Here we stand - Evangelical Declaration on Marriage
Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage
27 Jun 2015
Author:
Russell Moore
As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.

A list of signatories of the statement is found at the ERLC website. Signatures will be added as they are received. Reprinted with permission of the ERLC

Categories: Press Releases
Provinces: Anglican Church in North America
– See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/here-we-stand-evangelical-declaration-marriage#sthash.DIljwADa.dpuf

“From the Beginning”: God’s Design for Marriage

ACNA1

A Statement from the Anglican Church in North America

The Archbishop and Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America have received the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States of America and are deeply grieved by the stark departure from God’s revealed order. We are concerned for the inevitable results from this action to change the legal understanding of marriage and family life.

While this decision grieves us, God’s truth and the goodness of the order established in creation have not been changed. The kingdom of God cannot be shaken. We pray with confidence that God will reveal his glory, love, goodness, and hope to the world through his Church as we seek to follow him in faith and obedience.

Jesus Christ teaches that God is the author of marriage from the beginning of time (Matthew 19:4-6). God’s design for marriage has always involved a man and a woman: “a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). These truths have ordered civilization for thousands of years. Where God’s designs are followed in any society, including his designs for marriage and families, the result is the greatest possible blessing and abundance of life.

The Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is often summarized as, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Because of his love, we love and care for all those who experience same-sex attraction. The Anglican Church in North America continues to welcome everyone to experience the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Marriage is established by God for the procreation and raising of children and for the good of society. For this reason, governments have an interest in marriage and have delegated authority from God to protect and regulate it. But no court, no legislature and no local magistrate has the authority to redefine marriage and to impose this definition on their citizens.

The United States of America, so its founders believed and taught, is a nation under God whose citizens’ fundamental rights are derived from the Creator. There is no right to a relationship which is contrary to the Creator’s express design. We cannot accept the Supreme Court’s decision purporting to find a fundamental right to same-sex “marriage” any more than we can accept its claim to have found a right to destroy human life in the womb. We will work with others to overturn this decision, and we pray that others will join with us in this effort.

Meeting this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, we are reminded that our Canadian members have been living under a similar legal standard for the last ten years. Their situation includes minimal legal protections for those who in good conscience cannot recognize this redefinition, and it is our prayer that stronger protections will be put into place and honored in the United States.

In the meantime, we shall continue to exercise our religious freedom to perform marriages for those who come for holy matrimony as defined by our Church. The Anglican Church in North America only authorizes and only performs marriages between one man and one woman. We respect the consciences of those clergy who may decline to perform marriages as agents of the state. We ask our churches to respect such decisions and help make arrangements to minister to those seeking to be married. We are also well aware that this ruling may create difficulties for our lay members and Christian institutions as they seek to be faithful in upholding God’s design for marriage, and we will make every effort to find ways to support and stand with them.

The Church bears witness to the truth of God’s Word and God’s design of marriage (see attached statement on “Bearing Witness”). When government oversteps its rightful authority, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Today there is no place for either triumphalism or despair, so we prayerfully and sincerely urge a spirit of charity by all. We speak out of a concern for the consequences that our people and our neighbors will suffer from an unjust and unwise decision by five justices of the Supreme Court. We call those justices to repentance, even as we echo Jesus’ words, praying for God the Father to forgive them, for they know not what they have done.

We call our people to a season of prayer for marriage and offer the accompanying Litany and Prayer to guide us.

Unanimously adopted by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America.
June 26, 2015

For the Full Statement with Litany and Prayer click here.

Prominent Oxford Diocese Evangelicals call for the resignation of Bishop Alan Wilson

GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
‘He who scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.’
Now also he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be make rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God……
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”

The basis for cheerful giving is the grace of God: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” — the gift of a Savior, the gift of life, the gift of eternal life, the gift of God’s love, the gift of all God’s blessings. We give to meet the needs of God’s people but also to overflow in our thanks to God. There are not enough words to describe all the ways we are thankful to God.

