Monday, December 31, 2012


Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you are having a Merry and Blessed Christmas. Having? Shouldn’t it be had? No, “having” is correct! The Christmas celebration only begins on Christmas Day, December 25th. The celebration actually lasts for twelve days, until the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, when we remember the coming of the Magi or Wise Men to see the Christ-child. As I write this it is the seventh day of Christmas and I am listening to Christmas music, drinking a hot cup of Celestial Seasons Candy Cane Lane decaffeinated Green Tea, and enjoying the sounds, smells and tastes of this holy season.

Christmas Day at Holy Cross parish was a joyful experience. As always, we kept the Mass in Christmas by celebrating a Mid-night Holy Communion (“commonly called the Mass” - 1549 BCP). Our new choir sang for the first time, leading us in worship. After the Liturgy on the Fourth Sunday in Advent our church family had decorated the church with a beautiful Christmas tree near the communion rail, a traditional Nativity Scene (thank you St. Francis!), wreaths hanging from pew ends and on a wall, the largest poinsettia that I have ever seen, and more. A traditional Anglican church decorated for Christmas gives one an overwhelming sense of peace on earth and good will towards men.

After our Mid-night celebration of the Holy Communion we enjoyed a wonderful birthday party in honour of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have seldom seen so much delicious food and drink. The warm fellowship and holy day cheer went on into the wee hours of the morning and Cheri and I did not get home until after 4:00 AM. After about four hours of sleep we spent the rest of the day celebrating Christmas with family. Cheri and I want to thank our church family for the beautiful Christmas card and the thoughtful gift. Your love is felt and deeply appreciated!  

Yesterday, on the First Sunday after Christmas, I preached on the Epistle lesson: Galatians 4:1-7. The Apostle Paul has such Good News for us: “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:4-7). Calling this merely Good News is almost an understatement! We have been redeemed and adopted into the family of God. We are no longer servants but sons! We address God not merely as Lord or King or Master like servants, but as Abba, Father, because we are His sons and daughters! How can this be?

In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “Therefore being [present tense] justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1). Our righteousness is “by faith” according to St. Paul, not by our works. If we could earn our salvation then Christ died in vain. Even the best of our good works are flawed and imperfect. As Isaiah the Prophet says, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). Our righteousness as relating to our justification is external to us. It is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith. 

The Apostle Paul continues: “By whom also we have access by faith into his grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). We have access to God’s grace by faith, not by works. Do you mean that we cannot merit grace? No, we cannot. Grace means “unmerited favor” or “undeserved kindness.” You cannot merit unmerited favor, and you cannot deserve undeserved kindness. St. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, writes “we have access by faith into his grace wherein we stand...” We have our right-standing with God by His grace (unmerited favor, undeserved kindness) through faith. Now thats Good News indeed! And because of that Good News the Apostle Paul says that we are to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rejoice. Yes, rejoice! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). 

We all know that God loves the world in general, but many Christians do not live as though they believed that God loves them in particular. But the truth is far different. He knew you before the creation of the world!  I have some more Good News for you. You can actually take the words “the world” out of John 3:16, and replace those words with your name without changing the meaning of the text. Yes, God loves each of His sons and daughters, as though there were only one of us! 

St. Paul the Apostle continues: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Did you get that? We cannot merit God’s favor and we do not earn God’s love, or obey to gain His love. The Scripture says plainly, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  This is indeed Good News, but St. Paul has even more Good News for us. “Much more then, being now [present tense] justified [declared righteous] by his blood [not by our works or personal righteousness, but by His shed blood], we shall [not may, but “shall”] be saved from wrath through him [Christ]” (Rom. 5:9). “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall [there is that word “shall” again!] be saved by his life [because Christ is Risen from the dead!]” (Rom. 5:10). “And not only so, but we also joy [we have good reason to be joyful!] in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now [present tense] received the atonement” (Rom. 5:11). 

Atonement! Don’t let anyone ever tell you that the death of Christ upon the cross was not an atoning sacrifice. “[W]hile we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)... “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved” (Rom. 5:9)...”we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10)...”by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom. 5:11). Christ died for our sins and rose for our salvation, but our redemption was assured in the Incarnation. Christmas is a blessed time to be merry and to rejoice, and that joy should carry us through every day of our lives because it reminds us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son...” (John 3:16). Christians should be a people of joy and the Christian life a life of joy. As St. Catherine of Siena says, “All the way to Heaven is Heaven.”

It is so sad to see joyless Christians, Christians who live as though they had a perpetual  toothache. They have little or no joy in their relationship with our Lord, with their pastor or with their brothers and sisters in Christ, and have no Good News to share with others. Such people have no feeling of assurance in their relationship with Christ and no sense of security in the love of God. In fact, they often condemn the ideas of assurance and security as presumption. But is it presumption to believe the sure Word of God written? St. Teresa of Avila used to pray to God, “From sour-faced saints, deliver us.” Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit named by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians; and even while under arrest in Rome he could write: ”Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

We have received Glad Tidings, Good News, the Gospel, and have good reason to be a people of joy in the Lord. God is our dear Father and we are His beloved children. As St. John the Divine has said, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13). Now that’s Good News!

My prayer this Christmas season is that my Christian readers will begin to see themselves as sons and daughters of God, rather than merely His servants (as wonderful as even that would be!); and that they will begin to truly see God as their dear Father, and to have the assurance and security that comes from knowing that they are the beloved sons and daughters of a loving Father, are secure in His love, and heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. My prayer is, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13), that you will be a people of joy, and understand that “All the way to Heaven is Heaven.” We have received Good News, and have Good News to share to a lost, dark and hurting world. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.” 

This Coming Sunday, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany. If you are anywhere near the Greater Omaha area I hope that you will join us for worship as we commemorate the coming of the Magi. Morning Prayer is at 9:30 AM, followed by the Holy Communion at 10:00 AM. Wise Men still seek Him!

Holy Cross Anglican Church is a local church with a local, national and global outreach. I would like to invite my readers to help us in our ministry. Please prayerfully consider going to our Holy Cross Media Site, , and making a donation to the work of Holy Cross Anglican Church. You can do so by following the “Make a Donation” link, and using the Donate button. The Donate button is now working and we have just begun taking online donations. Your gift will be safe and secure with Pay Pal, and we will make good use of it. Thank you!

I wish all of my readers a Merry and Blessed Christmas. “Alleluia. Unto us a child is born; O Come let us adore Him. Alleluia” (Morning Prayer, 1928 BCP).

Monday, December 24, 2012


What does the word "Christmas" mean? It means Christ's Mass, or the Mass for Christ's Nativity. What is the Mass? It is another name for the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. The Liturgy of the Lord's Supper is called by various names. In the Bible it is called the Lord's Supper, the Breaking of Bread, and the Holy Communion. From the Greek we call it the Eucharist (Thanksgiving) because on the night in which he was betrayed Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said, “This is my Body...” In the East, Christians often call it the Divine Liturgy. Divine because it was instituted by our Lord. Just as the "Eucharist" comes to us through the Greek, the "Mass" comes to us from the Latin. The term Mass goes back to the early Church. For instance, it is used in the writings of St. Ambrose of Milan an early Church Father. Who was St. Ambrose of Milan? He was the bishop who baptized the great theologian St. Augustine of Hippo! In the first English language Book of Common Prayer in 1549, the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion was described as "commonly called the Mass." Anglicans still commonly call the Holy Communion the Mass to this day.

