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Update: Episcopal Church doubles-down on bad, plays dumb

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On February 2nd,  I reported on a resolution that was passed in the Washington D.C. diocese of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). The resolution calls for all future updates to the Book of Common Prayer (the liturgies) “to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God.”

The news of the passage of the resolution was widely received with dismay, and a plethora of criticisms toward ECUSA have followed.

 Now, the Episcopal Church has responded via:

Following the widespread outrage which followed the adoption of the resolution, the church has pivoted its tactic of argumentation for its stance, toward a focus on the limits of language itself and the desire to expand the language used to describe God. This is evident in the responses from both the author of the resolution and from the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

The author’s response

The Rev. Alex Dyer of St. Thomas’ Parish Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. authored the resolution, entitled “On the Gendered Language for God.”  He said, “The resolution asks us to draw on multiple images of God… masculine, feminine and wide diversity.”

Rev. Dyer then noted the existence of two creation stories in Genesis; the first in Chapter 1 and the second in Chapter 2. However, regarding the second creation story (from Chapter 2), Dyer incorrectly stated:

“And I’m sure that you also know too that there is another Genesis story in Chapter 2, uh, where God creates Adam, uh, and then He creates a helper, and is uh, Eve isn’t identified [by] gender until actually Chapter 3.”

In response to Rev. Dyer’s erroneous claim (which I will briefly address below), Carlson asked the reverend if he thought that Eve might not have been a woman.

To this, Rev. Dyer responded, “Uh, well, you know, I wasn’t there.”

(I suppose any congregants watching the interview were expected to hold their nose and pretend that all is well, regardless of the reverend’s inability to utter a single declarative sentence regarding Eve’s womanhood in the face of the thousands of years of Scriptural assertion regarding the matter.)

When asked by Carlson whether there was any evidence to suggest that Eve was not a woman, Dyer responded with obfuscation:

“Uh, I think that the important thing to gather away is that… the important thing is that God is beyond gender, and I think when we’re talking about God we are using language. And language limits us, right? And we are talking about something that is limitless – God – that we’re trying to get our heads around. Uh, but yet language is all we have in order to do that. So, in a sense, we insist on, want to limit the language that we use.”

Concerning Rev. Dyer’s claim regarding Chapter 2 of the Book of Genesis – that Eve’s gender is not identified until Chapter 3 – one need only to open their Bible to find the glaring error of the reverend’s words.

See Genesis Chapter 2, verses 22-24:

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[a] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Biblical translations correctly identifying Eve as “woman” in Chapter 2 of the Book of Genesis include, but are not limited to, the King James Bible, English Standard Version Bible, International Standard Version Bible, JPS Tanakh 1917, Webster’s Bible Translation, Young’s Literal Translation, and so on… (I have not come across a contradictory translation.)

Tucker Carlson, who (like myself) was baptized into and raised in the Episcopal Church, pressed Rev. Dyer about ECUSA’s embrace of “any fashionable, left-wing social cause,” and the dire hemorrhaging in the church’s membership numbers, positing, “I wonder if embracing fashionable left-wing politics has been bad for the church.”

To this, the Rev. Alex Dyer asserted that politics had nothing to do with the troubles of the Episcopal Church, nor his personal motivations for seeking to “avoid” Biblically-sourced gender designations for God.

According to numbers provided by the Episcopal Church, the membership numbers for Dyer’s own church, St. Thomas, have imploded, shrinking 50% in just the last 5 years.

St. Thomas describes itself as a “progressive” (socialist) church. Included on the church’s website is a link to an open public workshop, “Thirsting for Justice,” which features an image of clenched fists against a red background. Also linked on St. Thomas’s website is a portal where members of the public may purchase #faithpalm Jesus products. These products include mugs, t-shirts, banners and yard signs, etc., bearing slogans such as, “Yes, science is real” (whatever that means).

You can watch the entire Tucker Carlson interview of the Rev. Alex Dyer here.

The Episcopal News Service’s response –

Knowing well the Episcopal church’s (remaining) audience, the ENS article almost immediately informed its readers that “the call for more inclusive language in the prayer book… drew national attention, especially from conservative-leaning critics” (emphasis mine), listing Breitbart and The Blaze as examples.

Washington D.C. Bishop Mariann Budde described three critical emails she received, which she described as “vitriolic.” The emails purportedly described the D.C. diocese “as aligned with Satan and at war with God.”

