Has the curtain fallen on the Church of England?

I was born in the closing years of the 1960’s in South Auckland, New Zealand.  Baptized at St. Peter’s-on-the-Hill just before I was three months old. I would later personally acknowledge, as was the custom in those days, that I believed the faith of the Church of England.

At my baptism, using the liturgy of the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer 1662, my godparents promised that I would renounce the devil and all his works, constantly believe God’s holy word and obediently keep his commandments.  This was the faith of the Church of England into which I was baptized and would later claim as my own at my confirmation before the bishop.

Believing God’s word and obediently keeping his commandment was not only the faith of the Church of England in the 1960’s, but it was also the faith of the English reformers of the 16th century – men and women who would later come to be my heroes, on whose shoulders I would stand as a Anglican bishop.  Courageous laity and clergy who would give their lives in defense of the gospel once for all entrusted to the saints.  Men like Hugh Latimer, who was more concerned for the King of Kings than he was for the King of England.

Like us in our day, the bishops of the English Church such as Latimer, had personal, cultural, political and ecclesiastical pressures which weighed heavily upon them to conform to the intense influences of loud and powerful voices.  And yet, even when threatened with the flames of martyrdom, they would not capitulate and abandon the faith but constantly believed God’s holy word and kept his commandments.

Teaching the Holy Scriptures and defending the faith is a weighty and holy responsibly of a bishop. At his consecration, the bishop-elect is asked, “Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word, and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?”

Having been personally asked that question at my own consecration and finding myself a bishop living in a culture that is losing its Christian bearings and is surrounded by loud voices within the church and outside, voices that call for a modernized faith and a sympathetic reorganizing of religious belief to satisfy the woke agenda of the pursuit of self, I know something of the pressure to sympathize with the painful cries of people who feel they have no place in a church that believes the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God.

I have always considered the Church to be generously inclusive.  Christ himself commissioned his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.  This ‘great commission’ is to include all ethnic groups, no one is to be left out of hearing the good news about God’s love and Christ’s reconciling work on the cross.  This was our Lord’s commission to his disciples at the very beginning and this remains the commission of Christ to this day.

As Christ is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit draws men, women, young people and children to Himself.  The Apostle Paul would later write, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.[1]

The word of Christ, the good news about Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior, was entrusted to the Church by God Himself.  Being entrusted with something does not give you the liberty to change it, alter it or amend it.  When you are entrusted with something, you become a steward of that which has been entrusted to you. Therefore, no matter how much pressure comes from a culture, or a movement, or a government, or a group of bishops, it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s word written.[2]

The bishops of the Church of England who voted to support church blessings of same sex civil marriages in the prayers of ‘Love and Faith’ are asking our Lord to bless sin – something God will never do.  Furthermore, in supporting the use of these prayers, the bishops are cloaking sexual actions which the bible says will result in eternal separation from God and presenting them as holy, precious and worthy of the name of Christ.  Such actions can never be justified.

When bishops act in this way, they are shepherds of the worst kind, described by Ezekiel as those who have disregarded the weak, the sick and those who have strayed. Jesus spoke of such bishops as false prophets dressed up as sheep. He named them as ‘ravenous wolves’.[3]  Through their actions, the bishops of the Church of England who voted to support the prayers of ‘Love and Faith’ are misleading many in the Church to walk apart from Christ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said, ‘What we have in this… decision… is, at its heart, the chance to publicly witness to Christ in the most difficult, distinctive and radical way.”  However, what the Archbishop of Canterbury and his supporting bishops have done is to lead the Church of England into apostacy[4] which is surely the greatest betrayal possible of their sacred office and ministry and an even greater betrayal of Christ and his word.

My heart breaks, especially for the courageous and faithful same sex attracted Christians in the Church of England who, out of a desire to honor Christ, have made the hugely sacrificial and costly decision to abstain from sexual relations with those they love.  I say to these brothers and sisters in Christ, you are heroes!  Stand fast in the faith and be strong!  Many Anglicans are standing with you, praying for you and honoring your courage and faithfulness.

I call upon the bishops, clergy and laity who voted in support of the prayers of ‘Love and Faith’ to come back to Christ, constantly believe God’s holy word and obediently keep his commandments. There can no place in the Church for erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.  There is one path that leads to eternal life and one path that leads to destruction. Jesus never mentions a third way.

As the light of the Church of England flickers dim through the leadership of distracted bishops, the Lord has already set in the midst of the Anglican Communion, a movement of biblical truth and love where Christ is honored.  The Gafcon movement is a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. The Gafcon movement, representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans, is determined by the grace of God, to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world, freeing churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.

