage MPs to provide a voice for all those persecuted because of their religion as a major global issue which ranked only with climate change as a threat to the planet. Churches he said have phenomenal networks on the ground in these countries. Lord Ahmad said that £12 million had been earmarked by DFID to assist poor communities to build local civil society to protect FORB.

The question was asked that if FORB is central to a person's identity, what might the basis for the international community and governments to interfere with a country's self proclaimed culture and religious identity which targeted members of minority religions as unpatriotic traitors?

Lord Ahmad replied that no faith sanctions religious persecution. If religion is politicised then countries should be challenged through diplomatic channels to allow greater religious pluralism, by appeal to their constitution and by external levers such as article 18 of the United Nations' Charter which no country opposed when framed in 1947. "If we cannot stand up for freedom of religion with countries who are our allies," he said: what are alliances worth?' One participant noted that the question then is: 'What if Muslim countries interpret those articles and rights in the light of the Quran?'

Some attending the launch from one such country confirmed that only Governments speaking to Governments with believable sanctions, as happened in the Asia Bibi case, would be able to achieve results.

Lord Ahmad and the Bishop of Truro were due to leave the next day for a consultation on FORB in Washington.

*****

Understanding the Truro Report

By Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden
www.virtueonline.org
July 19, 2019

Much of the information presented by the Truro Report will already be known to people and organisations concerned about persecution of Christians around the world today. Most of the information was sourced from the activity of such organisations who have already shared it widely. The number of witnesses cited and rigour exercised does not of itself guarantee originality since they may well have spoken to many others earlier.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has been active in the area since 1998 and produced well researched annual reports. In spite of the backing of most US Presidents, the impact of its reports in relieving pressures on persecuted Christians has been meagre. National Governments in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East reject the reports' findings and consider them as unjustified interference in their nations' internal affairs. India refuses to allow any member of USCIRF into the country.

A report commissioned by the Foreign Secretary of Britain will be taken seriously by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is likely to shape its policy in advocacy for better protection of Christian minorities in countries where they face hostility and violence.

A core task of the report is ' to assess the quality of the response of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and to make recommendations for changes in both policy and practice.' The report is muted on what has given rise to the increase of the persecution of Christians.as a global phenomenon prompting the report. However evidence exists that in the Middle East and now in the Sahel, UK and US military policies have destabilised the regions and produced anti-Christian movements which for better or worse see the US and UK as at the very least allied with Christians who therefore become sitting targets for their violent response. Further, omission of the UK from the survey omits the fact that Government policies in the UK have increasingly denied religious freedom in both expression and practice of Christian social ethics.

We would like to highlight two concerns. The first is the consequences of the report for the relationships between the governments and Christians in the nations studied. While the report is careful not to attack their governments and commends dialogue and persuasion, many governments in nations where persecution not only persists but is increasing, are likely to be offended and harden their stance. Their relations with Christians will go south and increasing activities of persecution will go unchecked. The burden of dealing with such a situation is likely to increase on local Christians. Evidence available to us suggests that many leaders of churches, especially independent churches, who are targets of persecution want no connection whatsoever with Western organisations and do not want Western governments or their agencies to advocate for them as it only increases their vulnerability and risk.

Organisations who are working in the area of responding to Christian persecution often appear to believe that international pressure will bring positive change. International awareness is fine. But in most cases international pressure is counter-productive. Pressures from western governments have rarely changed the situation on the ground. Western pressure is rejected as another example of the colonial reflex of the post-colonial West. What local Christians, Churches and organisations need is support for their own efforts to deal with the challenges they face. The Truro Report gives little guidance on how this can be done.

While the report commendably notes that 'the Christian faith is primarily a phenomenon of the global south - and it is therefore primarily a phenomenon of the global poor' (p.16), the pattern of international partnerships for development, and political and social change between the West and the global south which appears to provide the template for action as though the FCO was DFID, does not apply in this very sensitive area where religion and politics are mixed together. The key question is not what is happening to persecuted Christians, and thus seeing them as objects, but how are the Christians as subjects of their own destiny themselves responding to their persecution and what kind of help and solidarity are they saying will be helpful. Local Christians are the ones to decide and direct what kind of partnership they need and want.

Therefore the omission by and large of the direct voices of persecuted Christians, rather than being filtered through western research however rigorous, independent and well intentioned is very regrettable since those voices themselves, rather than the implications and conclusions drawn from them are the key to developing any appropriate response from those outside their situation. Guidance based on that evidence is needed for how partners should proceed, be they the FCO, agencies or churches.