I thank God for revealing his love to me through faithful Sunday School teachers and pastors, through family and friends, through the provision of education, the opportunity to travel and study, the advantage of being called to serve and learn from celebrated mentors, the good fortune of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful, brilliant and gracious lady who shared my vocation, the gift of good health, two lovely daughters, four grandchildren and spheres of ministry in congregations and colleges that have stretched me and enabled me to grow in grace and the knowledge of God. I have more than enough reasons for thanksgiving to God to make me a cheerful giver, especially to those who have not been as blessed as I have.

What is true for me is also true for all of us who have been favored with the blessing of faith in Christ and the enjoyment of his grace in congregations where we are spiritually fed and nurtured, especially those of us who live in affluent and secure circumstances. Those who are aware of their blessings, and are thankful to God for them, will give to the needs of others and the furtherance of the ministries of the Gospel, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully. It is only those who are ungrateful, who are fearful and anxious about tomorrow, and doubt whether God will enable them to have enough to live on, who give reluctantly and not cheerfully. They forget the provision of the Lord in their lives over the years and that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need you will abound in every good work.”

I am thankful of those who are giving cheerfully in their churches. God loves a cheerful giver. God loves you if you are giving cheerfully and thankfully. Last year in my church the offerings supported three categories of expenses: Administrative (personnel and programs) 50 percent of the budget, Buildings and Grounds (maintenance, utilities and insurance) 20 percent of the budget, and Outreach (missions and other Christian ministries) 30 percent of the budget. We supported 28 local, national and international Christian ministries through our Outreach budget in 2014.

Cheerful giving is planned giving, it is what we have decided in our hearts to give. We have prayed about it and sought to give generously as God has blessed us. We don’t give thoughtlessly, off the cuff, whatever we have left after our other priorities. Some can give more than others because of their circumstances. Jesus commented on the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins and said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'” (Luke 21:1-4)

In our church we have members who give less than $5.00 a week and members who can give over $200.00 a week. I doubt that we have many who qualify for poverty. We live in a high-rent district. When I write out my checks for the Sunday offering I compare it with how much we are spending on cable television, phone, messaging and internet service, travel, gas and car payments and maintenance, home mortgage, insurance, club fees etc. We can cheerfully fork over hundreds of dollars each month to pay our bills and yet many reluctantly part with less than a few dollars a week in the offering. I can remember discovering that one of our wealthiest members who professed his enthusiastic support of my ministry when he moved away had given nothing to the church for years. He was all show and little substance.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about a merchant who had prospered in business and built a house in the country and he had enlarged it and laid out his grounds at great expense. When he went to his office, he was called upon by a representative of a society, and he replied to his requests, “I really cannot afford to give anything; I have so many calls, I cannot do it.” He was a man who had usually been very generous, and it touched his conscience a little afterwards to think that he should begin to stint in what he gave to his Lord. At night, he sat by the fireside meditating, and he said to himself, “I really do not know whether I was wise to build this house; it has brought a deal of expense; new furniture is needed, expenses have increased, the girls need more for clothes — everything is on a more lavish scale, and yet I have been stinting the Lord. I fear I have done amiss; I do not feel easy about it at all.”

As he was thinking he fell asleep. He saw the door open and there came into the room a very meek and lowly stranger. He advanced to him and said, “Sir, I have called upon you to ask for your help for a missionary society which sends the Gospel to those who do not know it. You are wealthy, will you give me help to send them the Word of Life?” He said, “You must excuse me; really, my expenses are so great that I must curtail. I am quite unable to give you anything; I must decline.” The stranger looked at him with a mournful glance, and said, “Perhaps you think that the work is too far away, and you do not give because the money is to be sent overseas. I will tell you then that there is a school for indigent children near your place of business, and it is about to be shut up for lack of funds; and there are poor little children ignorant of the love of God — will you give me a subscription to that object?” The merchant was a little vexed to be asked again, and he said, “Stop troubling me; I cannot afford it; I cannot give you anything.”

