Monday, August 31, 2009

Additional Doctrinal Problems in the ACNA Constitution – Part I

By Robin G. Jordan

The Common Cause Theological Statement embedded in Article I is not the only problematic doctrinal provision in the ACNA Constitution. Article III. 1 of the ACNA Constitution states, “The mission of the Province is to extend the Kingdom of God….” Is it agreeable with God’s Word to say that the task that the Anglican Church in North America is appointed to carry out is the enlargement of God’s reign, the expansion of God’s righteous rule in the human heart? Our Lord speaks of God’s kingdom being at hand (Matthew 3:2, 10:7; Mark 1:5) of entering the kingdom (Matthew 5:20; Mark 9:46), seeking the kingdom (Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31), belonging to the kingdom (Matthew 19:14), shutting the kingdom (Matthew 23:13), receiving the kingdom (Mark 10:15), of not being far from the kingdom (Mark 12:34), bringing or proclaiming the good news of the kingdom (Luke 8:1), being given the kingdom (Luke 12:32), and being fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62). He compares the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31) leaven (Matthew 13:33), treasure in a field (Matthew 13:44), a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45), a net (Matthew 13:47), a householder bring out treasures new and old from his storeroom (Matthew 20:1), and a king giving a wedding feast for his son (Matthew 22:2. However, we do not read anywhere in the Gospels that our Lord commissioned his church to spread God’s kingdom. Rather we are called to join the apostles in proclaiming God’s kingdom (Luke 9:2, 60). We are called to be heralds of the kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9 Paul writes, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.” We share in God’s work in the sense that we are the instruments that God uses to achieve his purposes. However, we cannot take any credit for what God accomplishes through us. It is all God’s doing.

In Colossians 4:11 the apostle Paul speaks of his “fellow workers for the kingdom of God,” a reference to those who shared with him in the task of preaching the kingdom. In neither 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9 nor Colossians 4:11 is Paul suggesting that God’s kingdom is spread through human effort.

We do not have the natural inclination to do what is right, much less to spread God’s righteous reign. It is the Holy Spirit at work in us that moves us to seek the salvation of others, which enables us to proclaim “the good news of the coming kingdom of God and of the salvation to be obtained through it in Christ, and of what relates to this salvation.”

Article III.2 of the ACNA Constitution states, “The work of the Province is to equip each member of the Province so that they may reconcile the world to Christ….” Once again we must ask, “Is this clause Scriptural?”

Colossians 1: 21 speaks of Christ having reconciled us to God “in his body of flesh by his death.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 refers to God reconciling himself to us through Christ and giving us a ministry of reconciliation. It goes on to say, “…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Ephesians 2:16 points to our attention that Christ reconciled both Gentile and Jew through the cross. Colossians 1:20 reminds us that the fullness of God dwelled in Christ and through him reconciled all things to himself, “making peace by the blood of his cross.” It is clear from these passages that God, not us, has reconciled humanity to himself through Christ’s death on the cross.

The ministry of reconciliation that God has given us is to proclaim what God has done. Nowhere does the Bible speak of Christians reconciling the world to Christ. God has already reconciled the world to himself through the cross. Our task is to proclaim Christ and him crucified.

The Revelation of Rifqa

[FrontPageMag.Com] 31 Aug 2009--The most well publicized honor killing in America is one that did not take place. Seventeen year old Rifqa Bary disappeared from her home in New Albany, Ohio in mid July, and surfaced in Florida on August 10, 2009. The teenager, who comes from a Sri Lankan Muslim family, sought refuge in Orlando with a pastor and his wife whom she had met through a Facebook prayer group. At a jurisdiction hearing in an Orlando juvenile court on August 21, Rifqa testified that she had fled because her father threatened to kill her for shaming the family by leaving Islam and becoming a Christian. “My life is at stake,” Rifqa said in an earlier interview. “My dad threatened me. I was ready to die, these were my thoughts, that I’ll be a martyr for Christ, let it be so! But the Lord led me here somehow through His grace . . . . . it’s been God’s hand protecting me the entire time. But I’m fighting for my life.”

Rifqa is far more fortunate than Amina and Sarah Said of Dallas, who were shot to death in an Islamic honor killing by their father, Yaser Abdel Said, an Egyptian-born cab driver. No one has had the opportunity to strangle Rifqa, as was done to Aqsa Parvez, a sixteen year old in Ontario whose father killed her for refusing to wear a hijab. Rifqa is the one who got away, and whose photograph, thank God, is not found in the tragic gallery of honor killing victims from all over North America and Europe put together by advocate and activist Pamela Geller on her Atlas Shrugs blog. Another difference between Rifqa and the other bright, beautiful young women killed by their Islamist fathers, brothers, and husbands is that her testimony to her faith in Jesus Christ is now reverberating around the world. At the August 21 hearing, Rifqa told Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson, “I’ve been a Christian for four years of my life. . . . I assure your Honor, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Because of this, says author Brigitte Gabriel, the danger for Rifqa Bary is “far beyond honor killing.”

“This girl has committed apostasy,” Gabriel said on Fox News, “She has committed a crime against the Ummah, or nation state of Islam.” Gabriel went on to explain that apostasy was punishable by death according to all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, as well as the Koran, the Hadith – the words of Mohammed himself, and particularly the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence which guides Islam in Sri Lanka. “She is in dire danger not only from her family because she has soiled the honor of the family, but from the Islamic community in Columbus, Ohio who feel it is their duty to kill her according to their religion,” Gabriel explained.

Your prayers are asked for Rifqa.

Related articles:
An Open Letter to Judge Daniel Dawson Regarding the Rifqa Bary Case - Family Security Matters
One former Muslim from Columbus area already under death fatwa - The Jawa Report
Rifqa's Apostasy - Human Events
The Case of Rifqa Bary: An Honor Killing in America? - Crosswalk

Bishop Martyn Mimms Interview

[Anglican TV] 31 Aug 2009--Anglican TV interviews Bishop Martyn Mimms.

Redeeming Evangelicalism

[The Ugley Vicar] 31 Aug 2009--Where we began

I’d like to begin my third talk by making clear that I hold evangelical Christianity in the highest regard. Wherever you find true evangelicalism, you find a passion for the gospel, a dynamism to the church, a desire for holiness and a faithfulness to Scripture.

Anything which I’ve said or will say by way of criticism must be seen in this context.

However, it will also be clear that I see evangelicalism as a broad movement which is defined primarily in terms of praxis arising from experience.

The theological basis of evangelicalism is a core of often-undeveloped theological propositions. These propositions are, I believe, true. They can be summed up in the demand to believe, as the Apostle Paul demanded that we believe, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

Nevertheless, this is very far from a full-blown theology. Evangelicalism is not creedal, nor is it denominational. Most importantly, we cannot swap the word ‘evangelical’ for ‘Christian’, even though, in my view, Christianity is quintessentially ‘evangelical’.

The evangelical dynamic needs to be set within a bigger context —the context of the work of God in Christ, revealed in Scripture —if it is to be true to the gospel and effective in the long term.

China Gives Secret Order to Attack Major House Churches

[The Christian Post] 31 Aug 2009--The Chinese government has reportedly issued a secret directive to crack down on at least several major house churches in Beijing, a U.S.-based group reported Tuesday.

ChinaAid Association, a religious freedom group with a focus on house churches in China, was informed by sources inside the country that the public security bureau has ordered the Beijing Huajie Plaza to terminate its rental contract with the Beijing Shouwang house church.

The Shouwang house church is one of the largest house churches in the area with more than 1,000 members. For a few years now, it has rented two floors for worship service and Sunday school at the Huajie Plaza. Most of the members are intellects from nearby universities.

This is not the first time authorities have pressured the church. Last May authorities raided the church and most recently in April, government officials forcibly shut down Shouwang Church’s Web site.

Reports of similar pressure to prevent church gatherings at other Beijing house churches have also been reported this month, ChinaAid said.

Bishop of Rochester to aid persecuted Christians in Islamic world

[Times Online] 31 Aug 2009--Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who is about to retire as the Bishop of Rochester, is to set up a charity to work with persecuted Christians in the Islamic world.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who will leave next week a few days after his 60th birthday, says that he has paid a heavy price for standing up for Christian values and has been stung by criticism of some of his controversial statements — but that he has no regrets.

The mission and reputation of the Anglican Church in the Islamic world had been seriously damaged by rows over the ordination of gay priests and bishops and the blessing of same-sex partnerships, he said in an interview with The Times.

“Every time you say something that the Bible teaches or you think is God’s purpose for people, you have to take what comes by way of reaction,” he said. “As I say, it is not easy being a Christian in the world. You have to be prepared for that.”

