Monday, July 27, 2015

Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sermon on video

Eighth Sunday after Trinity July 26, 2015

Text : Matthew 7:15--21 

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 

Click here for the video

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Study On Homosexual Parents Tops All Previous Research

The articles by Marks and Regnerus have completely changed the playing field for debates about homosexual parents, "gay families," and same-sex "marriage." The myths that children of homosexual parents are "no different" from other children and suffer "no harm" from being raised by homosexual parents have been shattered forever.

See it here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Romans 8:12-17 * Matthew 7:15-21

The Old Testament account of Jeremiah and Hannaniah is the same age-old battle we see today. It is a battle between those who give a true message about the consequences of sin, and those who teach license. The scriptures repeat a warning against false prophets in many places, especially in the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John and Jude. We see warnings of false gospels, another "Jesus" and a spirit we did not receive, in II Corinthians. We see a warning in Paul's Epistles to Timothy, to beware of seducing spirits and the doctrines of demons, and instruction never to follow the example of those who are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." John warns us to beware the spirit of error, and the spirit of Antichrist. Jude warns against false teachers who preach carnality, and doctrines so evil that they may lead you away from God completely.

Perhaps the clearest of these warnings is in II Peter.

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (II Pet. 2;1,2)

The phrase "damnable heresies" is not acceptable in many modern churches. Many people never hear this passage in church, because it is not very nice. It suggests that some errors are so bad, that they may lead to damnation. It sounds too much like Hellfire, brimstone and damnation to suit their modern tastes. But, we see it in the Bible, in the New Testament, where some people imagine it cannot be. Perhaps it would help them to read it.

How serious is it to believe in a false gospel? It is certainly very serious to preach a false gospel. Hear the words of St. Paul:

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8,9)

This may have been the first Apostolic anathema ever pronounced.

Briefly, a couple more examples:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (II Tim. 4:3,4)

"Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)" (Philippians 3:17-19)

These are directly relevant to the Epistle reading we have heard. "Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." This follows a long passage about baptism that began back in the sixth chapter of the same Epistle.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. " (Romans 6:1-7)

The reason we are not debtors to sin, not subject to obey its impulses as some kind of law, is because we were baptized into Jesus Christ. We are dead to sin and obligated to pursue a life of holiness with the aid of Divine Grace that sanctifies us. Remember what we have learned from that little phrase that opens this Epistle, and the First Epistle to the Corinthians as well. That we are called to be saints. Remember that this is one vocation every Christian has, the call to sainthood, that is, to holiness. Whether or not you like this calling, it is a calling that God has placed on your life. It is more important than any other calling, including the call to the priesthood. Sainthood is the first and highest calling, the primary vocation, of everybody in this room. In baptism you were given the grace of entrance into the life of the resurrected Christ, and in Confirmation you received richer grace and several gifts of the Holy Spirit, who is in you.

A certain denomination has come up with the Biblical sounding phrase "baptismal covenant." Five years ago, a certain prelate from there justified his vote to allow a publicly known, unrepentant adulterer, who left his wife and daughter for a carnal relationship with a man, to become a bishop in their sect, by invoking the "baptismal covenant." He used that phrase to mean that we must not discriminate against anyone's lifestyle as long as that person is baptized. I suppose that to many people that sounds kind and tolerant.

But, priests have pastoral responsibility for the cure of your souls. And, this requires that we work together with your bishop as he banishes strange doctrines contrary to the Gospel of Christ. The problem with how that Episcopal prelate justified his vote is simple. He has taught another gospel. He has introduced another Jesus, and a spirit we have not received. In fact, he has taught his people something that seems very much to fit those terrifying words of St. Peter: A "damnable heresy."

It is not prejudice, intolerance or hate speech to teach morality, namely, the commandments of God. Not that it can't be used sinfully as hate speech, for indeed, it can be used that way by clumsy preachers. Nonetheless, it is genuine love to teach God's commandments, with the warnings of the scripture, firmly and with authority. For, I am not preaching simply about other people out there somewhere. I am not preaching, or I hope I am not preaching, anything that moves you to speak as that unjustified Pharisee in the Lord's parable: "I thank thee God that I am not like other men." (Luke 18:9-14) For, everyone here is living in the flesh, and so everyone here must endure temptations.

If we buy a doctrine which says that baptism gives you a license to sin, we place ourselves, and all of you in danger. Whatever temptations anyone may live with, enduring temptations is part of each Christian's share in Christ's passion. That is, they are part of that life of discipleship that Jesus called taking up our cross, and following Him daily. The temptations are not a gift, but they may be used wisely as part of our sanctification. For, enduring and resisting temptation is everybody's battle. My own flesh does not sympathize with the specific sin to which they have given license. But, it does sympathize with sin. Therefore, you and I do not need a doctrine of license. It is poison, not medicine.

St. Paul says the very opposite of that false gospel. Baptism is not a license to sin, but the sacrament whereby you have died to sin and come alive with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. In your baptism you were not granted a license to do whatever you desire, but instead you were called to become a saint. And, so I do not need, on top of the temptations that are common to every man, any doctrine that allows me to live in whatever sins may appeal to me; and you don't need any such doctrine either.

Different individuals have different temptations. But, one thing everyone has is temptation itself. If one man may leave his wife and child for a new lover of any kind, and his baptism is said to give him license, then why may I not have a license to kill? Or to steal? Or to covet my neighbor's goods? Or to gossip? This same chapter of St. Paul's Epistle, today's Epistle, goes on to speak of "the manifestation of the sons of God." It speaks of the glorious and eternal hope of being fully resurrected with Christ, and with him to be glorified. Who would want to miss so glorious a future for anything in the world?