The stranger brushed a tear from his eyes, and he said, “Well then, I must ask you at least for something for the Bible Society. That, you see, lies at the root of everything; it gives away the Word of God, and surely, if you cannot afford to give to the Missionary Society, or to the School, you will give for the Word of God itself.” “No,” he said, “I have told you that I cannot do it,” and then — and then the aspect of the Stranger seemed to change, and though He was still meek and lowly, yet his countenance became majestic! There was a Glory in his face, and yet there were lines of grief, and he said, softly and very sternly, “Five years ago that little daughter of yours, with the fair hair, lay sick of the fever, and you prayed in the bitterness of your soul that the darling of your heart might not be taken from you, but that you might be spared that heavy stroke. Who heard that prayer, and gave you back your child?” The merchant covered his face with his hands, and felt ashamed. “Ten years ago,” said the same Voice, ‘you were in great difficulties. Checks were returned because of insufficient funds; you were on the verge of bankruptcy; your hair seemed as though it would turn gray with worry. To whom did you apply in the day of trouble, and who heard you, and who found you friends who tided you over your difficulties? Who did that for you? Once more,” said the Stranger, “fifteen years ago you felt the burden of your sins. You went up and down the world wringing your hands with fear, and crying ‘God have mercy upon me!’ Your heart was overwhelmed within you; who in that hour, spoke the forgiving words which canceled all your sins? Who took all your iniquities upon himself?” The merchant sobbed aloud, and trembled much when the Voice said, “If you will never ask anything on me again, I will never ask anything of you.” The man fell on his face before the Visitor, and said, “Take All!”

Whether it was a dream or not, it is certain that that merchant gave to the cause of Christ as few had ever done before. “God loves a cheerful giver.” Give out of a thankful heart. But first, have you given him your heart? Have you put your trust in Jesus? If not, this message is not for you; but if your heart belongs to the Lord, and has been washed in the blood of the Cross, let this Word sink deep into your ears, and deeper still, into your hearts, for “God loves a cheerful giver!”

(Subscribe to Ted’s blog at www.tedschroder.com. It will be sent to your email at no charge.)

The God Blog: Nigerian archbishop brings African perspective to American issues

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer Benjamin Kwashi

I’m always eager to spend quality time with someone whose background and culture are radically different from my own.

Like a fish unaware of the water it swims in, we Americans are so immersed in our own culture that we often cannot see how we are perceived by others.

I had such a privilege this week during a nearly two-hour lunch with Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, one of the leading religious leaders in Nigeria, who was in Tulsa to speak at two churches. (My thanks to the Rev. Briane Turley, Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican, for arranging the one-on-one time.)

Here are some edited excerpts of our conversation. (Reader beware – there’s plenty here to offend capitalists, western Christians, Muslims, progressives and secularists.)

Kwashi, by the way, has earned the right to his opinion: he’s been face to face with a radical Islamists in Nigeria that at different times savagely brutalized his wife, almost killing her, burned down his home and came close to executing him.

Why does Boko Haram hate Christianity, Americans and the West?

They see the freedom that democracy brings as a limitless freedom that encourages immorality. So they restrict freedom.

The worst for them is the western education that forms the foundation for a loose morality, greed in capitalism and throws God away, atheism.

They see the economy, as practiced in Islam, as one that should be just and fair to Muslims. In contrast, capitalist economy is not fair to the poor. So they create Islamic banking (no interest) to care for the poor.

In western media and advertisements you see women almost naked. They oppose that by bringing in the ancient dressing which covers the woman from head to foot.

How do they respond to that?

So they’re reacting to all of that by calling for a jihad. But it’s more than that, it’s a return to ancient Islam, pure Islam, original Islam. How that comes into a modern world that has changed in 1500 years creates a huge clash.

That forms the bedrock of their theology for the jihad. They’re asking for a purification, a revival of religion.