We will be keeping the Mass in Christmas at Holy Cross Anglican Church this Christmas Day, just as we do every Christmas Day. We will be celebrating Christmas with a Mid-night Mass on Christmas morning, Tuesday, December 25th. Why mid-night? So we can put Christ first and foremost! After all, as the Christmas carol says, "It came upon a midnight clear..." Is it too much of an effort to come to church at mid-night? Tell that to St. Joseph and the nine-month pregnant St. Mary who travelled to Bethlehem from Nazareth on foot or on a donkey. Tell it to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night in the cold fields. Tell it to a young woman giving birth in a stable. Tell it to the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. Believe me, it is worth coming out in the cold night air. Mid-night Mass is very special. You will feel like you were there at the stable 2,000 years go.

Christmas is the best time of the year, and one of the most beautiful and wonderful Services of the year is at Mid-night on Christmas morning. This year will be even more special as our new choir will be leading us in worship for the first time. We will be singing some of the greatest Christmas music ever written, including O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, What Child Is This?, and Angels We Have Heard On High. The church will be beautifully decorated with a Christmas tree, wreathes, a Nativity Scene and more, the music will be uplifting, and we will have the opportunity to gather around the Throne of grace and welcome our newborn King. A Mid-night Eucharist on Christmas morning is an ancient Christian tradition, and is something you will never forget. So invite family and friends. Bring the little ones. You will be making Christmas memories that will last a life time. Don’t worry if they fall asleep on the pew, it is all part of the Christmas experience. Beginning your Christmas with Jesus will bless you and ensure that you and you children recognize that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Everyone is invited to reman after Worship for a Christmas party in our parish hall. There will be delicious festive treats, warm drinks, good fellowship and beautiful Christmas music. You won't want to leave! Come and be blessed!

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wise Men Still Seek Him!

Friday, December 7, 2012

AS BIRDS FLYING, The Miracle of December 8th

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

In August of 1914 the Great War broke out in Europe. General Edmund Allenby of the British Army began the war in command of a cavalry division on the Western Front. He was later promoted to command the 5th Corps of the British Expeditionary Forces in Europe. In October 1915 he took command of the Third Army, which in 1916 took part in the battle of the Somme.

The War in Palestine really began in 1915, with a Turkish offensive against the Suez Canal. It was beaten back, but in late 1916 and early 1917, when the British launched a counter offensive, they were severely repulsed by the Ottoman Turks. British Prime Minister Lloyd George commented at the time, “Nobody could have saved the Turks from complete collapse, but our General Staff.” In June 1917, General Allenby was ordered to leave his Third Army and take command of the British war effort in the Middle East. 

Allenby was not excited about his new assignment. General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle saw Allenby at the Grosvenor Hotel in London before the latter left for Cairo. Allenby said to him, “The last man failed, and I do not see why I should succeed.” Sir Beauvoir, who was later to preach a sermon at St. Martin’s in the Fields about the capture of Jerusalem, consoled him with Bible prophecies of the deliverance of Jerusalem. He told General Allenby that the Bible said that Jerusalem would be delivered in that very year, 1917, and by Britain.

In 1886, Dr. Grattan Guinness had written a book titled “Light for the Last Days” in which he demonstrated from the Scriptures that Jerusalem would be delivered from Turkish rule in 1917. In 1898, Dr. H. Aldersmith, another eminent student of Bible prophecy, wrote  a book called “Fullness of the Nations,” in which he said that Jerusalem would be delivered by Great Britain in 1917. In personal conversations, Dr. Aldersmith would say that he believed that Jerusalem would be delivered by some sort of flying machine, although the airplane had not yet been invented. 

Before sailing to Cairo to take command, General Allenby was summoned to a meeting with Admiral Lord Fisher, the First Sea Lord. In one of the most extraordinary military conferences of war, recorded by Lord Fisher’s secretary, Allenby was told that he would be God’s instrument for the deliverance of Jerusalem in December 1917. Stunned by Lord Fisher’s words, he asked him to explain his deduction. Admiral Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord, then spent several hours in discussing the Bible with General Allenby, showing him the prophecies that related to the rise of Great Britain, and lastly the prophecies relating to the deliverance of Jerusalem in December 1917. Armed and strengthened by this knowledge, General Allenby sailed for the Middle East.

I won’t take the time to review the Palestinian campaign during the Great War, but God’s hand was clearly in evidence. Under Allenby’s command was the famous Thomas Edward Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia. Many books and articles have been written about the exploits of T. E. Lawrence, and continue to be written. One of the great adventure stories of English literature is “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by Lawrence.

Allenby was a devout Christian. He often consulted the Bible for spiritual direction, and for historical and geographical military guidance for an army fighting in Palestine; and would frequently ask his staff officers to bow their heads with him and to pray for success in battle with few casualties.  In his biography of Allenby, Field Marshall Wavell recounts a saying among the Arabs at the time, “When the waters of the Nile flow into Palestine, then will a prophet of the Lord deliver Jerusalem from the Turkish yoke.” Under Allenby the waters of the Nile did flow into Palestine via a pipeline laid by the Royal Engineers to supply the British forces. The Arabs called General Allenby “Allah en Nebi” which means prophet of God.

After many battles the British Army finally made its approach to Jerusalem. Allenby’s plan was to partially encircle Jerusalem, intentionally leaving a safe way of escape in hopes that the Turkish Army would withdraw, avoiding a siege of the Holy City.

When the British forces had come within striking distance of Jerusalem, and were coming under fire from Turkish batteries within the city, Allenby did not want to return fire because he believed that it was unworthy of Christian Britain to fire on the Holy City. He cabled Prime Minister Lloyd George for instructions. George replied that the Cabinet was leaving him free to do whatever he thought best. Not satisfied with such an answer, he cabled the King for guidance. King George V replied simply, “Pray about it.” Gathering his staff together, General Allenby followed the King’s counsel.

This takes us to the morning of Saturday December 8, 1917. The British chaplains that morning led the troops in prayer. The first lesson from Morning Prayer on that day was from Isaiah chapter 31. The very prophecy that was to be fulfilled on that day was found in that lesson: “For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over He will preserve it” (Is. 31:4-5). That day, December 8, 1917, was also the Feast of Hanukkah, commemorating an earlier deliverance of Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee two centuries before Christ.

In the reading from Isaiah, General Allenby saw the lion in the prophecy as representing Great Britain and the young lion as representing his ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand) troops. When Isaiah spoke prophetically of God defending, delivering and preserving Jerusalem “as birds flying,” Allenby knew exactly what that meant. 

