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« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2009, 12:45:02 PM »

Outreach gone wrong - free beer to men who attend church   

telegraph.co.uk

A senior bishop has backed the move, which is part of a Church of England initiative to put a Christian emphasis on the annual celebration of fatherhood.

Concerns over the lack of men attending services year-round has led clergy to offer a range of incentives today, including free beer, bacon rolls and chocolate bars.

It is the first time that the Church has attempted to treat Fathers' Day in the same way as Mothering Sunday, which has traditionally formed part of its calendar.

The plan to distribute ale has upset groups working to tackle alchohol abuse, but the Rt Rev John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, said that it could help churches to attract more men.

He argued that the free beer was intended to be symbolic of "the generosity of God".

Men at St Stephen's church in Barbourne, Worcester, will be handed bottles of beer by children during the service. A prayer will be said for the fathers before the gifts are distributed.

The Ven Roger Morris, archdeacon of Worcester, who will be leading the service at St Stephen's today, said that it was a practical way of sending a message to fathers.

"I don't see any other time that we can stop and remember fathers, and this is a gesture saying 'Here's something that will bless you,'" he said.

"Posies of flowers are given to mums on Mothering Sunday and we wanted to give a laddish, blokeish gift to the men. A bottle of beer hits the mark. The whole of life is to be celebrated in church."

However, Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, criticised the Church, claiming that it was acting irresponsibly.

"Bearing in mind the country is facing rising health harms from its high level of alcohol consumption, anyone in a position of authority or respect should perhaps think twice about promoting alcohol to the public," he said.

Bishop Inge said that it was wrong to claim that the move would encourage alcholism, and encouraged churches to use it as a way to reach out to men.

"Jesus created a lot more wine at a point in the party when some thought that there had already been enough drinking. He was all in favour of partying," the bishop said.

"We give wine away every Sunday, so giving away beer could be said to going downmarket a bit, but it's an attempt to speak of God's generosity.

"It's something that could be used as part of a service to encourage fathers to come. Once they are in church, hopefully they will be challenged by the deeper questions around fatherhood."

The bishop said that the Church was keen to support fathers and "to do everything possible to encourage them to take their responsibility very seriously".

A survey conducted by Opinion Business Research (ORB) found that less than a fifth of men claim to attend some type of church service once a month, compared with more than a quarter of women.

Some churches are trying to lure men back with the offer of free food. St Michael's, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, is holding a Hog Roast on the church forecourt and St Mary's, Arnold, Nottingham, will serve bacon rolls as men arrive at its service.
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« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2009, 12:53:23 PM »

Episcopal Leaders Prepare for Homosexuality Debates      

christianpost.com/


Episcopal Church leaders are scheduled to meet in a private session next week with the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.

Members of the Episcopal House of Deputies are expected to address homosexuality issues and how LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members are involved in The Episcopal Church during the meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, according to the Episcopal News Service.

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe of the Diocese of California told the denomination's news service that the meeting will be set in the context of the "Listening Process," in which Anglicans worldwide are encouraged to listen to gay and lesbian persons and all sides of the homosexuality debate.

The meeting is taking place the same week of the 76th General Convention, The Episcopal Church's triennial legislative meeting.

Leaders at this year's convention, which takes place July 8-17 in Anaheim, Calif., will be considering resolutions that would allow the consecration of openly gay bishops. Some dioceses, or regional bodies, have asked the General Convention to repeal or retract resolution B033, which was approved in 2006.

B033 calls for restraint in ordaining bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church," mainly noncelibate homosexuals. It was passed amid calls by Anglican bishops overseas who were outraged after The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in 2003.

The Diocese of Newark argues that B033 was never intended to be permanent and that it was only passed to prevent further fractioning of the global Anglican Communion.

Episcopal head Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, however, told the Episcopal News Service that the she doesn't think revisiting B033 will be helpful.

She said she'd rather focus on where they are now.

"Far more productive, I think, to have the hard conversations involved in claiming our current position and identity," said Jefferts Schori, who has expressed support for homosexual ordination as well as the blessing of same-sex unions.

