American News Commentary
* Formerly published as The EPOCH Commentary *
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Vol. 11, No. 1 July 2, 2008 © 2008
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THIS ISSUE MARKS A NEW BEGINNING,
after the completion of five years of publication of
this newsletter. With Vol. 11, No. 1 we begin a
new sequence, but with the same conditions: (1)
We do not charge any subscription fee; (2) We do
not offer anything for sale, and (3) We have never
solicited any financial contributions. In these times,
that is as completely FREE as anything can be.
Thank you for your interest through the years, and
for recommending this newsletter to your friends.
Please write to us; our address remains the same:
"IMPLEO PROPOSITUM ECCLESIA" -- A
LATIN PHRASE MEANING: "FULFILL
THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH"
That hand-constructed Latin phrase was offered as
our suggestion for an answer to the classic question
asked of the American church: "Quo Vadis?"
(Where are you going?) and to the church's response,
"Nos Relinquo Noster Sententia." (We have lost
our way, or also translated, We have abandoned our
"Fulfill the purpose of the Church" -- a simple
answer, but at the same time an incredibly complex
one since many churches in America have ignored
or otherwise failed to fulfill the purpose of the
Church that Jesus Christ established. It is surely
understood that Ecclesiology is the theological
term for the study of the Biblical Church. Without
entering into a detailed study of the subject, it can
be noted that there is a genuine difference between
the Church which Jesus Christ founded, and the
organized church (of whatever denomination)
which is known to us today. Yes, there are some
members of the organized church in the Church of
Jesus Christ . . . and there are some members of the
Church of Jesus Christ in the organized church -- but
the two are not the same.
So that is our promised answer to the question,
"Where are you going?" -- and is the formula or
prescription to cure the problems confronting
the church in America.
Last week was an interesting week in the life of
that American church.
First, there is the Presbyterian Church (USA),
which at its Bi-annual General Assembly last week
in a relatively close vote (380-325) acted to send
to the denomination's 173 presbyteries a proposed
change in the constitution. If approved the change
would remove these words concerning ministers,
deacons and elders (officers of the church), that they
should live in "fidelity within the covenant of
marriage between a man and a woman, or
chastity in singleness."
The presbyteries have one year to accept or reject
the removal of the ban on homosexual officers in
the church. Twice previously, in 1997 and 2001
the presbyteries rejected similar efforts to rescind
the ban on homosexual ordination. Now we will
have to wait to see if the Presbyterian church will
follow so many other "main line " denominations in
this departure from Scripture teaching.
Then there was survey evidence of a serious
departure from New Testament church doctrine --
by one poll (The Pew Forum on Religion and Life)
based on a survey of 35,000 adults, which found
that 57% of attendees at Evangelical churches
believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.
Another poll, by Life Way Research, surveyed
2,700 adults who attend church at least once a
month. To a similar (but not identical) question,
this poll found only 31% believing that other religions
offer the way to eternal life. There have been words
of disagreement exchanged, on the basis that the
Pew survey used too vaguely worded a question.
However, Scott McConnell, associate director of
Life Way Research said, "I believe the Pew study
is directionally right in pointing out that a
surprisingly small number of self-identified
American Christians believe in the exclusivity
of Christ as a means of salvation." Regardless
of which poll results one chooses to accept, it is
clearly evident that there is a serious problem in
the churches of this country.
"This is an historic event." Perhaps no words
were used more often than these in trying to describe
the GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference)
concluded this past weekend in Jerusalem. For one
solid week in the land where the Christian Church
began, 1,148 lay and clergy Anglicans, including
291 bishops, met to decide what course to follow
with respect to a world-wide communion which is
experiencing deep internal conflicts. GAFCON
was held at a crucial time. In 1900 80% of all
Anglicans lived in Great Britain and perhaps 1%
lived in sub-Saharan Africa. Today only 33% live
in Great Britain, and 55% live in sub-Saharan Africa.
But that 33% figure is misleading -- according to
the Church of England records, approximately 1
million Anglicans attend church on any given Sunday --
and that is only about 4% of the nation's Anglican
population. Britain has 26 million Anglicans today.