By this time the Royal Flying Corps had complete air supremacy over Palestine. That morning General Allenby ordered British planes to make reconnaissance flights over Jerusalem and to drop leaflets calling upon the Turkish garrison to surrender, but were directed not to strafe or bomb the Holy City. With all of the British air activity, panic broke out among the garrison who had no air support to speak of, and the Turkish officers could not get the situation under control. That night Izzet Bey the governor of Jerusalem smashed all of the equipment in the telegraph office, and wrote a letter of surrender. At 2:00 AM, on December 9th, the Turkish garrison began leaving through the Jaffa Gate. By 7:00 AM the last of the Turkish soldiers were passing through St. Stephen’s Gate making their way along the Jericho Road. Bey and a few frightened policemen came out of the city bearing a white flag and surrendered Jerusalem to General O’Shea of the 60th division. The Holy City had been delivered without a shot being fired.

On December 11, 1917, General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem silently on foot and without fanfare. No guns were fired in salute. Only the bells of Jerusalem’s churches rang. Isaiah 35:5 had been fulfilled, “As bird’s flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also He will deliver it, and passing over He will preserve it.”  “As birds flying,” God had used the Royal Flying Corps to frighten the garrison into leaving. As foretold, God had delivered the Holy City and preserved it. There was no siege.  

After the war General Allenby was appointed British High Commissioner of Egypt, and made a peer of the realm, becoming Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe. He died in 1936, and is buried in Westminster Abbey - a great honor for a great, nobel and pious man.

But how do we arrive at the year 1917 in Bible prophecy? When making His covenant with the people of Israel, God warned them that if they sinned they would be corrected, and that there would be a “seven times” punishment (Lev. 26:28) for national apostasy.

A “time” in the Bible is 360 days (Dan. 7:25, 12:7, Rev. 12:6 and 12:14). In Bible prophecy, a day often means a year, “each day for a year” (Num. 14:34; Ez. 4:6). Students of Bible prophecy call this “the Year/Day Principle.” A year of 360 days is known as a “prophetic year” as distinct from lunar or solar years.

There are seven references in the Bible which help us understand the seven times punishment of Leviticus 26:28:

Time, Times and the dividing of times (3 1/2) Dan. 7:25
Time, times and an half (3 1/2) Dan. 12:7
Forty and two months (3 1/2 years)                 Rev. 11:2
A thousand, two hundred and threescore days Rev. 11:3
A thousand, two hundred and threescore days  Rev. 12:6
Time, times and a half time (3 1/2)                  Rev. 12:14
Forty and two months (3 1/2 years)                 Rev. 13:5

A “time” is a prophetic year of 360 days, and a day represents a year. The Seven Times Punishment for national apostasy was to last 2520 years.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the apostate Kingdom of Judah in the Hebrew month of Kislev, corresponding to our November/December, in the year 604 BC.  Jerusalem surrendered in the middle of Kislev, or early December on our Calendar, becoming a vassal state. Judah later tried to break free from Babylonian domination, but was invaded, and Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 586 BC.

Jesus told us that Jerusalem would be trampled down by the heathen (Gentiles) until the time of the heathen be fulfilled. Leviticus 26:28 tells us that the punishment for national apostasy was to last 2520 years. The prophesied 2520 years stretched from 604 BC to AD 1917 (a year must be added because the calendar goes from 1 BC to AD 1 without a year zero). Christians saw this prophecy in the Bible well before it was fulfilled, and Admiral Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord, General Allenby, and many other devout Christians, were confident that this prophecy would be fulfilled to the letter. And it was. 

The Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 is interpreted using the same prophetic year/day rule, with a day representing a year. The Seventy Weeks (seventy weeks of years) prophecy begins in 457 BC with the decree of Artaxerxes to restore and to build Jerusalem ( Dan. 9:25). The 69th prophetic week ends in AD 27 with the baptism of Jesus, “until Messiah the Prince.” In the midst of the 70th week, AD 31, “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.” And at the end of the 70th week, AD 34, Stephen the protomartyr was stoned, signaling the final rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus by the Jewish authorities (Acts 7:58-8:4) and ultimately resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70.

Christians argue about many things, often dividing over minor differences. Opinions and personal preferences that cannot be proven objectively one way or the other continues to absorb the attention of believers and divide Christians into often hostile camps, yet hundreds  of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter and still many Christians have no interest in them, or will even doubt or dispute what I have shared with you today. 

They will tell you that although everything happened just as I have described it, for history bears witness to it, yet it was merely a coincidence. They will insist that we have to believe everything that was revealed 2,000 or more years ago, while doubting or denying what God is doing all around us and the fulfillment of prophesies in our day. For many, Christianity is a religion about what happened long, long ago in a land far, far away, but not about what God is doing today and will do tomorrow. This “Christianity” is little more than Deism. A parishioner of mine recently told me of a Jewish friend that does not practice his faith because God hasn’t spoken to the Jewish people since the time of Malachi some 2,400 years ago. He says, “God has forgotten us.” Sadly, many Christians act as though God hasn’t had a word for them for nearly 2,000 years. But that is not true. God has not abandoned His people. He continues to speak to us through His prophets as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. We need only to study the Holy Scriptures and search it out. The miracle of December 8, 1917 is a wonderful reminder that our God will neither slumber nor sleep, but that he is working out His purposes all around us.

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov. 25:2).

“By measure hath He measured the times, and by number hath He numbered the times: and He doth not move nor stir them until the said measure be fulfilled”  (II Esdras 4:37).

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Since Barack Hussein Obama was declared the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election it seems that every Christian I meet is in a state of shock and dismay. The same feelings have been expressed by millions of Americans from coast to coast.

The day after the election, Christopher Ruddy of Newsmax wrote, “It was the worst of times and the worst of times. With the 2012 election results in, there are no short or even medium-term ‘silver linings’ for Republicans. President Obama has won a decisive victory and the GOP, expecting to gain Senate seats, actually had a net loss of three.”

On the same day, in an article titled, “America Pronounces Judgement On Itself," Joseph Farah of World Net Daily wrote, “For many of us, the unthinkable has happened. America has decisively turned the corner away from the constitutional principles of limited government and self-government with the re-election of Barack Obama. There may be no way home for us. For those of us who fundamentally reject Obama’s policies, things are going to get very rough for the next four years. We have allowed our fellow Americans to pronounce judgement on the nation. That’s what Obama represents to me - God’s judgement on a people who have turned away from Him and His ways and from everything for which our founders sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”

Millions of Americans sat down Tuesday evening to watch the election returns thinking that they were still in some sense living in Ronald Reagan’s America and that everything was about to be set right, only to learn that a seismic demographic shift had taken place and caught them unawares. The election results demonstrated the shocking fact that Ronald Reagan could not be elected in today’s Amerika.

On the day after the election I was repeatedly asked, “How could this happen? We prayed so hard for the election. Why didn’t God answer our prayers?” Many have had their faith shaken and are in utter despair. Millions of hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic Americans are in post-election shock and dismay.

Why didn’t God answer the prayers of His people? I believe that He did. God will not force people to do the right thing. He has given people the gift of free will. However, God did answer the prayers of His people by making the choice crystal clear on election day, and giving the nation every opportunity to begin to right itself.