The General Convention comes months after the Anglican Consultative Council, a decision-making body of bishops, clergy and laity, reaffirmed the moratoria on the consecration of partnered gay bishops and the authorization of public rites blessing same-sex unions.

The Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, warned the U.S. church against rescinding resolution B033 this year. Any pro-gay action, he said, would "imperil" the future of the Anglican Communion.

In addition to homosexual ordination, the Episcopal General Convention will also be considering resolutions calling for the development of rites for blessing same-gender relationships. The Diocese of Massachusetts is further calling on the legislative body to amend references in the national church's canon laws on marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two adults."
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« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2009, 12:54:16 PM »


Government Minister Pushes For Homosexual Weddings To Be Celebrated In Church

telegraph.co.uk/


Chris Bryant, who once posed in his underpants on a gay dating website, said he wanted clergy to be "much more open" to the idea of treating civil partnership ceremonies like traditional marriages.

However, his suggestion goes directly against the rules of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which state that only the union of a man and a woman can be celebrated by a priest in church.

It comes as the Government is pushing through an Equality Bill that religious groups fear will force them to give jobs to homosexual youth workers or secretaries, even if their faith maintains that same-sex relationships are sinful.

Mr Bryant, a former deputy leader of the Commons who is now a junior Foreign Office minister, trained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate before becoming the MP for the Rhondda.

He was questioned by the magazine Time Out this week on whether he believed civil partnerships, introduced to England and Wales in 2005, should be scrapped in favour of same-sex marriage.

The minister replied: "All my friends who have entered into a civil partnership refer to it as their 'marriage' or their 'wedding' so the most important issue is that nobody should be discriminated against because of their sexuality.

"I would like to see churches be much more open to the idea of gay relationships or partnerships being celebrated in church."

Nick Herbert, a Conservative MP who is in a civil partnership, and Stephen Williams, who was the first openly homosexual Liberal Democrat MP, both told the magazine that they would support the legal introduction of same-sex marriages.

Church of England rules state that civil partnerships are not equivalent to marriage and cannot be celebrated in church, and the battle between conservatives and liberals over homosexuality has driven the worldwide Anglican Communion to the brink of schism.

Last summer a rector was strongly criticised by the Church of England's two archbishops after he conducted a "wedding" service, including traditional liturgy and the exchange of rings for two homosexual priests, at his 12th century church in the City of London.

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said: "Of course all citizens must have equal rights without discrimination. But marriage is the basis of the family, and the stability of the family is grounded in the sameness in difference between men and women.

"Those who make public law have to realise that people of faith have consciences that need to be respected."

A spokesman for the Church of England said: "The Church of England's approach has always been clear: marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, and that is what the liturgy of the C of E Marriage Service is exclusively intended for.

"On civil partnerships the Church continues to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships between people of the same sex and, at the same time, to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.

"Some who register civil partnerships seek recognition of their new situation and pastoral support by asking members of the clergy to provide a blessing for them in the context of an act of worship. The Church expresses what it believes through the liturgy of its worship. As there is no theological consensus about same sex unions, no such liturgy is authorised."

Mike Judge, a spokesman for The Christian Institute, a campaign group, said: "Churches are open and welcoming to all people, but that is not the same thing as forcing churches to celebrate behaviour which conflicts with their religious ethos. It would be like forcing the Labour Party to celebrate a Conservative election victory. Surely the world is big enough to allow people to be free to disagree."
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2009, 02:43:27 PM »

Episcopal Bishop calls individual salvation 'heresy,' 'idolatry'     

onenewsnow.com/

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says it's "heresy" to believe that an individual can be saved through a sinner's prayer of repentance.

In her opening address to the church's General Conference in California, Jefferts Schori called that "the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

The presiding bishop said that view is "caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus

According to Schori, it is heresy to believe that an individual's prayer can achieve a saving relationship with God. "That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy."

Bishops want marriage rituals for homosexuals

Meanwhile, six Episcopal bishops are pushing for greater recognition of same-sex marriages at a national gathering of church officials in California. Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont says he and other bishops from states recognizing same-sex marriage will offer a resolution urging the church to adapt marriage rituals to include homosexual couples.

