Friday, November 18, 2016

BREAKING: Orthodox Patriarchate moves to restore female deacons


NOVEMBER 17, 2016
As I noted earlier, yesterday I took part in with America Media on the subject of deacons in general and women deacons in particular. This morning, one of the panelists, George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, passed along a timely item from the Orthodox (which has been translated by Google from the original Greek).
The big news, from George: “News broke this morning that the Patriarchate of Alexandria (which is the autocephalous head of Orthodox, Chalcedonian Christians in Africa) officially voted to restore the female diaconate.”
The story: 
On November 16  the Synod of aboriginal Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa continued its work under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore Vstin Patriarchal Seat.
Speakers at today’s meeting were Ven. Nigeria Metropolitan k.Alexandros who developed the theme of fasting within the African reality and Ven. Cameroon Metropolitan. Gregory who omilise on the institution of Deaconesses the missionary field. Both rapporteurs presented with theological arguments the positions and proposals, was done no extensive discussion thereon.
On the subject of fasting decisions of the meeting will be announced shortly to the clergy and people of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarchate by the Patriarchate Circulars.
On the issue of the institution of Deaconesses, it was decided to revive it and ordained bishops on tripartite committee for detailed consideration. (Emphasis added.)
There’s an interesting overview of the history of women deacons in the Orthodox church here.  An opposing (and highly critical) view can be read here.  
It remains unclear right now what, exactly, female deacons (or deaconesses?) would do in the Orthodox church, and how widespread this revival might actually be. It’s also not certain that this would be a ministry involving ordination.
So…There are a lot of unanswered questions. At the very least, this seems to me to be a significant first step, but much more discussion (or “consideration”) lies ahead.
We’ll see. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gay in Grantham? The eroticising of the Church of England