Far from the curtain falling on the authentic faith of the Church of England, it is very much alive all over the world!  Across Gafcon, Christ is being proclaimed in Anglican churches, people are confessing their sins and finding the beautiful freedom that is found in Christ alone.

While the recent developments in the Church of England are sad, disappointing and regrettable, they are of no surprise to Christ.

Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a tetraplegic at aged 17 after diving into the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay wrote, “Nothing is a surprise to God; nothing is a setback to His plans; nothing can thwart His purposes; and nothing is beyond His control. His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens.” [5]

Bishop J.C. Ryle, the first Bishop of Liverpool wrote, “Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as “chance”, “luck”, or “accident” in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God: and all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good.” [6]

We can be confident, that the Church of Jesus Christ which is faithful to him through his word will prevail and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.

Tho’ with a scornful wonder
the world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, “How long?”
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

[1] Romans 10:17, ESV

[2] Article XX. Of the Authority of the Church.

[3] Matthew 7:15

[4] Apostacy: If someone is accused of apostasy, they are accused of abandoning their religious faith, political loyalties, or principles.  http://www.collinsdictionary.com

[5] Is God Really in Control, Joni and Friends, 1987

[6] The Sovereign Hand of God by J.C. Ryle

A letter to the church – September 11, 2022

September 11, 2022

Dear People of God,

On September 11, 2001, Brenda and I were living in New Zealand.  We awoke that morning to the horrific images of the Islamic terror attacks in Manhattan, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I recall listening, watching, praying and contemplating the attacks and how we should respond as disciples of Jesus Christ.  Many in our diocese who are in their early 20’s and younger, will not have a real memory of the events of September 11, 2001 and the immediate aftermath.  I believe it is important that we do not forget the tragedy of that day and the ongoing consequences on our lives today.

Every September 11, I continue to remember the attacks, the lives that were lost and the unjustifiable suffering inflicted on innocent children, women and men in the name of a religion that is still intolerant of people who practice a faith different from their own.

As I reflect on the words written about the September 11 attacks, the opinions that have been presented, the books that have been published and the attempts, made by many individuals to justify Islam as a religion of peace, I continue to draw the same conclusion year after year – genuine peace, peace like no other, peace for now and peace eternally is only ever found in Jesus Christ alone. He is not only the author of peace, He himself is our peace, He came preaching peace and of [his] peace there will be no end. [Isaiah 9:7, ESV]

Today, so many people are yet to discover the unshakable confidence that Christ the Prince of Peace offers to those who seek him and find him.  Other religions only speak about a momentary experience of peace which they cannot deliver. The Christ of the gospels invites us to come to him, and as we come, we discover rest for weary souls, forgiveness for sin and wrongdoing and the reassurance that we have been restored, through Christ, to a God who created us and loves us.  The peace which comes from Jesus Christ passes all our understanding.

‘In Christ alone’ is the message we as Christians are still commissioned by Christ, to proclaim to the world.  This is the message that individuals, families, churches, cities and nations need to hear as we reflect on the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the advancement of evil in this modern world.

The responsibility to proclaim this message of good news about Jesus Christ in our generation has fallen to you and me. The Apostle Paul writes, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” [Romans 10:14, ESV]

I invite you to join me in regularly sharing the gospel with people who do not know Christ.  Christ alone is the only answer for a world racked with terror, injustice, suffering and pain.  Twenty-one years have passed since the September 11 attacks.  May you and I be amongst those who make a difference in the world today by sharing Christ personally and publicly, for such a time as this.

MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that we may all be gathered into one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. [BCP 1662, International Edition]

Peace, be still.

The Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs

Diocesan Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the Living Word

Until we are parted by death

Thoughts for a couple to be married.

Marriage is a wonderful gift and if it is used wisely and  correctly as God intended it will be a treasure for you both throughout your lives on this earth.

If marriage is abused or fashioned in a way that is not as the Living God desires, then we run the risk of allowing our marriages to go terribly, terribly wrong.

When a man and woman marry they share high expectations. They commit themselves to an exclusivity regarding each other. Each agrees to, “forsake all others” giving each other exclusive intimacy in the marriage.

Jesus upheld Almighty God’s original design for marriage as recorded in the Book of Genesis.