Ely says the resolution will be introduced at the church's General Convention, which started Wednesday in Anaheim. The convention is held every three years.
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2009, 07:42:39 PM »

All one has to do is open their eyes to see the beginnings of the one world religion for the Tribulation Period. Apostate is almost an understatement for some of the things we see going on. If you look at the CU News I just posted, you should notice an overture from Rick Warren to Islam. There are lots of things that are just pretty sickening and many folks don't care. Those who don't care are ripe for ANYTHING, and ANYTHING will be sold to them by masters of deception. This is like many other things happening today - folks either don't care or they don't see it.

Many will eventually be given over to their worldly affections. In effect, they will be blind, deaf, and dumb - and some already are. This is extremely sad to watch, but we have a better HOPE and a better DESTINATION. It even seems as if some have a determination to reject and mock HIM. Their hearts are already hardened. However, we must never forget that there are still people accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.


Love In Christ,
Tom

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« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2009, 01:17:41 PM »

L.A. Episcopal leaders nominate 2 openly gay, lesbian priests as bishops

latimes

Episcopal Church leaders in Los Angeles today nominated an openly gay priest and an openly lesbian priest as bishops, becoming one of the first dioceses in the national church to test a controversial new policy that lifted a de facto ban on gays and lesbians in the ordained hierarchy.

The nominations of the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool of a Baltimore-based diocese are likely to further inflame theological conservatives in the U.S. church and their global partners in the Anglican Communion, who have repeatedly warned about the repercussions of such action.

The two are among six nominees who will face election for two assistant bishop posts at the diocese's annual December convention in Riverside.

The Diocese of Los Angeles, which represents 70,000 Episcopalians in six counties, is widely regarded as one of the most liberal in the U.S. church of 2.1 million members. Its bishop, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, is an outspoken advocate of gays rights in the church.

"I affirm each and every one of these candidates and am pleased at the wide diversity they offer this diocese," Bruno said in a statement.

Dozens of traditionalist churches and four dioceses, including one in Central California, broke away last year over their opposition to the 2003 consecration of partnered gay bishop in New Hampshire.

U.S. church leaders had promised to exercise restraint before consecrating additional gay bishops in the aftermath of that contentious move. But they reversed course at their convention in Anaheim last month, voting overwhelmingly to open "any ordained ministry" to gays and lesbians. They also agreed to consider rites of blessing for same-sex couples.

The action in Los Angeles followed a similar decision Saturday by leaders in the Diocese of Minnesota, who nominated a partnered lesbian as bishop. The Rev. Bonnie Perry is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago and an adjunct professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. Her longtime partner is a priest in the church.
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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2009, 01:18:35 PM »

United Church of Canada to propose anti-Israel motion - boycott, divestment, and sanctions for Israel

.canada

When the United Church of Canada (UCC) adopted the document Bearing Faithful Witness in 2003 as a blueprint for rapprochement with Canadian Jewry, it issued a collective mea culpa for its historical treatment of the Jews. The church stated: "We believe that our faith calls us to repent when the church has been unfaithful in its witness by not loving Jews as neighbours."

Through this document, the UCC tried to come to grips with the place of Israel in this equation, partly because it recognized Israel's essential connection to the Jewish spirit and identity, but also because anti-Zionism had emerged as the nexus of the most contemporary manifestation of anti-Semitism.

The document tried to delineate the difference between acceptable criticism of Israel and statements that cross into anti-Semitism.

To our great dismay and pain, little of this message has since been internalized within the UCC. A series of resolutions and supporting material on "Israel/Palestine" up for debate at the UCC's General Council this month in Kelowna, B.C. suggest the church is not just stepping away from the Jewish community, but turning its back on us.

Should these resolutions pass, there will be serious consequences to UCC-Jewish community relations that will undo every positive step made since the adoption of Bearing Faithful Witness.

The materials are hurtful, both for what they say and what they glaringly omit. For example, there is no recognition of the existential threat facing Israel -- from suicide bombers, missiles and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

There is no mention whatsoever of the hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza that have wreaked catastrophic physical and emotional damage on Israeli civilians. Nor is there a single reference to Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran.