SEPTEMBER 3, 2016 

It was normal in serious Christianity that when you encountered Jesus and gave your life to him you would ask to be baptised.
 In your dying to your old life and starting afresh with a new way of living and loving and being loved, you would take a new name – a Christian name. Perhaps the name of someone who had achieved great things for the kingdom of heaven.
 This would reflect what St Paul was writing about in Galatians 3.27.
“7 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” and in 2. Corinthians 5.17.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”.
The Bishop of Grantham has gone to the left wing Guardian newspaper (socialism is a religion amongst Church of England bishops), and ‘come out as gay.’
 He may well be a very nice and sincere man, whom I wish well, and will hold in my prayers. It is a horrid thing to be talked about in the public domain, and especially horrid to pressurized to do it by the threat of blackmail, as he was.
 But in coming out as gay, he is to some extent repudiating his faith in Christ. Why so? Because  he is choosing a new identity that is nothing to do with Christianity or the Gospels or the lived tradition, but is a social and political construct designed to dilute the Judaeo Christian ethics that underlie Christianised culture.
 To come out as gay is to adopt and promote an anthropology that is pagan and not Christian. It is to repudiate the paradigms of Scripture and overlay them with a model of human self-expression that the Bible tells us heads off in a different one than the one God intends for us. The Bible and the Christian tradition is very clear. We are made men or woman, and we come together in marriage where the gift of sexual attraction and expression is located with the intention of becoming co-creators with God and having children. The Bible knows nothing about sex as recreation, sex as self-fulfillment or sex outside marriage. It understands that these are option (known as temptations) and forbids them.
 This heading off in a different direction is something we all do (we call it  ‘sin’), and the remedy is simple. Jesus has paid the price, so turn round, come back, stop and start again (we call it repentance.).
 But by repudiating his identity in Christ and putting on a secular identity which is defined by erotic attraction outside the boundaries of marriage, a Christian would be repudiating his Christian identity and adopting  a romanticised-erotic one instead.
Why would a Christian repudiate their identity in Christ and adopt a secular erotic identity instead? Well, it might be to justify pursuing sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex.
 But in the case of the bishop of Grantham he has told the world three things.
 The first is that he is adopting an erotic sub Christian anthropology as a way of describing his core identity as a human being. No longer primarily ‘in Christ’, but rather primarily ‘gay’.
 The second is that he is not pursuing sexual intimacy with another man. That’s a good thing, because the House of bishops have passed ‘guidelines’ saying that is a requirement of bishops. (They could have referred to the Holy Scriptures, but House of Bishops guidelines seem to have more authority in the C of E.)
 The third thing he has told the world is that he is ‘in a relationship’ that has no sexual or erotic expression.  I find this very confusing. Many men are in a relationship with another man (though married to a woman) to whom they are deeply committed in an affectionate, and non erotic way. We call it friendship. We could even call it ‘best friends.’ But what is its relevance to anyone else?
Unless of course the bishop means to tell the world that he is sexually aroused by this (and other men), but claims special virtue for not acting on it.
But why would a bishop tell the world who erotically attracts him?
If the Archbishop of Canterbury told us he is erotically attracted and sexually and emotionally aroused by a woman he is not married to, but has not acted on it, I would suggest he just keep it for his confessor. It’s not anyone else’s business.
The difficulty here of course is the euphemism the bishop of Grantham has adopted by talking about ‘in a relationship’. No one can have the slightest idea what this means, apart from the fact that the poor bishop has said they don’t touch each other much (or he doesn’t act sexually on his feelings- whatever that means).
 He doesn’t tell us whether he has acted sexually on it (which would be a sin) or whether he will in the future (which would be a sin) only that there is a window in time (which is now) when he is not.
How have we got into this weird mess? Because the bishop of Grantham has adopted a sub Christian erotised anthropology in preference to the orthodox Christian understanding of personal and sexual identity.
 Was not being a bishop more important than ‘being gay’?
 Might his self-understanding of being a bishop encompassed being in a relationship with Jesus (as a baptised Christian) and being in a relationship with his body, the Church (as a bishop) both of which are undermined by his insisting  his primary self- understanding who is as a man who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other men- ‘gay’.)
 Whatever confusion the bishop of Grantham might suffer from in his own ranking of self –understanding, the Archbishop of Canterbury suffered no confusion when he appointed him.
 He knew that Dr Chamberlain self described as ‘gay’. He knew he was ‘in a relationship’ which was not sexually expressed; (who can imagine what line of questioning is required to establish what this actually means). He appointed him knowing that if the details emerged in the public sphere it would cause deep consternation to orthodox Christians who have no difficulty with a bishop who is single and has deep committed friendships, but do have difficulty with a bishop whose primary element in his self-understanding is to describe his erotic and emotional attraction to other men.
It may be that the Archbishop like the bishop fo Grantham as fallen prey to the spirit of the age and chosen to look at human identity and self-understanding through a sub Christian (and perhaps worse) anthropology.
 Rowan Williams faced similar dilemmas. At a personal level he found himself similarly attracted to secularised erotic anthroplogies. But unlike Archbishop Welby he understood that his commitment to bein Archbishop of Canterbury placed him also ‘in a relationship’; in a relationship with the Church where nothing had a greater claim on him than caring and protecting it in peace and as much unity as possible.
One can only assume that in his commitment to this new anthropology, and the appointing of ‘gay’ bishops,  Archbishop Welby has chosen to be reckless with his care of the Church, and if true, that would be a very terrible thing.
 In Christ, St Paul reminds us, there are no competing anthropologies. We are gender blind, (no male or female) no racism, (Jew or Gentile) no social snobbery (slave or free), and in Romans chapter 1, no ranking of same-sex relationships above God’s biological and social priorities for us in marriage.
 We must pray for the Bishop of Grantham and the Archbishop of Canterbury, that they will find a spiritual and intellectual understanding of what it is to be ‘in Christ’ that is infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than some of the other spirits who inform their theology and their priorities.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Muslim mother supports her Catholic priest son