In Nigeria, wih Boko Haram, the foundation is the same, a need to revive Islam, evangelize the unbelieving world. And the way they evangelize people is the same, either convert them, or kill them, or make them slaves.

And they try to get political power, and military power, imposing their control little by little over more territory.

They impose their laws, which are not written down. They alone know the laws, and they impose them, by instant death penalty.

What is the meaning of jihad?

That’s a difficult question. The interpretation of jihad will vary from place to place, depending on who the Muslim leader is. In the Islam I grew up with in northern Nigeria, jihad always meant purification of the faith, to re-examine yourself, to draw nearer to God, to repent of sins. It was an internal thing, living righteously with all people, and encouraging others to live righteously.

I didn’t know that in our time, it would be violent. But you cannot deny that through history, several jihads have been extremely violent. That history is undeniable.

How do moderate Muslims view the radicals?

Every average Muslim would disagree with them, because the return to ancient Islam would drive people into backwardness. Conditions have changed. Even in Nigeria, most Muslims would not agree with them.

In their attack on the perceived enemy, those who are followers of America, followers of godlessness and social immorality, they begin to turn on moderate Muslims.

What happened when you wrote a letter to Nigerian Christians to not retaliate against Boko Haram attacks?

“It was like magic. Christians watched their houses burned. It became a major embarrassment to Muslims. They couldn’t understand it.

The Coptic Christians who were slaughtered were praising God.

How central is the principle of freedom to Christianity?

Freedom is the best gift God has given to man. Once there’s no freedom, anti-freedom is simply slavery.

Why do you consider secularism the real danger to Christianity?

Secularism is a self-centered religion, self-serving, very selfish, and the cousin of capitalism. It is about to take over capitalism, which emphasizes hard work and excellence. The distinction between a capitalist economy and secularism is thin.

Secularism has taken away family discipleship, children learning right behavior from seeing their fathers treating the family well, looking after the family, saying their prayers in the morning and evening. That made Muslims admire and respect us as Christians, because being a Christian meant being honest, being humble, being courteous, being able to live with people, so we could win people to Christ.

Secularism throws all of that out the window. It says you don’t have to be a gentleman, just be who you are.

Secularism has no response to Islam. None whatsoever. As long as any nation elevates secularism, it’s only a matter of time, because radical Islam knows how weak secularism is. The only thing they don’t know what to do with is the Christian gospel.

Secularists and violent Islam agree together that the problem is Christians. They are both opposed to Christians.

Why do most African Christians oppose same-sex marriage?

I believe this is a revisitation of colonialism. It’s colonialism coming in another way. Why should the West, because she decides that she no longer needs the Bible, and homosexuality is right, why should they ask me to believe what they believe? They’re denying me the very freedom they preach, and they’re denying me the freedom I already have in Christ.

Welby: let’s stop pretending all religions agree

Obsession with meaningless and ‘anaemic’ displays of unity is ‘dishonest’ and could be helping extremists, says Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
May  2015

Religious leaders risk fuelling extremism by pretending that all faiths are basically the same, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said faith leaders seemed desperate to hide behind “bland” and “anaemic” statements about what they have in common rather than facing up to the “profound differences” between them.

But he warned that the pretence that mainstream religions agree on everything is simply “dishonest” and risks leaving them impotent to halt the spread of extremism.

His comments came in address to the annual dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London.
The Archbishop told the audience, which included hundreds of Jewish community leaders as well as Muslims, Christians and representatives and other faiths, that the recent wave of persecution and inter-religious violence seen in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere was a “generational” threat.

“If we don’t do that we leave all the good arguments in the hands of the radicals and that is the great challenge I face, and I believe we all face,” he said.

“If we’re going to do that we have to come together and we have to have the difficult conversations in safe spaces and that’s a very, very difficult thing up do.”

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He added: “We need to move beyond inter-religious interaction in which we the usual suspects issue bland statements of anaemic intent with which you could paper the walls of Lambeth Palace — and much good would it do you — all desperate to agree with one another so that the very worst outcome could possibly be that we end up acknowledging our differences.
“That is not enough in the face of the dangers we face at this time.

