Virginia earthquake: Wilkerson's prophecy fulfilled?

David Wilkerson’s earthquake prophecy seems to fit well with worldwide events this year, or at least it has offered a convenient grid for some people to fit their interpretations of events into. There has been a major earthquake in Japan, a minor one in England, and earthquake panic in Rome. But despite the Tea Party’s best efforts last month, the prophesied economic meltdown has not yet happened.

The latest candidate for a fulfilment of Wilkerson’s prophecy is of course Tuesday’s earthquake in the “Old Dominion” state of Virginia. This caused damage, but thankfully no known casualties, in Washington DC. In New York, 300 miles away, it was felt strongly enough to cause panic. Meanwhile Hurricane Irene is heading straight for the capital city and the Big Apple, and is expected to hit them at the weekend.

So could this be what Wilkerson prophesied? Well, it certainly fits one of his predictions for the earthquake:

I believe it is going to take place where it is least expected.

But while there have been riots, fires and looting in the UK this month (I have not commented on them before as I am still on vacation), the panic in New York doesn’t seem to have led to looting in Times Square – although who knows what might happen in the aftermath of a hurricane? More seriously, there is no way that this minor quake can be understood as

the biggest most disastrous earthquake in history.

Washington National CathedralIn this week’s quake the most seriously damaged building, it seems, was the Washington National Cathedral, according to Wikipedia “the seat of … the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori” and thus the spiritual centre of the largely apostate Episcopal Church. I use the word “apostate” here not so much concerning its abandonment of the true gospel or its promotion of homosexual practice as in relation to its policy, in direct contravention of apostolic teaching (1 Corinthians 6:1-6), of persecuting orthodox congregations through the secular courts. Now I am not claiming that this damage to the cathedral (minor of course compared to the damage to Christchurch cathedral in New Zealand just six months earlier) was the result of divine judgment. But from an orthodox Christian perspective it certainly seems to be poetic justice.

So as Christians what lessons can we learn from this week’s event? It doesn’t seem to have been the fulfilment of David Wilkerson’s prophecy. But perhaps it can be understood as a reminder and a warning that the USA, and indeed the whole world, has earned God’s judgment, and it is only by his grace that we are spared the total destruction which we deserve:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

2 Peter 3:9-10 (NIV 2011)

There is nothing in this world which cannot be shaken, even if it is not supposed to be in an earthquake zone, even the centres of world political and economic power. “Dominion” may have become a dirty word in politics, but this quake can teach us that true kingship belongs not to the “Old Dominion” but to God. So let us all take a lesson from the letter to the Hebrews:

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:25-29 (NIV 2011)

Presiding Bishop calls the Gospel heresy – or does she?

Kevin Sam has two posts about some words spoken by Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC), the US-based body which, as I reported a few days ago, is on the verge of putting itself outside the Anglican Communion. In the first of his posts, Kevin reports on Albert Mohler’s surprise that Bishop Jefferts Schori used the word “heresy” in these words which Mohler quotes, from her speech to the General Convention of TEC:

The crisis of this moment has several parts, and like Episcopalians, particularly the ones in Mississippi, they’re all related. The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention.

Mohler comments:

note carefully that the Bishop identified as heresy what the church —   throughout all the centuries and in every major tradition — has recognized as central to the Christian faith. The confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord” has been central to biblical Christianity from the New Testament onward. … The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church finally summoned the determination to apply the word heresy — and then applied this most serious term of odious rejection to the Gospel itself.

In a second post Kevin examines Jefferts Schori’s words for himself, asking the question Was Bishop Schori really talking about the heresy of selfishness? But he doesn’t give a clear answer. Now if it is selfishness that the bishop called a heresy, I would not disagree except to concur with Mohler that

The word heresy should properly be reserved for teachings that directly reject what the Bible reveals and the Church has confessed concerning the person and work of Christ and the reality and integrity of the Trinity.

But what was it that Jefferts Schori was attacking? The key is probably in these words of hers:

That individualist focus is a form of idolatry

This suggests that her main point was about “individual” and “alone”, the idea that salvation can be found by individuals apart from a Christian community. That is indeed a distorted teaching of many Christians in the West, related especially to the ideals of rugged individualism and personal independence – not quite the same thing as selfishness. Again, while “heresy” is too strong a word, if this is what Jefferts Schori was attacking I would not want to take issue with her.

But the Presiding Bishop’s words are all too open to the interpretation which Mohler puts on them, that what she has called heresy is a concept at the heart of the gospel, the teaching originally of the prophet Joel which was quoted by the apostles Peter and Paul:

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13)

If Bishop Jefferts Schori is calling heresy this biblical teaching, upheld by the church through the ages, then she is putting herself and the denomination she leads not just outside the pale of the Anglican Communion but outside the pale of historic Christianity. If this is not her intention, she needs to clarify her statement immediately. Otherwise she is simply hastening the day of TEC’s formal ejection from the Anglican Communion.

