Fun With Words

The Rev. Susan Russell, famed biblical scholar and precinct captain at All Liberals Episcopal Church in Pasadena, put up a column at the susan russelPuffington Host yesterday that is good for a laugh. She’s writing about her experience at ALEC the first Sunday in Lent, in which she had a revelation regarding the third temptation with which Christ was confronted in the Gospel of Luke. Turns out that it’s not what you think it is:

I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve heard and/or preached this Gospel According to Luke appointed for the First Sunday in Lent. And yet, this year I had one of those “heard it again for the first time” experiences with it.

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until a more opportune time. (Luke 4:1-13)

What I heard—what I noticed for the first time—is that the third temptation, the one that sends the devil off to wait for “a more opportune time,” is arguably the Temptation of Scriptural Literalism.

“Arguably” is liberal-speak for “I’m obviously pulling this out of my butt, but since I’m Humpty Dumpty in a dog collar, I can do that.”

“Scriptural Literalism” is one of the banes of Capt. Russell’s existence. Narrowly translated, it means, “no, you can’t have gay sex and expect God to approve.” More broadly translated, it means, “no, you can’t just make up your own religion and call it Christianity.” In either translation, it is pretty much the root of all evil in Capt. Russell’s world. Hence, it must be what the devil (who is a figment of primitive imaginations whom we as sophisticated moderns have moved beyond) tempted Jesus by quoting Scripture out of all biblical, historical, and theological context.

You know, what Capt. Russell does pretty much every time she sits down at a keyboard or opens her mouth on a Sunday morning.

Congregationalism Can Be a Good Thing

Or at least the best choice amid a myriad of evils. My friend Peter Ould is not happy about the ordination of a pastor for an Anglican congregation outside the authority of the Church of England. My question is why on earth, given the obvious and apparent trajectory of the English church, congregawould any orthodox congregation want to yoke its minister to it?

We Anglicans may be constitutionally averse to independence and/or “congregationalism” but independence is far far better than being in direct communion with bishops who either approve of or will not forcibly oppose soul and body destroying heresy. Why would anyone actively Create Bonds to so called leaders of that sort? Congregationalism is Always Better than exposing the souls in your cure to the legally enforced authority of bishops who are false teachers themselves, actively support false teachers, or who will not stand for truth.

Massachusetts: Students Who Refuse to Affirm Transgender Classmates Face Punishment

The story is here.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the guidelines dictate. “One’s gender identity is an innate, largely inflexible characteristic of each individual’s personality that is generally established by age four…As a result, the person best situated to determine a student’s gender identity is that student himself or herself.”
The new rules would also prevent teachers and administrators from telling parents with which gender their child identifies.

“School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent or guardian,” the directive states.
The guidelines were issued at the request of the state board of education to help schools follow the 2011 anti-discrimination law protecting transgender students.

“These students, because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives, are at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying, the document read.
The Massachusetts Family Institute denounced the new rules calling them a violation of privacy.

“Fundamentally, boys need to be using the boys’ room and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” said Andrew Beckwith, the institute’s general counsel.

New Archbishop of Canterbury will attempt Anglican Reconciliation at Enthronement Service

Global South Primates will not yield on fundamental theological principles

Special Report

By David W. Virtue

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, leader of 77 million Anglicans, will face the first test of his leadership following his enthronement next month in Canterbury, England. Global South Primates comprising more than 80% of the Anglican Communion’s constituent members will tell the new Archbishop of Canterbury that he will be held accountable for how he deals with theologically renegade bishops like Episcopal Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and Canadian Anglican Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

Sources in Africa tell VOL that archbishops from provinces like Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya say that they will continue their policy of not appearing at future primatial meetings if Jefferts Schori is invited and that the Communion will devolve into two distinct Anglican bodies with leaders from the Global South drawing together orthodox Anglicans from across the globe.

Welby is trying hard to get all the Primates in the same room while they are in Canterbury to try and take advantage of their natural desire not to offend a new ABC, the source told VOL. “If he succeeds we can expect the liberally positioned Anglican Communion Office to spin it as the dawn of a new age of Indaba.”

To stave off the possibility of open dissension Welby, in one of his first official acts as the new ABC, has appointed Canon David Porter who is said to be widely experienced in peace building, group facilitation, and training, to a newly created position as “Director of Reconciliation” to “enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world.”

Canon Porter’s “initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion,” the Lambeth Palace statement said.

Canon Porter may have impressive credentials in the reconciliation business, but they are fundamentally irrelevant to the problems of the Anglican Communion, the African source told VOL. “This whole ‘conversation ala’ strategy depends on treating the divisions in the Anglican Communion as essentially the same as violent political, ethnic and sectarian conflicts. This is muddled thinking and an insult to those GAFCON and Global South Primates who patiently endured years of fruitless debate before finally taking action to disassociate themselves from false teaching.

“At the heart of our Anglican difficulties is not relationship breakdown, but the undisciplined descent into moral and doctrinal incoherence. It is nonsense for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a ‘Director of Reconciliation’ while at the same time the House of Bishops of which he is chairman embraces a policy which allows de facto gay bishops thus further alienating those very Global South Primates he wants, presumably, to reconcile.”