The choice between the two establishment candidates and parties was crystal clear. On one side was the most pro-abortion president in American history. On the other was a candidate that was openly pro-life and had been endorsed by the Right to Life movement.  On one side was a president that openly embraced homosexual “marriage” and the agenda of the homosexual movement. On the other was a candidate that believed in traditional marriage and family life, and in Biblical morality. One party stated clearly in its platform that it advocated keeping abortion safe and legal, “regardless of ability to pay.” A position that can mean nothing less than taxpayer funded abortion or an eventual HHS Obamacare mandate to require insurance companies to provide free abortions. The other party platform was pro-life. One candidate and party was utterly committed to Obamacare with its unelected fifteen member death panel, while the other candidate and party was committed to its repeal. One party and its candidate supported using the power of government to restrict religious liberty, while the other strongly supported religious liberty.

For those who wanted to vote for parties outside of the beltway, there were four other parties on enough state ballots to potentially win the presidency: the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party and the Justice Party. As with the two establishment parties, God answered His peoples prayers by making the choices crystal clear. The Libertarian, Green and Justice parties, and their presidential candidates, were strongly on record supporting legalized abortion and same-sex “marriage;" while the Constitution Party and its presidential candidate were strongly pro-life and committed to traditional marriage and family values. 

The choices were clear and unmistakable. The recessional hymn sung at our church on Sunday, November 4th, was Hymn  #519. The first verse of that thought-provoking hymn reads, “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.” The moment to decide came to the American electorate on Tuesday, November 6th. The choice was crystal clear. The election was free and fair. The electorate freely and overwhelmingly made their choice. This is no longer George Washington’s America. This is no longer Ronald Reagan’s America. How did this happen?

Demographics is destiny. Although the old America overwhelmingly voted for Mitt Romney, it was not enough to win. Until recent years, the percentage of the vote that Mitt Romney won from the American majority would have given him a landslide victory. But no more. There has been a seismic shift in demographics due to mass third-world immigration. Barack Obama received the votes of more than nine out of ten blacks, seven out of ten hispanics, and seven out of ten asians.   

The Democratic Party favors mass third-world immigration because these people become Democratic voters. In a February 3, 2010 article titled, “Obama Advisor: Amnesty to Ensure ‘Progressive’ Rule”, World Net Daily columnist Aaron Klein wrote,  “Granting citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants would expand the ‘progressive‘ electorate and help ensure a ‘progressive‘ governing coalition for the long term, declared a recent advisor to President Obama whose union group is among the most frequent visitors to the White House. ‘We reform the immigration laws, it puts 12 million people on the path to citizenship and eventually voters,' stated Eliseo Medina, international executive vice-president of Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.” Klein continues, “Medina said that during the presidential election in November 2008, Latinos and immigrants, ‘voted overwhelmingly for progressive candidates... Can you imagine 8 million new voters who care about our issues and will be voting? We will be creating a governing coalition for the long term, not just an election cycle.’”  

Unfortunately, the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party has been no better. They have supported exporting jobs and importing cheap third-world labor to take many of the jobs that cannot be exported. On October 23, 2012 the Washington Times reported, “Two-thirds of jobs go to immigrants during Obama’s four years.” We must be loyal to more than the bottom line. The economy must serve the nation. Even considering more immigration in the face of 23 million unemployed, with millions more under-employed is immoral, and bringing to our shores the best educated from third world countries is equally immoral. This causes in third-world nations what Ralph Nader described as a “brain drain,” preventing these countries from advancing and improving because their best and brightest are recruited by American companies to replace American workers because they will work for less money. 

Much of the electorate, especially among the young, have been mesmerized by the oft repeated saying, “Diversity is our strength.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. Diversity is anything but a strength. Homogenous societies are united, stable and safe, while multicultural societies are just the opposite. In the Bible, nations are homogenous societies, while empires are multicultural ones. History demonstrates that multicultural societies are inherently unstable and either deteriorate in ethnic conflict, or are held together by a strong-man using oppression. Long ago, Theodore Roosevelt said, “The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of it's continuing as a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.” Twelve years ago Pat Buchanan warned, “If America continues on its present course, we could rapidly become a country with no common language, no common culture, and no common identity.”  

Political pundits often talk about a “gender gap" between the Democratic and Republican parties, saying that men favor the GOP while women support the Democratic party. This is very misleading. Married women supported Mitt Romney by a  twenty point margin over Barack Obama. However, single women supported Barack Obama by a thirty point margin. Why? Let’s look at the demographics.

For the first time in history there are more single than married adults in America. Forty percent of all children in America are born out of wedlock, with more than two out of three black children born out of wedlock. The American divorce rate is about 50%. There are vast numbers of single parent households with women struggling to raise one, two, three or more children on their own. These single women are often mired in poverty and look to government for help. 

The American family is under incredible assault. The cultural-Marxists of the Frankfurt School have long been working for the deconstruction of the family, the culture and the traditional institutions of American society. By breaking these down they can make people more and more dependent on government for their sustenance. This makes them safe “progressive” voters.

America has been changing while we have been asleep. The United States has more churches today than ever, but never has Christianity had so little influence. Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s and the liberal-modernist takeover of so many denominations, many churches are doing more harm than good. Soon there will be an attempt to require non-profits not to “discriminate” against sodomy. Like Pavlov’s dog, Americans have been trained to react strongly when confronted with “discrimination” and millions will support persecution and prosecution of churches that refuse to conform. Like the old Soviet Union, the time may soon come when there are thousands of open and seemingly flourishing churches, but they will be little more than Potemkin churches, beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside. 

Since Tuesday’s election, the Republican elites have been proclaiming that the election results  demonstrate that the GOP must moderate and move away from the Right if it is to win. Away from the Right? When has the GOP nominated a Rightist since Ronald Reagan? George Bush Sr., Bob Dole, George Bush Jr., John McCain, and Mitt Romney were all establishment candidates. The elites want the Republican Party to embrace third-world immigration and distance the party from social issues such as abortion, traditional marriage and family values. If the American electorate follows the elites it will complete the demographic shift and the destruction of America as a Western, Christian-oriented, Constitutional Republic.  

So what are we to do? We must continue to do what we have been doing, and more, much more. At Holy Cross parish we must continue to teach the uncompromised Word of God, and we must continue to fulfill our mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him and the fullness of the apostolic faith to those who do. We must all become more involved in fulfilling our civic responsibilities than ever before, — and that means political involvement. The Republic needs every one of her sons and daughters.

Christians must get their children out of the public school system regardless of the cost or sacrifice required. They must use solid Christian schools or chose home schooling. Distance learning is now even available at the college level! At the same time, Christians must seek to reform the public school system by serving as teachers or running for school board.

Last Sunday I preached on the National Message of the Bible. Most Christians do not even know that there is a National Message in the Bible. The truth is that about one-third of the Bible contains the National Message. We must preach and teach this message like never before. Christians must learn what the Bible says to the nation, and act upon it.

Two centuries ago there was euphoria in the colonies when the minutemen fired the shot heard around the world and drove the British army back in disarray, just as there was euphoria leading up to Tuesday's election. We thought that we would replace the president, repeal Obamacare and restore the Republic in one blow. Like the Minutemen, we have learned that our foe is much, much stronger than we had thought. George Washington’s Continental Army lost battle after battle, and knew nothing but retreat until they reached the apparent winter safety of Valley Forge. There, with the coldness of that brutal winter, many defeated and demoralized soldiers lost heart and faith, and slunk away. Washington stood to lose his entire army. Yet, he never gave up, and when the coward, the faithless and the sunshine patriot had fled, only a faithful remnant remained. God then used that faithful remnant. Soon Washington took his little army across the river and won a stunning victory at Trenton without losing a man. There were many hardships yet to endure and long years of fighting, but these Christian patriots remained firm in their faith and commitment, and eventually the tide of battle turned and they triumphed over the greatest army in the world. This is our time of testing. May we prove worthy of our Christian-patriot forefathers!