Secondly, the Truro Report is similar to most other state or secular reporting on Christian Persecution in not recognizing the way many Christians understand and respond to persecution. They see it as a part of their Christian discipleship. Christians, especially when they are a minority, expect to be persecuted. Persecution does not come as a shock to them. Victim language is not their first or continuing response. The Christian religious tradition is unique in teaching its followers to expect persecution and prepare for it. Christianity has a tradition of responding to persecution since its founding. These responses are not as helpless victims but as those called to suffer. This understanding rarely informs reports on Christians persecution and is not present in the Truro Report. This is not an argument for passivity but for recognising the resources that the faith itself gives to those being persecuted. Surprising as the team was headed by a bishop!

This report first appeared in the Church of England Newspaper

Truro report launched to Ambassadors, FCO staff, NGO leaders and clergy

CEN Report
June 17, 2019

The Truro Report on FCO support for persecuted Christians was launched to a packed Assembly Hall in Church House on Monday July 15. The launch was chaired and introduced by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister's special envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB). His own appointment had been suggested by Boris Johnson, when Foreign Secretary, and Theresa May. He apologized that Jeremy Hunt had had to go to Brussels to discuss the Iran tanker crisis.

Lord Ahmad stressed that freedom of religion or belief (FORB) lies at the heart of a person's freedom to be who they are, and is the root of all other freedoms. Bishop Philip Mounstephen of Truro, who chaired the report, highlighted FORB as the canary in the mine. Once that stone is turned over, lots of other underlying ugly injustices come to light. But to single out Christians for protection, he said, often made matters worse for them and the best way forward was to guarantee freedom for everyone.

Thursday, July 18, 2019
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The vote was meaningless. Worse, it was a hoax, a deception, a lie, an exercise which, if it succeeded, would legitimise same sex marriage and, if it failed, still legitimise same-sex marriage.

Why would anyone take anything this preposterous excuse for a church does or says seriously?

Looking on the bright side, the motion to stop using single use plastic passed; that means no nametags in 2022.

From here:

We, members of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, see the pain and anguish inflicted on LGBTQ2S+ people, on members of the General Synod, across the Church, and in the world, as a result of the work and the vote on the matter of Canon 21, concerning marriage. We see your tears, we hear your cries, and we weep with you. We have caused deep hurt. We are profoundly sorry.

Although the bishops are not of one mind, we look with hope to the "Word to the Church" and its affirmations which General Synod 2019 overwhelmingly approved on Friday, July 12.

We are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as "local option."

Together, we affirm the inherent right of Indigenous peoples and communities to spiritual self-determination in their discernment and decisions in all matters.

Although we as bishops are not able to agree, in the name of Jesus Christ, we commit to conduct ourselves "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3).

Statement from House of Bishops renders Marriage Canon vote null and void

COMMENTARY

by David of Samizdat
https://www.anglicansamizdat.net/
July 16, 2019

The Anglican Church of Canada voted down a motion to amend the Marriage Canon to permit the marriage of same-sex couples. The naïve among us might be tempted to conclude, "that's it, then, no same-sex marriages in the ACoC."

That would be a serious underestimation of the influence of the juggernaut that has taken over the Anglican Church of Canada.

The highlighted section of the statement below explicitly gives permission for dioceses to perform same-sex marriages: just as if the vote to change the marriage canon had passed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Friday, August 16, 2019
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Voting however was close. The laity voted 80.9 percent in favor, easily passing the required two-thirds threshold. The clergy voted 73.2 percent in favor, but the bishops failed to reach the requirement of two-thirds in favor, with only 62.2 percent voting yes. Two bishops abstained, 14 voted against, and 23 voted in favor. 

As VOL predicted, there was much weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and defiance by progressives. David of Samizdat, an orthodox Canadian Anglican blogger wrote, "There was a lot of emotion following the vote. The final prayer was delivered by a lady who had tears trickling down her face. Like a zombie that just won't die, the possibility of a new motion to revisit the Marriage Canon resolution was raised from the floor at the end of the evening."

Almost immediately a number of progressive bishops defiantly announced that they would reject the vote and would proceed with such "marriages" invoking something called "local option."

Conservative Canadian Anglican blogger David of Samizdat wryly noted that as tax evaders are drawn to tax loopholes, so Anglican bishops are attracted to canon law loopholes. Although the resolution to change the marriage canon failed to pass at synod, resolution A101-R1, adopting the document A Word to the Church was passed by consensus by the Council of General Synod on March 16, 2019.

 

The document has this statement: Affirmation #2

Diverse Understandings of the Existing Canon

We affirm that, while there are different understandings of the existing Marriage Canon, those bishops and synods who have authorized liturgies for the celebration and blessing of a marriage between two people of the same sex understand that the existing Canon does not prohibit same-sex marriage.

