Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Don't Be Embarrassed by Your Ordinary Church

In the grand scheme of things, how important is your church?

Let’s think together about church, and in particular the church where you are a member. If it is like most churches today it is not very large (probably less than 200 people). You may be tempted to think that your church in its modest size is rather insignificant. When I talk to people about their churches I almost sense a little embarrassment about the size and perceived scope of their church. Apologetic words like small and ordinary come out. I would argue that these words are not bad at all—and perhaps even quite accurate—but it is the sentiment behind them that is concerning, especially in light of what the church is and does. Read More

The Preface to the Homilies

Lee Gatiss looks at King Edward VI's preface to the Church of England's "Book of Homilies".

Over Lent we will be looking each day on the CS blog at an extract from the Church of England’s official sermons, the Book of Homilies.

We begin today with King Edward VI’s preface to the First Book of Homilies, explaining the purpose for which they have been published. They are, he says, set forth after advice from his Council, because he and his beloved subjects wish to be free of false, superstitious doctrine and to feed on the pure word of God, which teaches us to live godly, obedient, and peaceful lives. Using these Homilies, ministers can build up and comfort their congregations, that they may know and serve God, and so they are to be read out every week along with the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Read More

Also see
George Whitefield on the Homilies
Anglican Homilies

Key Differences Between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism [Video]

Three theologians at the Dallas Theological Seminary examine the key differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Watch Now

Thinking About Expository Preaching—Part 1

Expository is the best form of preaching, except for the other good styles, too.

I preach through books of the Bible not because that method is mandated or modeled in the Bible, but instead because of what the Bible is. Because the Bible is the Word of God without error and inspired throughout, it requires us to treat the words, phrases, and sentences accordingly. Thus, the Bible is best taught using an approach to preaching that explains what God has inspired, looking at the words and phrases in the process.

Because the Bible’s inspiration is word-for-word, the words of the Bible should set the agenda for the message taught or preached in a gathered worship service. In other words, this message should largely be the explanation of the inspired Word of God in the order and in the format that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors to write.

Thus, the preferred form of preaching is that which is driven by the text and where the text sets the agenda.

This provides for several benefits. Read More

4 Sermon Types to Avoid

Alec Motyer has written: “An expository ministry is the proper response to a God-breathed Scripture… Central to it all is that concern which the word ‘exposition’ itself enshrines: a display of what is there.”

There are a variety of sermon types that fail to “display what is there.” These include.... Read More

What Is It about Megachurches That Stops People from Getting Involved?

The larger the church, the less likely its members will attend weekly services, a new Duke University study has found.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but David Eagle, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University, concluded from his study that megachurches are a reflection of the "increasing detachment from religious organisations" prevlent in our society. Read More

Also see
Megachurches Have Less Involved Members Than Smaller Congregations, Study Finds

Photo credit: Chapel Calvary

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

How Big Is Your Church's Footprint?

By Robin G. Jordan

John Mason, provisional chairman of the Anglican Connection, a network of gospel-centered Anglican and other Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition, in his February 6 Anglican Connection Update,  points out that many of contemporary churches are so focused on Sunday “worship,” they are not known as places and people of “compassion” in their local community. By “contemporary” I mean modern-day churches. I am not referring to the divide between contemporary and traditional churches. These churches do not have a large “footprint” in their local community. They may not have a footprint at all. On the other hand, they may have a negative reputation in their local community. 

As can be seen from a number of today’s articles, North America is in the midst of a major paradigm shift. The Christian worldview is no longer the dominant worldview. The number of former churchgoers who no longer identify themselves as Christian is increasing. With this shift churches no longer have an established place for themselves in their local communities. In some parts of the United States and Canada churches face a growing prejudice against Christians and Christianity.

As a consequence it is critically important for churches to have a positive and meaningful impact upon their local community—a large footprint. If they have no connection with their local community, if they do not build bridges between themselves and the local community, they are not likely to flourish.

 Among the reasons that the early Church grew was that its members showed compassion toward their non-Christian “neighbors.” They helped them whenever and however they could. They followed the principles that Christ himself had laid out—showing “concern and sympathy for others” and “friendliness, generosity, and consideration” toward them. While living in evil times, they did as much good as they were able.

One of the reasons that self-identified Anglican churches are so focused upon Sunday “worship” is that they are dominated by Catholic Revivalist theology with its emphasis upon priestcraft, ritualism, and the sacraments. This thinking encourages the view that as long as church members attend Mass, receive the sacraments, give money to the Church, and live moral live, they are right with God. This is how a former rector of mine, an Anglo-Catholic, explained it to me.

Such a view, however, does not recognize that all Christians are called to a life of ministry and service. This entails using for God for his glory and the good of our fellow human beings the experiences, knowledge, passions, talents, and spiritual gifts, which God has given us. Faith is expressed in love. A faith that does not lead to good works is a dead faith.

If the members of a church are truly walking as disciples of Christ, the church will be having a positive and meaningful impact upon its local community, its region, and the world. It is unavoidable. A church’s footprint is the cumulative impact of not only the collaborative efforts of the church members and regular attenders of a particular church but also their individual efforts.

Trend #2 for the Future of Church Planting—Bivocational Ministry

In the future, church planters will choose to work in the marketplace.

Church planting today is not what it used to be. In the past, church planters were the ones who couldn’t get a "real ministry position” at a church, so they started their own. Although, there were those entrepreneurial few who defied all odds and purposefully started churches on their own, by and large being a church planter wasn’t what it is today.

Today, being a church planter is the thing to do. Church planting is getting the attention of the masses. In fact, many church planting conferences are now larger than typical pastoral conferences. This is surprising since decades ago there was no such thing as a church planting conference.

If this is how church planting is today, what will church planting look like in the future? The first trend, collaboration, can be expressed by “together we can accomplish more than we can ever do alone.” This is the cry of this next generation, and that’s why Kingdom Collaboration is the first trend.

Today, I wanted to introduce to you the next trend which is the rise and shift of bivocational ministry. Read More

Four Essential Phrases in Leadership Development

The fruit of an effective leader is not merely followers but other leaders. Leaders are responsible for future leadership. While some worry that developing others and “working themselves out of a job” will result in not having a job, the reality is that those who can develop other leaders will always be in demand. Leaders who develop and deploy others greatly multiply the mission while simultaneously making a significant impact in those they invest in. In other words, leadership development serves both the organization and the individual being developed.