“It is disingenuous and ultimately dishonest because alongside all that we hold in common and all that we share there are profound differences between what we believe and the outworking of our faith.

“True friendships and relationships can withstand honesty about differences in values, opinions and religious understandings and a common commitment to mutual flourishing in diversity.”

END

Church of England: Plans to create ‘bishop for church plants’ get the go ahead

Reuters

Plans to create a new “Bishop for Church Plants” are to go ahead following approval of the revival of the See of Islington.

The Dioceses Commission has told the London diocese that it can revive the century-old Islington see to allow the Bishop, Dr Richard Chartres, to appoint an episcopal leader for church planting.

The London diocese, home to evangelical flagship churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton and St Helen’s Bishopsgate, has led the world in modelling church planting, and seen consistent growth in congregations as a result.

London described the decision as “good news”. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby personally endorsed the proposal as “essential to the future development of the evangelistic work of the Church of England.”

In Capital Vision 2020, the London diocese pledged to create c100 new worshipping communities within the diocese by 2020 and 13 have opened already. The new bishop will serve the clergy and laity in these pioneering posts and will mentor, preach and teach to help ensure their survival and growth. London will also make the new bishop, who will have no territorial responsibilities, available as a resource for the entire Church of England as it takes up the evangelism challenge set by Archbishop Welby.

Significantly, the new bishop will also take a leadership and teaching role the new School of Church Growth, working with the staff of St Mellitus in London and at the new school’s Merseyside hub.

London’s population is estimated to rise above 10 million by the end of the next decade. Although this is not as dramatic as the Victorian age when it grew from just over 1 million in 1800 to 7 million by 1900, it still presents a missionary challenge to the Church of England.

The See of Islington existed previously from 1898 to 1923. There was only ever one Bishop of Islington, Rt Rev Charles Henry Turner, who was at the same time Rector of St Andrew Undershaft.

Dr Chartres has in the past cited St Paul’s Shadwell as an example of a successful plant. Its vicar Rev Rick Thorpe is thought to be a favourite for the new job.

Some Commentary on the GAFCON Communiqué

GlobalView from Bishop Bill Atwood

Most people will remember the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem in 2008. It produced the Jerusalem Declaration which clearly restated Anglican formularies and norms. In the context of an Anglican Communion that has continued to descend further and further into doctrinal chaos, the Jerusalem Declaration provides refreshing clarity. The importance of that clarity has only increased as additional Provinces in the Communion pursue teaching and practices that depart from Biblical faith.

Following the Jerusalem meeting there was a GAFCON Leaders’ meeting in London in 2012 and then in 2013, GAFCON-2 met in Nairobi. The GAFCON Primates Council meets annually to steer the movement. The latest meeting was just held on the outskirts of London. Unlike many meetings that have escaped notice, there was considerable press interest in this meeting, fueled by speculation that the Primates were meeting to effect a break from the Anglican Communion. That, of course, is not true. In fact, rather than “threatening to leave” (which would thrill liberals), GAFCON leaders have been “threatening to stay.” In other words, they are not interested in leaving the Communion. They are interested in renewing it so that it is faithful to its theological heritage. There are lots of reasons why, but here is one compelling one.

Current estimates are that the Anglican Communion is about 80 million people. Of that, the suggestion is that GAFCON represents about half of that number. As usual, however, he who stripes the field, determines the victor. Let’s look at the striping. The number of 80 million Anglicans includes 26 million in England. The theory there with the established State Church is that it is really hard not to be Anglican. The best number I have is that on a given Sunday, there are between 800,000 and 900,000 people in the Church of England. Normally, one can get a pretty good idea of the active membership by doubling the average Sunday attendance. Let’s say then that maybe 2,000,000 people are active in the Church of England. That seems to be a reasonable, perhaps even generous estimate. In that case, if the number that is reported reflects the Active Anglicans the number looks more like this:

26,000,000 “estimated Anglicans” in England

– 24,000,000 net “NOT active” Anglicans

2,000,000 active Anglicans in England

To find the “active Anglicans” in the world then, lets deduct the “non-active” Anglicans from the total.