Content, Context and Corinthian Confusion

[] 31 Aug 2009--We must read the Bible in context. But what is the context in which we are to read it? And what is the relationship between context and content?

Last month as I preached through 1 Corinthians 12-14, I was reminded once again of the danger of ‘interpreting’ the Bible by context rather than understanding the content of the Bible.

There are two contexts that are often appealed to – one unconsciously, the other consciously. The first is the experience of the reader. The second is the assumed historical background of the original recipients. Both can dominate the content of the text to enable the readers to find whatever they want.

It is impossible to read without being influenced by our own experiences. Even the ability to read is an experience that we bring to the text. The experience of listening to literature read aloud is different to reading silently by oneself.

But there is a common problem of assuming our experiences are the same as the author’s. For example we experience ‘church’ long before we read about it in the Bible. It is hard then to leave our experience of church behind and genuinely hear what the Bible writers refer to when they mention ‘church’. Similarly translators are unhelpful when they retain words like ‘deacon’. It is not actually a translation but transliteration - turning the Greek letters into an English word. The Greek word means ‘servant’. As our churches have office bearers called deacons it is normal for modern readers to wrongly assume that the Bible is talking of these people and their role.

That leads to the second context problem – the historical background. The Bible was not written in a historical vacuum. It was written with historical particularity. God chose to write by human authors addressing particular historical situations that God had brought about to reveal himself.

This gives us the ability to read and understand what God said – for he spoke in human language. Yet we do not know everything about the historical circumstances in which the Bible was written. We know enough because there is a common human experience of life and because God created and revealed the context in which to speak. But we do not know everything and must be wary of guessing what precise situation of life is being addressed, if it is not stated in the text.

It is the combination of unconsciously reading our own context into the Bible and of guessing a particular historical context of the Bible that opens up the real possibility of twisting the Bible to our own destruction.

On the birthing of orthodoxies

[Virtue Online] 31 Aug 2009--
I just read David Virtue's recent article, "A Summary of the State of the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada", which I found to be enormously helpful, intended as it was for people like me who, finding themselves in the thick of the Anglican culture wars, can't keep the names, places, and movements straight.

(See David's article at

I was impressed by Virtue's use of the word "orthodox", which appeared seven times in his article and then thirty-seven times in the comments that followed. He used the term reservedly as a simple designation of a broad constituency of conservative Anglicans. His present use of "orthodox" is exactly like the earlier use of the word "conservative", once commonplace among Anglicans in a less self-conscious past.

Virtue's generic use of the word touched some raw nerves among his readers. For many of these the term "orthodox" is latently pregnant with meaning, if not loaded. I thought it would be worthwhile to review the use of this term and place it in the context of the present nuanced discussions of Anglicanism as it continues to evolve in North America.

Readers' comments repeated the usual chorus of reactions to the casual use of "orthodox" as a term, and I take them to be representative. To summarize briefly, they were reading through the lens of their own assumptions of who or what is orthodox. At the same time they seemed to assume their own presuppositions to be normative, that is, truly orthodox, whereas others' might be suspect.

For example, one reader objected to the use of "orthodox" to designate conservative Anglicans remaining in TEC; another to the "absurdity" of its use in designating ACNA jurisdictions that permit female priests; still another to its misuse in describing the Reformed Episcopal Church and other evangelical groups who do not explicitly affirm the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements, which is "a pretty clear rejection of my understanding of orthodoxy."

This last remark is the most telling: orthodoxy, whatever it is, is somehow coterminous with "my understanding".

One reader observed that "orthodox" had regrettably devolved to the non-technical use to which Dr. Virtue had put it--as an equivalent to that embarrassing term "conservative". He and a few others found the word to be "useless" for just this reason, implying that the word ought not to be used and perhaps should simply rest in peace.

What the critics had in common was a sense that the word "orthodox" implies a claim to legitimacy, even outside the boundaries of a legitimizing institution or authorizing body. This is the psychological residue of a prior orthodox consensus after the original authorizing structure has disappeared. One of the functions of an institution with a claim to orthodoxy is that it legitimizes its members, placing them "inside" the group (tribe, clan, etc.) while delineating the social boundaries between them and those who are "outside".

But, if I may paraphrase the psalm, when the foundations are destroyed, what are the orthodox to do? Or to take it a step further: when the boundaries are eliminated, who's in, who's out, and (for that matter) who knows?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

[Page CXVI] 31 Aug 2009--A number of bands are seeking to make hymns known to a contemporary audience. Page CXVI is one of these bands. Check out their website and hear (or buy) their album

Paganism and Witchcraft in Youth Culture

[Tradition, Family and Property] 30 Aug 2009--Crusade: How would you define witchcraft?

Mrs. Linda Harvey: A narrow definition of witchcraft would be a series of rituals, spells and actions that attempt, whether they realize it or not, to contact the demonic realm to try to get the evil spirits to cooperate with them with whatever they want to do.

Crusade: How is witchcraft affecting our youth today?

Mrs. Harvey: What’s happening today is that our kids don’t know Scripture or Christian doctrine because so many of them don’t go to church. They don’t have the spiritual armor they need to protect themselves, and they are bombarded by the very anti-Christian nature of the media and public-school education they are getting. In view of this, paganism seems much more charming and fascinating to our children than Christianity and they have rejected Christianity as being outdated, bigoted and unresponsive. So our kids are being lured into this, which makes it much more critical for parents to be very discerning of what their kids are learning and what effect that is having on their spiritual life.

John Murray "The Work of the Minister of the Gospel"

[Against Heresies] 31 Aug 2009--"You have been called as minister in this congregation and you have been ordained in pursuance of that call. There are many functions which devolve upon you in that particular capacity, but I want to draw your attention particularly to two of these functions because I believe they are the two main functions which devolve upon the minister of the Gospel. And these two functions are the preaching of the Word and pastoral care.

"Now first of all there is this duty of preaching or teaching the Word. You are to labor in the Word and doctrine. And in connection with that function I want to mention three things.

"First, do not burden yourself and do not allow others to burden you with other business so that you are deprived of the time and energy necessary to prepare adequately for your preaching and teaching administration. The Word of God indeed, in all its richness and in all its sufficiency, is in your hands. It lies before you. But in order that you may discover the richness of that Word and bring forth from its inexhaustible treasure for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for the instruction which is in righteousness, there must be the blood and toil and sweat and tears, the earnest labor, and the searching of that Scripture, and in application to its proper understanding, so that you may be able to bring it forth in a way that is relevant in your particular responsibility.

"The second thing I want to impress upon you is that you realize deeply and increasingly, your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit for understanding of the Word and for the effectual proclamation of it.

Cultivating Intimacy with God: Approaching God’s Presence

[Church of Nigeria] 31 Aug 2009--The Psalmist writes in Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’" [NKJV]. This has inspired many Christian pilgrims through the ages to make their way to the sanctuary dedicated to the worship of God. Those who have gone with a true heart of worship have come to that conclusion expressed in yet another Psalm (16:11) “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” [KJV].

Approaching God appropriately is the most important consideration in developing intimacy with Him. The manner of our approach to the divine majesty depends on our idea of who He is. Much casual approach to God is the bane of present day Christianity. Whether it is in approaching God as individuals, or as families, or as congregations in corporate worship, we need to come to terms with the fact that this majestic God dwells in unapproachable light.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Freedom, Biblical Baptism and Christ Centred Communion

[Barry Newman's Blog] 28 Aug 2009--Recently, at my church, I was asked to speak on the subject of the Sacraments. I gave three addresses over three Sundays titled: Freedom, Biblical Baptism and Christ Centred Communion. I plan to post a series of revised written versions of these addresses over coming weeks. To give you a hint at what to expect, here are my revised titles:

1.Freedom – What it might mean for the Sacraments? Do they enslave us?
2.Biblical Baptism – I’ve never been baptised. Does it really matter?
3.Christ Centred Communion – Observance of the Lord’s Supper is essential. Have we got it wrong?

Barry Newman is well known to many in the Diocese of Sydney. He is one of the vice-presidents of the Anglican Church League. He recently started his own blog. He begins by looking at the sacraments.

Are We a Nation of Hindus?

[The Christian Post] 27 Aug 2009--Those who argue that all religions are essentially the same reveal the fact that they know little about these very different belief systems. The worldview of Christianity is, for example, radically different from the belief structure of Buddhism (some forms of which may actually claim to resist the very idea of beliefs).

These differences in belief systems are apparent in Lisa Miller's recent article for Newsweek. As she explains, "A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity."

Many Christians will flinch when reading this. Does this mean that Hindu temples are appearing across the American landscape? Not hardly. What Miller describes is the transformation of the belief system in ways that resemble Hinduism. Her argument deserves a fair hearing.