Developing others requires a deep conviction, a belief that part of one’s responsibility is to equip others. Without intentionality and commitment, leadership development will not happen. Whether explicitly stated or implicitly lived out, leaders who develop others use these four phrases.... Read More

Eight Easter Sunday Planning Tips for Churches – Rainer on Leadership #197 [Podcast]

On today’s episode, we cover eight simple tips your church can use to prepare for Easter in an effort to get more people to your worship service so that they may hear the message of the gospel through clearly communicated through the resurrection story.

Some highlights from today’s episode include.... Read More

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:43 — 19.0MB)

Nominal Nation—The Shift Away From Self-Identified Christianity

The decline of nominal Christianity is an opportunity for the gospel

There was a time in American history when it seemed like everyone was a Christian. Now, depending on where in America you live, it can seem like no one is a Christian. In reality, in our lifetimes, there was never a time when everyone was a Christian, and there will never be a time when there are no Christians.

We’ve used the term “Christian” so broadly that it sometimes doesn’t bear a resemblance to itself. It's nearly become a word without a meaning in modern America. Or, I should say it has endless meanings. Therefore, we can get the wrong ideas about what is and is not true in the Church and in culture. Read More

How One Pastor Overcame His Personal Evangelism Slump

I was a pastor whose schedule kept me from being around anybody far from God. But a year ago something changed. Read More

It's Shrove Tuesday. Anyone for a Dead Sardine?

The supermarkets have had bags of sugar, flour and squeezy lemon bottles out for the last couple of weeks. Where there's a religious festival, there's a marketing opportunity. But what's it all about?

Pancake Day is really Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins and we think about what we might have given up if we'd thought about it in time. But our British version of the 'carnival' – from the Latin for 'farewell to meat' – is a pale and feeble thing, even with maple syrup, compared to the weird and wonderful variations on Mardi Gras around the world. Read More

Also see
What to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
Mardi Gras in New Orleans has become a bacchanal, "an occasion of wild and drunken revelry," accompanied by "open and unrestrained sexual activity," and punctuated by random acts of violence. Since the 1980s the revelry has persisted well into Ash Wednesday and the first week of Lent.In Pass Christian--a town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is less than an hour's drive from New Orleans and which has its own Carnival season parades as do many of the towns surrounding New Orleans 2 people were killed and four injured in a shooting on a parade route. In Mandeville, the town where I used to live, which is a 30 minute drive from New Orleans across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the parades had to be rerouted on a number of occasions due to the increasing unruliness of the crowds of young people gathered in front of the town's bars, convenience stores, and daquairi shops. They would throw beer cans and other hard objects at the passing floats and their riders and scream obscenities at the marching bands and the dance squads.

In France the tradition is to eat pancakes on Candlemas--the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, on February 2.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Toward the Renewal of Biblical Anglicanism in North America: A New Prayer Book

By Robin G. Jordan

A fourth important way of promoting the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America is the compilation of new Prayer Book. Among the functions of a Prayer Book is to teach and reinforce biblical doctrine.

A Prayer Book sets the tone of worship in a particular jurisdiction. A Prayer Book establishes what texts may be used in a congregation’s Sunday gatherings, what liturgical usages may be adopted, and what worship practices should be avoid.

A Prayer Book may also be misused to teach and reinforce “strange and erroneous doctrine contrary to the Word of God.” For this reasons careful attention to what texts are used in a Prayer Book, where they are used, and how they are used must be given in its compilation. Similar attention must also be given to what ceremonies are used, where they are used, and how they are used. Everything that goes into a Prayer Book has the potential to affect the doctrine of the Prayer Book.

The compilation of a new Prayer Book provides an opportunity to reverse the trajectory of liturgical revision toward pre-Reformation embellishment and the Roman Canon and to return the liturgy to the reformed simplicity of the 1552 Prayer Book and its Prayer of Consecration.

A new Prayer Book would need to be distributed in both electronic and print format. The reasons are largely practical. Hand-held devices and multimedia projectors require a power source. A low battery or a power outage can render them useless. Printed books require only a light source. Printed books can also be used in variety of non-tradition worship settings by small communities of worshipers whose circumstances preclude the use of a multimedia projector and projection screen. Older people may have difficult reading the words on a screen.

A new province, an independent renewal movement, a new Catechism, and a new Prayer Book—all would help to promote the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America. 

3 Things That Are Sabotaging the Church’s Future

Without a doubt, you’ve already realized it’s more complex to be a church leader today than it was even a few decades ago.

With the vast majority of churches struggling in some way, it’s time to rethink our future mission. Read More

Five Reasons You Should Do Most of Your Sermon Preparation on Monday

Lately, I’ve been hearing many pastors talk about the importance of doing most of their sermon preparation on Monday. To be sure, this approach does not apply to all pastors, but I thought it would be helpful to learn why many of them value Monday as their key day for sermon preparation. Here are five key reasons.... Read More

A Great Teacher Can Simplify without Distortion

The K-I-S-S principle is frequently requested in a learning environment. The acrostic stands for “Keep it simple, stupid.” It seems we are a people who loathe difficult study. We want easy answers and we want them quickly. Mastery of a subject, however, requires years of diligent labor and study. But once the teacher has mastered his material, how does he transmit it to his students?

Certain assumptions are made in the classroom. The first is that the teacher knows more about the subject than the student. It is, in general, a safe assumption. The second assumption is that the teacher cannot communicate his mastery of the subject all at once. To educate (as the Latin root suggests), we must lead students “out of” ignorance into knowledge. That knowledge moves in increments, from the simple to complex. Read More

Three Common Mistakes in Designing a Church Discipleship Strategy

Every church should embrace the mission of making disciples and implement a strategy to accomplish that mission. Because the mission of a local church is to make disciples, a strategy is how the church is designed to make disciples. If a church’s strategy is not grounded in making disciples, the church has abandoned the mission Christ has given.