We speak not from anger, but love. We see people destroying themselves, hardening their hearts, and deceiving people; we see wolves feeding themselves on the flock, and we want that flock to be spared. Indeed, we want them to come over to us, so that instead of being a prey they may be fed a steady diet of the word of God, and a steady diet of Christ's flesh and blood as the food and drink of eternal life.

The antidote for a false gospel is the true Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The true gift that we want to impart is not toleration of evil, but forgiveness of sin. The Gospel gives something so much better than tolerance. When I hear confessions, the penitent does not need to hear my approval. Indeed, he needs for me to agree with his own disapproval that moved his conscience to come for healing. Otherwise, I cannot give absolution, for who can forgive something of which he approves? I am not there to argue with the penitent. Rather he needs me to agree with his reasonable accusations against himself. Forgiveness is very judgmental, in fact condemning. Forgiveness absolutely judges and condemns sin, and both spares and restores the repentant sinner. Mercy is better than tolerance, and compassion is better than approval. We can speak very firmly about sin, because we do so with the heart of pastors, of fathers, who speak with love. We do so as men who have needed forgiveness of our own sins, and who will need forgiveness, no doubt, again.

And, when we warn against false teachers with false gospels, we speak as men who know the weakness of the flesh, and who also need to heed the same warning.

Some people think they are safe because they follow evil at a distance. As more and more people succumb to worse and worse heresy and immorality, they are satisfied to compare themselves against those whose errors have progressed even further. They react always to the latest heresy or licentiousness, and never deal with the root problem of heresy and sin itself. In so doing, they accept a situation that is not holy, not good, and not true. In so doing, they let the devil lead the way, following him from afar because they do not accept the latest and progressively worse newest error. They feel righteous nonetheless, because they have determined that someone else is even worse than they are. This too is a false gospel and a license to do wrong.

We must not allow error to set the agenda. Following the Devil instead of Christ is very easy. And, those who follow the Devil from a long distance need to grasp one simple fact: No matter from how far away, there is no safe distance. We live in a time when we must beware of relative righteousness and relative orthodoxy. For these relative standards are not the standard of God's holy word. They are less than a call to holiness. Again, we don't want to be like the Pharisee in the parable. When he said, "I thank thee God I am not like other men," he did so by comparing himself to other people, and feeling satisfied with his own righteousness. If he had taken proper account of his life, he would have realized that he too was a sinner. Maybe not in visible and notorious ways, but a sinner nonetheless. If he had looked seriously at the word of God, and into his own heart, he would have said the same earnest prayer as the Publican: "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ACC Archbishop Mark Haverland's address to the ACNA

Evensong, Forward-in-Faith/North America
15 July 2015

Psalm cxxxiii, verse 3 - Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

I was trained to believe that sermons are not meant primarily to prove or to instruct, much less to argue.  Rather sermons are primarily meant to proclaim:  to proclaim the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection of our Lord.  I hope this idea animates my Sunday Mass sermons.  But Evensong or Evensong and Benediction are somewhat different from Sunday morning.  We read in a delightful miscellany on the Church and clergy by A.N. Wilson of a priest who for forty years ‘preached on a variety of themes at his morning Mass, but thought it inappropriate, at…Benediction, to preach on any subject other than the Empress Josephine.’ (A.N. Wilson, ed., 1992, p. 240)   I don’t plan to be quite that bad.  But when Bishop Ackerman invited me last year to this event I told him that I would have to address what seems to me the central problem with most of the efforts of Forward-in-Faith and its precursors and now also with the ACNA.  I was invited nonetheless, so here is something with a bit of polemic in it, as promised.  I will not say with Trevor Huddleston that I have naught for your comfort. But neither will I speak smooth things. 

The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity.  That is a rather provocative assertion.  Let me offer an initial qualification, if not apology.  I know that the religious world is filled with huge problems which are of much greater apparent importance than the intramural fusses of soi-disant Anglo-Catholics.  In a world of resurgent and violent Islam and a secularizing America, our intramural differences may seem minor.  I do not wish to indulge in the sadism of small differences.  But then I happen to think that Anglicanism is central to the fate of the West, and that the near collapse of orthodox Anglicanism since the mid-20thcentury is at least indirectly tied to our wider troubles.  So, back to the question of theological clarity, which I do not think is in fact a minor problem.

The Anglican alternative to the paths taken by Forward-in-Faith and ACNA is Continuing Anglicanism.  Despite all of our checkered history and with all our failures, I think we Continuers have theological integrity.  That integrity is not a subjective or personal matter, but rests on an objective theological base, expressed clearly in the Affirmation of Saint Louis.  This foundation situates us irrevocably within the central Tradition of Catholic Christendom.  All Anglican formularies are seen by the Affirmation through the lens of the central Tradition.  Anglican formularies are not a kind of Occam’s razor to limit what is acceptable in Catholic tradition for Anglicans.  Rather the Catholic consensus and central Tradition are the lens through which we read and appropriate our Anglicanism.  This central Tradition is found in the Fathers and the Seven Councils and in the consensus of East and West, ancient and modern and living still.  For us, the central problem of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion is not Gene Robinson or an error concerning any particular person or issue.  Rather the fundamental problem was an implicit assertion, decades ago, that the central Tradition of Christendom is at the disposal of Episcopalian Conventions or Anglican Synods or Lambeth Conferences.  It is not.  The Affirmation and my own Church’s formularies firmly, decisively, and forever reject doctrinal ambiguity, comprehensiveness, or the attempt to make our peculiarities decisive and determinative.  We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second.  We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second.  We will vigorously pursue unity with all others who share this central belief.  No unity, at least no full or Eucharistic communion, is possible or desirable with those who do not share this starting point. 