She begins by quoting a Hindu writing, the Rig Veda: "Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names." The idea of one truth known by many names is not new. Indeed, it is central to polytheism and the syncretistic beliefs of several historic and current worldviews. Hinduism is radically polytheistic and syncretistic. According to Hindu belief, the many gods and goddesses of their veneration all represent one fundamental divine reality. The idea of a singular and exclusive truth is antithetical to classical Hinduism.

So what is Lisa Miller's point? She suggests that contemporary Americans, including many who consider themselves Christians, are abandoning the exclusive truth claims of Christianity for a form of theological pluralism or relativism.

What is wrong with Evangelicalism?

[The Ugley Vicar] 28, 2009--Where we began

In my first talk I suggested that evangelicalism is best understood first from the point of view of practice, rather than theology.

This, I think, reflects the experience of evangelicals and the development of evangelical organizations. We are rather used to seeing such organizations produce ‘statements of faith’ and we therefore fall into the habit of thinking that such statements determine what it is to be an evangelical.

We might think, for example, that because most evangelicals could sign up to the UCCF doctrinal basis, that the doctrinal basis defines what it is to be an evangelical, but that is not the case.

On the one hand, the person newly converted at the UCCF mission may be thoroughly ‘evangelical’, already keen to tell their friends about their new-found faith, and yet that same person may have given no thought at all to the sovereignty of God in redemption, or the nature of biblical infallibility.

On the other hand, and rather more worryingly, there are Christian Unions which technically ‘adhere’ to the doctrinal basis, but which rarely engage in evangelism, and have very little concern for the non-Christians within their institutions.

To be an evangelical is not, first and foremost, about doctrinal correctness, but about a passion for the gospel of salvation from sin through Christ for eternity.

That is evangelicalism’s great strength. It is what, for example, allows evangelicals to recognize and work with one another despite denominational differences —even differences with which they themselves agree.

It is, above all, why evangelicalism tends to grow —why evangelical churches and organizations tend to thrive even when others are struggling —because evangelicalism is, but its nature, self-replicating.

Evangelicalism is a spreading flame, even when it is theologically untidy, incoherent and even incorrect.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is an Evangelical?

[The Ugley Vicar] 27 Aug 2009--A Lack of Definition?

The first topic I’m going to consider in our three talks is ‘What is an evangelical?’

This is actually a question which has been around for a remarkably long time. It was considered, for example, by John Stott at the end of the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress in 1977.

But before that, Dr Martin Lloyd Jones asked the same question in a 1971 book of that title.

And more recently, in the mid-1990s, Mark Thompson, of Moore Theological College, has addressed the issue in a series of articles in The Briefing, and in a book titled, Saving the Heart, subtitle, ‘What is an evangelical?’

The sheer fact that the question has been asked so often, and that answers by such erudite contributors have apparently failed to settle the issue, forces us to acknowledge that evangelicalism is not a set of commonly-held, narrowly-defined, doctrines.

On the contrary, there are evangelicals who hold quite different doctrinal views, and who belong to entirely different denominations.

Police Issue Warrant for Bishop

[Religious Intelligence] 27 Aug 2009--Punjabi police have issued warrants for the arrest of the Bishop of Faisalabad and 128 other Christians, charging them with conspiracy in the July 31 assault by Islamic militants on Gojra.

The First Information Reports or FIRs were filed this week by the Punjabi police against the Rt. Rev. John Samuel (pictured with Archbishop Chew of Singapore), the Church of Pakistan’s Bishop of Faisalabad and 28 other Christians, in retaliation for complaints of police incompetence in the wake of the attacks on Christians in the town of Gojra that left ten dead and destroyed three churches and over 100 homes.

FIRs have also been registered against 100 unnamed Pakistani Christians charging them as co-conspirators in the attacks.

Local human rights activists have denounced the police action telling AsiaNews, “It is a revenge move by agents and district administration against the Christian victims of the accidents in Gojra.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anglicanism and the New Calvinism

[Treading Grain] 26 Aug 2009--Below is an excerpt from an essay written by Michael Milton, President and Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte N.C. The essay “The Once and Future Calvin” is an interesting read although at times the author’s fawning adoration of Calvin and the New Calvinism might make you a bit quesy, like when your buddy gushes on and on about his new girlfriend. Nevertheless, the excerpt below is an informative few paragraphs on the influence the “new Calvinism” is having on the worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly those influenced by African Anglicanism. Of the notable “Calvinists” listed below you’ll notice Archbishop of Uganda Henry Luke Orombi, who made the trip all the way from Uganda to Geneva to celebrate Calvin’s 500th anniversary. You’ll also notice that the author does the unfashionable thing (unfashionable since the current Anglican theological scene is dominated by Anglo-Catholics), and notes the great extent which Calvin’s theology had on the formation of the Anglican prayerbooks as well as the 39 Articles of Religion.

Dominated by Anglo-Catholics in North America but not outside Canada and the United States. Even then Anglo-Catholic influence in North America may be out of proportion to Anglo-Catholic numbers. It is noteworthy that former Secretary and Vice-President of FIFNA Warren Tanghe in his recent article, "So to the next stage," admitted that the ACNA congregations that displayed the most growth and vitality were Calvinist.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mark Dever Interviews Phillip Jensen

[] 25 Aug 2009--While in Sydney, Mark Dever conducted an interview for 9Marks with Phillip Jensen. Both Phillip and Mark speak about bringing change in a church. A video of the interview, which runs for 16 minutes, is posted atPhilip Jensen's website.

Better Gatherings: I can't believe it's not liturgy

[Better Gatherings]25 Aug 2009--Welcome to the Better Gatherings website! This website has been compiled by the Archbishop of Sydney's Liturgical Panel. We hope that you find it helpful for creating services that glorify God and edify the church.

Bishop Robert Forsyth
a.k.a. The Grumpy Old Bishop

Solution for our Oprah-style services?

[] 25 Aug 2009--“Ah yes, for us (Sydney) Anglicans, what we say, our words, are important.”

This is a comment from a friend of mine when I let him know about the new project I am going to write about in this blog.

His point was that whereas for a group like Hillsong it really is all about the music and a certain kind of preaching, for us Anglicans, while music is important and teaching the word of God especially so, other words said during our services have always been important.

The-group-formerly-known-as-the-Archbishop’s-Liturgical-Panel has been beavering away and is about to let loose a new website with remarkably helpful resources for people constructing the words and outlines of our services/ meetings when we meet as the people of God in a public way

4,000 Still in Orissa Refugee Camps, One Year Later

[The Christian Post] 25 Aug 2009--A year after the worst anti-Christian violence in India’s democratic history, more than 4,000 Christians are reportedly still stuck in squalid refugee camps, too scared to return to their villages.

If they return to their homes, these Christians risk death or forcible conversion to Hinduism by extremists, reported persecution watchdog Open Doors.

The government, even after one year, has failed to establish security in the eastern state where last fall at least 120 people were murdered, 250 churches, destroyed and over 50,000 individuals, displaced.

Moreover, out of the more than 750 cases filed by Christians against Hindu attackers, only six people have been convicted in two cases.

Open Season on Christians in the Islamic World

[Chester Chronicles] 25 Aug 2009--For centuries, Muslims committed genocide against Hindus in India and what is now Pakistan. Today, in Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Turkey, Pakistan, Gaza, and Iran, it’s open season on Christians.

Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese journalist who is facing 40 lashes for “indecency” because she wore trousers—has just been barred from leaving Sudan.

Interestingly, Hussein is a Christian, not a Muslim; she is also a former UN worker. (For the sake of this lawsuit, she immediately quit her UN job which would have provided her with immunity from such prosecution). The Sudanese Islamist authorities are not allowing her to do an interview in Lebanon. Sarkozy, who has called for a ban of the burqa in France, has invited Hussein to Paris. Please note: In Sudan, non-Muslim women are being punished if they do not dress according to Islamist standards.

All infidels, including the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are an endangered species in Muslim countries. Always have been.

Christians are being slaughtered in Pakistan by Muslim mobs for refusing to convert; for being Christians; and for allegedly setting fire to a Quran. Young Pakistani Christian girls are being kidnapped, raped, “married” to Muslim men and then forced to convert. Recently, a rampaging Muslim mob burned eight Christians alive, destroyed 50 houses and destroyed a church in the village of Gojra.

Earlier this month, Pakistani Christians finally closed their schools and peacefully protested their country’s “blasphemy” laws.

Last week, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a thirteen-year-old Nigerian Christian girl described how the Boko Haram butchered her pastor (hacked him to death, then set him on fire) for the crime of being a Christian. Captured, the girl and 100 other girls and women were given the choice of converting to Islam or remaining imprisoned. Their male counterparts were given the choice of conversion or death.