That is 3 million fewer than in 1970. In the American
Episcopal church there are 2 million Episcopalians,
which is 1 million fewer than in 1970. By contrast,
during that same period the number of Anglicans in
sub-Saharan Africa has grown to 43 million -- or
35 million more than in 1970.
The Anglican Communion will hold its every-ten-
year Lambeth conference in a few weeks. Already
approximately one third of the 38 Anglican Primates
have announced their intention to boycott the
Lambeth conference. Against all that background
of a church in trouble, the GAFCON statement is
a powerful document. It is based on what are termed
".... three undeniable facts concerning world
Anglicanism" -- the acceptance and promotion of a
different Gospel; the declaration of members in the
Global South that they are out of fellowship with
those who promote the false Gospel; the failure of
the Communion to exercise discipline over the
offending members. And the conclusion: "Sadly,
this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion
in such a way that it cannot simply be patched
Among the GAFCON principles is a return to the
authority of the Word of God, written, the doctrine
of the 39 Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common
Prayer.. Yet to come is the reaction of the participants
in the Lambeth Conference, as the GAFCON leaders
prepare for their new governing council, and the
establishment of their new province of churches in
America. These are momentous and exciting days
for the world's third largest grouping of churches
after Roman Catholic and Orthodox.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who heads
the Communion's largest province, commented:
"With this decision we have a fresh beginning."
It has been a long time in coming, but there is great
rejoicing among Bible believing Christians in the
Anglican Communion that it has finally arrived.
An appropriate Founding Father quote for
Independence Day. "Why is it that, next to the
birthday of the Savior of the world, your most
joyous and most venerated festival returns on
this day (the Fourth of July)? Is it not that, in the
chain of human events, the birthday of the nation
is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the
Savior? Is it not that the Declaration of
Independence first organized the social compact
on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon
earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human
government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"
-- John Quincy Adams, speech on July 4, 1837
Interesting: that's what our national leaders used to
to believe; it's how they used to speak of our nation.
Some Random Afterthoughts . . .
The French may have gone too far: an upcoming
conference involving French historians will feature
a major event titled, "King Arthur: A Legend in
the Making." Those historians have accused the
English of propagating the legend of King Arthur for
"political reasons." The aim of the conference is to
present evidence that the Arthurian legend is being
continually updated as an aid to British Nationalists
attempting to revive The Age of Chivalry. Just one
more of the great stories of all time headed for the
scrap heap -- if the French have their way.
For what it's worth: last week we listed the top
10 of the most influential celebrities in the world.
Now looking at the complete list of 100, it is just
a little bit encouraging to note that Rush Limbaugh
made the list at No. 59.
A news story you may have missed: it ran under
this headline: WHEN PROS DRINK, THESE COPS
DRIVE. It involves a new service called Safe Ride
Solutions, being used by 9 of the professional NFL
teams whose players like to visit bars and night-clubs,
but often get so drunk they can't drive home. So a
staff of off-duty or retired cops go pick them up
and drive them safely home. It's probably a good
idea, but one wonders whatever happened to that
old rule that athletes abstained from alcohol to stay
in shape to play their best? Notably when their multi-
million dollar salaries are considered. And, of course,
there is always the role-model image they create for
the youth of America.
Some quotes which have come our way: from
James Dobson, a psychologist who heads the
Focus on the Family organization: "I would not
vote for John McCain under any circumstances."
His options following that decision are difficult to
understand. And from Jonathan Falwell, as to
what Jerry Falwell would have said about that
petulant remark, "It's far better to have somebody
who's 90 percent your friend, than to have
somebody who's 100 percent your enemy."
Now that makes sense!
One way to profit from California's making same-
sex "marriage" legal -- the Nevada City, CA
Chamber of commerce approved funding for an ad
in "The Advocate," the nation's oldest magazine for
homosexuals. What does the ad say? "We welcome
you to be married in our small town." It is like
Gov. Schwarzenegger's reaction to the court's action,
that it would open new economic possibilities for
A thought for the 4th of July: "This, then, is the
state of the union: free and restless, growing and
full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall
always be, while God is willing, and we are strong
enough to keep the faith." -- Lyndon B. Johnson