Despite claiming to seek a solution to the Middle East conflict, the UCC is painting Israel as the sole obstacle to peace and exculpating the Palestinians.

Its resolutions ally the church with the enemies of Israel, supporting the "Durban strategy" of boycotts, divestment and sanctions launched at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism. This campaign goes well beyond mere criticism of Israeli policies -- it seeks to marginalize and vilify Israel as the "new Nazi state" or the putative successor to apartheid South Africa.

If passed, these resolutions will repudiate the courageous and constructive approach of the last UCC General Council. At that time, the church rejected the call to boycott Israel and to apply methods that brought down the true apartheid regime in South Africa, and instead supported an investment strategy to contribute to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Perhaps more disturbingly, the explanatory documentation to support the resolutions constitutes an inflammatory assault on Canadian Jews.

Using loaded and misleading terms, the material speaks casually of Israel being founded on land "ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners" and of what it refers to as the "recent assault on the population of Gaza" as constituting "a visible reminder of the ongoing Israeli regime of exclusion, violence and dehumanization directed against Palestinians, in violation of international law and human rights standards."

These are not objective statements of fact, but rather one-sided sloganeering that is entirely unhelpful to anyone who wants to truly understand the current situation in the Middle East.

The whole purpose of this material is to vilify Israel and to present it in a crude caricature as the "new apartheid" state, allegedly based on a state-sanctioned policy of racial superiority. The purpose of this hateful invective is to deny the legitimacy of Israel because it is a Jewish state.

Particularly egregious are the resolutions' "notes," which suggest that support for the state of Israel is the product of corruption and descends into florid anti-Semitism, with smirking insinuations about the loyalty of Jewish Canadians who hold dual citizenship or have affiliations with the Jewish state.

Jonathan Swift once observed that, "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." Bearing Faithful Witness brought the UCC and the Jewish community of Canada closer than ever before. Six years later, the UCC will have to decide if Swift was right.
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« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2009, 12:36:53 PM »

Emergent Christians Join Muslims For Observance Of Ramadan     

wnd

Leaders of the "emergent church" movement within evangelical Christianity are "observing" the Muslim month of Ramadan, writes the author of the bestselling new book, "The Islamic Antichrist," which contends that the Beast of Revelation is most likely to emerge from within the Muslim world.

"This year, a group of "Emergent Christians," led by one of the United States' most influential pastors, Brian McLaren have announced they will actually be 'observing' the Muslim holy month, along with a Muslim 'partner,'" writes Joel Richardson in a WND commentary today. "Ramadan is the month that Muslims thank Allah, their god, for revealing the Quran to Muhammad, their prophet. On McLaren's personal blog, he recently announced his intentions: 'We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.'"

Richardson questions whether such an "observance" is actually tantamount to an endorsement of Islam.

He points out: "Every year, during the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, the Muslim world celebrates a month long fast known as Ramadan. The timing of the fast in the month of Sha’aban is specifically intended to commemorate the month in which the Quran was 'sent down' or 'revealed' to Muhammad. During Ramadan, Muslims will abstain from smoking or drinking, from sex or sexual thoughts and eating during the daylight hours. Muslims also believe that good deeds done during Ramadan will be doubly credited before Allah."

Richardson adds that McLaren is not fasting for the salvation of his Muslim friends.

"Instead he is seeking through the practice of this Islamic ritual to promote 'the common good, together with people of other faith traditions,'" he writes.

McLaren believes that Evangelical support for Israel is an obstacle to interfaith harmony. While largely unwilling to criticize radical Islam by name, he has condemned the “terrible, deadly, distorted, yet popular theologies associated with Christian Zionism” that “create bigotry and prejudice against Muslims.” He urged Christian Zionists bravely to abandon their prejudice, just as white segregationists had to shed theirs 50 years ago, even if the result was rejection from morally blind church friends.
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2009, 02:31:50 PM »

DO NOT SERVE OR BOW DOWN TO OTHER GODS!