I congratulate the ACNA for leaving the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.  Every one of you who made that change did a good thing and one, I hope, that you do not regret.  But that departure can only be a good first step.  For ACNA is really not a Church but a coalition of dioceses. The coalition is for some purposes only, and the communion of the dioceses is impaired and imperfect.  The ACNA has retained the central flaw of the recent Lambeth Communion because it permits member dioceses to ordain women to the three-fold ministry, and therefore implicitly claims that the central Tradition is not decisive and may be set aside.  ACNA is not a return to orthodox Anglicanism, but only a return to the impaired state of the Lambeth Communion that began in 1975 and 1976. 

Continued ambiguity or confusion about the central tradition and women’s ordination is very dangerous.  It is very dangerous because it encourages Catholic churchmen to compromise themselves in a variety of ways.  Perhaps just as bad, fine, bright, and consistent Catholics will perceive that there is no certain trumpet, no clear ecclesiology, and no real future in a world of such compromises – and so you will continue to suffer the death by a thousand cuts, as people go to Rome or Orthodoxy or the Continuing Church or just stay home. 

There are excellent reasons to be both Catholic and Anglican.  Anglo-Catholics enjoy the great strengths of the Anglican patrimony.  We have the Authorized Version of the Bible and the classical Book of Common Prayer.  Together these are not only compelling literary and cultural monuments, but also provide us with a well-balanced spirituality.  In some Christian bodies the Bible is loosed from tradition and from the praying Church.  Of these bodies Richard Hooker wrote:

"When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange fantastical opinion soever at any time entered into their heads, their use was to think the Spirit taught it them." (Laws, Preface, VIII.7)

The Prayer Book tradition in contrast provides an anchor, an objective interpretative lens, and a prayerful setting for traditional and orthodox interpretation of Scripture.  In other Christian bodies the sacraments have been loosed from Scripture and its constant fertilizing influence.  Scripture is neglected and the jewel of the Eucharist is pried loose from its golden setting in a round of offices centered on the systematic reading of Psalms and Scripture.  But for Anglican Catholics the sacraments are truly Scripture so prayed and read and presented as to be a large part of the very sacramental forms through which God pours forth his grace into our hearts.  In short, our tradition has an almost perfect balance of Bible and sacrament.  We begin with the Bible as presented in and with Common Prayer, but then add our Anglican patrimony of architecture, music, literature, spirituality, and theological method.  Those are formidable strengths.  How sad that so many neo-Anglicans have jettisoned the bulk of this patrimony by abandoning the classical Anglican liturgical tradition. 

Dear friends, if you compromise with the ordination of women, and if you abandon the largest part of our Anglican patrimony by adopting modernist liturgy rooted in the Novus Ordo or, worse, in the Anglo-Baptist ideas of Sydney, there is little to hold people.  Then you can only trust in a kind of slightly more decorous imitation of Charles Stanley or the already-fading mega-churches.  You’ve given up both your Anglican past and also any future that can be meaningfully described as Anglican. 

We must abandon all sectarian, provincial ideas that separate us from the central consensus of the Tradition of the great Churches.  We must take this duty seriously by systematically rooting our doctrine and practice in Catholic agreement.  Seven Councils, seven sacraments, invocation of the saints, objective sacramental efficacy, the Real Eucharistic Presence, clear moral teaching, male episcopate and priesthood and diaconate:  those are all matters of Catholic consensus.  That is what we must believe if we take seriously Archbishop Fisher’s assertion that we have no faith of our own. 

The Catholic Movement in the Church of England began as an attempt to call all Anglicans back to the fullness of the Catholic Faith.  The goal was nothing less than the wholesale conversion of the entire Church to the fullness of the Faith.  The partial success of the Movement may have been its downfall. When Anglo-Catholics became too successful to ignore or suppress, and were invited to the table to enjoy a share of the spoils – a percentage of the mitres and deaneries and professorships and plum parishes – Anglo-Catholics too often lowered their sights and quieted their voices.  From the conversion of the whole, we became satisfied with a slice of the pie, with a comfortable status as a recognized party.  But half-Catholic is as unreal as half-virgin. 

If you still are in the Episcopal Church:  get out.  Get out today.  Anything else threatens your soul’s state.  Dear friends in ACNA:  you must present a clear and unmistakable demand.  The ordination of women must end, soon and completely, for it is directly contrary to Catholic doctrine.  No grand-fathering – or grand-mothering is possible – because such compromise leaves intact the central, revolutionary, and false implication that the deposit of the faith is negotiable and at our disposal. 

Until there is such clarity, there will be no unity among those of us who like to think of ourselves as Catholic and Anglican Churchmen.  There will be no unity because you cannot be a pure cup of water in a dirty puddle.  That is the simple, basic message of the Continuing Church to the neo-Anglicans. You have gone a very long way down a very wrong path, and that is true even if all the time you were avoiding a still worse path.  You have a journey home to make, things to unlearn and to remember and recover.  We want to welcome you at home.  But there can be no restored communion with us without hard decisions and firm actions from you.   