While neither Bishop Budde nor ENS offered any Scriptural rebuttals to the alleged claims found within the “three emails,” Bishop Budde insisted, “It’s clear they didn’t read the resolution.”

No recognition was provided for those of us who did read the resolution (which I also published in my February 2nd article, and to which I provided the direct link) and who found the resolution to be theologically amoral, abhorrent, and perilous.

Ignoring the text of the resolution, which calls for all revisions to the Book of Common Prayer “to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God,” the resolution, insisted Budde, “doesn’t mandate the elimination of gender-specific references to God… despite what some reports suggest.”

In the D.C. diocese’s convention materials, a more radical version of the resolution was offered in amendment form. It reads:

“Resolved, the House of ____________ concurring, that the 79th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, as it considers revision of the Book of Common Prayer, to eliminate, when possible, all gendered references to God and to replace them with gender-neutral language, and if necessary, to alternate gendered titles when referring to God.” (emphasis mine)

But pay no attention to the devil behind the curtain.

For decades, stripping the Word of its masculine references to God has been a concerted effort for a growing segment ECUSA, beginning with the 1973 publication of “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation.”

In fact, in 1997, the Episcopal Church published a supplement to the Book of Common Prayer, entitled “Enriching Our Worship.” As explained by one Episcopal priest, Father Christopher Brown, “The new liturgies in this book represent a moderate but systematic effort to adjust the use of gender in liturgical language… The new liturgies assiduously avoid the masculine pronoun in referring to God.”

“Enriching Our Worship” provides us with a prudent reminder that the Book of Common Prayer (BOC) is not comprised of Church-created prayers alone. It also disproves Budde’s and Dyer’s insinuation that the focus of ECUSA’s language resolution is not about taking away from the Word of God, but about adding to it.

For example, contained in both the Book of Common Prayer and (in altered form) in “Enriching Our Worship” is a portion of Psalm 95 (verses 1-7).

In the Bible, Psalm 95:1-7 reads:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Yet, in “Enriching Our Worship” (pages 21-22) all gendered references to God have been removed from His Word as written in Psalm 95.

The defense of the church’s resolution then shifts to the subject semantics, to language itself, which followed the very same talking points espoused by the Rev. Dyer in his appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

The article also included a juvenile-like attempt at validation via the equally reprehensible actions of other churches.

But, but, but… The Swedish Church did it too…

(It is also worth noting that ENS grossly misrepresented the Catholic Catechism to support the pronoun-butchering of the Episcopal liturgies. The most successful deceivers employ half-truths.)

You can read the article here.

Abject failure

The Episcopal Church has doubled-down on blasphemy, employing ethically abhorrent PR tactics to distract from her flagrant, outward rape of God’s Word as He, Himself, gifted to us.  The church has failed to perform her duties as a church, as the bride.

I implore every Christian – leaders, laity, etc. – to revisit the splendor of God’s choice to reveal himself, through His Word, as the Father.

If the church continues on her present path – through the wide gate (Matt. 7:13-14) – we can no longer be expected to call her a “church”; for, she will have chosen the designation of a pagan tax collector (Matt. 18:15-17).

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  1. Mike Gilmer

    February 12, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I will start out by admitting that I am an atheist. I have a friend who is an Episcopalian. She told me once that I should give the Episcopal Church a try. I reminded her of my lack of belief and she said that that is ok in the Episcopal Church. She said you can believe in anything and still be a good Episcopalian. She quoted Bishop Spong and said you do not even need to believe in God to be a good Episcopalian. I chuckled at that.

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Culture and Religion

17 years later, Paul Washer’s shocking message still holds true

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17 years later Paul Washers shocking message still holds true

In 2002, Pastor Paul Washer delivered a message to around 5,000 young people. It has become one of the fiery Southern Baptist’s mostly widely-heard sermons because in it, we hear a very disturbing reality to most who proclaim to be Christians. Some simply aren’t doing it right.

He’s been criticized for the sermon. Some say he’s making it too complicated. Others say he’s scaring people away from the faith by making it seem too difficult. But this teaching is based on one of the most important teachings of Jesus Christ in all the Bible:

Matthew 7:13-27

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

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

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 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.

22 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?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 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:

25 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.

26 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:

27 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.