Because discipleship is an ongoing process of becoming more and more like Jesus, a church’s strategy should be her discipleship process. In other words, a church’s discipleship process should be synonymous with her strategy. I wrote on designing a discipleship process just a couple of weeks ago.

As church leaders think about their overarching discipleship process, here are three common mistakes.... Read More

Why I Don't Share The Gospel

The question was simple enough: Why don’t you share the gospel?

My answer was simple, as well. I work at a church. I don’t have kids old enough to be in team sports so I’m never around non-believers. There are two other pastors on my side of a very short street. Yes, I want to share the gospel, but I find my opportunities few and far between.

This does not mean I’m not ready to share the gospel. I’m always trying to get an in. I’m a model customer at coffee shops. I’m polite to the baristas, often engaging them beyond the basic order of the day. I read my Bible in public. I don’t cuss at anyone (out loud) and when the opportunity presents itself, I always open the door for others.

But still. That’s not sharing the gospel. Read More

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Together Under One Roof: A New Home for Biblically Faithful Anglicans

By Robin G. Jordan

What are the benefits of bringing Anglicans in North America faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies together under one roof, together in a province of their own?

Right now these Anglicans are scattered in a number of jurisdictions, in a number of dioceses and other groupings. They are disorganized and conflicted over what path they should take. Their position is a weak one and they exercise little influence upon the ecclesial bodies of which they are presently a part. Their position is also precarious. Their future in these bodies is uncertain. Their presence may be tolerated but that tolerance is likely to grow thin over time.

Forming Anglicans in North America faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies into their own province will be beneficial in at least five different ways:

1. They can accomplish what the Common Cause Partnership failed to do in response to the GAFCON Primates’ call for a new orthodox Anglican province in the North America. They can establish a province that by the standards of historic Anglicanism and its formularies is Biblically orthodox and fully Anglican—something that the Anglican Church in North America is not by any stretch of the imagination.

2. They can pool their resources for the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom. They can collaborate together on the planting of new churches, confident that their efforts will not go to waste.

3. They can choose their own bishops to provide them with spiritual oversight. They can adopt measures to ensure that their bishops are themselves faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and are true servants of the gospel. Both in the Episcopal Church in the USA and in the Anglican Church in North America bishops have failed “to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word” but have themselves introduced and propagated such doctrine.

4. They can become a genuine force for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America and throughout the world. They can be a model of biblical Anglicanism for others to emulate.

5. They can give a full role to the laity in the governance of the Church as well as its ministry and mission, in recognition that its governance, like its ministry and mission, is properly the responsibility of the whole Church, laity and clergy together, and not just one segment of it. All Christians who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour are members of Christ’s Body and servants of the gospel and share a common priesthood. God bestows charisms, or spiritual gifts, as He wills. He does not limit his gift-giving to one segment of the Church.

What other benefits are there to bringing Anglicans in North America faithful to the Bible and historic Anglican formularies together under one roof?

How to De-Clutter Your Church for More Effective Ministry

The healthiest churches are relentless about being effective, not just busy. They do this by following the Closet Rule.

t’s not easy to create a culture of renewal, change and adaptability in an existing small church.

But it is essential.

There needs to be a renewal process in place or the changes will be random, unsettling and ultimately, unsuccessful. We'll end up work harder without working smarter.

The healthiest churches are relentless about being effective, not just busy. They trim off anything that saps time and energy. They refuse to be burdened by clutter. They do this by following the Closet Rule. Read More

5 Rookie Pastor Mistakes

Finally, after all your training and praying and longing, you receive a call from your first church. You are elated—and determined to do a great job. They are God’s people, and he has graciously allowed you to serve them as their pastor. You have so many ideas for how to make them a stronger, more doctrinally sound, more Christ-centered church.

Three years later, after a series of anonymous letters, tense deacon confrontations, and rancorous business meetings, you are summarily dismissed from the office you couldn’t wait to hold.

What happened? What could you have done differently? Could you have avoided this outcome?

To be sure, some churches are filled with unregenerate members who would not respond to the apostle Paul. Some churches wouldn’t follow a pastor’s leadership no matter how spiritual or skillful he is. But often conflicts arise because well-intentioned pastors make rookie mistakes—the missteps that occur at the intersection of the ideal and reality.

Here are the five most common rookie pastor mistakes I’ve observed. Read More

How Do We Protect Ourselves against False Teaching?

The problem...starts with the fact that far too many of us—even in churches committed to expository preaching—are woefully biblically illiterate. We either have no idea what the text says, what it means, or how it makes a difference in our lives. And because of this, we’re so easily swayed by teaching that sounds wise, helpful and spiritual, but might be complete nonsense.

We are easy prey because we don’t know that what we’re hearing is wrong. Read More

What’s So Special About Singing on Sundays?

One of the primary reasons our singing goes awry is because our doctrine of the church, or our ecclesiology, is messed up. Minimal, distorted, or non-existent. We forget the church belongs to Jesus, not us. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says God will destroy those who destroy his church (1 Cor. 3:17). That’s a sobering word. It seems some churches today are being destroyed, bit by bit, through musical leadership that confuses what happens on Sunday mornings with something else. Read More

Photo credit:

A Plea to the Mission Minded

There is a people group whose language you may not want to learn, whose customs you may find distasteful, whose dress may offend, and whose values may disappoint. They are worshipers of idols. They raise their children in poverty. Many Christians consider this people group either unreachable or beyond the sphere of their calling.

Why? Read More

Three Means by Which People Follow Jesus

The first disciples did not all come to Jesus in the same way. They had different stories, and they found their way to Jesus by different means. Read More

Also see
How to Share Your Testimony

Friday, February 05, 2016

Toward the Renewal of Biblical Anglicanism: A New Catechism

By Robin G. Jordan

A catechism is used to instruct children and adult converts in the Christian faith. It usually takes the form of a series of questions and answers and summarizes or explains the doctrine of a particular Church—what it believes is taught in the Bible. It is an important doctrinal statement.

The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 includes a catechism. It is basically the catechism of the reformed 1552 Prayer Book with a section on the sacraments—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which was added in 1604. It was adapted from Alexander Nowell’ A Catechism.

A number of Anglican provinces revised the Prayer Book Catechism in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. Unfortunately these revisions have introduced teaching into the Prayer Book, which is not consistent with the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies. They have contributed to the doctrinal incoherence of the Anglican Communion and have highlighted the need for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in the Communion.