Glory be to the Undivided Trinity.  Glory be to Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  All honor to the glorious and ever-Virgin Mother of our Lord. Peace be to the Holy Churches of God.  May God forgive us our sins, which are many and great.  May God give us wisdom to discern a safe path forward.  May God grant us true humility and unshakable fidelity and great love.  May God bring our Church to glorious days and may he bring us to unity with all his holy people, so that Jerusalem may be as a city that is at unity in itself.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Romans 6:19-23 * Mark 8:1-9

I want to proclaim lessons to be learned from today’s Gospel reading.

1. That the Lord provides
2. That Jesus was the prophet like unto Moses
3. That Jesus Christ is our spiritual food and drink to eternal life.

This was one of two similar miracles that Jesus did. On the other occasion He fed five thousand families with five loaves and two fishes. Here He feeds four thousand – either individuals or families – with seven loaves and “a few small fishes.” From both miracles we can learn the following things.

The Lord provides
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.” – Matthew 6:24-34

First, let us consider something very practical about our needs in this life, including our material needs. In Genesis chapter 22, Abraham, after God provided the ram in the thicket, called God by the name “Jehovah-Jirah,” which means the LORD will provide. If we are believers who seek to do the will of God, to the best of our understanding, then we have a promise that we will have whatever we need. Maybe we will not have whatever we desire; but we will have our needs provided for, even when times seem impossible.
          Without minding too much the things of the world, or laying up for ourselves treasures on earth (as the Lord warns against in the same passage), we live with the constant awareness of our weakness and our needs. Without water and food and sleep and housing and clothing, we would be in severe depravation. We depend on having all these things just to get by each day. Jesus’ command not to be anxious is only part of what He said. He also made a promise concerning even earthly things. Worry and anxiety about the things of this world can lead to bad health, and even worse, to sin and erosion of faith.
          I have often considered what makes people greedy. Covetousness is a sin against the commandment to love thy neighbor. Greed is the perpetual state of being covetous enough to deprive others of their needs and their basic rights. But what causes greed to arise in the human heart? With some the seeds of greediness are sown in simple selfish covetousness. But beware of another cause, namely the very anxiety against which Jesus teaches us here.
          The felt need to acquire wealth in this world can stem from unbelief, that lack of faith that God will provide. So warns St. Paul:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  ” – I Timothy 6:6-11

The best way to avoid those dangers is to be content with what God has given you, and not to lust for wealth with the desperation of unbelievers. Live in contentment and in faith, not in anxiety; and be at peace.

A prophet like unto Moses
“And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” - Deuteronomy 18:17-19

Much in the life of Moses foreshadows the life of Christ on earth, beginning with the attempt of a worldly ruler to have Him put to death, and going after several of His fellows in the attempt to kill Him. It was true of Moses that Pharaoh ordered the deaths of the Hebrew male babies, and that he was saved by his family. His sister Miriam placed him in an ark of bulrushes and floated him on the river. When Christ was born into this world the mad king Herod ordered the deaths of all the male children born in Bethlehem who were under the age of two. Another similarity is that Christ went up into a mount to teach the true meaning of the Law.
          Here in the eight chapter of Mark, the people have followed Jesus into the wilderness, a desert wilderness. Just as the Israelites who came out of Egypt, they had nothing to eat in this desert place. So God gives them bread. Jesus feeds them with bread just as Moses fed the people with manna. This too was a miracle. And, this miracle also points to something even more that is relevant to each and everyone of us, which we shall see in a moment.
          First, consider well the warning, “whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” Think of the words with which Jesus closed the Sermon on the Mount:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:21-27

Jesus is the One whose words we cannot afford to ignore, forget or disobey. He is the Wisdom of God that is to be prized above all earthly riches. Without His words to guide us, we wander off lost. This is God’s beloved Son: Hear Him. Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.
          And we know what He has said, teaching as one who has authority.

Jesus Christ is our spiritual food and drink to eternal life.
          In the desert wilderness this multitude had nothing to eat. They were not able to keep themselves alive. Spiritually and physically, that is true of everyone born into this world. Even if you live as long as Methuselah himself, one day thou shalt surely die. Life in this world will come to an end. Furthermore, in terms of what we read last week in the sixth chapter of Romans, by our own power we could not be dead to sin and alive unto God.
          That desert wilderness is much like this fallen world. Everyone born in trespasses and sins, which includes each of us (indeed everyone but Jesus Christ Himself who is from above) has nothing to eat. That is, this fallen world offers no true nutrition such as can keep our souls alive. The people of the world are dead to God, alive only to sin, and destined to die physically. We too are destined to physical death; but in Christ we are alive unto God by grace. And our life unto God is eternal.
          If we fall asleep in Christ today, we shall remain in the presence of God. And, even then we would have something to hope for, according to the clear teaching of Scripture, namely, to be clothed again in the resurrection on the Last Day. Christ, who died for our sins as the perfect offering to God, rose from the dead to make us like Him. And, as we know, “Death hath no more dominion over Him.”
          In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, following the miracle so similar to this one, Jesus told the people that Moses gave them not that true bread from heaven. He said, “I am that true bread which comes from heaven. I am the bread of life.” He told us that His flesh and blood are the food and drink of eternal life.
          And he tied it in with believing in Him. Please do not reduce feeding on Christ only to the outward sign. Christ is our very life. We live in Him, in Him dead to sin and alive unto God. When eating the sacrament today of His Body and Blood, realize that you must believe. This partaking, this Communion, is for those who know hearty repentance and true faith. When you partake it ought to be the expression of your whole life, your daily life, your life in God, and all of what you believe, hope for and live for. It is not a “religious duty” to please God and somehow appease Him. It is fellowship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ, and with all the Body of Christ. You declare by this action, in the presence of men and of angels, that you live by Jesus Christ.