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 20, 2015–A Muslim mother gave her blessing and support to her son who recently became one of the 11 newly ordained priests from the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) order in the presence of Archbishop Vincensius Sensi Potokota.
Siti Asiyah, a Muslim mother, accepts his son, Robertus Asiyanto, to be inaugurated as a priest in Ledalero Maumere, October 10, 2015. Photo Credit:
Robertus Belarminus Asiyanto, 31, was ordained last Oct. 10 at the St. Paul Ledalero Seminary, Maumere, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. During the ordination rites, he was accompanied by his mother, Siti Asiyah, who was wearing Islamic dress, including the hijab.
Despite her religious beliefs, Asiyanto’s mother laid her hands on her son’s head and said that she was really happy to see her son ordained as a Catholic priest. Everyone in the celebration applauded her gesture and statement, and admired her love for her son as she was in tears while witnessing the ordination rites.
Fr. Leo Kleden, Superior Provincial of SVD Ende Province, said that Asiyanto was born in Flores and spent his early childhood in a Catholic neighborhood. “He has been a Catholic since he was a kid, perhaps since he was in primary school,” he said.
With a strong desire to pursue his priestly calling, Asiyanto proceeded to the seminary, and prior to his priestly ordination, asked for the blessing of his mother as it was really a big thing for him. Asiyanto’s mother said, “follow your heart.”
“She is a remarkable mother. She raised her son well and gave him the freedom to become a priest,” he also added.
The island of Flores is a part of Eastern Nusa Taggara province that has the most prevalent concentration of Catholics in Indonesia – forming the majority of its population. Reports say that it is rare for a Muslim family to willingly and happily accept the conversion of a son to Catholicism and also support his vocation as a priest. (Myraine Joly Carluen – Policarpio)

Friday, October 23, 2015

German pastor wages valiant fight to defend Christianity now under fire in his country

(Facebook/Solidarit├Ąt mit Olaf Latzel)
Pastor Olaf Latzel says 'if you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and everyone is clapping his hand, then you have a problem.'
Just like most Western nations, Germany is now being covered by a "profound spiritual darkness," according to Charisma News.
The Christian news source noted that Germany is remembered as the birthplace of the Reformation and was once a base for world Christian missions.
But now, true followers of Jesus Christ in the country are under fire in the media, by their own government and even denounced by fellow Christians whose faith has been subverted, according to Pastor Olaf Latzel of Bremen, Germany.
Latzel knows full well what he is saying since he is one of the prime targets of what he regards as anti-Christian conspiracy in his country.
In today's Germany, Latzel said traditional Christian teaching is now viewed by many as bigoted, hateful, and even "un-Christian."
"I'm only preaching the Gospel in a clear way," Latzel told Charisma News. "I think it is my duty to do this preaching in this way for our Lord."
In his sermons, Latzel speaks his mind out, standing against what he sees as a spirit of compromise that "seems to have swallowed Germany and the German state church," Charisma News said.
As a result, he has infuriated the German government and, sadly, even some German pastors who wanted to reconcile with non-Christians.
Latzel said the fundamental question in the German church today is who God really is.
Latzel said some of his fellow Christian pastors believe that "Allah and Jesus Christ, the Christian God, is the same god."
"But if you ask a Muslim, 'Does your god have a son?' he would say no!" he said. "Our (Christian) God has a son; His name is Jesus Christ. So, they are not the same."
"If you speak out loud and clearly about the truth of the Bible, that there's only one way to heaven and this way is Jesus Christ, there is only one God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and there is no other god beside Him, then you have a problem," he said.
Because of outspokenness and courage to defend his faith, 70 German pastors gathered in Bremen this year under the banner of "diversity" to denounce Latzel.
Accused of making hate speeches, the public prosecutor investigated him but later cleared him.
But this did not stop the Bremen parliament from passing a resolution to condemn him. Charisma News said it was the first time a German pastor was condemned by a German parliament since World War II.
But instead of losing heart, Latzel said the challenges he has to face only makes him stronger.
Latzel, who comes from a family of soldiers, said he is in a "war" between Christ and the devil, and the attacks reassure him.
"This is one sign that you are on the right way in your preaching, when you get problems," Latzel said. "If you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and everyone is clapping his hand, then you have a problem."
"Because, if you're telling the truth from the Bible, then the devil will come and he will fight against you in several ways; he will fight against the Word of God," he said.
Latzel is the pastor at the historic St. Martini (St. Martin's) Church in Bremen, where the great hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" was written in 1679 by the church's pastor, Joachim Neander.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Salt Lake City woman is first in Utah to claim ordination to Catholic priesthood