To promote the renewal of biblical Anglicanism, a new catechism that conforms closely to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the historic Anglican formularies is needed for the instruction of children and adult converts. Church Armour: A Short Catechism for Young Churchmen, Chiefly on the Thirty-Nine Articles, published as Church Association Tract 59 in the nineteenth century, is an example of the kind of catechism that is needed.

Where the Prayer Book Catechism has been misinterpreted, particularly the section on the sacraments, further clarification may be required. False teaching has plagued Christ’s Church since apostolic times. Like weeds in a field or garden, it is quick to spring up and very difficult to eradicate. Human beings are drawn to error and superstition like moths to a flame. 

5 Principles About Vision

A vision is beyond just a good idea. It must be a God idea. God does not obligate Himself to our good ideas or brainstorming sessions. God commits Himself to us when we connect with His heart and vision for the world.

There are five principles about vision I want to share with you today.... Read More

The Character of the Christian: Sound Judgment

Today we continue our series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today we will look at a set of three traits that are closely related to one another. Read More

The Hidden Beauty of a Bad Sermon

There have been times in the life of Grace Fellowship Church when we have endured some bad sermons. You could even say that in these seasons we purposely endured bad sermons. We heard men preach texts that were clearly beyond their ability to understand and explain. We heard men preach with all the fire of Paul Washer but with none of his depth or pastoral concern. We heard men preach who had neglected to ensure the sermon actually had a main point and an outline. There were other men we tried to hear while desperately fighting the distraction of their tics and idiosyncrasies. We sat through some pretty awful sermons, some of which were undoubtedly mine. But we considered it a privilege. We counted it joy.

We counted it joy because these bad sermons came from unseasoned men who were learning to preach. A man can read a hundred books on preaching and watch a thousand sermons on YouTube, but the only way he will really learn to preach is to preach. Sooner or later he will simply need to stand behind a pulpit, open his Bible, and launch into his introduction (assuming he remembers to actually prepare one). There are not many preachers who get away without preaching a few stinkers along the way. There are not many preachers who can become skilled without first being novices, who can grow into excellence without first being mediocre or average. Read More

John Calvin’s 4 Rules of Prayer

For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.” He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer. Read More

Does Belief in God’s Sovereignty Kill Missionary Zeal?

John Paton’s wife and child died before the boxes were unpacked.

He and his family had been on the tiny South Pacific island of Tanna for less than three months, beaming with hope that the cannibals would some day be converted. But while God’s hammer may break the heathen heart upon the anvil of his Word, the sparks often strike the ones we love most.

Paton’s wife was in her early twenties—his only child but six weeks.

In the wake of this unimaginable sorrow, nearby missionaries assembled on the island to pass a resolution. Was it a pact for greater protection? Was it a pledge to greater vigilance over physical health and comfort? In part it was. Most notably, however, it was a commitment to a greater focus on evangelism. Read More

Weekend Roundup: "What The Church Can Learn From the Astounding Rise of Uber" and More

What The Church Can Learn From the Astounding Rise of Uber

What can you learn as a church leader from the astounding rise of Uber, the ride-hail company born in San Francisco just a few years ago? Quite a bit actually. Read More

10 Questions Every Christian Leader Should Ask At Least Monthly

The Bible assumes that believers will be striving to follow God, continually living in an ongoing state of evaluation, repentance, and growth. Leaders must, by definition, lead the way. While I’m not suggesting that Christian leaders need to ask all of these questions below every day, I do think we need to ask them at least monthly. Read More

How to Respond When Someone You Lead Makes a Mistake

When someone we lead makes an honest mistake, we have three options. Read More

It Started With Science Fiction: Reflections on Missional vs. Attractional Evangelism

Some time ago, a colleague and I began a science fiction book club with the purpose of engaging people far from God while also reading some fun books. Since then, much of our ministry has involved rebuilding broken trust and developing new bridges to communicate our faith. Read More

United Kingdom: New Poll Reveals Top Ways to Get More People to Visit Churches

60% of British adults back the Government providing financial support for churches, chapels and meeting houses in order to protect their heritage and history for future generations, according to the findings of a new opinion poll, commissioned by church building repair and support charity, the National Churches Trust. Read More

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Toward the Renewal of Biblical Anglicanism in North America: An Independent Renewal Movement

By Robin G. Jordan

A second important way of promoting the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America is to form an independent renewal movement—a movement that is not attached to one particular jurisdiction but operates independently. This will enable the movement to work as leaven in a number of jurisdictions. It will also reduce if not eliminate the barriers that the movement faces arising from its association in people’s minds with one particular jurisdiction.

The present North American branch of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans functions as an auxiliary to the Anglican Church in North America. It is subservient to the ACNA and is not free to pursue its own agenda. Its relationship with the ACNA has effectively emasculated it as an agent of renewal.

All of the other branches of the GFCA are, to my knowledge, independent organizations.  

The Doctrine of the Sacraments in the Thirty-Nine Articles

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are a basic statement of Anglican theology. They were first drawn up by Archbishop Cranmer as Forty-two Articles in Edward VI’s reign (1553), and after being suppressed (with the rest of the reforming programme for the church) in Mary’s reign, were revived by act of Convocation in Elizabeth’s reign (1563). A modest revision took place (1563 and 1571), reducing them to Thirty-nine Articles, and in 1571 the English clergy were required, by act of Parliament, to give their assent to them, as a condition of being instituted to a cure of souls. Though forms of subscription have changed over the years, this is still a requirement in the Church of England and in many other Churches of the Anglican Communion, at ordination or institution or both.

The sacraments were one of the main topics of controversy at the Reformation, and it was chiefly for their teaching on the Lord’s Supper that the martyred Anglican bishops (Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Hooper and Ferrar) were put to death. We have in Oxford a great stone cross in the surface of the road, marking the spot where Ridley and Latimer, and afterwards Cranmer, were burned to death; and one hundred yards away stands an elegant memorial erected in the nineteenth century, which those who have visited Oxford will have seen, from which the figures of Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley look out northward, westward and eastward across the university city.