The local African Christians cannot understand why the western media have “disregarded the targeted nature of (these) attacks and the brutal murders of Christian pastors.”

In bloodthirsty Iran, two women are in jail and on trial—for being Christian, for having dared to convert from Islam. They are apostates and apostasy, (leaving Islam) is a capital offense.

Muslims Don’t Murder Apostates–And 9/11 Had Nothing To Do With Islam

[Chesler Chronicles] 25 Aug 2009--Fathima Rifqa Bary, the Muslim teenager who converted to Christianity at least four years ago but who only recently ran away, has been taken away from the two good Samaritan Christian pastors who took her in and is now in state custody in Florida. On Friday, a judge will decide whether her case should be heard in Florida or in Ohio. Her parents have “lawyered” up, her father Mohamed Bary, a jeweler, insists that he never threatened to kill her, that he wants her to come home. The mainstream media is getting nervous. What if they believe what Rifqa says and they end up sued? Or worse?

After all, the Columbus police have challenged the girl’s claim that she is in danger. Sgt Jerry Cupp, chief of the Columbus police missing person’s bureau, has said that “Mohamed Bary comes across to me as a loving, caring, worried father about the whereabouts and the health of his daughter.”

So much for Ohio. But allow me to point out that for weeks, Mohammed Shafi and his second wife, Rona Amir Mohammed, wept, mourned, and generally carried on about the deaths of their three daughters and of Mohammed’s first wife–until the police arrested both Mohammed and Rona, along with one of their sons, for having been behind these heinous, heartless, murders.

Related article:
Florida Judge Protects Terrified Christian Convert From Muslim Parents - Worth Reading

Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness

[Albert Mohler] 25 Aug 2009--Meeting barely a month after the Episcopal Church voted to end its ban on the consecration of openly homosexual bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] has taken similar steps. Meeting last week in Minneapolis, the Lutherans voted first to adopt a comprehensive statement on human sexuality that at least allows for the recognition and blessing of same-sex relationships in the church. Beyond this, it establishes a platform for the eventual acceptance and affirmation of same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Then, acting just as the week came to an end, the denomination voted to eliminate barriers that had prevented non-celibate homosexual ministers from serving in ELCA churches. The vote to affirm the new statement on human sexuality was close -- receiving the exact number of positive votes necessary for passage -- but, taken together, the two actions signal a massive seismic shift, not only in the ELCA, but also in the larger denominational world. For advocates of the normalization of homosexuality, the votes in Minneapolis represent a clean sweep of votes their way.

The churches and denominations of mainline Protestantism are being torn asunder over the issue of homosexuality. Denomination after denomination becomes the focus of national attention as it meets for crucial votes and decides its future. Observers of the ELCA had seen this process extended through years of study and controversy. In the view of many, the process mostly served to postpone the inevitable. The inevitable happened in Minneapolis.

The inevitability of the votes to allow the affirmation of homosexual unions and the calling of homosexual ministers is rooted in decisions made prior to those crucial votes. The actions in Minneapolis would be inconceivable but for the fact that the denomination has for decades allowed increasing theological pluralism to mark its membership and its leadership. But plainly, this pluralism allows for radically different theologies to reside within one denomination and for fundamentally divergent understandings of Scripture and biblical authority to coexist. All parties now recognize that this coexistence will be very hard to maintain. For those who believe that the votes in Minneapolis represent the church's endorsement of sin, heartbreaking decisions now cannot be avoided.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lutheran CORE leaders renounce ELCA decision to endorse

[Lutheran Coalition for Reform] 22 Aug 2009--Leaders of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform) expressed both great distress and firm resolve over the decision Friday, Aug. 21, by the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to endorse gay marriage and to change its standards to allow pastors and other rostered
leaders to be in committed same-sex relationships.

Lutheran CORE leaders are calling on faithful Lutherans to meet in Indianapolis in September to begin an expanded ministry that draws faithful ELCA congregations and members together. They are also encouraging ELCA members and congregations to direct finances away from the ELCA churchwide organization to faithful ministries within and outside of the ELCA.

“Lutheran CORE is continuing in the Christian faith as it has been passed down to us by generations of Christians. The ELCA is the one that has departed from the teaching of the Bible as understood by Christians for 2,000 years,” said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., chair of Lutheran CORE. “I am saddened that a Lutheran Church that was founded on a firm commitment to the Bible has come to the
point that the ELCA would vote to reject the Bible’s teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior. It breaks my heart.”

“The assembly has voted to remove the ELCA from the universal Christian consensus on marriage and homosexual behavior. Lutheran CORE intends to remain faithful to the clear teaching of Scripture and the consistent teaching of the Christian Church worldwide and throughout time,” said Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., a member of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee, who was a finalist in Friday’s election for ELCA Vice President.

“The ELCA Confession of Faith says that Scripture is ‘source and norm’ of the church’s faith and life, but this assembly has shown that the ELCA is willing to violate what it officially says it believes about the Bible,” Schwarz said. “It is appalling that ELCA leaders brought these proposals to a vote. The church should not be voting on whether or not to follow the teaching of the Bible.”

“Luther’s stand was on the Word of God and sound reason. He was not convinced then, and we are not convinced now. We just voted out the Word of God, sound reason and the good orders of creation,” said Jaynan Clark of Spokane, Wash., president of the WordAlone Network. The WordAlone Network is one of the renewal organizations that make up Lutheran CORE. “When God said, ‘I Am Who I Am,’ He meant it. It’s not I am who you want me to be or who you remake me to be. God and His Word are the authority over all of faith and life. It’s not up for a vote,” she added. “And He always gets the last word.”

God will not be mocked—especially when steeples fall

[Word Alone] 22 Aug 2009--Some things are not up for a vote.

Some things we as creatures do not have the right to even think we can change.

We as creatures have forgotten our place. Instead of prostrating ourselves face down on the ground before God, Our Father and Our Creator, in humble obedience and prayer, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—as a shrinking “sideline” denomination—decided to continue its in-your-face unfaithful and disrespectful conduct toward God, Our Maker, ignoring all interventions, warnings and signs.

The ELCA put God’s Word and all of its teachings on the natural order, marriage and family up for a vote and the result was a resounding 66.67 percent approval for changing them.

How many times has the WordAlone Network called foul? How many speeches, articles, news releases have we put out trying to be clear but not angry—pointing out that the natural order is not up for a vote.

God is God, and He will not be mocked.

Conservative Anglicans Announce Church and Islam Project

[The Christian Post] 22 Aug 2009--A group of conservative Anglicans that broke away from The Episcopal Church recently announced a new project to educate American members about Islam and the challenges it poses to the Church and its mission.

Called the Church and Islam Project, the new initiative includes educational seminars, reading materials, and information made available at a new Web site,

“As Christians, we are called to reach out to the world around us to spread the love of Christ and that includes learning how to respond to other religions,” said the Rev. Canon Julian Dobbs, Canon Missioner of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

He said the group will provide its members with “honest” and “respectful” information, while “exposing the truth about so-called moderate Islam and encouraging evangelism to Muslims.”

The power to witness

[] 22 Aug 2009--Have you ever felt powerless? Have you ever felt weak in the presence of others? Do you feel overwhelmed by the non-Christian world around you? Do you feel that your testimony to Christ is too weak and feeble to mention and that the criticisms of Christianity are too loud, vocal and confident to withstand? Are you afraid that by speaking up for Christ you will lose your job or your friends or the respect of your neighbours or family?

Witnessing is a distressing activity. Most Christians find it difficult. We prefer to keep our light hidden under the bushel.

We don’t feel like a city on the hill. Even when we are with Christians we can feel spiritually inferior. When we consider mentioning the name of Jesus to unbelievers we can feel tongue tied and afraid.

Witnessing is not always eye-witnessing. It is the activity of testifying to the truth. It can be the truth that we have seen with our eyes or it can be to the truth that we know. Jesus told Pilate that he came “to bear witness to the truth”.

Witnessing is always difficult because it is “testifying to the truth in the face of opposition”. The only times we are called as witnesses is when there is some doubt or disagreement about the evidence. It is only over things that are contested that there is any need for a witness to testify. So witnessing happens in the context of conflict and “trial”. Christian testimony always confronts the world.

ELCA Opens Ordination to Noncelibate Homosexuals

[Christian Post] 22 Aug 2009--The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Friday approved a resolution to allow gays and lesbians in same-sex relationships to be ordained.

ELCA's highest legislative body voted 559-451 during the biennial Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis.

It was a moment of celebration for supporters of the resolution, which overturned the denomination's ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy. But opponents warn the action will likely lead to an exodus of churches.