I’ve heard many teach on these verses and I’ve taught myself on the strait and narrow. It’s frightening to some because it was intended to be, and Washer’s declarations to these impressionable young people is clear. But it wasn’t nice. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t inclusive. It didn’t fit in with today’s version of common pastoral messages.

The need for constant repentance and ongoing belief must never be understated.

Sometimes, the need to be “nice” from the pulpit must be replaced by the true need to be honest. That’s what Washer does in this famous teaching. I strongly encourage everyone to spend an hour hearing it.

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Is the Shroud of Turin the burial cloth of Jesus?

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Is the Shroud of Turin the burial cloth of Jesus

The Shroud of Turin has been the center of controversy since 1898. We will discuss its history soon, but let’s first state the obvious. Those who believe it is authentically the burial shroud of Jesus Christ are unlikely to be dissuaded. Conversely, those who think it’s a fake will almost certainly maintain their skepticism despite evidence or faith.

Before we get into research regarding the shroud, it’s important to have the right mindset. Science cannot prove or disprove the divinity of Jesus Christ. Our Father has put all of the evidence we need in our hearts, through His teachings in the Bible, and within the clear cross-referencing of prophecies that have come true. If you are searching for truth, the Shroud of Turin can do little to persuade you in one direction or the other at this time because the individual can either have faith in the teachings of our Lord or the individual can adopt a worldview that excludes the Messiah. All the shroud can currently do is reinforce one’s faith or create a mystery in the secular mind.

Let’s explore some commentary about the shroud to see where it stands in today’s fight for the faith.

Clearing the biggest obstacle of authenticity

There is a way that many doubts could be taken away about the authenticity of the shroud. While it would not demonstrate clear proof that He is the Messiah who was resurrected as the first fruits, it could come very close to proving that the man who died on the cross in Jerusalem was wrapped in the shroud. The blood from the Sudarium of Oviedo can be compared to the blood on the shroud. This artifact is most likely the head covering that was used when Yeshua’s body was transported to the tomb and left there. Jewish tradition says that blood is part of the body and must be buried with it. Since the cloth had Yeshua’s blood, it would have been kept in the tomb.

6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

– John 20:6-7 (KJV)

Since the cloth has been tracked historically since the 7th century, it would be a clear debunking of the 1988 carbon-14 dating tests that The Telegraph and USA Today reported as being potentially reversed. Studies comparing the blood stain positioning between the two artifacts show the likelihood that they wrapped the same head. If the blood on the sudarium, which has been confirmed to be at least as old as the 7th century, is the same blood that’s on the shroud, it would leave no doubt that the carbon-14 dating placing the shroud between 1260-1390 AD is inaccurate.

One might ask why it’s so important to debunk the debunking. If, as I stated, the shroud is not a path to faith, why would we want it to be authenticated in the minds of the masses? To understand this, one must understand the tools and characteristics of the enemy. Today, so many people have used science as a reason to deny their faith and decry the teachings of the Bible. It is written on our hearts, solidified in our minds, and authenticated by the wonders of the world that we are created beings and that God is our Creator. Secular science has at its core the desire to explain the universe in terms that separate the creation from its Creator.

The shroud can be a powerful gateway into inquiry. Its presence, while proof of nothing, has a compelling story that could open up the minds of those seeking the truth to explore the Word and learn of God and Yeshua. The adversary does not need to disprove God. He simply needs to nurture the seeds of doubt that prevent us from exploring more deeply. This is why the carbon-14 dating results were tainted and its why an untold number of people have dismissed it as a fake. If the debunking of the shroud can itself be debunked, there’s an opportunity to plant a seed of curiosity in some people that can grow to a deeper exploration of the truth.

The only feasible explanation

To those who view the shroud as authentic, it’s a very clear indication of the resurrection. A deep dive into the scientific research and the faith that makes many believe it to be real tells an incredible story of mysteries that point to one feasible conclusion.

Scientists have spent a great deal of time trying to determine how it was created. One of the researchers, Barrie Schwortz, claims that their team spent hundreds of thousands of man hours with the goal of determining the way that the shroud was produced. He was skeptical at first, feeling that the mystery would be simple to solve once they applied modern science to it.