Women who claim their ordinations are recognized by God — if not the Catholic Church — ordained a Salt Lake City woman Sunday, the first woman in Utah to call herself a Catholic priest.
Clare Julian Carbone, a former nun and a hospice chaplain, was ordained Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota, Fla., a bishop of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, presided.
Fifty men and women, many of them in Salt Lake City for the Parliament of the World's Religions, joined in the ordination, taking turns touching Carbone's head and arms as they prayed silently over her.
"We are disobeying an unjust law that discriminates against women in our church," Meehan said in an interview. "Our Roman Catholic women priest movement makes the connection that poverty, violence and abuse of women in the world is related to sexism in the church."
Susan Dennin, communications director for the Salt Lake City diocese, said the Catholic Church does not consider the ordination valid and does not condone it.
"The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City had no prior knowledge of this event and is sad that it is taking place, putting a blemish on the gathering of the Parliament of the World's Religions," Dennin said in an emailed statement Sunday.
The church considers what it calls "attempted ordinations" a sin against the church's sacrament of holy orders, and regards participants as automatically excommunicated.
Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter in 1994, saying the church can't change the choice Jesus made when he picked 12 men as his apostles, men who in turn ordained other men to the priesthood.
That hasn't stopped many Catholics from embracing the notion, however, particularly in the United States. A survey last spring by the Pew Research Center found 59 percent of practicing American Catholics favor female ordination.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and a sister group, Roman Catholic Women Priests, have ordained more than 220 women as deacons and priests, mostly in the United States, since 2002. Meehan said they claim apostolic succession because an ordained — and anonymous — male bishop ordained the first female bishops.
But in her homily Sunday, Meehan said Christ also sent out women as apostles, such as Mary Magdalene, the first to witness the resurrected Christ. He sent her to proclaim his resurrection to the others, Meehan said.
"There are more than 12 apostles, news flash to the Vatican," she said, prompting laughter.
Carbone, 65, who has worked as a licensed clinical social worker and was a contemplative Poor Clare nun for many years, said she does not yet know whether a new faith community will sprout in Salt Lake City as a result of her ordination. She has been invited to celebrate liturgies with other women here, she said.
"Many of the women who have been ordained into this movement … their ministries kind of unfold. It's miraculous, it's beautiful."
She recently became a hospice chaplain, she said. "Part of my priestly ministry will be extended, now, to some of those hospice patients."
Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last year after pushing for female ordination, was among those laying hands on Carbone during the ceremony Sunday. The two embraced afterward.
"This was extremely powerful, just to participate as equals with women and feel that solidarity across denominations," Kelly said.
Christina Gringeri of Salt Lake City, a lifelong Catholic, found the ordination beautiful.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sacrilege! United Methodist and Episcopalian Churches Join in Prayer to “Bless” an Ohio Abortion Clinic

I’m not sure that anything makes me angrier than watching as self-proclaimed Christians professing to speak for God act in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches. In recent years, this problem has seemingly grown ever more distressing, as liberal congregations embrace all manner of anti-Biblical lifestyles and philosophies. The latest example of this disturbing trend in the American church comes to us from Ohio, where leaders from United Methodist and Episcopalian Churches have come together to “bless” their local Planned Parenthood abortion mill.
The Reverend Laura Young recently led a prayer rally in front of her local abortion facility as a direct reaction to what she says is the “misguided faith” of pro-life Christians.
Young explained her acceptance of abortion like this: “Christianity, like most faiths, is founded on love. Watching protesters shouting judgment and hate based on what they call religion is horrible. Is that loving God? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself?”
Laura Young Abortion PreacherYoung also says religious groups are fueling the so-called war on women. She explained, “Women are being attacked at a moral level by the radical Religious Right. They’ve hijacked the political discussion. This event is an opportunity for progressive religious leaders to stop the silence. We need to be in the conversation.”
She said, “It breaks my heart to know women are sitting in pews across the country feeling shamed, believing that they’re cursed for making this decision. That’s a question I get a lot on the phone, ‘Am I going to hell?’ When God instead is there to support women through it all.”
In a statement the clergy said, “As faith leaders committed to justice, honesty, and liberty, we are troubled by the decades-long campaign of harassment against Planned Parenthood and those they serve. Our faiths demand care for those marginalized by poverty and other oppressions. Faith leaders have supported Planned Parenthood for nearly 100 years because of our shared goals: every person — regardless of income, race, or religion — deserves access to safe, affordable, high-quality health care.”
They concluded, “Our religious traditions call us to offer compassion, not judgment. People who work for Planned Parenthood give care and respect to those in need, doing God’s work. For this we are grateful.”
analysis (and others like her) of what Scripture teaches and how it should influence our thoughts on abortion, but the primary problem here is this: she has chosen to ignore the explicit teaching in the Scripture for a philosophy that she has developed based on her interpretation of the Bible. This is an old story, and as a dear friend once told me, this is exactly how cults are started.
Young has chosen to ignore the explicit commands on sin, murder, sexuality and the preeminence of God and instead has decided that her feelings about the Bible’s general tone are more important. In a nutshell, this is exactly the problem of modern liberal Christianity today, not just on the subject of abortion, but on a wide range of issues.
The apostate church that Young and others like her belong to is destroying the very fabric of our nation and the safety and health of the American church. I shudder to think what judgment awaits these false teachers who will one day stand before our Holy and Righteous God. My hope and prayer is that they repent because the penalty they will face otherwise… is terrifying.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Evangelical discovers the Rosary