The Lord provides. Be not anxious.

Jesus was the prophet like unto Moses. Hear and obey Him.

Jesus Christ is our spiritual food and drink to eternal life. Eat, drink, and be filled.


Friday, July 17, 2015

The Planned Parenthood Video - A Modest Proposal for our Times

Defining "Personhood" instead of respecting the sanctity of human life, has brought only evil in history. It has provided justification for slavery (with all of the gory details), for the genocide of the American "Indians", for the Holocaust, and now for abortion and everything that goes with it. And, because "personhood" is now defined arbitrarily, a child - even a viable child - is only a person if the mother has not decided to kill it. In ancient Rome it was fathers who decided if a child was accepted or exposed. Today it is the mother. Either way, it is evil

Now we turn a new page, the harvesting of human body parts. Planned Parenthood’s top abortion doctor, Deborah Nucatola MD., was caught on a lengthy video describing how she kills unborn babies with care only for preserving organs that have some monetary value. Coldly, as if discussing something as trivial as how to cook an omelette, she described "crushing" below or above the desired organ. She also discussed in detail the marketing of those selected organs, including the price range ($30. to $100. an organ). 

Within a day the defenders of Planned Parenthood, and of the whole abortion industry, accused the makers of the video, who operated undercover as part of the body parts business, of "fraud," and of "lying." They cannot deny what Dr. Nucatola said, so they claimed that the video was "heavily edited" so as to be misleading. The edited version is sufficient to know everything of importance to the story. However, one can view the entire video, all two hours, forty-one minutes and thirty-nine seconds. If you have the time, and the stomach for it, you may judge for yourself. 

As for me, I am satisfied that everything is out in the open, and that no fraud has been attempted by the makers of this video. Now that the entire video is available, thanks only to those who made it, the Planned Parenthood defense that "the video is edited" becomes meaningless. The video's makers have nothing to hide. The edited version is simply to highlight the parts that are newsworthy, making it possible for busy people to see. 

The ramifications
But I fear that instead of outrage and a call for justice, this noble attempt will result only in further erosion of public conscience in modern western society. Any attempted defense of Planned Parenthood is, with the whole video available, reprehensible. Nonetheless, because we live in a depraved society, it will open a new Pandora's Box, a debate that will, by its nature, give the harvesting of human parts a new status of respectability, bringing advocates of the same to the table as if their point of view is equal to its opposition in a civilized culture. So, it all gets worse. The banality of evil is the thing that progresses into more and more darkness. 

Every opportunity to bring evil to light only results in that abominable progress because we live in a post-Christian society - that is, to what degree it might ever have been Christian. At least, at one time, among the public, Judeo-Christian morality had some influence; never as much as it deserved, but at least enough to create a notion, and perhaps semblance, of civilization. Such is no longer the case. 

You may be sure that the Religious Left, led by the Episcopal "Church," along with the Presbyterian "Church" of the United States and others, will be on the side of Planned Parenthood. The appeal, as always, will be strictly to the emotions, with such attempts at justification as the religious imagination may cook up. Once again, they will tell us of some Jesus who would approve; no, not the One we know, but the false kind that St. Paul warned of (II Corinthians 11:4). We will be given excuses about the good that this harvesting does for medical research. The end result will be to review the morality, and then legality, of "Partial Birth Abortion," in which a child, all the way up until the moment of birth, may be extracted partially from the womb, and stabbed in the neck to die.

Dr. Nucatola described Partial Birth Abortion while explaining the current practice of Planned Parenthood (incriminating herself specifically). She spoke of turning the baby around in a breech position to come out feet first. At this time Partial Birth Abortion is illegal. This was fought by the most extreme abortion supporters, including the so-called National Organization of Women (NOW - never elected by any majority of women to represent them). They not only argued for Partial Birth Abortion; they even held ceremonies to honor specific doctors who were so "brave" and "humane" as to perform them in states where they were allowed.

That practice raised an obvious question, especially with medical science making viability outside the womb possible at earlier stages than ever before: If ever there were some supposed medical justification for a late term "termination of pregnancy," since the baby is viable outside the womb, what medical purpose does it serve to kill the baby? Simple. The baby's mother wants it dead, and has contracted for the killing, or "hit" as the Mafia calls it.

You see, it was never about medicine. None of it ever has been. It always has been about that allusive quality called "personhood," and to whom we may deny the category this time.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Love wins - Lust loses

"Charity...rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." I Corinthians 13:4,6

June 26, 2015 will live on in infamy. Within minutes of the Supreme Court issuing the most arbitrary ruling since Roe vs. Wade, namely Obergfell vs. Hodges, by which it created a national "Constitutional Right" to same-sex "marriage," President Obama tweeted the words, "Love Wins." During that time the Episcopal Church held its General Convention in Utah. it included a service described as follows:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Episcopalians marked 40 years of advocacy in the Episcopal Church during a Monday night Eucharist characterized by inclusive language, liturgical innovations and prayers for “disordering our boundaries and releasing our desires."  Hundreds of Episcopalians at the denomination’s triennial General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah participated in a festive Eucharist hosted by Integrity USA, the church’s unofficial LGBT caucus. The event took place the same day that bishops gave approval to a new gender-neutral marriage rite which appears likely to be enacted by the end of the week. (Juicy Ecumenism, June 30, 2015)

Present was Louie Crew, longtime advocate of homosexual and lesbian activism in the Episcopal Church, receiving praise as a "prophet" and, apparently, worship as a god:

“And now a word from the Prophet Louie,” a prayer leader introduced, beginning a video on the life of Crew. Following the video, the congregation was led in singing “Louie, Louie, Louie Hallelujah.”