I would like to close this with the last two verses of Hymn #519 from the 1940 Hymnal:

Though the cause of evil prosper
Yet ‘tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne is wrong,

Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voting, and the National Message of the Bible

“Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”( Proverbs 14:34).

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).

All Christians are aware that the Bible has a message for the individual and for the Church, but many, many Christians are unaware that the Bible also has a message for the nation. In fact, about one-third of the Bible speaks to the nation. This is the National Message of the Bible.

Most Christians understand that God held the people of Israel accountable under the Old Covenant, but many have never considered the fact that the Prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Had the people there not repented, their nation would have been destroyed. Later, God used Babylon to punish Assyria, and later still God used Medo-Persia to punish Babylon. God even described Cyrus, the ruler of the Medo-Persians, as  His anointed. The Old Covenant prophets had many messages for the other nations of the world, because even though these nations did not know the true God, they were still accountable to the natural law. 

Under the New Covenant, the faith has become catholic or universal. The earliest Christians, and their successors today, have been commissioned to make disciples of all nations. With the advance of the Great Commission, Christendom was built in Europe. From Europe many nations have received the Gospel. The people of the United States were not converted to Christ, but our nation was established by Christians and built on a Christian foundation. Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!”

The Supreme Court of the United States concurred in 1892, officially declaring the United States a Christian nation: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”

If Assyria, Babylon and other pagan nations were held accountable to God for their behavior, how much more will Christian nations be held accountable? If to whom much has been given, much will be required, how much more will the greatest and most blessed nation in the history of the world - the United States of America - be held accountable? America’s Founding Fathers certainly understood this accountability.

At the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin said, “We have been assured Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.‘ I firmly believe this: and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”

In 1781, Thomas Jefferson said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

In 1821, Daniel Webster said, “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”

Sadly, since prayer and Bible study were outlawed in America’s public schools in 1962, America’s Western Christian civilization has been under constant assault, and in retreat, until it has become a free fall in recent years. 

In 1965, some 95% of all Americans were self-described Christians, with most of the remainder being Jews; but as a result of the 1965 immigration act the United States has become the most religiously diverse nation in the world. To that non-Christian diversity can be added a growing secularism. Today, one in five people in the United States are religiously unaffiliated, with about one in three people under the age of thirty unaffiliated. 

For the first time in American history a majority of adults are unmarried, and the birthrate in 2011 was the lowest in American history. Today 40% of all babies born in America are born out of wedlock, with more than two-thirds of babies born in the black community born outside of marriage.

The divorce rate in the United States is about 50%. Some 40% of all first marriages end in divorce, 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages. However, only 6% of marriages between practicing Christians who attend the same church on a weekly basis end in divorce!

In the 1950s abortion was a felony. Today it is a civil right. One in three conceptions end in abortion, more than 3,000 every day. Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, more than fifty-five million pre-born children have been killed in abortion chambers. Less than 1% of these abortions were what are often called “hard cases.” I have heard the heart beat of a pre-born baby only twenty-eight days after conception. It is a child, not a choice.

Abortion never solves a woman’s problems, it only creates new ones. As a pastor I have worked with post-abortive women. Abortion either hardens a woman’s heart, often eventually leading to a second abortion, or even a third, and sometimes more; or it devastates her and causes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual problems. I have seen women who have had abortions, even after later repenting, who have had emotional meltdowns year after year as the date of their abortion and the due date of their unborn child approaches. 

Abortion does not solve problems, it only creates new and long lasting ones. The only ones that benefit from abortion are those in the abortion industry. They are literally making a killing.

The ongoing redefinition of marriage is not about love or fairness, it is about what kind of nation America will be. When marriage is redefined, homosexual couples are allowed to adopt children. This is very, very serious. In addition, Christian adoption agencies have been forced to close down when they have refused to place children with homosexual couples. And this is just the beginning. Christians have suffered persecution and even prosecution for “discriminating” against those who chose to engage in this lifestyle. Orthodox churches themselves may soon face loss of their tax exempt status for upholding Biblical morality in the face of the ongoing homosexual offensive.

Christians can disagree politically about many things. For instance, Christians can disagree about corporate tax rates, capital gains taxes, foreign policy and more. We all have to make prudential judgements. However, there are non-negotiables. Abortion, euthanasia and traditional marriage are non-negotiables. As Christians we must stand up and protect the innocent and the vulnerable from conception to natural death. If the right to life is not guaranteed, no other rights matter.

In 2008, the Democratic Party platform called for abortion to be “safe, legal and rare.” That was bad enough, but in 2012 the Democratic Party dropped the word “rare” from its platform and added “regardless of ability to pay.” Regardless of ability to pay? That means either taxpayer funded abortion or forcing insurance companies to offer free abortions under Obamacare. As Dennis Miller has said, “The Left believes in cradle to the grave assistance, it’s just sometimes really tricky making it to the cradle.”

Orthodox Christians must be sure to vote as it is their Christian and civic responsibility. Before casting any ballot for any candidate for any office of any party, be sure to do your research. Compare the candidates, look for endorsements from National Right to Life and from State and local Right to Life organizations. Vote as if someone’s life depended on it. It does!

The solution to our nation’s problems is found in the Bible: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron. 7:14).

Now you know about the National Message of the Bible. God judges individuals, the Church, and the nation. There is no “once saved, always saved” for people or for nations. Christians are called to be light and salt in society, and to occupy until Christ’s comes.  

On election day, Tuesday, November 6th, there will be prayers for our country at our church at 12:10 PM. We will pray the Penitential Office and the Litany. Join us for prayer for America and bring your friends. Let us humble ourselves, repent of our personal and national sins, pray for our country, and then go out and vote.

Friday, October 5, 2012


As we look around and see all of the problems in our country, the turmoil in the world, and the apparent weakness of the Christian Church, Christians are praying for revival. But what does revival really look like?

Writing to the congregation in Rome, the Apostle Paul said, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8). The Christians in Rome were setting an example for other Christians far and wide, and I think that the same can be said for the congregation of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska. What does revival look like? It looks like what God is doing right here in Omaha.

Holy Cross parish is a congregation of real disciples, and what these disciples are doing amazes me. At the beginning of the year we set a goal of contributing 100 lbs of food to the Open Door Mission every month - 1,200 lbs for the year. That is a lot of food! However, the congregation has blown that goal away. Our last contribution, covering a mere two weeks, totaled 275 lbs; and our food bin is already overflowing again! In addition, we are picking up day old gourmet bread from a local shop and delivering it to two other homeless shelters, the Francis and Sienna Houses, five times every month. Each of these deliveries total 150 to 200 lbs of gourmet bread! 

In Advent and Lent we use parish mite boxes to raise money for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. The ARDF does important work in impoverished and devastated areas of the world. Among the most important things that they do is to dig clean water wells in third world villages.