Latimer was the great preacher among the Reformers, but Ridley was an able theologian, who led the way for his companions in his reformed eucharistic beliefs; while Cranmer was the great man of learning, slow in reaching conclusions but establishing them with great care, and it is to him that we owe not only very extensive theological writings on the Lord’s Supper, but also most of the brief summary statements on the sacraments which are included in the Thirty-nine Articles. As commentary on these Articles we have not only Cranmer’s own writings, but the Latin text of the Articles, which is of equal authority with the English; the Book of Homilies (of which two homilies in particular are concerned with the sacraments); the sacramental services of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer; and the Prayer Book Catechism, of which the part on the sacraments was added by Bishop Overall slightly later, in 1604, though drawing to some extent on the Elizabethan catechism of Alexander Nowell.

The sacraments are the last main doctrinal topic in the Articles, occupying the six articles 25, 27-31 and being touched on in five others (16, 19, 23, 24 and 26). Read More

Is God Calling You to Ministry Leadership? Here’s the Test!

Is God calling you to serve Him in ministry?

First of all, it’s a big YES.

God draws lost people to himself to save them, and his desire is that all saved people serve people. So, if you’re a believer, you are called! Obviously, however, there is a kind of “calling” that sets certain individuals apart for positions of ministry leadership. The New Testament refers to some people as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And they are given to the church to teach, preach, shepherd, equip and instruct.

It should be noted before moving any further that everyone within the body of Christ is of equal worth and importance. We may serve different functions, but the gap between “clergy” and “laity” is an imagined one. All believers are “ministers” even though a few may receive a special calling to lead and to take responsibility for the health and welfare of the flock as undershepherds who follow Jesus. Read More

Nine Keys to Maximizing Your Church Facebook Page

In an episode of Rainer on Leadership earlier this week, I explained Facebook post boosting and how churches can utilize it to inform people in their communities. I soon began receiving questions from pastors and church leaders about best practices on Facebook.

While many churches have Facebook pages, most do not know how best to utilize the platform for Kingdom growth. So here are nine keys to getting the most out of your church Facebook page. Read More

How to Help Someone Forsake Sin and Turn to Christ

The most commonly quoted (and often misunderstood) verse in churches is no longer John 3:16 but Matthew 7:1, “Judge not.” Ironically, people who routinely violate what the verse is really saying quote the verse to justify their own failure to assist other people in following Jesus. Hence, they interpret “Judge not” as if it were “Care not” and “Help not.”

All too often, as believers we don’t realize that the greatest kindness we can offer each other is the truth. Our job is not just to help each other feel good but to help each other be good. We often seem to think that our only options are to: 1) speak the truth hurtfully; or 2) say nothing in the name of grace. This is a lie.

Jesus came full of grace AND truth. We should not choose between them, but do both. We are told that we should be “speaking the truth in love” to each other (Ephesians 4:15). We should share the truth with humility, as an act of grace, reminding ourselves and each other that we desperately need God’s grace every bit as much as do those we’re offering it to. Read More

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Toward the Renewal of Biblical Anglicanism in the North America: A New Province

By Robin G. Jordan

An important way that North American Anglicans faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies can promote the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in the North American Anglican Church is to form a new North American Anglican province and bring all Anglicans like themselves together under one roof.

Such a province needs to have as broad a base as may be possible within the bounds of the comprehensiveness set by the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. This is an important qualification.

The comprehensiveness of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is an “evangelical comprehensiveness.” [1] It is a comprehensiveness that “results from keeping doctrinal requirements down to a minimum and allowing the maximum of flexibility and variety on secondary matters.” [2] The new province should embody this comprehensiveness.

Among the Articles’ doctrinal requirements are that all clergy and congregations should stand with the Creeds on the Trinity, on the Incarnation, on the second coming of our Lord, and on the Christian hope. [3] They should stand with the Articles on “the sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture,” “the gravity of sin,” “justification by faith alone in and through Christ alone,” “the nature of the sacraments as seals of gospel promise, means of grace because they are means of faith,” “loyalty to the gospel in word and sacrament as the sole decisive mark of the church,” and “the dangerous, anti-evangelical tendency of Roman doctrines and practices.” [4]

To be authentically Anglican, a new province must be fully Anglican from a confessional standpoint and not just in name. On one hand, it should steer clear of the narrowness that characterizes some Reformed bodies. On the other hand, it should avoid the incoherence that has come to characterize the Anglican Communion.

To be an agent for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America, a new province must itself exemplify biblical Anglicanism. Its doctrine, discipline, and worship must reflect the Protestant and Reformed principles of the Anglican Church based on the Holy Scriptures and set out in the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies.

One of the reasons that I do not believe that a new North American Anglican province should be formed around an existing organization is that this organization will have developed a culture of its own with its own assumptions, values, and beliefs governing the life of the organization. The temptation will be to shape the assumptions, values, and beliefs of the new province after those of the existing organization. If the existing organization is not fully Anglican in the confessional sense and is committed to a different vision of the church than the vision of the church articulated in the historic Anglican formularies, then the resulting province would fall short of exemplifying biblical Anglicanism. This includes a narrower vision of the church than the one the evangelical comprehensiveness of the Articles permits.

Historic Anglicanism is rooted in the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement, in the early Reformed theology of Bucher, Bullinger, Cranmer, Hooper, and Vermigli. The reformed Church of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was closer to Zurich and the other Swiss Reformed Churches than to Geneva. The reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I were marked by growing tension between those who believed that the English Church was sufficiently reformed and those who wished to further reform the English Church along the lines of the Genevan Church. The extremism of the latter party had the unfortunate affect of pushing one segment of the English Church in a High Church direction. Whether the changes that this party sought to introduce (and did introduce during the Interregnum) would have made the English Church conform more closely to the teaching of the Bible is highly debatable. In a number of instances these changes simply reflected the preferences of the party in question.

Although a number of the Restoration bishops were Arminian, Reformed theology would remain the dominant theology of the Church of England. While the worship of the English Church would become more High Church in some regards, it was not as ritualistic as it would become during the nineteenth century Catholic Revival. The Coronation Oath Act of 1688 would affirm the Protestant and Reformed character of the Anglican Church.