80,000,000

–24,000,000

56,000,000 actual active Anglicans

 Active Anglicans in GAFCON Provinces:

Nigeria 23,000,000 Yes, that’s the latest number!

Uganda 13,000,000 Also an updated number

Kenya 5,000,000

Sudan 3,000,000

Rwanda 2,000,000

D.R. Congo 2,000,000

South Amer 90,000

North America 112,000

48,202,000 Anglicans in GAFCON Provinces

Keep in mind, there are also many dioceses that are fully on board with GAFCON even though their whole Province has not joined. Without even counting them, GAFCON’s presence in the Communion is:

48,202,000 ÷ 56,000,000= 86 % of the Active Communion

In addition to that, most of the members of the Global South are in complete agreement with GAFCON in terms of Biblical faith and theology. The solidly orthodox Provinces of the Global South add many more millions. In fact, a reasonable guess of the orthodox majority in the Anglican Communion is about 95% of the active Anglican in the world, or perhaps as many as 53 million out of the 56 million active Anglicans.

Of course, people will point out that there are many more Provinces not in GAFCON than are in GAFCON, but many of them are very small.

For example, exact numbers are difficult to get to, but my best estimates are that:

There are more people in the Youth Group of All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi than there are in the Province of Mexico.

  • On an average Sunday there are more people in each of the Cathedrals of more than fifty Dioceses in Nigeria than there are in the Province of Scotland or Wales.
  • The Anglican Church in North America has more people in Church on a Sunday than the Church in Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, or Korea.

The point is that the presence of GAFCON in the Communion is huge. There is no need for GAFCON Provinces to leave the Communion; they are the Communion. This is certainly true when viewed together with most of the Global South Provinces. Their numbers and influence just aren’t reflected in the old structures of the Communion. Hence the need for GAFCON and its structures!

The GAFCON leaders are moving forward. The first announcement is that there is going to be another GAFCON Conference. It will be in 2018, with the location to be disclosed later. The plan is to have a large gathering that includes bishops, clergy, and lay Christians. Plans are underway, and there is space in the design to respond to world events as well as providing encouragement, nurture, networking, and resources for spiritual renewal that much of the Communion desperately needs.

Growing Momentum

Archbishop Foley Beach was enthusiastically and unanimously added to the GAFCON Primates Council, and the accomplishments of the Anglican Church in North America were celebrated.

There were also reports from around the world where new chapters are forming and others are growing. The growth is encouraging. Structural growth within the organization is being put in place to properly organize to have a positive impact in spiritual renewal.

GAFCON is incredibly broad across the globe, but the leaders desire to have greater breadth of churchmanship. In the Communiqué, the Primates wrote:

“There is much room for variety within the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy, but when the Gospel is at stake there can never be a middle way.”

That statement reflects, I believe, the Primates’ desire to welcome and incorporate more Anglo-Catholic Anglicans into the movement. Several outreach points are being made along those lines and should bear fruit in the coming months. It also signals that there is no intention to “roll over” on Gospel doctrine. They are secure in their understanding of the faith.

Challenging Area

Many people live in challenging areas. Some must contend with violent assault from radicals. Others live in the midst of cultures bent on self-destruction, embracing radical secularism, materialism, or Paganism. Where orthodox believers find themselves in conflict with their surrounding culture, or in conflict with the liberal church, the suggestion is to form a chapter of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. We are going to see that happen in a number of countries over the next months.

Those who live literally “under the gun” have captured the hearts of the GAFCON Primates. There will be more and more outreach to them, with tools, communication, and conferences to help encourage their faithful and costly witness.

Is there hope for Anglicans who remain committed to “the faith once delivered”? Indeed there is. Its name is GAFCON.

atwood-new-photobw

The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood is Bishop of the International Diocese and an American Anglican Council contributing author.