In August, we sponsored a speaker from the Voice of the Martyrs ministry, and raised $404.00 to support their work in assisting the persecuted Church around the world. This year the Board of Foreign Missions asked local churches to consider donating $500.00 in support of the Work of the Gospel in Croatia and Serbia. Our parish Women’s Group immediately went to work. They held a rummage sale, raised the full amount requested, and sent it on to the Board of Foreign Missions.

We have a wonderful ministry called the Holy Cross Love Squad. The Love Squad is a lay led ministry that has a priest as a chaplain. The Holy Cross Love Squad visits hospitals and long term care facilities every month, bringing prayer, music, jokes, fellowship and companionship to the sick, the lonely, and the forgotten. Squad members visit with residents, help them write letters, and listen to their stories. Our chaplain is always available for spiritual counsel.

We have a full time rector, a retired priest who assists, a salaried music director, a beautiful leased facility that consists of a traditional chapel, modern parish hall and classroom space; we support the diocese financially every month, and do a tremendous amount of ministry; and we have around forty in attendance on an average Sunday. Yes, we accomplish all of this, and more, with a congregation that averages around forty on Sunday. How? Because God has sent revival here, and our church family is made up of real disciples. In the average church only about 20% of the people are active. At Holy Cross it is about 100%. We actually have about as many active Christians as the average church of 200. A Roman Catholic Priest-friend of mine who has been in the ministry for decades once told me that he would be lucky to have 5% of those in the pews on Sundays to be active in church. That means we have as many really active people as a Roman Catholic parish of 800! Holy Cross parish is large enough to meet your needs and minister powerfully, but small enough to be a real church family.

Revival has come through worship and sound teaching. At Holy Cross parish we gather for worship, not entertainment. We use the liturgy of the historic Book of Common Prayer and sing the great, theologically rich, hymns of the Church. Why the historic Book of Common Prayer? Because it is thoroughly orthodox and is the most Biblical liturgy in Christendom. It is the liturgy that reformed the Church of England, inspired the Wesleyan Revival, spiritually formed the founding fathers of the United States, has spread the Gospel from a small island kingdom to more than 160 nations of the world,  has stood the test of time, and continues to touch hearts and change lives today. 

In a day when most Christians do not know the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed or pray regularly the Lord’s Prayer, we use them every week in worship. At Holy Cross we emphasize both the Law and the Gospel. We preach real sermons, sermons that last 30 to 45 minutes and are filled with spiritual meat. We exegete the Scriptures in our sermons and preach for personal conversion. We also balance Word and sacrament, celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday. We kneel in prayer, stand to sing, and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion on our knees.

We take prayer requests and thanksgivings every Sunday morning before the sermon; have occasional healing Services during the Sunday Eucharist, anointing the sick with oil, and have seen God work in wonderful and powerful ways.

Like all congregations, we have had members pass on or move away, and have sadly seen some fail to persevere, but we continue to grow steadily both in numbers and in spiritual maturity. We began by crawling, then began to walk, and are now running. We now have as many or more in attendance at our Wednesday mid-week Eucharist as we used to have on a Sunday morning! People cannot get enough of the Eucharist. I celebrate it every Sunday and Wednesday, and our assisting priest celebrates it on Thursdays.

Our adult Christian Education class is taught at the college level. We have had courses in such diverse topics as Reformation History, classic works of Christian devotion, and an introduction to Biblical Hebrew. Our class is now covering comparative religions and apologetics.

While many churches are made up primarily of women, a typical Sunday congregation at Holy Cross is about half male and half female. We teach a muscular Christianity, and the men of the parish are very involved and committed. We use only adult male acolytes and lay readers, men who are active in the parish and set good examples of discipleship. We do not use boys. We never have. And we do not ask for volunteers. 

The Sisters of Holy Cross is our parish Women’s Group. It is a vital, active and very effective parish organization. They meet monthly for prayer, study, fellowship and service, and serve they do! The Sisters of Holy Cross are always involved in advancing and supporting the Work of the church. We couldn’t get along without them!

Holy Cross Anglican Church is not just a place where people go to worship. It is a really community, a church family. Less than half of the members have Anglican backgrounds. Members come to us from every spiritual tradition, and none. We have members with spiritual roots in Byzantium, Rome, Geneva, Wittenburg, Azusa Street and elsewhere, and they all contribute spiritual riches from the Christian traditions from which they came. We have no cliques or factions at Holy Cross, and the Vestry is united, effective and always supportive of me as pastor, and is made up of men and women with a servants heart.

I cannot begin to tell you all that the people of Holy Cross parish are doing. We have a Pro-Life Coordinator, a parish Librarian, many nursery attendants, Sunday School teachers, and active Women’s and Men’s Groups. We feed the poor, visit the lonely, have a Bible study group at a nearby retirement apartment complex, have acolytes and lay readers, ushers, and more. In November our Music Director plans to organize a church choir.

We draw people from all across Eastern Nebraska, into Western Iowa, and up into South Dakota.  But we also minister all across America and around the world. In addition to our very effective parish website, we have this blog that you are reading, and a state of the art Media Site where visitors can see teaching videos, listen to educational podcasts, and be introduced to liturgical worship and Anglican liturgy. Seeing a need for sound classical Anglican theological education, we even have a family in the parish that recently purchased the North American Anglican. This quarterly theological journal is the only orthodox Anglican theological journal in North America, and it is going to be published right here in Omaha. I have been asked to serve as theological advisor. Look for the first issue under the new management in Advent!

We have fellowship and refreshments every Sunday after Services, with a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of the month. We really enjoy being together. We are a a church family. We have also enjoyed activities such a Lenten Fish Fry, Dinner and a Movie Nights in our parish hall, an annual Summer Church Picnic, and our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck. In fact, the Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck are coming up on Saturday, October 27th. I hope you will come!

Frankly, I could go on and on about the people of Holy Cross parish. I give thanks for them every day. It is a blessing to be their pastor. Holy Cross Anglican Church is a serious church for serious Christians. We are anything but a “youth group for adults.” When someone says they don’t go to church because of all of the hypocrites, I tell them they need to visit Holy Cross. At Holy Cross parish they will be spiritually fed, encouraged, and supported, they will make friends that will last a lifetime, will grow spiritually, and they will help make a difference in the lives of others through the many ministry activities of the church. 

Now that you know what revival is really like, I hope that you will accept my personal invitation to worship with us on Sunday. Christian Education is at 9:00 AM, followed by Morning Prayer at 9:30 AM, and the Holy Communion at 10:00 AM. Nursery Care for children under the age of four is available during the 10:00 AM Service. Fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall follows worship. We are a faithful, friendly and welcoming congregation, and we have a place for you. I hope to see you on Sunday!    

Thursday, August 9, 2012


There is a great deal of debate among self-professed orthodox Anglicans today regarding the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, as to whether they are Catholic or Calvinist. This debate has been caused by a growing number of Anglicans who are self-described as Reformed or Calvinist in theology. 

