CHANGING SEASONS | CHANGING TIMES

by Bishop Julian Dobbs

August 2016

I am often confronted by the words of the psalmist, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand.” Ps 31: 14, 15

In a recent sermon I said, “It seems to me that our country is on a serious collision course with the word of God.” However, even with all the societal, political and theological change that confronts our generation, Christians can be confident that we serve the Lord who created the heavens and the earth. We serve the God who brought life into being. He is the Lord who determines the courses of life and establishes the nations. The Lord our God is not only the Lord of space but also the Lord of time. He is our God and our times and in his hands!

In these changing days I encourage you to seek a prayerful discernment of the times and seasons.

If there has ever been a gift that is needed for our day it is discernment. It is very easy to get the times wrong. In 1991 at the end of The Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, a futurist, wrote an interesting book entitled End of History, and he predicted after the fall of the communist world a new age would be ushered in, an age of peace and tolerance, of economic growth and development, of liberal democracies. Some years later he wrote another book contradicting all of that, admitting he had been wrong.

We are living in a time of change. Individuals can change their identities and their gender. Politicians change their positions on various policies to gain popularity and some churches which have been bastions of evangelical Christianity are now proponents of other faiths. Consider Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, one of America’s oldest theological schools, which was founded in 1834 by Calvinists. In the early decades of the twentieth century Hartford was a leading institution in the evangelization of Muslims. However in 1998, the center hired Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian-born convert to Islam with a doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago, to direct the chaplaincy program. In 2000 an Islamic chaplaincy program was launched at Hartford to train Muslims for chaplaincy roles in the American military. It was recently reported that Muslims make up 35 percent of the student body at Hartford Seminary, an institution which a few generations ago was training Christians to evangelize Muslims.

We are in urgent need of a prayerful discernment to navigate our way through these changing times.

Additionally, we must renew our priority for Christian mission. It does seems somewhat strange to suggest a renewal of Christian mission because the Church has always been called to be missionary! In his great commission Jesus called the Church to go and make disciples. The church was missionary then and she is still called to me missionary now.

In our changing world there is a new “Jesus” emerging. This Jesus has been stripped of uniqueness based on deity, incarnation, passion, crucifixion, resurrection, redemptive mission and universal Lordship, and remarkably similar to Muslim perceptions of ‘Isa’. All that is left is the human Jesus, not the divine; ultimately this strikes at the very heart of the Christian faith. It reintroduces the old heresy of Arianism which attempted to supplant Christianity in its earliest centuries and caused the great gatherings of Church leaders to issue the statements we now know as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.

To counter this attempt to modernize the gospel and the person of Christ, evangelical Christians must faithfully proclaim the gospel and the Jesus of the New Testament to a world in desperate need of the reconciling love of God found in Christ alone.

In his translation of the 7th century latin hymn, John Chandler’s words help us navigate the changing seasons of the 21st century:

Christ is our corner-stone,

on him alone we build;

with his true saints alone

the courts of heaven are filled:

on his great love

our hopes we place

of present grace

and joys above.

With confidence in Christ, I can face today and the future because, “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand.” Ps 31: 14, 15

                                                 

 

                                                BIO: The Right Reverend Julian Dobbs                                                                                                                                        

 Missionary Bishop of the Conovocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of CANA East

Bishop Julian Dobbs, his wife Brenda, and their three children are natives of New Zealand and have resided in Virginia since 2006. He was ordained in 1991 and went on to plant three congregations and served as the rector of the fastest growing congregation in New Zealand. Amongst his public outreach ministries in that country, he hosted a weekly 60-minute television program.

Elected and consecrated as a bishop in the Church of Nigeria in 2011, he currently assists CANA's episcopate with pastoral concerns and congregational development, and oversees CANA's operations at the McLean office.

Within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Bishop Dobbs is a member of the Archbishop Foley's Cabinet for both provincial and global concerns: he is the Chair of the Task Force on Islam, is a member of the Governance Task Force, and served on the Archbishop's Executive Committee until 2013.

As Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of CANA East, Dobbs leads clergy and congregations primarily in the eastern United States. He is passionate about the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is committed to empowering congregations, supporting clergy, transforming injustice, inspiring local and global mission, and planting churches.

For more information about CANA East, click here.