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Monday, 28 May 2018

Two weddings, and a funeral.

It has been an unusually busy time for both my wife and me. As already intimated, my wife's mother died - a couple of weeks ago, now - and we had to fly back to Scotland for the funeral service. Then, having returned to Scotland on a Saturday, and been involved with the worship group in our French fellowship on Sunday, we commenced our next journey, by car, to Scotland on the Tuesday.  

It was while we travelled back, by air, that a wedding ceremony was viewed by, not only the hundreds of invited guests, but also by millions around the world through the benefits of modern technology. The couple involved were young; the bride was a divorcee (meaning that, according to the written Word of God, they are now living in a state of perpetual adultery - regardless of their personal lifestyles prior to the wedding!); and they had an archbishop and a bishop officiate at the ceremony.

The second wedding (and, for us, the real "wedding of the year"!) was between two octegenarians, each of whom had lived faithfully with a now deceased spouse and, indeed, each of whom had cared for that former spouse "in sickness and in health". The ceremony was conducted by their local Salvation Army Captain, and the number attending was less than one hundred. 

My mother-in-law's funeral service was conducted by a Baptist pastor who had visited her in the Care Home in which she had spent her last years on earth. There were, maybe, fifty people in attendance. Unlike the archbishop and the bishop, neither the SA Captain, nor the Baptist pastor are household names outwith their own immediate spheres of service.

When I arrived at our French church fellowship on the day following the 'big' wedding, I was met with excited reports of the sermon preached by the American bishop. It was, I was assured, a great message; a gosple message; delivered with charisma. I couldn't wait to listen to the recording!

However, the busyness of these past days meant that I have not had the opportunity - and now have no particular inclination - to listen to the aformentioned sermon. There have been too many reports that what was preached was "another gospel, that is no gospel" (see Gal.1:6ff). Rather than add  to the abundance of reports, allow me to merely reproduce some points made by David Robertson:

Some "... have commented that it was such a powerful message and it should get people to reading the bible. Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18 attitude “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”. But that is the key question – was Christ preached? Was the love of Christ preached?
It wasn’t.
1) Firstly if it had been it would have been the first time that the preaching of Christ met with worldwide commendation! Everyone loved it – from the atheist Ed Miliband, to the LGBT activist Vicky Beeching. Liberal and Evangelical alike sang its praises. It was such a post-modern meaningless sermon that anyone could take any meaning they liked. Listen to what Jesus says: “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
2) It was hypocritical.  Bishop Curry was at a wedding that upheld the traditional Cranmer prayer book (and biblical) view of marriage as being between a man and a woman – and which expressly said so. Yet he does not believe that – and has been active in getting the reference to procreation and to man and woman removed from the prayer book in his church. Incidentally his province is meant to be under the discipline of the whole Anglican Church, yet the Archbishop of Canterbury not only invited him but also enthusiastically endorsed him. Biblical Evangelicals within the Church of England have been well and truly shafted!   It is important to grasp that Liberals like Curry use words in different ways – we need to ask what does he mean by Jesus, love and the cross. We may be hearing one thing when he is saying another.
3) It was unbiblical – The sermon cited 1 John 4:8 out of context. I know that he did not have time to do all of this, but there is no way that the little he did say is reflective of the letter he took it from.   Just to mention a few things.
a) Sin – John sets the whole of the Cross-against the background of sin. Bishop Curry did not mention sin once. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1:8).
b) The Atonement – John tells us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That forgiveness for sins comes from that. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice (the propitiation, turning aside the just wrath of God against sin) for our sins, and not only ours but the sin of the whole world” (2:2). This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (3:16). This is love not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins (4:10).  When Curry spoke of the cross, it spoke of it as sacrificial, as exemplary, not as THE atoning sacrifice.  We too can be sacrificial and it is that sacrificial love that is redemptive and changes the world.   Can you see what he is doing? He is turning the cross from being THE redemptive work, to it being an example of redemptive love that we can all show. He is teaching us that we can save ourselves and indeed save the world by just having the kind of love that Christ had and following his example. That is not the Gospel. It is the antithesis of the Gospel.
c) Obedience – Obedience was left out of the marriage vows. It was also left out of the sermon. Which given that it was a sermon about love and love is defined as obedience in his text is a big miss! We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands (2:3).   If anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in them. (2:5). But the Bishop said nothing about obeying the commands of God. Imagine if he had said this – “This is love for God, to keep His commands” (5:3). Do you think for a moment he would have had such a positive response?
d) Loving the World was commended, not condemned – Do not love the world, or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them (2:15). See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And this is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him (3:1). Bishop Curry made no distinction at all between Jesus and the world. So the world loved his message. If he had preached Christ, the world would have hated it. As it is the world loved his message, because it pushed all their buttons.
e) Beware False Teachers – Many antichrists have come (2:18). Do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work (3:7-8). Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. False teaching, false spirits, the devil being at work. Again none of that was mentioned.   The whole concept of evil and the devil's work was not part of the picture at all. But our battle is not against flesh and blood. Nor against Donald Trump. It is against sin, self and the satan.
f) There is a great division between those who know God and those who don’t. Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love (4:8). Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (5:1).  If you don’t know Jesus you are not born of God. And if you are not born of the God who is love, you cannot love in the way that John is speaking about.
Imagine if Bishop Curry had said to the young couple – “it’s great to see your love, but there is a greater love, and you really need to know that love. You need to know the God who is love. You need to trust and accept his atoning work of sacrifice. You need to show your love by obeying his commands (including being faithful to each other). You need to watch out for the evil in your own heart, and that from the devil. Always look to Christ “ But he didn’t (even though the Cranmer’s Anglican liturgy recognizes all those things); and he couldn’t because he does not believe that. He disobeys Gods word, denies his atoning sacrifice and does not teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
You can read the whole of David's article at
There is also a link to an article by Gavin Ashenden, a former Chaplain to the Queen's Household, who resigned amid a row over a passage of the Qur'an, read out at Glasgow Cathedral, which denies  that Jesus is the Son of God, and God the Son. You may go straight to that article here:

More and more, I am convinced that we are not only living in the "end times", but in the very "last days". I urge all who may read this post - be prepared. You will receive some guidance in previous posts, and from some of the links further down the screen.

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