Tuesday, September 14, 2004

CHURCH NEWS. In a small Assembly of God church, about 70 people met in a convention. Suddenly, the doors burst open and policmen streamed in, arresting everyone in sight. The Christians were taken away, blindfolded, and interrogated. Eventually, they were released. When and where did this happen? Was it in the old Soviet Union? No, it was last week in Iran.

In the Episcopal Church USA, the debate over fidelity to the Word continues to rage. It is cast in terms of homosexuality, and the ability of homosexuals to serve as bishops, but it involves the larger, more fundamental issue of obedience to the word. The ECUSA casts it as a debate between progressive liberalism and biblical orthodoxy. Can you guess who is winning? Since Mr. Robinson’s election a year ago, more than two-thirds of the world’s 77 million Anglicans withdrew from fellowship with the ECUSA. Many Anglicans have even called the American Episcopalians to repent. That is good news for the Anglican world and bad news for America.
Bishop Frank Griswold has said, from the pulpit in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, said "if scripture can only be read literally, classical Anglicanism is dead".

That will not make the Orthodox happy. All those devoted to the Bible strive to ready it literally, meaning they interpret it in the sense in which it was intended. After his sermon, Griswold specifically criticized those who read the scripture “literally” in interpreting the church’s position on homosexuality. He claimed the right to read the scripture in the light of one's immediate understanding of the Gospel. This goes with an earlier statement by one of the Bishops who said people in Bible times misunderstood homosexuality. The large and gaping hole in that theory is that God, who inspired his Word, understood it perfectly and called it sin. Most Anglicans believe homosexuality is a sin. Their constitution calls it incompatible to the scripture.

That does not mean we should persecute homosexuals, or fail to love them, minister to them, or witness to them. It does mean, if they are actively practicing, they are living in sin and rebellion to God and should not be leading congregations or groups of congregations. It is the same with any sin and anyone who lives a life devoted to a sin. A serial adulterer should not be a minister, for example. Episcopalians are voting with their feet and their checkbooks. In Virgiania alone, the diocese has a$900,000 budget shortfall. There is no sign so far that the bishops will bow to the will of the people if they cannot force them to accept a homosexual bishop.

On the other side of the world, 40,000 German Christians marched through Berlin last Saturday to commemorate the third anniversary of the terror attacks against the United States. Thanks to our German brothers and sisters. The Reverend Axel Nehlsen said “Jesus Day is an antidote against terrorism, violence and separation.” Amen!

Jesus Day' is a big Christian event in Germany. The march began at the Brandenburg gate and stopped at six political public places to pray. That is a big deal in such a secular place. They stopped near our embassy and prayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism, including the attack on a Russian school in Beslan. There was even a small group that met to express support for Israel and Messianic Jews and concern over anti-Semitism.

I like the idea of a Jesus Day. We should copy this in America. We could pick a city and gather, hundreds of thousands of us. We could pray for our country and our leaders. OK, actually this will happen tomorrow. Only, it will be teenagers all over the country meeting at school. They call it “See You At The Pole”. At the Baby’s high school, over 200 kids will likely gather at the flag pole in front of the school and pray and have a worship time. The Baby has already told the school principal of the plans. It is a sight to behold. If you have never seen it, drive to a high school tomorrow, stand a respectable distance away (this is by and for the kids, not adults) and feel the lump in your throat rise as you watch teenagers take a stand in front of their peers, their teachers, the press, and the world.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15.

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