In fact, the title “Director of Reconciliation” gives the game away. Reconciliation is a central part of any Archbishop or Bishop’s ministry as an extension of gospel ministry. The appointment of a “specialist” implies that reconciliation is now seen as a matter of technique and particular skills, rather than something that is essentially theological. Therefore it is not about gospel ministry at all.

Until the issue of false teaching is addressed, as identified by the Jerusalem Statement and the Declaration of 2008, there is no theological way to heal the tear in the fabric of the Communion. There must be a willingness to repent of false teaching and reconciliation strategies which avoid this question earn the scathing rebuke of Jeremiah, “they treated my people’s wound superficially, telling them, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace’.” Jeremiah 6:4).

Although there is a new Archbishop of Canterbury, the underlying strategy of Lambeth Palace remains exactly the same – to conflate doctrinal breakdown with relationship breakdown. Obviously the two are connected, but to see everything as soluble by technique is a recipe for short term thinking and theological superficiality.

The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada had a “just say no” message to new Archbishop of Canterbury-elect Justin Welby in discussions on the Anglican Church in North America when the two men met recently.

Archbishop Hiltz is petrified that the new evangelical archbishop will recognize Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America as an emerging province thus diluting the influence of both the ACoC and The Episcopal Church USA. He and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori both maintain their jurisdictions are the sole legitimate expressions of Anglicanism in North America.

Following legal actions by the ultra-liberal Diocese of New Westminster on sexuality, two new Anglican groups formed in Canada. They are the Anglican Coalition in Canada (ACiC) and the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The ANiC is a constituent member of the ACNA.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury will have a very short honeymoon. His predecessor Dr. Rowan Williams failed to reconcile the communion with a Covenant that he hoped would bring reconciliation. He chose not to engage the US Presiding Bishop over the deep wounds caused by her heretical theological and moral positions. Welby will be forced to confront them or face rebellion from his most populace provinces. There will be no more talk of “Indaba” or “listening” that day is done.


Dinner lady sacked for serving Muslim children with non-halal meat at multi-faith school

By Sara Malm, Mailonline

  • Parents forced headmaster to apologise for ‘insulting’ their faith
  • Birmingham school has both Muslim students and those of other faiths
  • All 1,400 students at Moseley School are served Halal meat only

A dinner lady has been sacked for accidentally serving non-halal meat to Muslim students at a multi-faith school.

The incident outraged parents at the ‘halal-only’ Moseley School in Birmingham, and they have forced the headmaster to apologise for ‘insulting’ their faith.

The member of staff has been dismissed after the ‘unintentional error’ on December 12 last year recently came to light.

All 1,400 students at Moseley school are served halal meat, regardless of their religion.

It has not been specified what type of meat was served, but the person responsible for serving the food was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing last Monday.

Parents were informed of the mistake this month, and reacted with outrage, forcing headteacher Carl Jansen to apologise for the ‘unintentional error’.

However, Muslim parents are demanding others be held accountable for the mistake, which they say call ‘an insult to our faith’.

‘The school have failed the children,’ one parent said yesterday. ‘How did this meal get into the school system to be fed to the children?

‘It’s just shocking that dietary requirements haven’t been met.’

Read here

Guardian wins week one of the 2013 All-England Pope-Bashing Contest

By George Conger, Get Religion

[…]  The first speaker, Ruth Davis, chief policy adviser for Greenpeace sidestepped the question, but said she did believe it was the duty of the next pope to “reconcile” the church with “the values most people hold” in Britain. Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey MP said to a roar of applause from the audience the Catholic Church “should be dragged into the 21st century,” and that it should update its teachings to “connect” with the values of the modern world. He and Labour MP Margaret Hodge urged the church to permit women clergy and and bring its moral ethic in conformance with those of the British establishment.

Mrs. Hodge — who was head of the Islington Council when that London Borough was responsible for the oversight of local care homes where investigators uncovered evidence of sexual abuse (Hodge refused to investigate the charges at the time as it would have cost too much) raised the issue of child sexual abuse. She argued the Catholic Church had been lax in addressing the sexual abuse scandal and observed that child sexual abuse and pedophilia were “rampant in the Catholic Church”. Only Environment Minister John Hayes declined to attack the church noting that he was not black, not a woman and not Catholic so he felt disqualified in offering an opinion on the propriety of a black woman pope.

Let me say that Any Questions is a serious, highly respected news program. The discussions of the other topics were measured — and somewhat dry. It was when the topic turned to the Catholic Church common sense flew out the door.

However, it was the Guardian that took the prize for week one in the All-England pope-bashing contest. The news article entitled “A black pope could result in mixed message over priestly celibacy” informs British readers that Africans are cretinous sex-maniacs whose Catholicism is skin deep and that the priesthood is a haven for gay men seeking meaning for their pitiful lives. This strange piece begins with an unfavorable comparison between Benedict and John Paul to John XXIII.

Read here