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The River Seine flows through Paris. In the middle of the city lies Iles de la Cité, the home of Notre Dame. As the river flows on to the sea, about 20 miles downstream, it is not very broad. In June of 1914, grandstands were erected on either side of the river between two bridges, Pont Bezons and Pont Argenteuil. More than fifty aircraft were participating in a show to demonstrate new aviation technology. 

Lawrence Sperry and Emil Cachin were aboard one craft, a Curtis C-2 Bi-plane, demonstrating Sperry’s new gyro-stabilizer. Sperry was an American who spoke no French, and Cachin was a Frenchman who spoke no English, but with hand gestures and smiles they communicated enough. As they flew the plane between the grandstands, Cachin climbed out of the cockpit and walked out on the wing. At first, the added weight caused the wing to dip, but the stabilisateur gyroscopique did its job and leveled the wings again. 

On a second pass between the stands, with the gyro-stabilizer engaged, they repeated the pass, but this time Sperry, the pilot, held his hands aloft, demonstrating that he was not flying the plane. Cachin’s shifting weight was corrected by the gyro, much to the amazement of the cheering crowd. Having been clued in that an amazing demonstration was planned, the Firehouse Bands from Bezons and Argenteuil struck up a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while the crowd cheered, “Formidable!”

Not satisfied with that showing, Sperry set up the aircraft for another pass. This time, however, as the aircraft passed by the spectators, he, too climbed out of the cockpit and let the gyro-stabilizer (autopilot) fly the plane past the amazed onlookers. The cheering was utterly exuberant. The combined bands could think of no higher compliment, so they struck up playing “La Marseillaise,” the French National anthem as if to say, “We accept you as being a Frenchman!” [There could be no higher compliment!]

The stabilisateur gyroscopique was the forerunner to the modern autopilot, and it changed the way that people flew. Now, with “the box” able to help with the flying, the job of the pilot was much less dangerous, especially when they had to look at charts or do math to figure remaining fuel.

By World War II, the autopilot was a standard feature of many aircraft. When English pilots engaged an autopilot, they would often say, “Let George do it.” That was a reference to the fact that the planes—at least the military ones—were “owned” by King George. During the WWII, the German Luftwaffe sent waves of bombers over Britain, decimating much of London and other cities. While English citizen non-combatants huddled in the tunnels of The Underground and bombs fell all around, a cadre of courageous fighter pilots took to the skies to protect their homeland. To the ranks of the English pilots were added eager Canadian and American volunteers who joined in the flights to protect the nation. Even before the United States entered the war, there were many American and Canadian volunteers in the skies along side their British colleagues, attacking German Dornier Bombers. In the midst of battle, however, it was not the auto-pilot that was needed. It was individual courage. 

Largely because of the valiant efforts of the Allied pilots, but aided by the fact that Hitler needed to move much of his air force East to battle Russia, “The Blitz” ended, prompting Winston Churchill to say of the heroic aviators:

“ Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” 

Earlier today, in the French village of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, an 86-year-old Priest named Fr. Hamel was celebrating Mass when two men shouting “Allahu ackbar!” rushed in, forced him to his knees, and slit his throat. Another person attending the service was critically wounded. The attackers claimed allegiance to ISIS. The lead perpetrator had been observed since April 2015 for suspicious behavior and travel to the Middle East but was not sufficiently identified to stop this attack. 

It is understandable how hard it is for people to believe that such an unthinkable attack would happen in their own city or tiny town. But the unthinkable has come. 

This next bit may seem unrelated, but bear with me. Another great problem is rising. Of course it is very different from the violent horrors of ISIS and the inexcusable actions that they pursue. It is the assault of liberalism’s fallacious insistence that same-sex intimacy is a God-given holy pursuit. It is not. It is a departure from the clear theological foundations of Christology and the Atonement, pursuing Paganism or Syncretism and conflating all manner of religious belief to call blessed those things which God seeks to redeem. Sadly, although we can be grateful that the advance of liberalism is not violent, we must not dismiss it as being merely a different point of view. The painful truth is that the trajectory of progressivism is away from the redeeming love of Jesus Christ into a future separated from Him for all eternity. That is terrible. It is a disaster. 

One can hope that governments will rise up into a massive coalition to utterly destroy ISIS. Diplomacy is futile. It simply will not work. With the distorted world-view of radical Islam, the threat must be eliminated. It cannot be negotiated away.  With the hope that governments and militaries will join forces to destroy ISIS, there is something else that is needed. In the same way that they were needed in the Battle of Britain, today we need “The Few.” The Few are those clear-headed and courageous individuals who say, “That’s enough.” They stand up and speak out. They do not rely on others to carry the load but pick up the burden themselves, no matter how costly, inconvenient, or unpleasant. The survival of civilization depends on it. 

Though obviously radically different from the assault of radical Islam because of its lack of violence, progressivism has one area of similarity. What is needed in the attempt to stop the advance of the same-sex and liberal agenda is similar. It is for soundly converted people who are indelibly discipled maturing followers of Jesus Christ to stand up, say, “NO!” and to resist what progressives view as the inevitable acceptance of their position. There is a desperate need for leaders to stand up and speak, for men and women who are faithful followers of Christ to be added to the ranks of “The Few.” Institutional diplomacy is flawed. It will no longer work because the institutional structures are corrupt. Even when it looks like there is progress (such as with the Primates Meeting in Canterbury in January), the corruption is so deep that it is no longer possible for righteousness to prevail from within Church structures.

That is why GAFCON has risen up. It is not under the control of the institutional structures. GAFCON can speak the truth, even when the structures don’t want the truth declared. 

Experienced pilots know that the use of the auto-pilot is for times when things are healthy, normal, and progressing well. One of the first things that most pilots will do when there is a problem is take control and fly the aircraft themselves. In similar fashion, this is not a time to sit back and let things flow along on their own. Proactive measures must be taken. That is true with ISIS, and it is true in the Anglican Communion. 

Just as nations need “The Few” to stand up now, the Church needs some to stand up as well. In Britain it was “The Few.” In Israel, David had his Mighty Men of God. We need more of them today. Of course, some are standing already, but there is a need for more men and women to stand and say, “This is the Way of eternal life. Do not go that way, come this way!” 

No one knows better than those who have seen the horrors of war how terrible it is. They also know that when it rises, it cannot be ignored. Whatever the price, it must be paid. 

In the same way, when heretical teaching works its way into the Church, the situation must be addressed. Unlike the weapons of temporal warfare, Spiritual warfare does not usually require the application of military might, but it must be invoked.  All over the orthodox world is a need for people to stand up. While, of course, we need faithful Archbishops to speak, we need more than just Archbishops—we need the people of God, Priests, Deacons, Bishops, everyone; and many more than have spoken already.

In Provinces where there is a struggle going on, “The Few” are needed as well. Courage is needed beyond security, paychecks, rectories, and retirement. We should give proper Kingdom weight to where we invest our resources and energy. 

In our battles with radical Islam, tragically, some people will leave their “last measure of devotion” on the field of battle. In the battles in the Church, some will have to sacrifice all they have. Of course, they will never have to surrender their life in Christ or His eternal rewards. Remember our Lord Jesus Christ’s words: 

“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.  Mark 10:29, 30

 

Are you one of “The Few”?

It’s time.

Even though there will be persecutions,

It is time.