"This will cause an ever greater loss in members and finances. I can't believe the church I loved and served for 40 years can condone what God condemns," said the Rev. Richard Mahan, pastor at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Charleston, W.Va., according to The Associated Press. "Nowhere in Scripture does it say homosexuality and same-sex marriage is acceptable to God. Instead, it says it is immoral and perverted."

After the vote, the conservative Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Reform), which had been officially recognized by the ELCA, severed ties with the 4.6 million-member denomination and declared itself an independent Lutheran organization.

"We can no longer in good conscience participate in this relationship with the offices in Chicago," said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., chair of Lutheran CORE.

Related articles:
Evangelical Lutheran Church backs away from Christian chastity - Metro Catholic
Lutheran denomination opens ministry to priests in openly gay relationships - Florida-Times Union

Focus on Ministry Conference 2009: 'Getting Sunday Right: the role of the Bible in public worship' - Program

Wednesday, October 21

1:30 to 2:00pm Registration

2:00pm Welcome and Introduction - John Mason

‘The American Bible Society’ – Simon Barnes

2:45pm ‘Preaching Today’ (Why preach?)– Gavin McGrath

3:45pm Coffee

4:30pm ‘Thomas Cranmer: Theologian and Archbishop’ – Ashley Null

6:00pm Dinner

7:15pm Evening (Public) Lecture 1 – ‘Thomas Cranmer’ – Ashley Null

8:45pm Closing Prayers – Clifford Swartz

Thursday, October 22

9:00am Bible Study: ‘Preaching and the Word of God’ (Luke 8) – John Mason

9:45am ‘Preaching the Word’ (What we preach: purpose)– Gavin McGrath

10:45am Morning Coffee

11:15am ‘The Preacher’s Task’ (How we preach)– Gavin McGrath

12:45pm Lunch

2:00pm Workshops - Hermeneutics

3:30pm Coffee

4:30pm ‘Thomas Cranmer: The Bible and Liturgy’ – Ashley Null

6:00pm Dinner

7:15pm Evening (Public) Lecture II – ‘William Perkins’ – Ashley Null

8:45pm Closing Prayers – Clifford Swartz

Friday, October 23

9:00am Bible Study: ‘Preaching and Prayer’ (Luke 11:1-13) – John Mason

9:45am ‘The Preacher at Work’ (preparation)– Gavin McGrath

10;45am Morning Coffee

11:15am ‘Preaching God’s Word Today’ (application) – Gavin McGrath

12:45pm Lunch

2:00pm Workshops – Preparing the sermon

3:30pm Coffee

4:30pm ‘The Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552’ – Ashley Null

6:00pm Dinner

7:15pm Evening (Public) Lecture III – ‘John Donne’ – Ashley Null

8:45pm Closing Prayers

Friday, August 21, 2009

Focus on Ministry Conference 2009: ‘Getting Sunday Right: the role of the Bible in public worship’

A Christ Church New York City Conference (generously hosted by the American Bible Society)

When? Wednesday, October 21 – Friday, October 23

Where? “Bible House”- Headquarters of The American Bible Society
1865 Broadway, New York , New York

Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Ashley Null

Dr. Ashley Null is canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of West Kansas. One of the foremost experts on Cranmer and the English Reformation, Ashley Null is the author of Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love (OUP).

Dr. Gavin McGrath

Dr. Gavin McGrath holds a PhD from the University of Durham, England in historical theology. He is currently senior pastor of Christ Church , Earlsfield, London and recently edited the New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics (IVP).

John G. Mason

John Mason is the Founding Rector of Christ Church New York City. He holds degrees in theology from the Universities of London and Durham in England and taught New Testament theology; An Anglican minister for over thirty-five years.

What Is Focus on Ministry?

John Mason was one of the founders of Focus on Ministry conferences which began in Sydney, Australia. Over the years the program has served hundreds of clergy from a range of denominations. Features of the program were an annual conference together with a retreat program for mutual encouragement and support in ministry.

The 2009 Focus on Ministry conference in New York City seeks to bring the best of this program to the North American context. Conferences will offer substantial teaching from gifted Bible teachers,combined with sessions offering practical grounding and historical foundations of the Bible in Anglican ministry. There will be no legislation or position papers, simply the fellowship and encouragement of ministers of the Gospel gathering in a world-leading city in the cause of Christ.

Lectures and Workshop topics include:

· Thomas Cranmer

· William Perkins

· John Donne

· Tools for Understanding and Applying the Bible

· Vital Biblical Preaching Today

· The Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552

If you have wondered about the stream of Reformation Anglicanism and its place in North America , this conference is for you. J.I. Packer writes of Christ Church NYC:

Christ Church, New York, aims to be a biblically faithful, discipling, equipping, outreaching, self-reproducing Anglican community. If I lived in New York, I should want to join it. As it is, I heartily applaud and commend it. This is the sort of Anglicanism that the world needs. God prosper Christ Church!


Details of special accommodation arrangements for conferees at one of the city’s hotels will be made available soon. Alternatively, you may be able to find a friend willing to host you! If you are stuck for housing, or this expense would keep you from attending, please contact and we will try to help through a limited number of spots in the homes of members of Christ Church .

For more information and to register email

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The ACNA: Two Visions in Conflict

By Robin G. Jordan

In his most recent article, “So to the next stage,” self-identified “Catholic Anglican” Warren Tanghe, a former Secretary and Vice-President of FIFNA and the resident chaplain of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Cantonsville, Maryland, identifies what he believes are “fault lines” in the Anglican Church in North America. What particularly interested this writer was Tanghe’s statements about the ACNA Fundamental Declarations, as well as a number of his other comments and observations.

Tanghe stated that he has gone on record as claiming that the things the seven points of Common Cause Partnership Theological Statement affirm are the things on which the Tractarians “built their affirmation of the Church of England's catholicity - with some improvements,” having himself helped to draft that statement. These seven points with one alteration form Article I of the ACNA Constitution and comprise the ACNA Fundamental Declarations, its definition of the Anglican orthodoxy.

In an earlier article, "Birth of a province,” Tanghe stated that the CCP Theological Statement “was initially crafted to leave intact the understanding of the Anglican formularies” on which the Tractarians” based their assertion of the C of E's catholicity.” With these statements Tanghe provides support for the contention of this writer and others that the Fundamental Declarations adopt a partisan doctrinal position on a number of the key issues to which they relate.

In both articles Tanghe mourns the removal of Geoffrey Fisher’s “clear affirmation of the Catholic faith and constitution of the Church.” Tanghe identifies this development, which he attributes to “the more protestant constituencies” in the ACNA, with the emergence of a pattern in the ACNA like that Aidan Nichol, Roman Catholic priest and author, has observed in the Anglican Communion and about which he has written in The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism (1992):

“Its absence…seems to signal that ACNA is falling into the pattern Aidan Nichols has so ably observed in the Anglican family over the last two centuries: a single institution holding together two, three or even four different understandings of the Gospel ('streams'), with their differences increasing over time.”

He seems oblivious of the repeated claim by Archbishop Robert Duncan and other ACNA leaders that the ACNA, unlike the TEC, is “truly evangelical, truly catholic, and truly Pentecostal,” a claim that, while it is highly debatable, is the vision of the new church that the ACNA leadership has promoted and many ACNA members and clergy have embraced. In this vision the province of which the ACNA is an early stage would enfold the three major theological outlooks—Catholic, charismatic, and evangelical, united in the common tasks of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and expanding the Kingdom of God.

This points to a major fault line within the ACNA. Tanghe and others like him have a different vision of the ACNA, a vision in which the new province is decidedly Catholic in faith and order. This vision is surprisingly reflected to a large extent in the doctrinal provisions of the ACNA Constitution and Canons. With the ratification of these two foundational documents the vision of the ACNA as a comprehensive Anglican church was hijacked. Those who espouse this vision have yet to wake up to the realization that the future they envision for the church has been replaced with another vision.

Tanghe draws attention to what he describes as a “tension” within the ACNA about what it means to be Anglican. He then attributes to this tension the calls to modify the Fundamental Declarations to bring them in line with the vision of the ACNA as a comprehensive Anglican church, focusing upon the third Fundamental Declaration on the episcopate. The controversy surrounding this declaration is, however, only the presenting difficulty—the tip of the iceberg. An underlying problem is the failure of the ACNA Provincial Council to adopt Fundamental Declarations, indeed a whole constitution and set of canons, which embody genuine principled comprehensiveness.