In light of these historical facts a restrained form of High Churchmanship that is Protestant and Reformed in its theological outlook has a place in the Anglican Church.

Rather than being formed around an existing organization, I believe that a new province should be formed around a shared vision of the Church that unites the different elements in and outside the Anglican Church in North America faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies, a vision that is informed by and congruent with the evangelical comprehensiveness of the Articles. What these elements desire to become collectively in banding together and what they would like to accomplish over a given period of time should be very clear from the outset. A clear vision is essential to the development of an organizational culture that supports the fulfillment of that vision. It helps to ensure that the assumptions, beliefs, and values of the new province are fully aligned with the direction that all the elements forming it are seeking to go, and not just the direction in which one segment wishes to take the new province.

In order to develop such a vision all elements forming the new province would need to agree on what the Articles mean. This understanding should be based upon a careful reading of the Articles with attention to their phrasing, the historic context in which they were framed, and the intention of their framers. The use of untrustworthy expositions of the Articles such as Cardinal John Henry Newman’s in Tract 90, E.J. Bicknell’s in Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles and Bishop John Rodger’s in Essential Truths for Christians: A Commentary on the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles and an Introduction to Systematic Theology, which reinterpret the Articles in an unreformed Catholic direction, would result in a vision that does not genuinely reflect the doctrine of the Articles.

 [1] J.I. Packer and R.T.Beckwith, The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, Regent College Publishing, 2007, p. 69.
[2]Ibid., p. 69.
[3] Ibid., p. 70.
[4]Ibid., p. 70.

Book Review: Essential Truths for Christians

I originally posted this book review back in May 2011. I am reposting it as a companion article to the preceding article.

By Robin G. Jordan

I have made only a cursory examination of AMiA Bishop John Rodger’s new book, Essential Truths for Christians: A Commentary on the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles and an Introduction to Systematic Theology (Blue Bell PA: Classical Anglican Press, 2011). I had hoped to find a straightforward exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles. However, I was disappointed.

Bishop Rodgers’s scholarship is spotty—quite sound in some places but not in others. He shows a tendency to depart from his exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles to make broad, sweeping statements about what he asserts Anglicans have historically believed and valued. These generalizations, however, do not represent an accurate depiction of historic Anglicanism and should not have been included in a commentary on the Articles. Due to their inclusion in Rodgers’ exposition of the Articles the reader is misled into believing that they are consonant with the doctrine of the Articles where in fact they cannot be, in the words of Article 6, “read therein, nor may they be proved thereby.”

For example, in his exposition of Article 25 Rodgers makes the generalization that Anglicans have regarded “Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction” as “sacramental actions.” This is a far from accurate statement. The sixteenth century English Reformers do not take this view as is evidenced in their writings. The author of the Homily on Common Prayer and Alexander Nowell in his Catechism do not take such a view. Neither does Thomas Rogers in The Catholic Doctrine of the Church of England, the first commentary on the Thirty-Nine Articles. While the seventeenth century Caroline High Churchman Jeremy Taylor may have come close to this view in his understanding of Confirmation, Archbishop James Ussher, a contemporary of Jeremy Taylor, in A Body of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion describes as “superfluous” what Rodgers describes as treasured “sacramental actions.” The nineteenth century Evangelicals also would not have agreed with Rodgers’ statement.

In his article “The Sacraments,” published in A Protestant Dictionary in 1904, Frederick Meyrick states:
In the twelfth century Peter Lombard added five other rites to these two Confirmation, Ordination, Matrimony, Penitence, and Extreme Unction. But of these none have the qualification of a divine appointment, and only two of them approach in themselves to the character of sacramental rites.
Meyrick was a Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Oxford, Rector of Blickling, Norwich, and Non-Resident Canon of Lincoln. He is the author of The Doctrine of the Church of England in the Holy Communion re-statedScriptural and Catholic Faith and Worship; Old AnglicanismSunday Observance; and other works.

We find no hint in A Protestant Dictionary, which was written chiefly by Anglicans for Anglicans, that its writers who stand in the tradition of classical Anglican evangelicalism, viewed these five actions as sacramental. We find no support for Rodgers’ assertion, “Anglicans treasure them.” Some Anglicans may indeed “treasure” these actions but claiming that all do, as Rodgers infers, clearly stretches the truth.

J. I Packer who wrote the Forward to Rodgers’ commentary in his own Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs states: 
It is a medieval mistake to classify as sacraments five more rites (confirmation, penance, marriage, ordination, and extreme unction). In addition to their not being seals of a covenant relationship with God, they “have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God” (Thirty-Nine Articles XXV).
These are only a few of the examples that may be cited to show the inaccuracy of Rodgers’ statements.

Rodgers takes the pre-Reformation view that these five actions are sacramental, a view over which Anglicans historically have been divided. At this point Rodgers goes beyond interpreting the Articles in their plain and intended sense. He disconnects this part of Article 25 from its historical context and interprets in an ahistorical manner like John Henry Newman. He makes a series of assertions about these rites that a wider study of the rites and their place in the reformed Church of England and the Continental Reformed Churches does not support. He hazards:
There sees to be no essential reason why they may not be referred to as the lesser sacraments today, if one so prefers, provided one understands that they lack all of the marks of a sacrament of the Gospel….
On the other hand, T. P. Boultbee in An Introduction to the Theology of the Church of England In an Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, (London: Longmans, Green, 1871) gives the following reason why the reformed Church of England avoided giving the name of sacrament to any ordinance excepting the two instituted by Christ:
The Homily [e.g. The Homily on Common Prayer] moderately says of other things that “no man ought to take them for sacraments, in such signification and meaning as the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are.” The danger of confusing ideas in the popular mind by using the same name for religious ceremonies of different origin and degrees of obligation is obvious.
Boultbee was the Principal of the London School of Divinity. Among his other works are A History of the Church of England: Pre-Reformation Period and Church Association Tract 16, “Is there Popery in the Prayer Book, historically considered?”

Boultbee further notes that the effect of the Prayer Book Catechism’s definition of the term sacrament is negative and exclusive as well as positive: 
… for by necessary consequence it denies the name of sacrament to every rite excepting the two. This is obviously the safer course, as tending to perspicuity, and excluding the confusion of ideas which follows on the confusion of terms.
Rodgers’ view is reminiscent of that of the 1979 Book of Prayer’s An Outline of the Faith, which refers to what Rodgers calls “sacramental actions” as “sacramental rites” and describes them as means of grace.