The Episcopalians are not alone among mainline denominations in the United States, accepting and advocating not only "Gay" activism, but also what they have been calling "Marriage Equality" for several years, namely same-sex "marriage." It has been given the status of a Civil Rights issue by its supporters, which serves only to make a mockery of genuine Civil Rights, for which several people were jailed, beaten, fire-hosed, and murdered during my childhood years, concerning which we saw just about nothing on television news back then. Those issues were about a real need for justice, engaging the opposition of evil violent men, including the Ku Klux Klan. In the twenty-first century, for homosexuals and lesbians to demand some "right" to same-sex "marriage," as if it were on the same level as the true Civil Rights struggle, insults our intelligence. For mainline denominations, such as the Episcopal Church, to be part of the LGBT scene, requires some kind of religious rationale. 

That is where the religious Left are on board with President Obama and many people on the secular Left; to try and give the whole idea some spiritual meaning, they use the word "Love." It works in English, but would not work in the Koine' Greek of the original New Testament. By love they mean eros, and nothing more, that word from which we get the English word "erotic." "Love" in that limited carnal sense cannot mean the same thing as Phileo and Agape one meaning brotherly love and the other Divine love. Agape was translated into Latin as Caritas, the root word for the English "Charity." 

It is good that the King James Bible, in I Corinthians 13 uses the word "charity," because it means love in a specific, in this case Divine, sense. In English one may say, "I love a big juicy steak." One cannot say, "I have charity for a big juicy steak." Sadly, to people in modern English speaking society, the word "Love" covers any relationship that leads, it would seem, to an orgasm. Indeed, the Episcopalians have stated quite accurately that there has been a "disordering [of] our boundaries, and releasing [of] our desires." 

In their blasphemous "Eucharist" in Salt lake City, the Episcopalians also celebrated an attack on the family as the basic unit in society, and as created and ordained by God through nature.

“We got to this place of redefining marriage by redefining two other words: home and family,” ["Bishop" Suffragan Mary] Glasspool declared in her sermon. 

Clearly, in the "thinking" of such people, a purely emotional appeal either to guilt or ignorance, or both, takes the place of theology. It cancels out God's revelation as known and understood for millennia, as taught by Christ and His Apostles and known to the Church since the beginning. Their use of the word "love" is empty of anything and everything to do with Christ and His cross. Saint Paul wrote:

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8)."

The Love of God must be spoken of and understood in the context of Christ crucified. On the cross we see something terribly ugly, so much so that "We hid as it were our faces from Him (Isaiah 53:3)." The sight of the man of sorrows broken, bruised, and bleeding is the very sight of God's judgment on our sin. It is also the historical event in which the love of God has been manifested most clearly for all to see. The sight of God's love is not a smiley face, and would never fit into one of those "Precious Moments" Bibles (with pictures so "sweet" that they might cause diabetes and tooth decay). It is not a new approval of human sin, but judgment on sin. It is not acceptance nor affirmation of sin, but it is the forgiveness of all sins for those who repent and believe. It is where the blood was shed for the remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).

To use the word "love" in a distorted way is to preach a false gospel of a false Jesus, with the empowering of a false spirit (see II Corinthians chapter 11). Such a false Jesus is now the new "Jesus" of former President Jimmy Carter, as he said on July 7:

"I believe Jesus would. I don't have any verse in scripture. ... I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that's just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else," he said.

Why would any believer speak of what Jesus would approve? The Jesus Christ in whom we believe already told us His standards. 

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17,18).

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man 
(Mark 7:20-23).

A big lie often buzzing around the internet is that "Jesus said nothing about homosexuality." The Jesus we see in the Gospels has nothing good to say about fornication. The English word can be misleading, because it is often understood in a limited way. But the word in the Greek New Testament is porneia (πορνεία), from which we get not only the word "fornication," but also the word "pornography." It does not mean merely heterosexual intercourse before or outside of marriage. It means every kind of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexual acts, sexual acts with children, sexual acts with animals, etc. This new and different Jesus that former President Carter believes in is a fraud. He is not our Risen lord Jesus Christ Who "came into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15)."

That's right. He came to save sinners, indeed "to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1: 21)." Not in their sins, but from their sins. Jesus Christ came into the world for that, not to make the world safe for porneia. His coming was not to wink at immorality, and give His okay on carnality. Those who are now teaching that He did, or "would" are false prophets, for a Jesus who "would" do this or that, rather than the real Jesus Who did speak very clearly, is a false Jesus indeed, one who can be controlled by sinful imaginations. 

What would you say of a doctor who, seeing that you have brought yourself to a fatal condition that will end your life in six months max, failed to tell you his diagnosis, and that you could live a long and healthy life by changing your habits immediately? We would consider him most unprofessional to say the least, unethical to say more, and criminal to say much more. But, what if he failed to tell you how to save your life because, in his words, to deprive you of temporary pleasures just wouldn't be loving? What judgment awaits clergy who fail to preach repentance, because of "love?"

The new liturgical declaration of Episcopalians in the Salt Lake City General Convention is utterly Satanic. A modern pagan religion, "The Law of Thelema," invented by Aleister Crowley, an English magician, in the 1900s, declares, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." This was taken also by modern Satanism in 1966, and promoted by Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the "Church of Satan." That is the same mentality that the LGBT supporting Episcopalians were expressing in their new liturgy: "Disordering our boundaries and releasing our desires." 