Tanghe trundles out a favorite Catholic bugaboo. The ACNA is “fragile.” Any modification of any part of the Fundamental Declarations would cause the ACNA to “unravel.” Catholic members of the Provincial Council raised the same bugaboo when the question of modifying the wording of the third Fundamental Declaration was brought up at the June Council meeting. Although the Fundamental Declarations may not go far enough for some Catholics, they do favor and mandate a Catholic doctrinal position on the Councils of the undivided Church, the historic episcopate, and the Anglican formularies. Tanghe himself acknowledges their doctrinal partisanship.

Behind the warning that changing the Fundamental Declarations might precipitate a fracture in the ACNA is a veiled threat: Alter the declarations and Catholics will reconsider their participation in the ACNA. Whether or not it is intended as a threat, it has that affect. With it Catholics in the ACNA make its other members hostage to their priorities for the ACNA. This kind of manipulation is not a good foundation for a partnership.

Having presented tension over Anglican identity as a problem, Tanghe goes onto identify what he believes is a major factor aggravating this problem:

“The rapid growth of some of ACNA's constituent bodies has exacerbated this problem, for they have ordained people with a heart for the Gospel but little knowledge or experience of the Anglican Way to lead or plant new parishes. A substantial number of these are convinced Calvinists, formed in Calvinist seminaries, and understand the Anglican Way accordingly. As a result, there are questions about the Anglican identity of many of certain constituent bodies' parishes, both as a matter of theology, and, as one 'continuing' prelate noted, with regard to what occurs at divine service on Sunday morning.”

The factor that Tanghe identifies as making this tension more severe is traditional evangelical Anglicanism with its Biblical and Reformed theology! It does not matter in Tanghe’s opinion whether God is using those who stand in the evangelical and Reformed tradition of Anglicanism to reach the lost with the gospel of grace. They hold to and teach the wrong kind of Anglicanism. Indeed Tanghe suggests that it is not authentic Anglicanism at all.

Tanghe is not alone in his antipathy toward classical Anglican evangelicalism. A barely concealed distaste and in some cases an open aversion toward evangelicals and other non-Catholics is evidenced in Catholic circles in the ACNA. These attitudes exacerbate tension over Anglican identity.

In his earlier article Tanghe claimed that the ACNA, as it presently is, is not orthodox. It permits the ordination of women, “and its statements suggest a Protestant bias.” Tanghe equates Catholicism with orthodoxy, which may explain his own decision to become a Roman Catholic.

Tanghe identifies “the dominant ‘stream’ in the ACNA” as evangelical. He raises the question of whether evangelicalism will establish itself as “the dominant ‘stream' within a coherent identity clearly rooted in and affirming in its fullness 'the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church'.” Or will it establish itself as “the ACNA's predominant identity, with Catholics as a… tolerated minority outside its mainstream?”

Tanghe clearly favors a church in which Catholicism is dominant and which has a strong Catholic identity. In his perspective a province that is not Catholic in faith and order would not be orthodox.

Tanghe suggests that for Catholics the ACNA may be only a temporary home:

“ACNA may be a welcome refuge for Catholics who cannot remain in TEC or have been pushed out of it. It may offer them, for the time being, the only safe place available which is connected with the Communion? But will it prove a true and permanent home for those of our integrity, or only a stopping-point on the way elsewhere?”

For Tanghe himself the ACNA is just a stopping-point on the way to Rome.

Tanghe’s article is very revealing into the views of Catholics in the ACNA. While his views may not be representative of all Catholics in the ACNA, they do represent those of a group of Catholic members of the ACNA who are quite vocal on the Internet. They draw attention to the different vision of the ACNA that this group espouses from the one that the ACNA leadership promotes.

How did elements of this particular vision then become incorporated into the ACNA Constitution and Canons? An analysis of the make-up of the Common Cause/Anglican Communion Network, the Common Cause Governance Task Force, and the other bodies involved in the drafting of these two fundamental documents, how their members were chosen, how they conducted their work, and who exercised the most influence in each body and what dynamics were operative in and outside the meetings of these bodies would be revealing. Catholics have in the past 175 odd years demonstrated a tendency to gravitate to those bodies in which they can most influence the doctrine, governance, and worship of a province while evangelicals have been inclined to devote their energies to the local church and gospel ministry. Catholics may have comprised a minority in the province but have through these bodies exercised an influence disproportionate to their numbers.

Few of the evangelical leaders in the ACNA are theological heavyweights. A number of ACNA members and clergy who identify themselves as “evangelicals” sit rather loosely to the doctrines and practices that historically have distinguished traditional evangelical Anglicanism. Language was incorporated into the documents from the constitutions and canons of other Anglican entities, which are unabashedly Catholic in their doctrine or reveal the influence of Catholic doctrine. The Catholic advocacy organization, Forward in Faith North America, is committed to the establishment of an orthodox province in North America, that is, to a province that is Catholic in faith and order. On the other hand, evangelicals and other non-Catholics have no formal organization that advocates for genuine principled comprehensiveness in the ACNA, much less a more evangelical or more charismatic church.

Tanghe maintains what is remarkable about the ACNA is the degree to which the issues that divide the disparate elements forming the ACNA have been resolved. He attributes the resolution of these issues to what he describes as “a will to find a way forward together at crucial moments…” and the existence of this will to God. Yet he claims that continued success in resolving such issues rest not with God but with the constituent members of the ACNA. If God is indeed at work, God cannot accomplish anything further if they do not keep this attitude.

He goes on to assert that the will to find a way forward together will persist only if the constituent parts of the ACNA are given time “to grow together into a consistent whole.” He then reiterates an assertion of Archbishop Duncan.

“ACNA's focus on local mission in obedience to the Great Commission, each part supporting each other part at the local level in the common work of sharing the Gospel, Archbishop Duncan asserts, is thus also the best means by which that body can develop the coherence necessary to address the issues which divide it.”

Does Tanghe really believe Duncan’s assertion? He has earlier in the article claimed that the different “streams” in the ACNA have different “Gospels.” How can Catholics and evangelicals support each other in the common work of sharing the Gospel if they do not agree on something as basic as what the Gospel entails? Catholics have a different understanding of justification, sanctification, and the place of good works and sacraments in the economy of salvation than do evangelicals. Catholics and evangelicals have different approaches to the Bible. Catholics in and outside of the ACNA, including Tanghe himself, do not regard evangelicals as orthodox.

Moreover Tanghe is leaving the ACNA for the Church of Rome.

What is lacking in the ACNA are an overarching common vision to which all members and clergy of the ACNA are committed and a constitution and set of canons that embodies this vision. Without such a vision and foundational documents and a common gospel to share the ACNA cannot hope to establish any kind of cohesiveness. A church that is Catholic in faith and order is not a vision that is likely to capture the imagination and gain the support of evangelicals in the ACNA.

However, a church that is principled in its comprehensiveness--in which there was clear agreement on essentials and tolerance of different views on secondary issues--what comprehensiveness meant at the time of the Reformation—would be a vision to which most evangelicals would be ready to commit themselves wholeheartedly (and to which many evangelicals are already committed.) The proposals laid out on The Heritage Anglican Network for the revision of the ACNA Constitution and Canons, including a new Fundamental Declarations article in the Constitution, would create foundational documents embodying this vision. As for a common gospel the Anglican formularies—the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571 and the Book of Common Prayer of 1662–contain what Anglicans have historically understood to be the Gospel set forth in the New Testament.

Anger as pregnant woman miscarries after police beating

[Religious Intelligence] 19 Aug 2009--International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a pregnant Christian woman miscarried on July 26 after police beat her and dragged her naked through their police station in the Gujrat District of Punjab, Pakistan. Police had arrested her and a Muslim woman after their employer accused them of theft, but police did not even touch the Muslim woman.

The woman, Farzana Bibi, worked as a maid in the house of a wealthy Muslim. During a wedding held at the house, some jewelry was stolen from some of the landlord's female relatives. The police were called, and when they arrived at the scene they arrested two maids: Farzana and a Muslim woman named Rehana. Nazir Masih, Farzana's husband, said, "Police registered a fake theft case against my wife and Rehana without any proof."

Nazir went on to say that the police tortured his wife even though she told them she was pregnant. He told ICC, "Sub-Inspector Zulfiqar and Assistant Sub-Inspector Akhter subjected her to intense torture. They stripped off her clothes and dragged her naked around the compound of Cantonment Area Police Station in Kharian. They humiliated and tortured my wife, but did not do anything to Rehana."

Although Farzana complained of severe pain, the police ignored her pleas and detained her for another two days. When her condition became critical, the police finally transferred her to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Kharian, where she miscarried.

Presbyterians join battle over Los Angeles church property

[Religious Intelligence] 19 Aug 2009--Conservative Presbyterians in the United States have filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the breakaway congregation of St James Newport Beach in its battle with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

On July 27, the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a leading traditional pressure group within the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America (PCUSA) filed a brief in support of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed last month by St James in response to the February decision by the California Supreme Court in favour of the diocese.