When Metropolitan Jonah spoke at the inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009, and said that the ACNA had to reject Calvinism, I was surprised. I left the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s, and have been in the ministry all of my adult life, but I had never even met an Anglican that called himself a Calvinist. Naive? Sheltered? I don’t think so. In addition to serving in the parochial ministry, I served for years as the editor of a national Anglican publication and as a provincial Ecumenical Officer. I have known large numbers of Anglican clergy and laity, including many continuing Anglican bishops and primates in both North American and abroad, yet I had known no open Calvinists. None. Former Reformed clergy and laity who had come to the door of Anglicanism after studying John Calvin and then took the next step, yes.  Five Point Calvinist “Anglicans,” no.

Where has this resurgent Calvinism come from, and why has it arisen so suddenly? The continuing Anglican movement which came into being in the wake of the Minneapolis General Convention of 1976, and the great St. Louis Church Congress of 1977, though divided into several jurisdictions was essentially united in Catholic Faith and Order. Likewise, the Reformed Episcopal Church, which had experienced a Catholic Revival of its own, had fully recovered classical Anglicanism; and more than a decade ago had entered into a process of growing together with the Anglican Province of America (APA), with the goal of visible unity. The Reformed Episcopal Church later became the driving force in the formation of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA).

The resurgence of Calvinism in Anglicanism is something altogether new, rather than an organic development. The sudden rise in Reformed (Calvinist and even Zwinglian) theology is due to the large influx into Anglicanism of refugees from the Episcopal Church (TEC) that began in earnest in the year 2000, coupled with a revival of interest in Calvinism among evangelicals who were searching for a theological system to embrace. 

Unlike the exodus in the 1970s, these former Episcopalians had little understanding of Anglican theology, liturgics, history or spirituality, and most had little or no living memory of  orthodox Anglicanism as it existed before the apostasy of the Episcopal Church in 1976. Sometimes called Anglican “re-asserters,” these evangelical-minded Anglicans have been formed by pop-evangelicalism, the church-growth movement, the charismatic movement, the contemporary Christian music industry, and the revival of interest in Calvinist theology among young evangelicals; and are seeking to redefine Anglicanism, and to reinvent the Anglican Church and Communion according to their own ideas.

Classical Anglicans have always affirmed that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are  Anglican answers to Reformation era controversies with both Geneva and an unreformed Roman Church; and that they are meant to uphold the Faith of the undivided Catholic Church. Contemporary Calvinist Anglicans however see the Articles more as a Protestant Confession, and assert that they express Calvinist or Reformed theology. Both views cannot be true.  So which is correct?

Were the Articles of Religion intended to teach the Faith of the primitive Catholic Church as witnessed to by the Church Fathers, or were they intended to serve as a Calvinist Confession? Let’s look at the facts.

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as we now have them were edited and adopted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, some fifteen years after the deaths of Cranmer and Ridley. A lot had happened in those fifteen years. The Anglican Church had returned to Roman obedience after the death of King Edward VI, and five years later, with the death of Queen Mary, the English Reformation began again under Queen Elizabeth I. The new queen would have liked to have ignored the 1552 Prayer Book which had never been authorized by Convocation and returned to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, but could not do so for political reasons. However, in 1559, a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer was issued with the black rubric removed, the words of administration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion from the 1549 Prayer Book restored, and a new ornaments rubric added. The Church then began working on the Thirty-nine Articles. It is to these Articles and to the Elizabethan era that we must now turn our attention.

“In the year 1571 the Articles were... committed to the editorship of Bishop John Jewell. They were then put forth in their present form, both in Latin and English; and received, not only the sanction of Convocation, but also of Parliament” (An Exposition of The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, Historical and Doctrinal, Edward Harold Browne, D.D., Lord Bishop of Winchester, 1865, p. 15).

What was Bishop Jewell’s understanding of the goal of the English Reformation? Was it 16th century Calvinism or primitive Catholicism?  Jewell writes, “We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion, but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church” (Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae).

The Thirty-nine Articles were issued during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. What was her understanding of the goal of the English Reformation? Was it 16th century Calvinism or primitive Catholicism? In 1563, she said, “We and our people - thanks be to God - follow no novel and strange religions, but that very religion which was ordained by Christ, sanctioned by the primitive and Catholic Church and approved by the consentient mind and voice of the most early Fathers.”

Now we will turn to the Articles themselves. Do they teach Calvinism or Catholicism?

Article IX, “Of Original or Birth-Sin,” says, “man is very far gone from original righteousness,” not entirely corrupt and totally depraved as Calvinism teaches. This Article contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity and upholds that Orthodox view of Original or Ancestral Sin as a wound.

Article XVI, “Of Sin after Baptism,” says that a man who has received the Holy Ghost and fallen into sin may rise again: “After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives.” This article contradicts the Calvinist teaching on Irresistible Grace and the Perseverance of the Saints. Calvinism would say that should we fall into sin after we have received the Holy Ghost we “will arise again,” rather than “may arise again;” and denies that Christians “may depart from grace given.” In fact, “In 1572 the Puritans addressed certain admonitions to Parliament complaining of the inadequacy of the Articles and their dangerous speaking about falling from grace” (A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., 1935, p. 21).

Article XVII, “Of Predestination and Election,” does not say a word about the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, and ends by saying: “Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally [meaning universally] set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.” God’s promises are general, or universal, not particular and limited to the elect. Anglicanism does not believe that God predestines some men to salvation and others to eternal damnation.

What is the Anglican understanding of Predestination and Election? Anglican theologian Vernon Staley explains it this way: “Predestination does not mean that some souls are fore-ordained to eternal life, and others to eternal death, for there is no purpose of God to bring any man to eternal death. God ‘will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’

“There is a purpose in everything, both in the order of nature and in that of grace. In the order of grace, Predestination corresponds to some extent with Providence in the order of nature. An acorn is naturally predestined to produce an oak, but it may fail to realize that purpose: all acorns do not produce oaks. If it does fail it misses its predestined end.  So the soul is predestined to a life of grace and obedience here, leading to a life of glory hereafter; but it may fail, and miss the mark. If the laws which determine the germination  and growth of an acorn are observed, the oak will be produced from it. In a like manner if the soul obeys God, and corresponds [cooperates] with his grace, it will come to eternal life. God who calls and elects, also bids us ‘to make our calling and election sure’... Everyone is called to, and is capable of salvation, but God alone knows who will ‘make their calling and election sure’” (The Catholic Religion, A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Anglican Communion; Vernon Staley, 1893, pp. 317-319).

Calvinists are monergists while Anglicans, like all Catholic Christians, are synergists. Calvinism teaches that grace ravishes the soul and is irresistible, while Anglicanism teaches that grace woos the soul and that man must cooperate freely with God’s grace. God always acts first through prevenient grace, but man must cooperate with that grace. We are predestined, yet free.

Article XXVIII, “Of the Lord’s Supper,” clearly teaches the Catholic doctrine of the objective “Real Presence” of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion: “the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.” This article also teaches that the Body and Blood of Christ is received orally: “The Body of Christ is given [by the priest], taken [by the communicant], and eaten, in the Lord’s Supper...” 