To regard “Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction” as “sacramental acts,” “sacramental rites,” or, to use the language of the canons of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, “sacraments of the Church,” may be a popular view of these actions today in North America but it is highly debatable that this is how they were viewed at the time of the adoption of the Articles in 1571 or how they have been viewed in every quarter of the Anglican Church since then. Rodgers seems too eager to glaze over the differences of opinion among Anglicans on these actions and to convince his readers that all Anglicans embrace the view that he is espousing.

Later in his exposition of Article 25 Rodgers states:
To be precise and fair, the Article does not expressly forbid the extra-Eucharistic practices of procession and the “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”; it simply states that these were not the purposes for which the Eucharist was instituted. On the other hand, the phrase “that we should duly use them” does seem to discourage such practices.
Note the difference between how Rodgers interprets this paragraph and how Boultbee interprets it. 
There was undoubtedly a reason for this form of expression. Carelessness of diction finds no place in the Articles. That reason seems to be an intention more emphatically to deny the superstitious practices in question. The two sacraments are treated in this Article precisely on the same footing. They are spoken of, not in respect of their essential differences, but in respect of their essential similarities, by virtue of which they are properly sacraments, and by virtue of which grace is received “by or with” both of them on precisely the same terms. Hence if the water in baptism is not to be carried about and elevated, neither are the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. The only purpose of the elements in either sacrament is “that we should duly use them.” Thus the use of the plural word “sacraments” illustrates and enforces, more strongly than the singular number would, the denial of a practice which in fact has only been carried out with regard to the Eucharistic elements.
When Article 25 is read with careful attention to historical context and authorial intention as well as phrasing, its repudiation of these practices is undebatable.

Space does not permit me to examine all the dubious generalizations about what Anglicans believe and value that pepper Essential Truths for Christians. A more objective and scholarly work would have, where Anglicans have divergent opinions on an issue, identified the different schools of thought and summarized their views on the issue. It would have refrained from presenting the views of one school of thought in the Anglican Church as if its views represented the views of all Anglicans.

Unfortunately Rodgers uses his exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles as a platform from which he voice his opinion on a number of key issues affecting contemporary Anglicans without identifying it as opinion and recognizing the existence of other views on these issues. In taking this approach Rodgers undoes what good he might have done where his exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles is sound. 

If Essential Truths for Christians. becomes a standard textbook used in training a new generation of clergy for the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Mission in Americas, it will produce another generation of North American Anglican clergy with a distorted view of historic Anglicanism. 

Seven Church Signs That Give a Positive Impression

I was recently in a church that had several signs posted about not bringing food or drinks in the worship center. I asked a guest what he thought of the signs. His response was telling: “I think they are telling me they don’t want to clean up my mess.”

From that perspective, the sign was a negative sign for the church. At least from one person’s point of view it meant, “Don’t bother us.”

Many churches, however, have positive signs posted around the church facilities. Unless you are a curmudgeon, these signs would give you a favorable impression of the church. My comments after each sign reflect the message it would likely communicate. Read More

8 Commitments Leaders Owe Their Teams

A leader can't exist without people to lead—treat them well.

Leadership is like parenting in that you can’t truly understand much until you actually do it. Along the way, you make mistakes that hopefully do no permanent damage. Eventually, you learn your way through enough situations, and you begin to feel more comfortable in the role. At least for a moment. And in that moment, you give thanks: for the people you lead, of course, and also for the grace they’ve shown.

Don’t leave that moment quite yet. Instead, take the next step in leading well by first recognizing that your position exists because a team exists. And you owe them. Specifically, you owe them eight commitment.... Read More

7 Disciplines Needed for a Spiritual Leader

A spiritual leader, in my opinion, is called to lead well.

All leaders should lead well, but when one claims to be a follower of Christ their leadership reflects on his or her walk with Christ.

I have learned personally that leading well requires discipline. It doesn’t happen naturally.

Here are 7 disciplines needed for a spiritual leader.... Read More

Bad Homiletical Models of Expository Preaching

Despite the many books on preaching, bad homiletical models of expository preaching still exist. They come from various sources and are influenced by a variety of factors. Often it is not the model itself that is at fault, but the use made of it. They include.... Read More

Discipleship and the Christian Life: Three Articles

5 Reasons You Should (Probably) Leave Your Attractional Church

...when do you know it might be time to go? You should (probably) leave your church if.... Read More

Your 7 Job Responsibilities as a Church Member

Did you know, ordinary church member, that Jesus has given you a job? Your elders have a special office, to be sure, but so do you. And Jesus has given you elders in order to train you to do your job. So if Jesus’s discipleship program gives every single member a job, what responsibilities come with this job? There are at least seven. Read More

5 Ways for a Christian to Rebuke or Correct a Friend

When the time comes, here are 5 ways to rebuke or correct a friend.... Read More

History Suggests Marrakesh Declaration No Guarantee of Religious Freedom (COMMENTARY)

In the Arab world, where I was born, we have many self-critical sayings. One of them goes like this: We, Arabs, are all talk and no action. We are swift to issue statements of denunciation and condemnation, less good at taking concrete action.

As a Coptic Christian who lived for decades in an Arab majority-Muslim country, I remembered this saying when I read about the Marrakesh Declaration to protect non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-majority communities. Read More

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tuesday Roundup: "6 Signs Silos Exist in Your Organization" and Much More

6 Signs Silos Exist in Your Organization

Silos exist when areas within an organization conduct their activities without the consideration of the organization’s other areas. They operate in an unhealthy vacuum. Silos can occur in almost any organization, including ministries. When they do exist, leaders will find themselves struggling to move their organization forward and experience a deteriorating staff moral. For the trained eye (and ear), the presence of silos is relatively easy to spot. Here are 6 signs that silos exist in your organization.... Read More

Nine Ways Churches Waste Money – Rainer on Leadership #195 [Podcast]

On today’s episode, Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe discuss nine specific ways churches might be wasting money. Read More

Are You a “Church Control Freak”?