The Presbyterian legal team is led by Kenneth W Starr, a former federal judge and US solicitor general who was appointed Independent Counsel to the Whitewater land transactions of President Bill Clinton. The Starr Report submitted to Congress was the basis for impeachment proceedings later brought against the president. Dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law, Mr Starr successfully defended California’s Proposition 8 before the state’s Supreme Court after supporters of gay marriage sought to overturn the referendum that banned it.

St James’ legal team also includes a leading Washington lawyer as well, with President Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General Edwin Meese, III serving as co-counsel.

In its brief, the Lay Committee argues the California Supreme Court’s decision violates the US Constitution’s Establishment and Free Exercise of Religion clauses of the First Amendment by giving churches with a “hierarchical” form of government an exemption from the common law statute of frauds not available to other religious groups.

Calvin and rethinking corporate worship

[] 19 Aug 2009--When in the midst of the Reformation John Calvin was asked to spell out the reasons for reform, he listed the two defining elements of Christianity as “a knowledge, first, of the right way to worship God; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be sought”.

The order here is important. According to Calvin salvation is a means to an end, with the worship of God being that end. In fact, Calvin says, our public worship together is a foretaste of the worship that lies before us in heaven above.

As such worship is not so much about fellowship, mutual encouragement, entertainment, sermon tasting, nor even education or saving souls, but rather a meeting with God.

Thirteen compelling welcome videos

[]19 Aug 2009--Either on your church website, or played at the start of the service, welcome videos can be a useful and powerful method of communicating with newcomers. Here’s thirteen compelling videos in a range of styles, each standing out for a different reason....

Churches that fit their community

[]19 Aug 2009--Church By the Bridge at Kirribilli recently ran an Art competition for depictions of the suburb. They offered a $1000 prize to the winner. It was a huge success at raising the profile of the church and engaging with the local community.

That made me wonder about how should a church fit into a community. After all, our efforts in Connect 09 revolve around contacting our community.

Gary Bully is a denominational church planting theorist from the USA.

Martin Morgan gave me one of his papers called “Developing a Contextualized Church Planting Strategy”. In it he says there are four possible relationships between a church and the community, two corporate and two personal. They are....

Williams, Wright and the good ship Anglican

[]19 Aug 2009--Eleven years ago this month, in the plenary session of Lambeth 1998 the bishops of the Anglican Communion overwhelmingly resolved that scripture taught ‘faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union’ and ‘that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.’ The resolution went on to reject ‘homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.’

That resolution, now labeled ‘Resolution1.10 Human Sexuality’, is the rock on which the good ship Anglican Communion is now wedged.

Get a Bible with all the words

[desiring God] 19Aug 2009--In this 2 minute video clip, John Piper explains why we need a Bible translation that has all the words.

It Promises Far Too Little -- The False Gospel of Prosperity Theology

[Albert Mohler] 19 Aug 2009--"God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you." That was the message of Gloria Copeland as she was speaking at the Southwest Believers' Convention recently held in Fort Worth, Texas. The event drew the attention of The New York Times and reporter Laurie Goodstein contributed a compelling report about the meeting and its message.

The Southwest Believers' Convention drew a crowd of more than 9,000 to hear an "all-star lineup" of preachers deliver the message of the prosperity gospel. One by one, the preachers and the speakers enticed the gathered thousands by offering them the assurance that God wants them rich -- even fabulously rich.

Egyptian priest faced with death fatwa after prayer hall request

[Christianity Today UK] 19 Aug 2009--According to the United Copts of Great Britain (UCGB), Father Estefanos Shehata was also banned for one month from entering his home village of Ezbet Dawood Youssef in Minia Governate.

Father Estefanos told the Middle East Christian Association (MECA) that the Muslim elders had reacted angrily to his request for the prayer hall, which he had wanted to use to conduct funeral services and marriage ceremonies.

Buildings must receive special licenses from the Egyptian government before they can be used for religious purposes, something Coptic Christians have traditionally struggled to obtain.

Although Ezbet Dawood Youssef is home to around 800 Coptic Christians, they are yet to receive permission for their own church despite the village already having one mosque and constructing a second.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The historic episcopate: a response

[] 14 Aug 209--I appreciate the feedback on the historic episcopate, following my blog of last fortnight, reflecting upon article 3 of the ACNA constitution.

"3. We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ."

If I may reiterate my understanding: when the ACNA’s constitution states that the historic episcopate is an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, I defended this claim on the grounds that the only historic episcopate identified in the New Testament (and hence identifiable with apostolic faith and practice) was the office of episkopos/presbyteros. From within this model of “oversight” or “episcope”, Timothy and Titus appear as apostolic delegates, who, while not performing the office of apostle, appear to have certain responsibilities with regard to the selection and ordination of ministers of the gospel (as only in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus do we find the explicit qualifications for elders and deacons). From these examples of “oversight”, the ancient church developed the office of “bishop”, as we call it now.

If the ACNA means to describe what later developed, what I described as monarchical bishops, then it is difficult to see how this “development” could be seen as inherent to the apostolic faith. I was not privy to the debate, so am unable to comment, but if, as Robin Jordan maintains, the debate on the constitution was centred around the post-apostolic development, then I would not be able to defend such a claim as being “an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice”.

4 Christian Orphanage Workers Beheaded in Somalia

[The Christian Post] 14Aug 2009--Somali Islamic extremists beheaded four Christians recently after kidnapping them last month, according to eyewitness accounts reported to International Christian Concern (ICC).

Members of the Islamic extremist organization Al-Shabaab had kidnapped Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil on July 27 from their coastal town of Merca, 56 miles from Mogadishu, and eventually beheaded the Christians after they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.

S.C. Bishop Proposes Diocese Withdraw from TEC Governing Bodies

[The Living Church] 14 Aug 2009--The Diocese of South Carolina needs to distance itself from the governing bodies of The Episcopal Church, its bishop said Thursday in an address to clergy meeting at St. James’ Church, James Island, Charleston, S.C.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop since January 2008, did not urge the diocese to break all ties with The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Lawrence and the standing committee have called for a special convention on Oct. 24 to vote on proposals that Bishop Lawrence presented during the meeting. He and the standing committee discussed these proposals during a marathon meeting on July 28.

The proposals include....

Related article:
A Brave Start - Anglican Curmudgeon

Christian Teen Flees Home, Says She Fears Honor Killing by Muslim Father

[ABC News] 14 Aug 2009--An Ohio teenager who secretly converted from Islam to Christianity has fled to Florida because she claims her father threatened her with an "honor killing" for abandoning her Muslim upbringing.

An Ohio teenager who secretly converted from Islam to Christianity has fled to Florida because she claims her father threatened her with an "honor killing" for abandoning her Muslim upbringing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anglican Identity and Mission

A paper (with some modifications) delivered by Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney, to the Anglican Identity and Mission Conference, Adelaide, Saturday 8 August 2009. Reproduced with the permission of Bishop Forsyth.

I am very thankful for the invitation to speak at this conference and also for the interesting and helpful papers by Professor Martyn Percy and the Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral, Dr Sara Macneil.

Introduction to the question of Anglican identity and mission

(1) There are real reasons why agonising over Anglican identity is one of the markers, possibly the only one, of Anglican identity (if not mission).

Nobody invented Anglicanism. It is the result of over 1500 years of ups and downs, challenges, opportunities and disasters.

Even before there really were English, we have British Christianity, Celtic Christianity, then the coming of the English, the imposition of Roman authority, the changes of the churches under the Normans, and then profound change with the Reformation (or should that be Reformations?), the Civil War, the Restoration, and then, in the more recent centuries, the relentless breakdown of Anglican hegemony, and the arising of Anglican churches without the royal supremacy, without the English nation, often in situations of minority and competing relationships.

You ask the questions of identity most often under threat or question.

There are at least four periods in the history of Anglicanism.

First, the Reformation and the massive shift in the English church from the authority of Rome, who in response attacked it as heretical. This provoked John Jewell in his Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae of 1562 to explain the English Church was simply the church that in faithfulness to the Scriptures and the fathers has “put ourselves apart, not as heretics are wont from the Church of Christ, but, as all good men ought to do, from the infection of naughty persons and of hypocrites”[1]: nothing distinctive so much as the church of Jesus Christ cleaned up.

Second, the contest within the reformed Church of England over the extent and nature of reform that followed led a Richard Hooker to defend the Elizabethan settlement in his Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity.