This article was written in 2012 for a book, The Healing Rosary by Paulette Kelly.
 I was skeptical.
Sitting there on the couch between my two friends, we began the Rosary.
I had been a Catholic for just over four months, a whirlwind journey that brought me to a November confirmation. It was a shortened RCIA program. I told the priest that I preferred not to wait until Easter to receive Our Lord. He granted my request because of my evangelical Theology degree and my six years as a full-time evangelical prayer missionary. As a missionary I had a dream about the Eucharist. I knew it was true.
The Rosary was a different story!
I knew it wasn’t something I ‘had’ to practice to be a good Catholic. As a former charismatic evangelical, I viewed the Rosary as an object of suspicion, a practice that Catholics felt they ‘had’ to do to be heard by God, or to gain His approval. I was wary of becoming wrapped up in “works”. After all, Jesus and I had a tight relationship and I didn’t think I needed “rote” prayers in order to get His attention.
However, as a member of a faithful parish in a vibrant Catholic community, it was almost impossible to avoid the Rosary. I knew I needed to test it. In the past when I had concerns about something, the Lord had always been faithful to show me His will. I got a sense that I was to try it and involve my two friends.
I summoned all my courage and asked Linda and Margarita if they would pray the Rosary with me on Easter Sunday. We would do it together because I didn’t know how. They would guide me through the prayers and I would follow along.
Sitting on the comfy leather couch, with Linda on my right and Margarita on my left, we began the centuries-old prayer. I really wanted to give it an honest try, so I timidly prayed the prayers with a focused heart, while a part of me was still asking God to keep me from any deception or idolatrous worship.
As we prayed through the decades, it was just as I suspected it would be, I didn’t feel any particular “anointing”.
As we entered into the concluding prayer, “Hail Holy Queen”, something stirred deep within me and I began to cry. It quickly escalated into something that I can only describe as loud, wailing, desperate pleas for help, as my spirit cried out loudly, “Help me Jesus! Help me Father!” This was similar to an inner healing experience I had before becoming a missionary, except this was more powerful. It was like a wrecking ball was knocking down walls I didn’t even know were there, places that hadn’t yet healed.
I found out later my friend Linda was panicking about what the neighbours would think. She handed me a pillow and I gladly used it to muffle the sound of my cries. After several minutes, it was done. I was more whole, somehow, on the inside. Many of the barriers that kept me from the Father and Jesus were no more.
Without even realizing it, I had tapped into a mystery that countless faithful souls before me had experienced: the hidden strength of Our Lady who declares in the Bible, “my soul magnifies the Lord”; and magnify, she did! That experience was all I needed; I decided to pray the Rosary daily. It was the beginning of a beautiful relatiionship with Mary.
I believe that the barriers that were removed that day (whether from childhood self protection or deep wounds, I don't know) enabled me to walk more fully in the Father's will for my life. Now I’m married, and praying the Rosary daily with my husband not only strengthens our relationship with Jesus, but also with one another. We’re convinced that this prayer will help us to live a future marked by unity, faith, hope and love.
PS - Diane was married to Hugh (of this website) January 1st, 2011.
Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.