I don’t like writing this kind of post, but I think it’s necessary. I’ve seen too many churches with laypersons (and pastors, for that matter, though I’m focusing on laity with this post) who want to control the show. Here are some markers of those folks.... Read More

Trend #1 For The Future Of Church Planting—Kingdom Collaboration

,Church planting will thrive when we work together. Read More

When the Thrill Is Gone and the Buzz Has Faded

I’m a church planter, and most of what I’ve learned about the church has come the hard way.... Here’s my latest discovery: At some point in your pastoring journey, you may end up in the land between “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and what you do then matters—a lot. Read More

Four Things Leaders Owe Their Followers

Max Depree wrote, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.” Leaders, we are servants and debtors. We are in debt to the people who follow us. And what do leaders owe those who are following? At least these four things.... Read More

Zeal vs. Art: The Preacher's Dilemma

To create 30 minutes of beauty doesn't always take you where you're called to go. Read More

The Development of the Bible: An Interview with Michael Kruger

Tabletalk: As president of a Reformed seminary, what do you consider to be the greatest spiritual challenges that future pastors face in the United States and in the world? How can they prepare for those challenges? Read More

Why Rock Star Worship Leaders Are Getting Fired

Some megachurches have been hiring rock star worship leaders (henceforth referred to in this article as RSWLs) and are finding out they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Read More

4 Signs Your Church May Not Need Small Groups

When it comes to small groups, what works for big churches may not work for small churches. Read More
In a small church the Sunday school class, the men's club, the women's circle, and the youth fellowship are all small groups.
6 Reasons Why Email Beats Social Media for Church Communications

I’ve heard too many people say that “email is dead.” They celebrate the early results of every hot up-and-coming social network. People get taken in by the vanity numbers of these networks and lose focus on their most important digital communication tool. Email continues to outperform social media because of its ability to connect and engage with people. Here are just a handful of reasons why email beats social media for church communications.... Read More

Backpacks & Bibles reach into Appalachia, Mississippi Delta

Since 2001, Appalachian Regional Ministries, a ministry of the North American Mission Board, has collected and distributed more than 140,000 Christmas backpacks and boxes filled with toys, clothing, school supplies, food and hygiene items and a Bible. Read More
What is your church doing to minister to needy children in your community? In other communities? Starting today, what can you do?
UK sees sudden surge in churchgoing after years of decline

As many as six in 10 British adults visited a church, chapel or religious meeting house in the last 12 months, according to a new survey. The survey results counter the more usual narrative of perpetual decline that has dominated surveys in recent years. Read More

Boko Haram burns children alive in January raids

Boko Haram killed more than 100 people in firebombs, shootings and suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria at the end of January, the most deadly attacks near Maiduguri where a survivor told the Associated Press he heard the cries of children burning alive inside their homes. Read More

Monday, February 01, 2016

Monday Roundup: "Three Thoughts on How to Design a Ministry Strategy" and More

Three Thoughts on How to Design a Ministry Strategy

A local church’s strategy must be connected to discipleship. If mission is what, and strategy is how – then a ministry strategy is how a church will accomplish the mission of making disciples. A strategy not connected to making disciples is a strategy that fulfills a mission other than the one Christ gave His Church. Read More

10 Benefits To Being A Church Volunteer

As I reflect on the last three decades of my life, the following are 10 Benefits Of Being A Volunteer At A Local Church.... Read More

Five Common Reasons Church Members Burnout

Such are some of the symptoms of church member burnout. But what are the causes? Here are five common causes. Read More

The Secret to a Happy Life

James is sometimes called the “New Testament book of Proverbs.” That’s because of passages such as James 4 that give us a series of loosely linked aphorisms of practical, godly wisdom. Read More

10 Things You Can Do Today to Improve as a Leader

As much as leaders desire improvement, many leaders wonder where they should go to grow. Read More

Four Ways To Empower And Improve Communication

Nothing will equip and empower you for success as much as the words you choose when communicating with others. And when you communicate with confidence in yourself and your Creator, you will shine. Here are four standards to follow when communicating with others. Read More

4 Cultural Challenges to Discipleship

It’s important...for us, the people of the walk on the way to recognize some of the factors that make this walk so arduous sometimes. Read More

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Catholic Revivalism ≠ Biblical Anglicanism

By Robin G. Jordan

The events to which I referred in my last article are a part of the history of the Anglican Church in North America. When these events and other events in the jurisdiction’s history are examined along with the doctrinal contents of the ACNA’s own formularies and the doctrinal associations of the practices that they mandate or sanction, they show that a serious conflict of interest exists between the ACNA and the GAFCON Primates and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

The revival of unreformed Catholicism in the North American Anglican Church is not the renewal of biblical Anglicanism. The two are antithetical to each other.

Biblical Anglicanism is "the true Profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion Established by Law" of the Coronation Oath Act of 1688. Its principles are based upon the Holy Scriptures and are set forth in the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies.

 The continuing support of the GAFCON Primates and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans for the ACNA is not in the best interest of confessing Anglicans who desire to see a renewal of biblical Anglicanism in the North American Anglican Church. They are supporting leaders whose aspirations are at cross-purpose with the aspirations of such Anglicans.

If their commitment to the restoration of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies to the heart of the Anglican Church is genuine, the GAFCON Primates and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans need to reserve their support for the elements in the North American Anglican Church that share their commitment. It makes no sense to support leaders who have a contradictory and incompatible commitment—a commitment to the revival of unreformed Catholicism.

It also does not make sense for confessing Anglicans in the ACNA to support leaders who are not committed to the restoration of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies to a central place in the  Anglican Church, particularly those who are involved in reviving unreformed Catholic teaching and practices in the ACNA.

In failing to take any steps, much less adequate ones, to comprehend in the jurisdiction’s formularies the beliefs and convictions of Anglicans who subscribe to the biblical and reformed principles of historic Anglicanism, these leaders are signaling that their present toleration of confessing Anglicans is conditional. It is contingent on the expectation that these Anglicans will either compromise their beliefs and convictions or leave the ACNA. If they intended to make room for the beliefs and convictions of these Anglicans, they would have already extended official standing to those beliefs and convictions. This should be quite evident by now.