Once again, Bishop John Jewell, editor of the Articles, can be of help to us in understanding  Article XXVIII. Regarding the Sacrament of Holy Communion, he said: "Christe’s Body and Bloude in deede and verily is gieven unto us... We are Boones of his Boones and Fleash of his Fleash” (Works of John Jewell, Vol. lii, p. 52). Likewise, the great Richard Hooker taught, “Thy Word was made Flesh that he might give us his life; we share his life by eating his flesh and blood, and so our bodies are prepared for their resurrection” (cited in Richard Hooker: A Study of his Theology, L. S. Thornton, 1924, p. 58). Two generations after the adoption of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion in 1571, Blessed William Laud, the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, could say in his Conference with Fisher the Jesuit, “And for the Church of England, nothing is more plain, than that it believes and teaches the true and real presence of Christ in the Eucharist” (Vol. 2, pp. 328-329). 

Article XXIX, “Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper,” is often used by Calvinists, and now by Zwinglians I suppose, to argue against the objective Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The Article says, “The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are partakers of Christ...” Are the Calvinists and Zwinglians right about this Article, or does this Article teach the Catholic Faith?

A key to understanding Article XXIX, is found in the words, “as Saint Augustine saith.” St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) was a Catholic bishop and one of the greatest theologians that Christendom has ever produced. He taught the objective Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion clearly and simply. He said, “I am mindful of my promise. For I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament  of the Lord’s Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, and what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend his Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins” (Sermons, St. Augustine).

E. J.  Bicknell explains Article XXIX, in his classic commentary on the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion: “The wicked and the faithful alike receive the elements that have been brought into union with the Body and Blood of Christ. Neither the wicked nor faithful carnally and visibly press with their teeth more than the bread and wine. But only the faithful receive the Body and Blood of Christ, since only they possess that faith which is the indispensable means of receiving them. This article does not in any way deny the ‘real presence,’ it only rules out any carnal view of it. To give an illustration: when our Lord was on earth He possessed healing power quite independently of the faith of men: but only those who possessed faith could get into touch with it. Many touched His garments, but only the woman who had faith was healed (Mk. 5:30 ff). The healing power was there: the touch of faith did not create it, but faith as it were, opened the channel to appropriate the blessing. So in the Eucharist, Christ in all His saving power is present. The wicked are only capable of receiving the visible and material signs of His presence. But those who approach with faith can receive the inward grace  and become partakers of Christ by feeding on His Body and Blood” (A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., 1935, p. 502).

Article XXIX, is not Calvinist or Zwinglian, but Catholic; and the Roman Catholic Church agrees with what the Article teaches. “The sacramental body and blood of the Saviour are present as an offering to the believer awaiting his welcome. When this offering is met by faith, a life-giving encounter results” (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, ARCIC, Three Agreed Statements, 1977, p. 11).

Bicknell writes, “But the clearest evidence that the Articles are not Calvinistic is the repeated attempts made by the Puritans to alter or supplement them” (ibid, p. 21). As already mentioned, the year after the Articles were adopted in 1571, the Puritans complained to Parliament that the Articles were inadequate as well as dangerous. In 1595, a committee meeting at Lambeth under Archbishop Whitgift of Canterbury compiled what has become known as the Lambeth Articles, which were thoroughly Calvinist in doctrine. These proposed Articles were opposed by Queen Elizabeth I, never accepted by the Church, and have found their rightful place in the dustbin of history. Again at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, the Puritans unsuccessfully tried to amend the Thirty-nine Articles. Finally, in 1643, when the Puritans had managed to overthrow the King in the Great Rebellion, they had their way. After martyring the Archbishop of Canterbury and King Charles I, they rejected the historic Episcopate, banned the Book of Common Prayer, and replaced the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion with the Westminster Confession. Even after the Restoration of the Monarchy, the Puritans continued to raise objections to the Thirty-nine Articles without success, until they were finally ejected from the Church of England during the reign of King Charles II.

If the Articles are Calvinist, then why such strong and consistent opposition for so long? If Anglicanism is really “Calvinist,” then why have Calvinists opposed not only the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, but its Liturgy and Episcopal Church Order as well? And, if Anglicanism is really Calvinist, then why did the Puritans completely replace the Articles, Prayer book and Episcopal Order of the Church as soon as they had the opportunity after the Great Rebellion and the crime of regicide? The answer is that the Articles of Religion were written to guide the Church of England through the controversies of the Reformation and back to the Faith and practice of the primitive Church; and that the Anglican Church is not a Protestant denomination but a branch of the Catholic Church, unhappily divided from the wider Church by accidents of history. 

How should the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion be interpreted? The Church gives us an authoritative answer to this question. In 1571, the same year that the Articles were adopted by Convocation, Canon 5, “On Preachers,” was also adopted. Canon 5 says, “But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon which they would have religiously held and believed by the people save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old and New Testament and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops and doctors have collected from this selfsame doctrine.” This canon is clearly grounded in the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins.

The Thirty-nine Articles are not, and were never intended to be, a Confession of Faith like the Continental Protestant Confessions. The Anglican Church is a creedal Church, not a confessional denomination. As Bishop John Pearson (1612-1686) said, the book of Articles “is not, nor is pretended to be, a complete body of divinity, or a comprehension and explication of all Christian doctrines necessary to be taught: but an enumeration of some truths, which upon and since the Reformation have been denied by some persons: who upon denial are thought unfit to have any cure of souls in this Church or realm; because they might by their opinions either infect their flock with error or else disturb the Church with schism or the realm with sedition” (cited in Bicknell, p. 22).

Bicknell writes, “The significance of our Articles may be learnt by a comparison between them and Creeds. Both alike are theological statements of belief. Both alike have been employed as tests. Both are attempts to preserve the truth in all its fullness. But while Creeds are a necessity, [to quote Robert Moberly] ‘in a world where all expression of spirit is through body,’ Articles are a consequence ‘not of the Church’s existence but of the Church’s failure.’ ‘The Church, without a Creed, would not in human life on earth, however ideally perfect, have been a Church at all. But if the Church on earth had been ideally perfect, or anything even remotely like it, there would never have been any 39 Articles. The one is a necessary feature of spiritual reality. The other is an unfortunate consequence of spiritual failure’” (ibid, Bicknell, p. 23).

“Creeds have behind them the authority of the universal and undivided Church. Articles have behind them at most the authority of particular national Churches. ... Hence Creeds have a permanent value, Articles only a temporary value. We do not condemn, say, the Churches of the East, because they do not possess the 39 Articles. We should condemn a Church that rejected the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. We may reasonably doubt if the Churches of the mission-field need become acquainted with the 39 Articles. But they certainly are bound to receive the Creeds. It is possible even to look forward to a day when the Church of England may exchange or discard our present Articles, though that day [in 1935] is not yet in sight. That would not involve any breach of continuity or catholicity. But to reject the Creeds would be to part company with the life of the Universal Church” (ibid, Bicknell, p. 24).

Anglicanism is Catholic, not Calvinist; and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are an attempt to explain the Catholic Faith in light of the controversies of the Reformation era. Many of these controversies are forgotten or hard to understand today, which makes understanding the intent of the Articles sometimes difficult. Others have been resolved, which makes continued debate unnecessary. The Creeds are crystal clear however: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith” (Athanasian Creed).

Fr. Victor E. Novak is a priest of the Diocese of Mid-America, and the Rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska. His parish websites are: and He can be reached by phone at (402) 573-6558 or by e-mail at: