Hilary White

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Christianity as threatened by liberalised doctrine as by Islamic violence: Nigerian Anglican Primate

Hilary White
Hilary White
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ABUJA, Nigeria, November 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Christianity is an “endangered species” in Africa, pressed between violence from Islamist terrorism on one side and doctrinal and moral “disunity” among Christians on the other, a leading Nigerian Anglican bishop has said.

The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Anglican Primate of Nigeria’s 18 million Anglican Christians, warned the other African nations that doctrinal relativism, which he called “nominalism,” and the “doctrine of prosperity” – the idea that God rewards the morally upright with material wealth - are creating as serious a threat to the continuance of Christianity as Islamic violence on the continent.

Okoh was speaking at the 2012 Divine Commonwealth Conference in Abuja, on the theme: “Contending For The Faith.” He said that for Christianity to survive in Africa, all Christians everywhere must adhere to a common Christian faith in line with the Bible.

Okoh referred to the Islamic terrorist organisation Boko Haram, which has gone on killing sprees throughout Nigeria and is particularly known for attacking Christian worshippers at services at Christmas and Easter time.

“The Christian faith is seriously under attack in Nigeria from without and within,” he said. “From without, we are concerned about violent expressions of Islam represented by Boko Haram. In some parts of the North, the Christian faith is an endangered species.” He said that Boko Haram is a “faceless mafia” that is so violent that attempts to negotiate or “dialogue” become “academic.”

However, “disunity among Christians …exposes the Church to so many disadvantages,” Okoh continued. He went on to criticise the growth of “nominalism,” the belief that denies the existence of objective truth and leaves Christianity as a matter only of personal opinion. Nominalism in African Christianity, Okoh said, creates a faith “that is one mile wide and one inch deep, leading to distorted beliefs.”

The Church of Nigeria, a product of missionaries from Britain and dating only from 1842, is now the second largest branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, claiming the membership of over 18 million of the 140 million population of the country. It is estimated that of the 77 million-strong Communion, by far the greatest majority lives in the African and Asian provinces that have largely maintained strongly orthodox positions on biblical criticism and doctrine, as well as issues surrounding human sexuality.

At the moment, Okoh said, of all the Christian Churches, “Officially, only the Roman Catholic Church authorities are standing for historical orthodoxy.” He denounced the Episcopal Church in the US, saying that it has “no sentiments about Orthodoxy and the rest of the Communion.”

But Okoh was emphatic that Christianity is not a matter of personal preference, calling it instead, “something which is entrusted to God’s consecrated people.”

“The faith is something which is delivered to us. It is not something which we have discovered for ourselves. The facts of our faith are handed down to us from generation to generation a tradition, going back to Jesus Himself,” he said.

“The Christian faith is something which is once and for all delivered to us. There is something permanent and unchangeable about its content, but certainly to be rediscovered and appropriated in every age. It is this: Jesus Christ came into the world and lived and died to bring salvation to men.”

“The Christian faith is something which must be defended. Every Christian is a defender of this Faith. Every Christian of every generation must defend it. It is the duty of every generation to pass it on uncorrupted and unperverted.”

The shift of power in the Anglican Churches away from the Western and northern countries of their historic origin to the Global South and Asia has been dubbed the Anglican Realignment. In most of the Western nations the Anglican and Episcopal Church leadership has embraced a far-left “progressive” position, particularly with their acceptance of homosexuality and on the interpretation of scripture, a position that has created an intractable schism from their more orthodox counterparts. In these countries many conservative individuals, and often whole communities, have opted to secede from the oversight of their ultra-liberal leadership and this shift is causing bitter legal disputes over property rights. At the same time, these Western, liberalised communities are losing membership in such numbers that some have admitted they will effectively cease to exist within 20-30 years.

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In related news, a group of Anglican bishops meeting in New Zealand has called for “one of their own” to be named the new head of the Worldwide Anglican Communion with the retirement this year of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of England is unique in the Communion in that its leadership is chosen not by other members but by Parliament. Until now, the titular head of the Church of England has been automatically accepted as the head of the whole Communion. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the new Archbishop of Canterbury would be Justin Welby, the former bishop of Durham, who told media last week that he wants to rethink his Church’s position on homosexual relationships.

Some African bishops at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) – one of the four “Instruments of Anglican Communion” – in Auckland, New Zealand have called for a change to that tradition of acceptance. The doctrinal divisions between the Realigned Anglican Churches and their ultra-liberal counterparts in the West, have become the focal point of much of the discussion at the Auckland meeting.