Against that spirit and mind stands the Cross of Christ, demonstrating God's judgment on sin while saving sinners because of Divine love - the real love. 

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Genuine Preacher

As many readers know, I am an Anglican priest, with a ministry from the east side of the rail, that is, the sacraments; we do not wear the suit-and-tie characteristic of Baptist pastors, but elaborate vestments. There are many other differences between my Anglican ways and the Baptist ways of Billy Graham as well. But when I have watched old videos of Graham's Christ-centered preaching (many such videos, ranging from the 1950s through the 1990s, can be found on cable channels and YouTube), I have recognized the almost visible presence of Someone who brings us together despite the obvious differences between our respective traditions. That is the Holy Spirit, who himself bears witness to Jesus Christ in power, animating any preacher who is not afraid to call "all men everywhere to repent."

Read more: The Genuine Preacher
What All Clergy Can Learn from Billy Graham

Many "televangelists" have a bad name, and many of them have well deserved it. Some are brought down by scandals, while others have no scandals attached to them but come across as clowns, entertainers, or hustlers for money (seeming only to rob churches of the rightful pledges of their members). Still others are trendy, or just plain weird.
In contrast to all these types stands Billy Graham, a figure with a kind of authority that confounds the world's values, even those values that are so often merely the entertainment "performance values" of so many other "celebrity" ministers. Dr. Graham's televised "crusades" were old-fashioned Baptist revival services, and they came across with a simple and profound dignity that others lacked.
They looked honest because they were straightforward. There were no gimmicks, no special offers, no salesmanship, nothing phony, and no evidence whatsoever of the preacher's ego—indeed, Graham was a man who spoke of himself in down-to-earth, humble terms. He was on the air as a clergyman, not as a star; and that made him a star, someone whom millions of people tuned in to watch and to hear. Apart from certain popes, no other Christian clergyman has ever commanded so large an audience.
Graham was an educated man, and it showed. He never made exaggerated claims about his own knowledge, yet he clearly knew what he was talking about on almost any given topic (not just the Bible). It was that same education, which served him so well in public life, that almost prevented his ministry. Early on, he did not want to be known as an evangelist because that designation did not suit the appearance, he thought, of a learned and sophisticated modern man. Only after an inner struggle did he learn to say simply, "the Bible says," and only then did his preaching begin to come across with power.

Graham's Integrity
From 1949 into the 1990s, under the scrutiny of the public eye, Graham stood not only as a man who could preach to large crowds with great effect, but also as a man whose own life, family, and marriage gave validity to his words. We could say many things about his accomplishments: that the largest gathering in human history was one of his crusades in Korea (over one million in attendance), that he preached to more people than any other individual, that he wrote many books, that he started a large organization for evangelism with Christian humanitarian efforts included, and so forth. But if these accomplishments have stood the test of time, it is because Graham himself has been a man of known integrity.
In setting up the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he insisted on receiving only a basic salary and remuneration for his expenses. The taint of economic scandal that brought down other men in similar ministries was never even possible under the conditions he had laid out ahead of time. His financial openness and accountability were learned from Reinhold Niebuhr.
He also required that his organization secure his hotel rooms in such a manner that no one could get to him without several witnesses being present, and he stipulated that only open conversations were allowed. Through this policy, he ruled out the possibility of having secret encounters.
Graham was both sincere and humble. He prevented the occasion of sin by creating an organization that bound everyone, including himself, to the rules. He was humble enough to see himself as inherently no better than other men, as a sinner who needed, for his own sake, to remain focused on Jesus Christ.
The result was that his organization held together for several decades, and his life and ministry remained above reproach and effective all that time. The closest he came to anything even resembling a scandal was his mistake in 1972 of endorsing a political candidate (Richard Nixon), a mistake he never repeated. While other men in the world of TV evangelism were falling into pecuniary or sexual sin, and dropping like flies as a result, Graham stood tall as a man known for his integrity. His method for achieving this seems simple: he did not trust in his own holiness, but instead stuck to a set of rules to avoid temptation.
A friend of mine and fellow priest in the Anglican Catholic Church, Fr. Laurence Wells, once said this about Graham:
Unlike so many celebrities, he was a humble, unassuming preacher. When I was waiting tables at Assembly Inn, I once had the honor of serving him. Being physically close to him gave me a certain sensation which I have felt only one other time in my life. That was only last year when I had the awesome privilege of almost 10 minutes' conversation with Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Anglicanism had given me the name of this sensation: I knew I was in the presence of great sanctity.

Bearing Witness to Christ
Billy Graham is a Baptist, and very clearly of the best in the Baptist tradition. But he has had ecumenical appeal and been admired by Christians from all denominations. A friend of Pope John Paul II in later years, and of many well-known figures in Anglicanism and various other Protestant denominations, he really did preach "mere Christianity." When he spoke of various practices in established churches, he spoke with respect and concentrated on the gospel in terms that everyone, from Baptists to Roman Catholics, had to acknowledge as part of the faith. That simple phrase, "the Bible says," appealed always to the Highest Authority, and everyone knew it.
As many readers know, I am an Anglican priest, with a ministry from the east side of the rail, that is, the sacraments; we do not wear the suit-and-tie characteristic of Baptist pastors, but elaborate vestments. There are many other differences between my Anglican ways and the Baptist ways of Billy Graham as well. But when I have watched old videos of Graham's Christ-centered preaching (many such videos, ranging from the 1950s through the 1990s, can be found on cable channels and YouTube), I have recognized the almost visible presence of Someone who brings us together despite the obvious differences between our respective traditions. That is the Holy Spirit, who himself bears witness to Jesus Christ in power, animating any preacher who is not afraid to call "all men everywhere to repent."
It seems funny to Anglicans that Baptists and other revivalists have an "altar call," inasmuch as they have no altar. But this practice shows that they have an element in their services with roots to the colonial English churches. In every traditional Anglican Holy Communion service we issue an "Altar Call," the Invitation:
Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.
As priests, we believe that we are able to follow up with the Absolution for those who confess with "hearty repentance and true faith." But have we actually taken care in our sermons to speak directly and seriously, so as to give genuine weight to the words of the Invitation before the General Confession? Our preaching should always be part of "the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18).