 

In other words, bishops who are already marrying same-sex couples claim that they can do so because the existing canon does not prohibit them; so they can continue. And a motion affirming that idea has been passed.

"This is what we've come to in the Anglican Church of Canada: do anything you like as long as you can't find a rule that tells you not to," noted Samizdat.

The archbishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, Melissa Skelton, expressed sadness over the result. She was in hospital due to a recurring medical condition and watched the vote via livestream.

"I was very disappointed not to have been with our delegates on account of my illness as the vote on the marriage canon occurred tonight," Skelton wrote in a message to church members. "All I can say is that I'm very sorry for all the feelings of hurt that this vote has caused, and that I urge everyone to pray for the Anglican Church of Canada.

"Remember that this Synod is not over!" she added. "And so please pray that together we can find a better solution to the marriage question."

Vancouver Cathedral Anglican dean, Peter Elliott, a married homosexual, expressed his sorrow over Twitter. "This has been a long season of deep pain for the whole church."

Diocese of Niagara Bishop Susan Bell said she will ignore the Marriage Canon vote and will continue to marry same-sex couples. "My heart aches with lament and my soul is filled with anguish knowing all the pain and hurt caused by the General Synod's failure to ratify a change to the national marriage canon that would have explicitly expanded the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples.

"To the members of the LGBTQ2S community especially, I want to say that I stand with you and I share in your tears. I deeply value the person God beautifully created and called you to be and your contributions to the life of our Church.  Your faithful witness has been long, difficult, prophetic, and sacrificial, and I give thanks to God for it.

"While I am deeply disappointed, the General Synod did also overwhelmingly vote to affirm the prayerful integrity of the diverse understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada. This includes the inclusive understanding of marriage affirmed by the Report on the Marriage Commission, This Holy Estate, that we hold in Niagara.

"As a result, nothing about this decision will change our practice in Niagara; I remain steadfast in exercising my episcopal prerogative to authorize the marriage of all persons who are duly qualified by civil law to be married, thereby responding to the pastoral needs present within our diocese. Two rites of The Episcopal Church, The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage and The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage continue to be authorized for use in our diocese, in accordance with our established episcopal guidelines."

This prompted Samizdat columnist to say, "If bishops are free to do this, why bother with a vote? Why bother with a synod?"

Following the example set by the Diocese of Niagara, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ottawa, the Rt. Rev John H. Chapman, said he will continue to perform same-sex marriages, and wrote this; "It is my intention, with the affirming support of the whole church with the passing of Motion A101-R1, A Word to the Church, to continue the practice of allowing same sex marriages in our diocese with the bishop's permission and following our normal protocols."

Over the next few days it is expected that other dioceses will follow suit, including Toronto (which has an openly homosexual married bishop), Montreal and Huron among others.

Bishop Geoffrey Woodcroft of the Diocese of Rupert's Land wrote to members of his diocese saying he will ignore the Marriage Canon vote and intends to make use of the Local Option - also known as the Loophole Option - and proceed with same-sex marriages.

The Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada, Mr. David Jones, has stated that the marriage canon does not preclude that marriage is between a woman and a man: The Anglican Church of Canada affirms, according to our Lord's teaching as found in Holy Scripture and expressed in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer, that marriage is a lifelong union in faithful love, and that marriage vows are a commitment to this union, for better or for worse, to the exclusion of all others on either side. This union is established by God's grace when two duly qualified persons enter into a covenant of marriage in which they declare their intention of fulfilling its purposes and exchange vows to be faithful to one another until they are separated by death. The purposes of marriage are mutual fellowship, support,  comfort,  the procreation (if it may be) and nurture of children and the creation of a relationship in which sexuality may serve personal fulfilment in a community of faithful love. This covenant is made in the sight of God and in the presence of witnesses and of an authorized minister.

In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the fourth country in the world to do this.

In other news, Synod elected The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Bishop of Huron, to be the new Anglican Church of Canada Primate to succeed the lackluster Fred Hiltz. She beat out Jane Alexander, the current Bishop of Edmonton. Huron is the second fastest dying diocese in Canada after Quebec. Nicholls recently participated in an LGBT virtue signaling walk under an umbrella on a rainbow crosswalk.

 

 

 

END

Anglican Church of Canada bishops reject same-sex marriage; laity and clergy support resolution
Progressive dioceses say they will press forward with same-sex marriages, invoking loophole local option

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
July 14, 2019

The Anglican Church of Canada voted at its General Synod in Vancouver this week not to allow a resolution that would have changed the definition of marriage.

The third-largest religious denomination in Canada rejected allowing its clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages. It called for deleting the words "the union of man and woman".

Monday, July 15, 2019
Thursday, August 15, 2019

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