“Our team spent hundreds of thousand of hours and after that period of time, remembering that our primary goal was to determine how the image was formed, came back with nothing,” said Schwortz. “We could not answer that question, so in essence we can tell you what it’s not. We cannot tell you what it is.”

It is only when one goes in with the assumption that the Shroud of Turin is likely the cloth covering of the body of Yeshua after His crucifixion can they see the evidence as clearly pointing in that direction. To me, it’s compelling. To others, it’s simply beyond science’s ability to discern at this moment. The videos below go into greater detail about the evidence, but here’s a quick recap of some of the things that demonstrate its potential authenticity:

  • Rare Damascus Gate Dirt Found on Shroud: In 1978, a sample of dirt taken from the foot region of the shroud was examined at the Hercules Aerospace Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah. The calcite in the dirt is rare, though it is in abundance around the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. This does nothing to prove authenticity but does point to the detail that would have had been put into its creation if it were a fake since there would be no reason in medieval times to believe that future generations would be able to tell the difference in dirt types from different regions.
  • Photo-Negative Nature of the Image: The controversy behind the shroud started in 1898 when amateur Italian photographer Secondo Pia photographed it. While processing the film, he was shocked to see that the negative established a much clearer image of a face than the positive itself. This means that whatever created the image did so in a way that was extremely improbable when producing a hoax but makes perfect sense from an authentic perspective, something we’ll talk about below.
  • AB Blood and Bilirubin: If we stay true to the scientific study, then we can draw a couple of conclusions. First, it’s definitely blood on the shroud as well as on the sudarium. Even skeptical scientists admit that ancient blood is present in the right areas. The presence of bilirubin makes it very likely that severe bruising and lacerations were present on the body when it was covered. These facts alone mean that it must be either an extremely elaborate hoax or a real burial cloth of a harshly scourged man.  Second, a close look at the debunking of the presence of blood demonstrates the uncanny depth to which the adversary will go to delude people. One, for example, says that a particular plant could be used to create a paint that mimics the characteristics of blood. That’s a pretty amazing coincidence if it was created in medieval times to fool the ages – they were very lucky to have selected the exact right flower that could stand up to 21st century microbiological scrutiny.
  • The Blood Goes Through the Shroud while the Image does Not: As they discovered when shining a light through the cloth and cataloging the other side, the blood stains go all the way through while the image on the front side does not. In fact, the image itself is only on the microscopic surface of the shroud, two microfibers deep. It’s either real or the artist was trying for an epic level of hyper-realism. Skeptics have suggested that, in order to produce a viable fake that could stand up to scrutiny, that they used real human blood to produce the effect. This is absurd, of course, because the blood soaks through in a way that shows it was truly lain over a body and not manually placed on a piece of linen for effect.
  • The Image Has Depth: This is one of the toughest pieces of evidence to explain. One of the videos below does a pretty good job at it, but here’s the quick layman’s version. Paintings and pictures do not have appropriate depth that can be measured with modern equipment such as the VP8 Image Analyzer. They become distorted. When the shroud was analyzed in this manner, it created a 3D image that corresponded with the face of a man as if the shroud image was created while draped over a man.
  • Pollen and Flowers: 58 pollen types are on the shroud and nearly half of them can only be found in the Middle East. One in particular pollen from a plant called gundelia tournefortii, is found in abundance near the head region of the shroud. It is a very thorny plant that could have been used as the crown of thorns. Many flower images can be found on the shroud, including Zygophyllum dumosum. This is an important discovery because it is only found in one place – near Jerusalem.

There are plenty of other points that could be covered, but perhaps the most compelling is the form of the image itself. It shows a man with wounds that match what would have been seen from a scourging with a Roman flagrum. There is a also wound on the wrist where a crucified man would have been held to the cross. There are blood spots that surround the head in a way that would have come from wounds caused by a crown of thorns. Lastly, there is an area near the 5th rib where a lot of blood gathered that matches what a spear wound would have yielded.

This last piece of evidence demonstrates that this is definitely not another crucified man. The similarities to the story of Yeshua’s crucifixion are too perfect.

Authentic or not, it points to one conclusion

There are only two ways that the Shroud of Turin could have been formed.

It’s Real

If you believe the shroud is authentic, then you will probably believe that Joseph of Arimathea purchased a linen cloth to use as the burial shroud for the crucified Yeshua. At the time of resurrection, our best guess from a scientific perspective is that the body dematerialized and the burst of energy that resulted created the image on the shroud. This is backed up by the fact that the image is present, though lighter, at points where the shroud is not touching the body.