Church leaders from Nigeria and Kenya issued a statement at the meeting saying that since 1998, “the ongoing conflict in our beloved Communion continues to be a crisis of Gospel truth, not only regarding matters of human sexuality but the authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written and the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”

The ongoing crisis in the Anglican Communion, they said, is the result of a “failure of governance by the Instruments of Communion. This is a failure and, at times, subversion of leadership at the highest levels.”

They wrote that they are “grieved” that the ACC continues to “tolerate, and even honor” the US Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada “and other provinces who continue to produce revisionist forms of the Christian faith that are unrecognizable to the majority of Anglicans worldwide.”

“For this reason, we believe it is time for the Primates themselves to elect one of their own who will call their meetings with an enhanced responsibility to guard the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion.”

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The first pro-abortion Republican enters the 2016 presidential race

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By Ben Johnson

EXETER, NH, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The large and expanding field of would-be Republican presidential candidates grew by one today, as George Pataki became the first GOP presidential hopeful this election season to openly support abortion-on-demand.

The 69-year-old long-shot candidate also has a history of supporting homosexual legislative causes.

In the weeks leading up to his formal announcement, George Pataki took out TV ads asking Republicans to refrain from talking about abortion and gay “marriage,” branding them “distractions.”

“In 12 years [as governor], I don’t think I talked about that issue twice,” he once said of abortion.

On same-sex “marriage,” he says, “I think, leave it to the states. I don’t think it’s a role in Washington.”

However, Pataki has a long history of enacting the homosexual political agenda as governor of New York from 1994-2006. He signed a “hate crimes” law that added the words “gay” and “lesbian” to New York state law for the first time.

He signed the Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits business owners from “discriminating” against homosexuals in housing or hiring, with an exemption only for religious institutions.

He also added sexual orientation to state civil rights laws, alongside such immutable characteristics as race and sex, in an apparent quid pro quo for a gay activist group's endorsement in his last run for governor. The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Pataki, then then-Senate Majority Leader “shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator [Joseph] Bruno's senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state's largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda.”

After the LGBT activist group endorsed Pataki in 2002, citing a long list of his service to the homosexual political cause, Pataki personally lobbied senators for the bill's passage, then signed it into law that December.

Coupled with his stance on gun control, environmentalism, and other issues, he stands well to the left of the Republican mainstream.

The three-term governor of New York, who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, took his own advice by largely avoiding social issues today. The closest he came was his vow, “I'd repeal oppressive laws like ObamaCare and end Common Core.”

He added that he would “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”

Otherwise, Pataki's announcement speech hewed to stand pat Republican issues like reducing taxes, shrinking the number of federal employees, increasing military spending, and supporting entrepreneurship.

He began by thanking his supporters, in English and Spanish.

Smiling, his head pivoting between twin teleprompters, he said, “Let me tell you some of the things I'd do right away to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”

He would institute a lifetime ban on congressmen acting as lobbyists after they leave office. “If you ever served one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist,” he said. He favors forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, so there will be “no special rules for the powerful.”

He cited his history of cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and leaving his state with billions of dollars in surplus. “That's what our policies can do,” he said. “I know we can do the same thing for the United States.”

In recent weeks, he has called for a more interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Today, he reminded his audience that he was governor of New York in 9/11. “I will not fear the lesson of September 11,” he said. “To protect us, first we must protect the border,” he said – an unexpected phrase, as Pataki supports amnesty for the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

“We will stand with our ally, Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism,” he said.

Like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who announced he is running for president yesterday, Pataki agreed that “if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS on the ground – although he promised not to become “the world's policeman.”

Some of his campaign promises drew skepticism, such as seeking to develop self-driving cars and to cure Alzheimer's disease and cancer within the next decade.

The speech's venue was chosen deliberately by Pataki, who considered entering the presidential race in 2000, 2008, and 2012. The town of Exeter, New Hampshire, claims to be the founding place of the Republican Party. (Ripon, Wisconsin, makes a similar claim.)

More importantly, the first-in-the-nation primary skews more libertarian on social issues than evangelical-dominated Iowa and South Carolina, so Pataki has essentially staked his candidacy on doing well in New Hampshire. Fellow pro-abortion Republican Rudy Giuliani made a similar bet in 2008, banking on a good showing among transplanted New Yorkers in the Florida primary. He left the race after finishing a distant third.