Exodus 20:5 KJV  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 KJV  23  Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.  24  For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.


Deuteronomy 6:14-15 KJV  14  Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;  15  (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.


Nahum 1:2-8 KJV  God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.  3  The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.  4  He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.  5  The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.  6  Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.  7  The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.  8  But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.


Exodus 34:12-17 KJV  Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:  13  But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:  14  For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:  15  Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;  16  And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.  17  Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.


Deuteronomy 8:19-20 KJV  19  And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.  20  As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.


Deuteronomy 11:26-28 KJV  26  Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;  27  A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:  28  And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.


Judges 2:11-15 KJV  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:  12  And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.  13  And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.  14  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.  15  Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
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« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2009, 12:50:25 PM »

How the ELCA Left the Great Tradition for Liberal Protestantism    

christianitytoday.com

During last week's biennial Church Wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the church affirmed major policy recommendations to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions (which practice will soon inflate to same-sex marriage) and the rostering of gay and lesbian pastors in partnered relationships.

Earlier in the week it also passed by one vote—out of over 1,000 total votes cast—a Social Statement on Sexuality that admitted there was no consensus on the moral evaluation of homosexual conduct, and offered no compelling biblical or theological reasons to support the policies it later in fact adopted. The Statement was firm and bold on issues that everyone agreed upon—the moral condemnation of promiscuity, pornography, sexual exploitation, etc.—but indecisive and vague about contested issues—co-habitation, premarital sex, the importance of the nuclear family, and, of course, homosexual conduct.

Right before the vote on the Social Statement a totally unexpected tornado hit the Minneapolis Conference Center where we were meeting as well as the huge Central Lutheran Church next door, knocking the cross off one of its towers. Orthodox voting members saw the work of God in the tornado's cross-toppling effects and in the vote that passed with a .666 majority. Revisionists noted that the sun came out after the vote. In response the orthodox quipped that the sun comes out almost every day, but rogue tornados are pretty rare!

Those in the orthodox camp warned the assembly not to vote on binding church doctrine, especially if it had no convincing biblical or theological arguments to overturn the moral consensus of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church held throughout the ages and by 99 percent of the world's Christians. Such action would identify the ELCA with a rapidly declining liberal Protestantism while departing from orthodox teaching and practice. Strong arguments against the Social Statement and policy recommendations were made by pastors and laypersons—bishops were for the most part silent—to no avail. The church left the Great Tradition of moral teaching to identify with the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church.

How did this come to be? On the one hand, the fact that the largest American Lutheran church body had become the first confessional church to accept homosexual conduct was a traumatic shock to many. There was much anger and anguish. On the other hand, the decision was not at all unexpected by those of us who have fought against the underlying currents operating in the ELCA from its very inception. The fight has been long yet predictable. Liberal Protestantism was the ELCA's destination. Indeed, its presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson, is fast becoming the charismatic leader of liberal Protestantism.

"There is nothing but the social gospel," shouted a voting member at the assembly. But that is certainly not Lutheran doctrine. The various programs of social change taken to heart by the church are human works in God's left-hand reign, having to do with the Law, not the gospel. Rather, the real gospel is clear: the grace of God in Jesus Christ is offered to repentant sinners condemned by the Law and then called to amendment of life by the Spirit. Liberating efforts in the realm of social and political change are possibly effects of the gospel, but certainly not the gospel itself.

But the ELCA has accepted the social gospel as its working theology, even though its constitution has a marvelous statement of the classic gospel. The liberating movements fueled by militant feminism, multiculturalism, anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-imperialism, and now ecologism have been moved to the center while the classic gospel and its missional imperatives have been pushed to the periphery.

The policies issuing from these liberationist themes are non-negotiable in the ELCA, which is compelling evidence that they are at the center. No one can dislodge the ELCA's commitment to purge all masculine language about God from its speech and worship, to demur on the biblically normative status of the nuclear family, to refuse to put limits on abortion in its internal policies or to advocate publicly for pro-life policies, to press for left-wing public domestic and foreign policy, to replace evangelism abroad with dialog, to commit to "full inclusion" of gays and lesbians at the expense of church unity, and to buy in fully to the movement against global warming. Though it is dogmatic on these issues, it is confused about something as important as the assessment of homosexual conduct. Yet, it acts anyway because of the pressure exerted by those who want to liberate church and society from heterosexism.

