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Newsletter for July 2, 2008

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  • American News
    American News Commentary * Formerly published as The EPOCH Commentary * - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Vol. 11, No.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2008
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      American News Commentary
      * Formerly published as The EPOCH Commentary *
      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      Vol. 11, No. 1           July 2, 2008            © 2008
      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      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:
      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
      back together."
      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

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