Short of a stunning upset in the Granite State, Pataki has little chance of breaking through the pack this year. A Fox News poll ranks him dead last among 16 announced and potential candidates. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News said, “George Pataki would never say this, but you do have to wonder if he's sort of, maybe, gaming for vice president.”

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Pataki is not the first “pro-choice” Republican to run for president.  Giuliani (who supported partial birth abortion) and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (another potential 2016 candidate, who supports abortion during the first trimester) ran in 2008. Twelve years earlier, both California Gov. Pete Wilson and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter supported abortion-on-demand. Arlen Specter later left the party and became a Democrat.

In 1988, General Alexander Haig opposed a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So did Texas Gov. John Connally in 1980.

George H.W. Bush supported abortion and voted for Planned Parenthood funding early in his career but changed his position by the time he ran for president the second time, in 1988.

President Gerald Ford was the last Republican nominee to proclaim himself “pro-choice.” 

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Ireland ‘defied God’ by voting for gay ‘marriage’: Cardinal Burke

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By Pete Baklinski

OXFORD, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke lamented how formerly Catholic Ireland has gone further than the pagans in the pre-Christian days of old and “defied God” by calling homosexual behavior “marriage” in the referendum last week.

“I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage,” he told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic organization, in an address Wednesday about the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tablet, Britain’s liberal Catholic newspaper, reported his remarks.

On Friday, 1.2 million Irish people voted to amend the country’s constitution to say: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” A little over 734,000 people voted against the proposal. 

Burke said that he could not understand “any nation redefining marriage.”

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The cardinal also emphasized the important role that parents play in protecting their children in a culture increasingly hostile to God’s laws. “The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet,” he said. One practical piece of advice that he offered families was to put computers in public areas to prevent children from “imbib[ing] this poison that’s out there.”

During the same Oxford visit, but during a homily at a Mass the day before, Burke called marriage between a man and woman a “fundamental truth” that has been “ignored, defied, and violated.”

Burke warned during the homily of the dangers of “various ideological currents” and of “human deception and trickery which strives to lead us into error.”

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Why young Christians can’t grasp our arguments against gay ‘marriage’

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By John Stonestreet

May 28, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- For five years, Dr. Abigail Rine has been teaching a course on gender theory at George Fox University, an evangelical school in the Quaker tradition.

At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students that “they are guaranteed to read something they will find disagreeable, probably even offensive.”

Writing at FirstThings.com recently, she related how five years ago it was easy to find readings that challenged and even offended the evangelical college students “considering the secular bent of contemporary gender studies.”

But today, things are different. “Students now,” she says, “arrive in my class thoroughly versed in the language and categories of identity politics; they are reticent to disagree with anything for fear of seeming intolerant—except, of course, what they perceive to be intolerant.”

And what do they find “intolerant”? Well, in her class, an essay entitled “What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson, which was the beginning of the book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.”

In their article, Girgis, George, and Anderson defend what they call the conjugal view of marriage. “Marriage,” they write, “is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other … that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” They defend this view against what they call the “revisionist view” of marriage, which redefines marriage to include, among other things, same-sex couples.

“My students hate it,” Dr. Rine wrote. They “lambast the article.” “They also,” she adds, “seem unable to fully understand the argument.” And again, these are evangelical students at an evangelical school.

The only argument for conjugal marriage they’ve ever encountered has been the wooden proof-texting from the Bible. And besides, wrote Rine, “What the article names as a ‘revisionist’ idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem ‘new’ to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.”

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As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

And where do students get the idea that marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction”? Well, everywhere—television, church, school, their homes, in youth groups.

Rine writes, “As I consider my own upbringing and the various ‘sex talks’ I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist.”

In other words, once you say, “I do,” you get “the gift” of sex which is presented as “a ‘gift’ largely due to its [erotic], unitive properties, rather than its intrinsic capacity to create life.” Even in the Church, children have become an optional add-on to married life rather than its primary purpose.

What can we do to win back our children, our churches, and the culture? In our recent book “Same Sex Marriage,” Sean McDowell and I lay out a game plan. We offer strategies for the short-term and the long-term, with the ultimate goal: re-shaping the cultural imagination towards what God intended marriage to be, starting with the church. Come to BreakPoint.org to pick up your copy.

As Chuck Colson once said in a BreakPoint commentary about marriage, “We Christians are very good at saying ‘No.’ But we’ve got to get better at saying ‘Yes’: showing how God’s plan for humanity is a blessing. That His ways, including faithful, life-giving marriage between one man and one woman, lead to human flourishing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point.

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