But how did the liberal Protestant agenda replace the Christian core? There are many reasons, a good number that many American evangelicals share with Lutherans: a culture moving quickly toward permissive morality; the self-esteem movement leading to cheap grace; lay individualism combined with apathy toward Christian teaching; an obliviousness to church tradition and to the voice of the world church; and, above all, the loss of an authentic principle of authority in the church. This last item I will address in more detail later.

The ELCA has a particular history that has compounded these problems. The mid-1980s planning stage of the ELCA was dramatically affected by a group of radicals who pressed liberationist (feminist, black, multiculturalist, gay) legislative initiatives right into the center of the ELCA structures.

Among them was a quota system that skews every committee, council, task force, synod assembly, and national assembly toward the "progressive" side. (There are quotas for representing specific groups in all the organized activity of the church. Sixty percent must be lay, 50 percent must be women, 10 percent must be people of color or whose language is other than English. The losers, of course, are white male pastors; our Virginia delegation to the assembly, for example, had only one male pastor among its eight elected members.)

Further, the prescribed structure distanced the 65 bishops from the decision-making of the church. The bishops have only influence, not power. (Aware of their divisiveness, the bishops voted 44-14 to require a two thirds majority for the enactment of the Sexuality Task Force's policy recommendations, but were ignored by both the church council and the Assembly.) Theologians were given no formal, ongoing, corporate role in setting the direction of the ELCA. They, too, were kept at a distance and actually viewed as one more competing interest group.

The radicals so decisive in the defining moments of the ELCA intended to smash the authority of the influential theologians and bishops who had informally kept both the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America on course. The radicals wanted many voices and perspectives, especially those of the "marginalized," put forward in the ongoing deliberations of the ELCA. They were so successful that now, after 20 years, there is no authoritative biblical or theological guidance in the church. There are only many voices. The 2009 Assembly legitimated those many voices by adapting a "bound-conscience" principle, according to which anyone claiming a sincerely-held conviction about any doctrine must be respected. The truth of the Bible has been reduced to sincerely-held opinion.

What was truly chilling about the assembly's debates was that the revisionists seemed to quote Jesus and the Bible as knowledgeably and persuasively as the orthodox. Passages reinforcing their respective agendas were selected and then brilliantly woven into their arguments. Both sides seemed to have the Bible on their side. The revisionists "contextualized" and relativized the relevant texts. The orthodox claimed a plain sense reading of Scripture. The Lutheran confessions were utilized effectively by both sides. There was no authoritative interpretation conveyed by any agent or agency in the church. The church was, and is, rudderless.

Sola Scriptura, a Lutheran principle adopted by evangelicals, did not seem to be sufficient in such circumstances. An authoritative tradition of interpretation of the Bible seemed to be essential. More was needed than the Bible alone. Protestants seem to lack such an authoritative tradition, so they fight and split. In this situation, the option of swimming the Tiber seems all the more tempting.

The fallout of these historic moves by the ELCA is hard to predict, mainly because the Lutheran orthodox have no group of dissenting bishops around whom to rally. There will be a profusion of different responses by congregations and individuals. Many congregations and individuals will leave the ELCA. Others will bide their time to see what Lutheran CORE (Lutheran Coalition for Renewal) will become as it strives to articulate and then embody the best of Lutheranism. Many will withdraw from involvement in the ELCA and its synods and live at the local level. Many others will try to live on as if nothing has happened. Others will approve of the new direction. But a tectonic shift has taken place, and it wasn't primarily about sex. The ELCA has formally left the Great Tradition for liberal Protestantism.
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« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2009, 01:31:16 PM »

All of the above is very sad. God has already spoken quite bluntly on these issues, and God's Word is final. There is no debate, and it doesn't matter what men think or want. One can boil it down to a single choice:  do I follow and obey God? Yes or No?