He said, “From the beginning of Creation.. God made them male and female for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. They are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:5-9) With those words Jesus points us right back to God’s original intention for marriage and therefore His changeless will for marriage. Jesus also added one significant addition – He said, “what God has joined together let no one separate.”

There never has been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the common human vision is now, and has always been, enormous. Some cultures in history respect the importance and the permanence of marriage more than others. Some, like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people.

Here in the United States, and elsewhere around the world, the Courts of Law have dared to redefine the nature of marriage for us all.  Marriage, which our prayer books says, was instituted by God himself between – one man, one woman, one flesh, no separation!

Our diocese, clearly and publicly states that “…our Lord’s teaching [is] that Holy Matrimony is in its nature a covenantal union, permanent and lifelong, of one man and one woman.”

This is biblical marriage and it is not up for debate or negotiation.

Our foundational understanding of God’s original intention for the marriage relationship contains these facts:

Firstly, we are told that marriage involves leaving – it involves moving from two separate lives into a new relationship (a covenant). When a couple marry, we are asking God’s blessing on the marriage because a new covenantal relationship is being formed. So, it is right to come to the church in a service of Holy Matrimony and ask God’s blessing.

Secondly, notice that it God himself who joins husband and wife together – not the pastor, the priest or the bishop, but God himself – surely this is why we refer to this service as Holy Matrimony. God himself yokes one man and one woman, He joins them together and they become one flesh – and only God can do that. He is able, He can take body, mind and spirit and join them together into one unit.

When God joins a two people together in marriage, something very holy is happening. That is why marriage is sacred.

God will take two human beings, who choose to come together in marriage and join them together as one flesh, one body. Notice, God leaves us as human beings, the decision of whether to marry or not to marry, but should we choose to marry, He responds to our choice and joins us together in a covenant that no one must separate.  Marriage is holy.  It is sacred.

That why the couple must build their marriage on Christ and with Christ and through Christ and for Christ. Praying together, reading God’s Word the bible together, worshipping Him together, serving God together, welcoming Him into their hearts and into their home, showing his love and teach his ways to their children throughout their marriage.

Thirdly, from God’s perspective – according to His Word – marriage is a permanent relationship until the man and the women are parted by death. God’s emphasis is on the permanence and the importance of marriage, a relationship between one man and one woman with a holy God.

If the couple to be married set their face to make of marriage what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in their way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

The ultimate thing to see in the Bible about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory.  Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a courageous and faithful Christian leader who stood firmly for Christ in throughout the Second World War, wrote these words: Over the destiny of woman and of man lies the dark shadow of a word of God’s wrath, a burden from God, which they must carry. The woman must bear her children in pain, and in providing for his family the man must reap many thorns and thistles, and labor in the sweat of his brow. This burden should cause both man and wife to call on God, and should remind them of their eternal destiny in his kingdom. Earthly society is only the beginning of the heavenly society, the earthly home an image of the heavenly home, the earthly family a symbol of the fatherhood of God.

O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon all who are married and soon to be married that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their homes may be a havens of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

So help me God!

This edited transcript was first delivered to the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, Souderton, PA, May 2022

On December 28, 2006 with my wife Brenda and our three children, I left everything familiar and moved across the world to the United States.

I still remember my mother, with a closed fist, beating hard upon my chest with great emotion telling me to, ‘go, just go’ as Brenda and I took her only grandchildren to the other side of the world.

Upon arrival in the United States, we found a nation that adopted us – a nation welcomed us in and gave us opportunity.  I quickly learned that there were liberties in this nation, freedom and liberty, especially around the freedom of religion, that I had not experienced previously in the way they are championed here in the United States.

I knew that America was not perfect – how could a nation be perfect – but I knew that the liberties of this new country of mine were worth preserving, so on February 7, 2014, I gladly raised my right hand, made the oath of citizenship and became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.

This was an oath that I took seriously as a Christian because the final words of the oath are, ‘So help me God’.

So help me God, to do what?

To support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same… to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law… and to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law… so help me God.

Almighty God was part of the oath I made and that made the oath very weighty. I was asking God to help me be an America citizen.

Sometimes I wonder if some natural born American citizens might cherish and serve our nation more fully, if they too asked God to help them be American citizens and made the oath of citizenship.  And sometimes I wonder, if we Americans do not recognize the weighty and good influence this nation has upon the world because of the freedoms that are the foundation of these United States. 

When I made that oath in 2014, I was not turning a blind eye to the brokenness of our nation. Look brothers and sisters, I see the brokenness every week when I travel.  When I made that oath, I was asking God to help me support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  This is so important! Because, if America loses its liberties, great damage will be done to the world.