His Lessons for Preachers
To that end, I suggest that my fellow Anglican clergy could learn a few things about effective preaching from a world larger than merely our own ethos. Assuming we have the maturity to learn, even from those who are not of our fold, I would like to point out some things that can be learned from Billy Graham. These lessons are worth learning by all men whose duties include preaching, in every Christian church everywhere:
Stick to the main point.Even when Graham referred to the current events of the day in a sermon, he always brought them into the context of calling his listeners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Do not get sidetracked in your own sermons with anything that distracts people's attention from their greatest need; that is, to be reconciled to God, to know God, and to serve God.
The pulpit is not the place for side issues. There is no sermon time to waste on the things of this world, which pass away. So do not distract from the central message of Jesus Christ. This is the only way, moreover, for sermons to be in true harmony with any traditional liturgy.
Speak directly.Do not use flowery language, and make no attempt to impress people with sophisticated and fashionable trends. Also eschew inspirational messages and sentimental rambling from personal anecdotes. Speak directly to the real needs of the people, in terms they can appreciate and understand.
Speak with authority.Constantly, Billy Graham would say, "The Bible says. . . ." Certainly, any Christian preacher can say that, too, and we should say itoften. In the pulpit we are supposed to present God's word, not our own ideas, not even our best ideas. This is true for everyone, and it reminds me of sound advice given by the Roman Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen (writing inThe Priest Is Not His Own): "How much more our words would burn as we preach . . . if, before preaching, we prayed for five minutes to the Holy Spirit for Pentecostal fire; if we kept the Scriptures ever near us, that we might gird ourselves with their truth when mounting the pulpit."
Speak with passion.Do not speak with feigned or false passion, but certainly with a fire that comes from within by the Holy Spirit. This gets to the heart of the issue of sincerity.
Speak with urgency.We should have as much urgency in our sermons as Graham exhibited in his evangelistic preaching. "For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). The message must be, as was always the case in Graham's sermons: Be reconciled to God through his Sonright now—there is no later.
We must take care that no one, especially those who hear us week after week, departs this life without real preparation. Have we presented both a sober warning and the mercy of God in Christ? If we preach to someone every Sunday for years as he sits in a pew, and he dies unprepared, how will we answer for what we did with all that pulpit time, all those opportunities?
Call sin, sin.Do not hesitate to go against the grain, against theZeitgeist. Do not fear, at times, to mention actual sins by name if need be, and to denounce their destructive and dangerous end. Graham, who in his youth wanted to be admired as a learned and sophisticated intellectual, thundered with the authority and power of a prophet. He spoke against sin with that special authority that cuts across cultural and class barriers, that reaches the conscience directly.
To unbelievers he spoke as an evangelist, and to believers as a prophet. His words made you aware that you were in God's presence, "unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid." Like C. S. Lewis, he did not waste time on "denominational sins" (smoking, drinking, rock 'n roll), but on real moral issues that stand between individuals and God, to whom all will give account.
Call death, death.Do not fail to remind your hearers that we are all mortal. This was not only characteristic of Billy Graham's preaching—strange as it has sounded in modern times—but of all Christian preaching through the ages until now. It is really the universal Christian tradition to preach sermons with a reminder of the inevitable placed before all.
Today, however, we are afraid to spoil the fun. We do not want to ruin the "warm fuzzies" by mentioning death and dying—as if church were about a nice, cozy feeling—even though death is certain, and even though we know the remedy for it. None of us is guaranteed to live through the day. What better venue than the pulpit in which to remind people of that inescapable fact?
Speak of God's love, grace, and mercy often, but only in the context of Christ crucified.Graham denounced sin in no uncertain terms, but only to make the hearers aware of their need for mercy. Then he spoke of the Cross. His Jesus was not only the great compassionate Healer, but also the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, who could save each person from sin and death.
Graham simply preached Christ and him crucified. Only in the context of the love of God demonstrated by Christ's crucifixion and death did he speak of divine love, for only in that context does any real evangelist have the message of God's love. When Graham spoke of the risen Christ, he spoke of the One who was now ready to receive your repentance, and to restore you to favor with his Father.
These are things to learn from one of the finest preachers in modern history, a master orator, and a Christian man who, at age 96, has earned the respect of all and still has an impact on many. These lessons cross denominational boundaries, for they truly are mere Christianity in word and power. The above list is not exhaustive, and others well acquainted with Billy Graham's preaching may think of additional points I could have listed. His active public ministry lasted for sixty years, and that is because it was genuine, because he has always been genuine. • 

Robert Hartis rector of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Anglican Catholic Church Original Province). He also contributes regularly to the blogThe Continuum. He is a contributing editor ofTouchstone.
“The Genuine Preacher” first appeared in the July/Aug 2015 issue of Touchstone. If you enjoyed this article, you'll find more of the same in every issue.
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