If a so-called church wishes to replace the instructions of God with the instructions of men, they no longer serve God. Worse - they serve the adversaries of God - the powers of darkness. It's just this simple.

Isaiah 5:20  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
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« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2011, 09:35:14 AM »

Support for 'gay' rights rising among Catholics
Onenewsnow

A new study shows that Roman Catholics are more supportive of homosexual special rights than are the general public and other Christians.

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, addressed such topics as legal recognition, same-gender "marriage," and suicide rates. Dr. Robert Jones, the Institute's CEO, says the study is fairly comprehensive.
 
"Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace," says Jones. "Sixty-three percent of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military -- and six in 10 Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children."
 
The question of homosexual "marriage" was a little more complex, according to the CEO.
 
"But generally speaking, on a kind of two-part question about allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry or not, we have a majority...of Catholics [53 percent] supporting same-sex marriage," says Jones.
 
The Institute spokesman says support for homosexual special rights has been increasing among all groups over the last two decades, including Catholics. But he notes that a gap exists between the Vatican and Catholic bishops in the latter group and rank-and-file Catholics.
 
Jones says though that Catholics have a history of making up their own minds, especially regarding sexuality, and still remaining within the church.

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« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2011, 12:14:19 PM »

It sounds like the Catholic church has a big list of problems in being a church at all.
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« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2011, 11:01:44 PM »

Many leave the Nazarene Church as "mysticism" infects the church
onenewsnow.com


A ministry based in Massachusetts is voicing its concern about the so-called "emergent church" movement's growing influence on the Nazarene denomination.

The InterMountain Christian News reports that roughly 10,000 Nazarenes in the United States and Canada have left the denomination over the past four years. Manny Silva, director of Stand for Truth Ministries, says research shows that unbiblical ideology is rampant throughout the denomination.

"There is mysticism coming into the denomination -- a lot of mystical practices, including the use of pagan prayer labyrinths. There is the teaching of open theism and process theology in the university," Silva reports. "The underlying problem that is going on in the Church of Nazarene, most of us believe, is the denial that the holy scriptures are the inherent, infallible Word of God."

He goes on to express concerns that institutions like Northwest Nazarene University, Point Loma Nazarene University and Trevecca Nazarene University have become training grounds of flawed theology, but many of the schools have failed to adequately address his organization's concerns.

"Ultimately, we want to at least have people be aware, have as many Nazarenes become aware of these issues as possible...so that even if the responses of clarity that we want to get do not arrive, we'll at least have more people become aware," the Stand for Truth Ministries director notes. "They'll be able to voice their concerns, and hopefully there will be a growing body of Nazarenes who continue to express their concerns until we get a response from the leadership."

Silva adds that many of the Nazarene universities have featured emergent church gurus in recent years, including Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Dallas Willard.
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« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2011, 11:03:08 PM »

Pro-Homosexual Foundations Attempt To Change Church Doctrine Through Millions in Grants To Dissident Church Groups
methodistthinker.com

At CatholicVote.org, Thomas Peters recently wrote about the effort by homosexual billionaires to change the Roman Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality by funding dissident groups within the church. Peters catalogs funding to the tune of almost $600,000 to various Catholic groups through something called the Arcus Foundation.

After reading Peters’ article, I went to the Arcus website and discovered that it isn’t just Roman Catholic groups this foundation is funding. Money is also going to many dissident groups in mainline Protestant denominations.

Here are some of the grants listed for 2010 alone:

Central United Methodist Church (Detroit): $50,000 for The Reconciling Project, “a reconciling education and advocacy initiative to positively transform attitudes and beliefs about LGBT [Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered] people among United Methodist congregants and pastors in Southeastern Michigan.”

Christian Community: $300,000 (over two years) “to increase support for and advocacy on behalf of LGBT people of faith in mainline Protestant congregations across the U.S.”

Emory University (United Methodist affiliated): $100,000 (over two years) for continued support for Religion Dispatches, “a progressive online magazine dedicated to analysis and critique of the role of religion in public culture, with a focus on LGBT justice issues.”