When I made that oath, I was not joining a political party (in fact I have never joined a political party) I was making a commitment to what is good about this nation.

There are men and women among us, who have fought, served, shed blood, buried their buddies for the America in which we live today – if you are or have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, the police or as a first responder (active or retired) would you please stand so we can honor you and thank you for your service.

Do not let this nation be lost – too much is at stake, not just for us, but for the world in which we live.

Earlier, I spoke of leaving everything familiar.  But looked at what God has given me.  I have gained a nation and I have gained you.  And for better or worse, you have gained me.

Some people have asked me, ‘Why do you sing the national anthem when the church gathers as a council at synod?’ ‘Is it not a political statement?’  No… it is not political! 

The Apostle Paul writes that our conversation, our citizenship are in heaven – all Christians need to remember that. 

The anthem itself is an authorized hymn in the hymn book of our province.

I sing the anthem not because our nation is perfect but because we have something in this nation worth keeping and worth defending and I have asked God to help me do that! 

If we lose this nation – we are done! 

We also sing the anthem to honor those men and women who were just standing because they served to help us keep what we have.  And we sing the anthem, recognizing there is brokenness yes, but acknowledging the choice we all have to look to the sunrise side of America, rather than the sunset side of our nation.

The 4th verse of the anthem which we are about to sing – is almost a prayer to God.  It says,

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust.”

Those lyrics are just as good as the lyrics to ‘God save the Queen’!

After we sing the National Anthem – we will pray for our nation – for in God is our trust. 

In Memoriam

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word mourns; and yet we rejoice!

Yesterday, April 19, our friend and brother, The Venerable Patrick William Malone (61) passed from this life into the glorious presence of the risen, ascended and glorious Savior who he loved so much. Patrick was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year and died at Seasons Hospice, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin surrounded by his devoted family and supported by the prayers of the church.

Archdeacon Malone’s ministry in our midst will be sorely missed and we are thankful for the legacy he leaves us. Most recently, he faithfully led Holy Cross Anglican Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and served concurrently as a hospice chaplain. He was a courageous presence in the formation and development of our diocese and a brave voice in provincial governance. He was instrumental in the development and training of men called to Holy Orders, several of whom are actively ministering across our own diocese and beyond.

I will miss the privilege of partnering in Christian ministry with this faithful and devoted disciple of Christ, a sheep of Christ’s own fold, a lamb of Christ’s own flock, a sinner of Christ’s own redeeming.  Patrick has now received what the Apostle Peter describes an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading [1 Peter 1:3].

I ask your prayers for Robin, Meghan, John and Avery, Ben and Naomi and for the members of Holy Cross Anglican Church.

Alleluia!  Christ is risen.

Bishop Julian Mark Dobbs

In Remembrance

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States of America.

I vividly remember that day when fundamentalist Islam flexed its muscle and inflicted terror, agony, suffering and death upon innocent men, women and children who were living their lives in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Today, we remember all those who were killed, those who still carry scars and injuries from the
events of that day, the courageous men and women who served as first responders and thousands of men and women in our military, some paying the supreme sacrifice, who have fought to defend the remarkable freedoms that undergird our republic.

I believe that is important to remember and never forget our history.

In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons in London, England Winston Churchill paraphrased
George Santayana when he said ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat

As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, I learned that life, freedom and truth are always
worthy of our defense and sometimes that defense will require us to contend for the freedoms
given to us by Almighty God.

I regularly visit the 9/11 memorials in New York City and at the Pentagon. I do this, not only to
remember the past and the horrific events of that day, but also as a conscious reminder that true
and eternal peace, love and forgiveness will only ever be found in Jesus Christ who was beaten,
stripped naked, nailed to a cross, executed and three days later overcame death and the grave so
that we might know forgiveness of our sins and the reassurance of the everlasting love of God.

On this 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, I invite you to remember,
reflect and pray with me:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that
we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our
land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure conduct. Save us from violence, discord,
and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties and
fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of
government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law,
we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our
hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all of which
we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP 2019]

Desperate Afghan Christians turned away at airport, aid groups say

Looming over the deepening humanitarian crisis is a deadline of Friday for civilian evacuation operations at the Kabul airport to give way to the transport of the remaining 5,400 U.S. military personnel in the country in order to meet a target date of Aug. 31, set months ago by the Biden administration, for a complete U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.

Source: Desperate Afghan Christians turned away at airport, aid groups say