Doug Chaplin does a Mark Brewer …

… except that he actually managed to delete what he calls a libel, but is in fact the truth, because it was in a comment on his blog. And the alleged libel wasn’t even against himself, but against a bishop, and not even one who has authority over him.

Here is part of what I wrote, which I also posted as a comment at The Ugley Vicar:

It is all very well for Hooker to say things about how a bishop must behave, but that is empty if there are no sanctions on bishops who misbehave. And there have always been bishops and archbishops who set themselves up as mini-popes and persecute presbyters under them who are faithful to the gospel, from William Laud right up to Katharine Jefferts Schori. Hooker’s system may be an ideal one, but it is not a stable and workable one.

This was in response to this comment on Doug’s blog from “Mark B”, who I assume is not Mark Brewer:

magistra: moreover, Hooker, the father of Anglican ecclesiastical polity, says in his ‘Laws’ that bishops must not ignore the counsel of their presbyters. They must not set themselves over them, like mini-popes. No Cyprianism here! See the website of the English cleric John Richardson ‘The Ugley Vicar’ on this point.

Now I accept that this comment thread had got well off its original topic. But that is not the reason Doug deleted my comment, for he writes:

In my view it bought into rhetoric I regard as libellous to TEC’s Presiding Bishop. I’m sure you can find a way to make your point in other words.

But he doesn’t allow me to make my point in other words, by closing the thread to comments – although he had no problem with others taking the thread well off topic as long as they toed his pro-bishop line. I would have been happy to withdraw “mini-pope” as a comment about Schori, although not about Laud, if I had been given the chance, but I was given no chance to edit and re-post my comment. But I would not have withdrawn “persecute presbyters under them who are faithful to the gospel” as this is just what Schori is doing – and I could add that she is also persecuting bishops and lay people under her who seek to remain faithful to an understanding of the gospel which does not include inclusivity without repentance from sin.

There have always been many bishops of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion who have persecuted believers in the true gospel of Christ. They have consistently been supported by priests within the “Catholic” wing of this same Church. Doug has put himself well within this tradition. In John Richardson’s words, in the Church of England

You can disbelieve the fundamentals of the faith, but if you will acknowledge the bishop you can remain. But if you will not acknowledge the bishop, then the stricter your adherence to the faith the more you are a threat, rather than a benefit, to the institution. So the institution will obviously sacrifice believers who rebel rather than discipline unbelievers who conform.

But I wonder if Doug is really more upset about what I say about Laud, an Anglo-Catholic hero, than about Schori.

Doug, do you want to “sacrifice believers who rebel” by driving me out of the Church of England? I am not at all sure that I can stay in it, although I have put off making any decisions until after the Lambeth Conference. If the Church of England shows a gentleness and generosity towards those who have serious disagreements with it, in the way shown by many of its leaders, I just might be persuaded to stay. But if it displays the attitude of demanding adherence to the bishops’ party line, the line taken by Laud and Schori and now by you, then I will probably go. And I will not go quietly.

Nobody expects the Anglican Inquisition …

… that is, except for Ruth Gledhill. In a blog post which starts with

The Anglican Communion is on the rack and the torture continues

she writes that the Anglican bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference are planning

to set up a new Faith and Order Commission.

This sounds extraordinarily like the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. … The CDF was of course formerly the Holy Office, or the Inquisition.

But the question remains open of who will be investigated, and who will do the investigating.

One of the battles being fought, apparently, is over which way the [US Episcopal Church] Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori will jump.

In other words, will she be accepted as an inquisitor or become a victim? Will this Faith and Order Commission be tasked with enforcing the decisions of past Lambeth Conferences, including the one against homosexual practice? This would please the GAFCON conservatives but will surely lead to the North American churches and liberals in other countries leaving the Anglican Communion. Or will the plan be put together in such a way as to bring the North American churches on board? I can’t see how that could be done, at least if the moderate conservatives are also on board, without making the Commission powerless and meaningless. The plan seems so unlikely to be helpful that I suspect it is no more than someone’s half-baked proposal, leaked to the press and built up into something more than it really is.

So I don’t expect the Anglican Inquisition. Anyway, even if it does turn up, I’m sure it will be no more cruel than Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition whose most horrific torture was forcing its victim to sit in the “comfy chair”.

A ray of hope for the Anglican Communion?

For the first time for a long time I have seen some news offering a ray of hope for the Anglican Communion and the Church of England. According to the Daily Telegraph as reported by Anglican Mainstream,

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism … by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

It seems to me that this is almost the only path which Archbishop Rowan Williams can take which has any real chance of holding the Anglican Communion together. Postponing the Lambeth Conference would help, but only by postponing the inevitable unless combined with some other strong action. But by excluding from the Conference bishops who deliberately flout the church’s agreed policies on homosexuality, he just may be able to avoid the threatened mass boycott by more conservative bishops, which would imply a schism right through the heart of Anglicanism.

The problem now for Dr Williams is exactly who to take off the Lambeth invitation list. Continue reading