The pristine nature of the blood wounds indicates the shroud was not removed. For them to appear as they do, the points on the body where blood is touching the cloth would need to suddenly disappear or there would have been clear smudging.

Light is the most popular theory for the creation of the image. Heat or other sorts of radiation are less likely, but light of some sort has been shown to work to produce the effect. In a recent study, scientists created similar results using UV laser pulses. Lastly, if the origin of the light was within the shroud (within the body, perhaps) then the effect could have produced the negative image.

Those who believe that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Yeshua can latch onto the scientific data that hypothesizes His resurrection as the moment that the image was imprinted onto the shroud.

It’s a Tool of Deception

With all that we now know, this cannot be an artist’s rendition. It is extremely unlikely that it could be another man who happened to be killed in the same manner. Does this mean that it must be authentic?

The evidence points to a supernatural origin, which means that if it is a fake, then it was created through forces and with knowledge that greatly exceeds science today, let alone in medieval times. This would mean that demonic forces have gone through a ton of trouble over the centuries to make it stand up against all scrutiny. The presence of the Catholic Church makes this a possibility as well. It’s not that the Catholic Church is universally bent towards evil – not by any means. However, the deceptions that have been promoted by evil through the Catholic Church could bring into question whether this is an artifact of reality or deception.

This is all possible, but there is one event that points away from this possibility. There are many reasons, some discussed above, that the carbon dating was flawed. One in particular points to a last minute decision regarding the area of the shroud where the carbon dating sample would be taken. Originally, samples from different sections were supposed to be used, but the decision was made under guidance of the Catholic Church to pull from a single location. That location has been shown to be a place where the shroud was repaired, meaning that the cloth was an interwoven area mixing the original shroud cloth with newer cloth.

I do not believe that the shroud is a tool of deception, but the possibility is there so it must be stated.

Either Way…

It doesn’t really matter which is true. We know that in either scenario, the shroud was clearly created through means that could not exist in a world that does not have heavenly forces of good or demonic forces of evil. Human hands could not have created the shroud, not today and definitely not 700 years ago.

The Shroud of Turin is an interesting study of the resurrection. Today, it is a small piece of the bigger puzzle. In the future, it may come into play more prevalently in the fight between good and evil.

Here are three videos that we recommend for further research on the subject:

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Culture and Religion

President Trump affirms abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother

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President Trump affirms abortion exceptions for rape incest and life of the mother

Following last week’s fury over the Alabama abortion bill that essentially bans abortion in all cases other than a threat to the life of mother, President Trump has weighed in. While not addressing the bill directly, he still declared his stance on abortion and called for voters to stand with him to protect life.

Opinion

Our EIC noted a couple of days ago that belief that life begins at conception means being an abortion absolutist that backs the Alabama law. I tend to agree, which is why I believe we have to classify the President’s remarks as a secular belief in the sanctity of life. When we insert our human morality into the equation, it becomes a moral issue to want exceptions.

That’s fine. There may be bickering over who may actually be pro-choice based on their perspectives, but from a political perspective we need to make sure we keep our eyes on the big picture. We want Roe v. Wade to be overturned. Then, the states can decide how they want to handle the “healthcare” issue of abortion.

The rest is part of the cultural battle against abortions. This is why I’ve said many times in the past that we have to view this as a multi-front battle. We have the political front, and that’s going to be ever-changing. But we also have the cultural front in which we have to make decisions about how we view the life within the mother, whether from a religious or moral perspective. The third front is the scientific arena which has been quickly shifting away from the pro-abortion world to vindicating past claims pro-lifers have been making for decades.

The President’s stance, while not perfectly aligned with mine, is still exponentially better than anything the entirety of the Democratic Party is putting forth. What’s worse is that their candidates are pushing radical abortion ideas.

Quote

“If we believe the miracle of life begins when a human is conceived, then we must defend that life as a fellow creation of God regardless of the circumstances. Then, we must do everything in our power to aid the mother through the challenges she and her child will face.” – JD Rucker

Final Thoughts

We can bicker over the extent that pro-life laws should block abortions, but the general direction of overturning Roe v. Wade should allow conservatives to walk along the same path. We can discuss details afterwards.

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