Intersections International: $100,000 for the Believe Out Loud campaign, “which seeks to move moderate people of faith to publicly advocate for LGBT inclusion within their mainline Protestant faith communities.” (The Reconciling Ministries Network in the United Methodist Church is integrally involved with the Believe Out Loud campaign.)

Lutherans Concerned: $90,000 for “two convenings to advance the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith by convening pro-LGBT denominational leaders from the Episcopal Church USA, the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutherans of America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ, and by convening nationally recognized pro-LGBT Lutheran theologians.”

Methodist Federation for Social Action: $93,120 “to advance the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within the United Methodist Church through a coalition of progressive justice organizations working within the UMC.” (MFSA used these funds to hire a coordinator for the Common Witness Coalition, an alliance of progressive groups that will press the UM 2012 General Conference to vote for “full inclusion of all people in UMC membership and leadership”—PDF.)

In 2009, the Arcus awarded the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) in the UMC $300,000 (over two years) to support “a comprehensive strategy to advance LGBT inclusion within the United Methodist Church that includes passage and implementation of pro-LGBT denominational policy regarding Church membership, ordination and same-gender [sic] marriage.” (In 2007, Arcus awarded RMN $100,000.)

Also in 2009, Arcus gave the communications firm of Douglas Gould and Company a grant of $194,200 to provide communications support to both the UM Reconciling Ministries Network and Lutherans Concerned to assist their efforts “to advance the full inclusion of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

Here are several other Arcus grants from last year:

Church Divinity School of the Pacific: $404,351 “to develop official rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships within the Episcopal Church.”

More Light Presbyterians: $75,000 “to support the ratification of denominational policy that permits the ordination of partnered LGBT persons within the Presbyterian Church (USA).”

The Gay Christian Network: $73,018 “to develop, test, and refine a pilot program that prepares young adult evangelicals to support pro-LGBT dialogue within evangelical communities.”

Truth Wins Out: $40,000 “for general operating support to enable Truth Wins Out to continue to challenge the ex-gay movement and monitor the anti-LGBT efforts of the religious right.” (Truth Wins Out is the group behind pressuring Apple to drop apps developed by the Manhattan Declaration and Exodus International.)

Despite the lack of stated religious connections on the part of its staff or its board members, the Arcus Foundation has a “Religion and Values” program, the goal of which is described this way:

[Our] goal is to achieve the recognition and affirmation of the moral equality of LGBT people. To accomplish this goal, the program supports the efforts of religious leaders to create faith communities in which LGBT people are welcomed as equal members; it also supports civic leadership to promote the moral and civil equality of LGBT people at state, national, and international levels.

The two-part “measurable program outcome” for the Religious and Values program is stated this way:

Goal 1: Ensure that denominations and faith-based institutions affirm LGBT moral equality and support LGBT rights;

Goal 2: Support pro-LGBT faith-based leaders who form, sustain and drive the movement or LGBT moral equality and civil rights.

In his article at CatholicVote.org, Thomas Peters notes that the total given by the Arcus Foundation since 2007 to groups operating within Catholic and Protestant churches is $6.5 million. That’s a lot of scratch.

The questions raised by this attempt to influence church doctrine and policy are enormous. Arcus certainly has every right to fund organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD that are working for homosexual rights in the political arena. But by what right does a secular foundation, operating from principles at odds with historic Christian faith, seek to influence Christian churches to abandon aspects of that faith?

Liberals have been claiming for years that there is something insidious, if not downright evil, about support the Institute on Religion and Democracy has received from conservative foundations.

That funding is dwarfed — in both scale and breadth — by the money given out by Arcus.

It’s also the case that the IRD supports the traditional stances of the churches to which it speaks. It is not seeking to bring about radical change in historic teaching and practice.

In the current issue of First Things, George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has a fascinating article about the infiltration of the Catholic Church by various agents of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies during the post-World War II era. The aim was to influence church policy with regard to the Soviet bloc, and to seek to garner support for the bloc’s foreign and domestic political agendas.

What the Arcus Foundation is doing may be more public, and may involve using money to fund others rather than using their own “agents,” but make no mistake: this is just as much about infiltrating the churches to push a political agenda
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