RECONCILIATION: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

By Ted Schroder,
May 10, 2015

In 1939, with Europe in crisis, racial and ethnic hatred being implemented as state policy by Hitler, and war threatening, Swiss theologian Emil Brunner published Man in Revolt. He raised the questions: Why are we not at peace with ourselves or our neighbors? He diagnoses the human condition as the revolt of the creature against the Creator.

“Sin is defiance, arrogance, the desire to be equal with God, emancipation, a deliberate severance from the hand of God… to be independent.. by being freed from God.. By sin the nature of man.. is changed and perverted.” (p.129ff.) There is a human revolution against God and the principle of revolution is disorder and chaos. “Man is a rebel against his divine destiny; he is the steward who pretends to be the master of the vineyard and kills his lord’s messengers. He is the prodigal son who has demanded the portion of goods that falls to him and now squanders it.” (p.171) Man is in revolt against God and therefore alienated from others because he is frustrated and confused about himself. “The Bible teaches us that fear is the fundamental situation of man as separated from God, of the man who is not reconciled with God…Fear is the feeling of not being at home, of feeling uncanny and lost in the universe. …Most men are not aware either that they are afraid, or to what extent fear rules their lives…Fear in connection with practical life is called anxiety… but what is anxiety except fear of life seeking for security?.. It leads to doubt and then to despair.” (p195f.) We need to be reconciled to God if we are to find peace with others and within ourselves.

This is the message St. Paul is expounding in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. He described the Gospel in terms of God’s work of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a diplomatic and political term referring to harmony established between enemies by peace treaties. It is also a personal relational term referring to harmony between people alienated from one another by an offense. It results in the restoration of a friendly relationship.

“Reconciliation presupposes enmity between two parties. To put it still more exactly: reconciliation, real reconciliation, an objective act of reconciliation, presupposes enmity on both sides; that is, that man is the enemy of God and that God is the enemy of man.” (E. Brunner, Mediator, p.516)

To appreciate the Gospel of reconciliation you have to understand the nature of the revolt of humanity against God. The Scriptures chronicle this alienation from beginning to end. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5,6) “But your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

So what is to be done? How can God overcome this alienation, this breakdown of harmony and peace between himself and humanity? God has to take the initiative for we are incapable of overcoming our problem.

God is the author of reconciliation: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” God, who created us in the first place, could have left us to stew in our own juice, or he could have destroyed us with his overwhelming might. Instead he elected to reconcile us to himself through Christ. Because of his great love and mercy, he decided not to count our sins against us. That would be like deciding not to prosecute us for war crimes, or for hateful acts, or for failing to love others and protect them when they needed us. The case against us is clear, and yet he decided not to proceed against us. If he had we would have been condemned. The evidence against humanity is clear and convincing.

But how can he do this? Is that not letting the guilty off the hook? Is that not a failure of justice? Do we not uphold prosecution to the fullest extent of the law? How can we let the perpetrators of crime, violence, cruelty, irresponsibility, meanness and self-centeredness go free? How can forgiveness be given without accountability? What about the victims of trauma and tragedy?

If God is the author of reconciliation, Christ is the agent of reconciliation. God was in Christ, God reconciled us to himself through Christ. What did Christ do to make this reconciliation possible? How did he remove the enmity and its consequences? “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (v.21) James Denney commented on this verse: “Mysterious and awful as this thought is, it is the key to the whole of the New Testament.” (J. Denney, Death of Christ, p.88)

“For our sake God actually made the sinless Christ to be sin with our sins. The God who refused to reckon our sins to us reckoned them to Christ instead. Indeed, his personal sinlessness uniquely qualified him to bear our sins in our place.. Moreover, Christ became sin for us, in order that ‘in him we might become the righteousness of God’. In other words, our sins were imputed to the sinless Christ, in order that we sinners, by being united to him, might receive as a free gift standing of righteousness before God.” (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.200) “Justification means this miracle: that Christ takes our place and we take his.” (Brunner, op.cit. p.524)

This is the heart of the love of God for us — he does not want the enmity between us to continue — so he came in Christ to take the condemnation of that enmity on himself to fulfill justice and reconcile us to himself. He bore our sins on the Cross so that we might become the righteousness of God.

What are the consequences of this work of reconciliation? God has given us a ministry of reconciliation in the world. “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore God’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” What God has done for humanity is to be communicated to the world so that all people will be reconciled to God. The work of reconciliation which has been done on the Cross still needs to be responded to by everyone. We are designated ambassadors for Christ: personal envoys and representative of Jesus Christ. God is making his appeal for peace through us.

This message is as needed today as it was in the first century and in 1939. Humanity is still in revolt against God and alienated from one another. Recent events in Baltimore and elsewhere are evidence of that. We need the reconciling work of Christ. People need to know that God loves them so much that he has come and paid the supreme sacrifice of bearing our sins on the Cross so that we might find peace with others and within ourselves.

This is our message. Therefore we need to do two things. We need to be ambassadors for Christ in sharing this message with others. We need to implore others on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. How do we know if people need to be reconciled to God? Brunner explained that our enmity towards God is seen in our restlessness, ranging from frivolity to open renunciation and hatred of God. Check your restlessness, frivolity (superficiality), anger, frustrations and confusion about yourself, lack of peace within yourself or with others? Then seek reconciliation with God.

END

Same-Sex Marriage and Infant Baptism

May 2015
Author:
Anglican Communion Instituteinfant bap
A controversy has erupted in the Diocese of Central Florida over an apparent request by the dean of the cathedral to postpone the infant baptism of a same sex couple. This led to Facebook and blog postings, general outrage and immediate calls for charges under Title IV. All this before the facts were known.

Given the lack of knowledge of all the relevant facts in this instance it is not appropriate for reasonable people to comment on this particular case, let alone encourage legal proceedings founded on ignorance of the facts. We will not address this case here. However, the question of baptizing infants of same sex couples raises theological issues deserving comment.

Because an infant is unable to make a profession of faith, the Anglican understanding of Christian initiation requires that this profession is made on behalf of the infant by parents and godparents who thereby undertake to raise the child in the fullness of the faith—the “full stature of Christ.” Baptism is a rite of the church not a civil right of the individual and parents. It is certainly not some kind of medieval amulet against ill fortune for babies.

Under the Anglican concept of “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the rule of prayer is the rule of faith) the public worship of the church is the teaching of the church. When a same sex couple (or an unmarried couple) present their child for baptism they are required to answer publicly the following question:

“Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

I renounce them.”

This question and answer, as well as others in the baptismal covenant, unavoidably present the question of what the church’s teaching on sex outside traditional marriage really is. If the same sex or unmarried couple answers this question affirmatively, they and the officiant are publicly proclaiming that the teaching of the church does not consider their relationship sinful. Under the lex orandi standard, that is the teaching of the church.

What is the teaching of The Episcopal Church on this issue? If it is the same as that of the church throughout the centuries and of the overwhelming majority of Christians today, these parents in irregular relationships cannot give the appropriate assurance and the infant should not be baptized; or the promises on behalf of the child must be made solely by the godparents who do accept the teaching and the responsibilities associated with it; or finally, the rite must be changed to delete any reference to church teaching.

If TEC has a new insight not shared by the apostolic churches that such relationships are not sinful it should boldly proclaim this teaching and bring church discipline to bear on those who dissent.

If TEC has no teaching on this foundational institution of society, the institution that preceded all others, or if it thinks that the matter is doctrinally “indifferent”, it should admit its theological incoherence or indifference, and say so. But it should also desist from mob rule, and recognize that those who maintain the traditional Christian teaching will reflect that teaching in their public worship.

– See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/same-sex-marriage-and-infant-baptism#sthash.fs9GPkLu.dpuf

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