Third, these were only arguments about the nature of the national Church of England. But the effective end of the monopoly of that Church in England and the establishing of it in other countries and places where it became just one church among others changed the terms of the debate. No longer the “continuing pre-Reformation church in a reformed state” it now becomes an “ism”, an ecclesiastical option among many, “distinguished by its cultural style and its episcopal ministry, with the risk of simply attracting those who go for its specific culture”.[2]

Fourth, now in recent times the debate in white-hot form is not over “Anglicanism vs. other isms” but what are the limits of being Anglican itself although in a way it may be a debate about “Anglicanism vs. other new isms” as well. Radical proposals as to the nature of the Christian life of discipleship reflect profound new questions confronting the churches in late modernity in the West, all in the context of neocolonial and post-colonial growth and confidence in other parts of the Anglican world. The present issue presents such irreconcilable views as expressed in the following two statements.

The current debate in the Anglican Communion over sexuality is a contemporary example of the Holy Spirit leading us towards a fuller grasp of God’s truth

It seems undeniable that he[the Apostle] would have viewed blessing same sex unions as sanctifying sin, and thus as a denial of an essential ingredient in the gospel, namely repentance of all one's sins and forsaking of them.

The first of these was Bishop Gene Robinson [5] and the second, Dr J I Packer.[6]

We have a crisis in which some Anglicans have removed themselves from the Anglican Churches of their provinces or dioceses, claiming that in doing so they, not the province or diocese, embody Anglican identity. Or at least are still really Anglican despite the breach with their bishop or national church. Are they? How would we go about answering that question? That which the Archbishop of Canterbury has recently called “the broken bridges into the life of the other provinces” does not look like being repaired anytime soon, if ever. [7]

(2) It is a mistake just to see the question simply as a reaction to a crisis.

There is a question of Anglican identity that is less urgent but possibly more significant than international crises. There are long-term issues as well that we must keep in mind: of forgetfulness, of change of connection and even of the value of survival.

• Of forgetfulness of who we are: it can creep like rising damp or a shifting wall. Slow and relentless but fatal. And we find that we have become something else, maybe not even a real church.

• Of change: the long-term questions about where is this church going? Drifting away from Anglicanism as such? A good thing? Or a bad thing?

For example, I was disturbed when the archdeacon of another region than mine said the kind of church service my clergy son was running at his church plant in a local school was “not very Anglican”. But then in our 1500 year history or so didn’t every change once look “not very Anglican” in its day? How do you tell? Certainly it is not open to us to freeze our moment as “this is and will only be Anglican” but what is faithful change? I don’t think we can go as far one rector in my region, who bemoaning a change in Eucharistic practice, recently wrote in his parish magazine, “Like all innovations within the church this one is inconsistent and fundamentally flawed”.

• Of connection: in his book Anglicans in Australia Tom Frame gives a serious warning about the cost of lack of some real answers to our question for our association as a body, be it diocesan, national or international.

While this assessment may sound glib, Church history suggests that where there is a lack of theological unity among associated congregations, absence of a clearly articulated understanding of the uniqueness of Christianity, and a poor grasp of the distinctive contribution that their particular association makes to Christendom, the bonds of fellowship will unravel and the association will eventually dissolve. [8]

• Of the value of survival: is there a distinctly Anglican way of being Christian that has something important to offer our world, and will it survive?

Against the great church of Jesus Christ the gates of Hades will not prevail. But individual expressions, outcrops, of that one great church can, and have, disappeared.

Will Anglican Christianity go the way of the churches that historian Philip Jenkins [9] has recently described, that vast and forgotten network of the world's largest and most influential Christian churches that existed to the east of the Roman Empire for a thousand years and yet died. And if Anglican Christianity does die, is the world worse off and why?

In passing we should remind ourselves of the present world context, “God is back".

We are having this discussion in the midst of a significant growth in religion in the world’s history and certainly at a time when there are more Anglicans alive than ever before. In the words of Micklethwait and Woodbridge, “God is back”. [10]

The question is, what kind of religion is in our churches, what kind of Anglicans?

There is strong evidence that it is those churches which vitally engage actively in a world of religious competition, not those who have relied upon the security of being a state or established church, which are thriving. Those which are vibrant, creative and vigorous. Yes, Anglicanism too. Although others may have seen it at last year’s Lambeth, I was impressed with what I saw at GAFCON. Not just the exciting African Christians (though as we know there are more Anglicans in churches in Nigeria on a Sunday than the entire England, American, Canada, New Zealand and Australia), but strangely enough, the Americans. These were members of the Episcopal Church or those who have just left it, painfully, but were full of joy and vigour and excitement about the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole Global Anglican Future Conference, whatever you may think of the occasion of its calling, was mission-focussed in a way that left a deep impression.

(3) What kind of answer may we find? Some four possibilities come to mind.

a. Could it be that there really is no such thing as ‘Anglican identity’ at all?

Maybe Anglicanism isn’t at thing.

Just a common derivation from Church of England ancestors.

(But then why not include other descendants, like the Methodists whom Martyn Percy has suggested might be the first continuing Anglicans.[11])

But we cannot give in too quickly to such counsels of despair

b. Could it be there is no core concept of Anglican identity as such?

Maybe the answer is not to be found in a “core concept” of common characteristics or an identity, but as Ludwig Wittgenstein put it, merely a ‘family resemblance’.

In his Philosophical Investigations (1953) Wittgenstein discusses, for example, what is the core of the concept of a game.

66. Consider for example the proceedings that we call “games”. I mean boardgames, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all? -- Don’t say: “There must be something common, or they would not be called ‘games’ “-but look and see whether there is anything common to all. -- For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that.

67. I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than “family resemblances”; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and cries-cross in the same way.-And I shall say: ‘games’ form a family. . . [12]

I wonder if that is where we are heading. A family of resemblances rather than an identity.

c. Certainly a technical or merely institution answer will not do.

• It is true, as Rowan Williams has recently written: [13]

As Anglicans, our membership of the Communion is an important part of our identity.

Though he is aware that the nature of the Communion is a disputed matter:

[Some want to] re-conceive the Anglican Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent ‘community of Christian communities.’

Certainly the furore of 2008 about who was and wasn’t invited to the Lambeth Conference and who attended and who did not, as well as the whole Global Anglican Future Conference movement attests the significance of the Anglican Communion to Anglican identity.

But the formula “in the Communion therefore Anglican” is not adequate as it begs the questions of identity in the first place; better ‘what kind of Anglican can be in the Communion,’ whatever kind of communion it is or should be. And that is contested.

• However I am sure that whatever comes of the Anglican Communion in the future will have an impact on Anglican identity and self-understanding, even if it is not decisive. I often remember the comments in 2006 Andrew Brown of the Guardian summed up the whole Covenant issue:

before they can get round to the business of throwing out the Americans, if that’s what they’re going to do, they’re going to have to organise the Anglican communion into the sort of body out of which you can be thrown. Which at the moment it isn’t. [14]

Indeed not. In fact I think we are now seeing the creation of a messier and less institutional centred Anglican Communion forming before our very eyes as some provinces recognise others which others will not. And in which it is coming and now is that Church A recognises Church B, and Church B recognises Church C, but Church A does not recognise Church C!

In response to the decisions taken at the recent general convention of the Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined a "two-track" future for provinces in the Anglican Communion, with a choice of covenantal or associate status. One track is for those who are willing to intensify their relationships of interdependence in the Communion, through signing the proposed Anglican covenant, and the other is for those who prefer federal autonomy, not signing the covenant. As Bishop Kings of Salisbury has written this week.

The Anglican communion is involved in "intensifying" its current relationships and those who do not wish to continue on that "intensifying" trajectory may remain where they are, which will become track two, while the centre of the Communion moves on with glacial gravity into track one. Not exclusion, but intensification: not force, but choice. [15]

I wonder what long-term effect this will inevitably have on Anglican identity itself.

d. Or we may find that, for all the difficulty, or because of it, there is a distinctly Anglican way of being Christian that has something important to offer our world.

This is my belief and hope.

So, a suggested way forward?

I hope you don’t think me too postmodern when I say that there is no uncontested place, no Archimedean point from which to answer the question put to this conference. Every answer will to some extent be question begging, just as every version of “real Anglicanism” reads the history of our movement to select one period or players as the benchmark to be valorised, be it the Reformers, the Celts, the Caroline Divines, the Victorian Liberal Catholics or whatever. This doesn’t mean that we give up, but that we do proceed with a certain humility and caution.

I have a suggestion, a start for a model for Anglican identity and mission.

What about the Fundamental Declarations of the Anglican Church of Australia which are the unalterable foundation at the beginning of the 1961 constitution?

Why them? The Anglican Church of Australia being took about 90 years to be formed out of the distinct dioceses of the then Church of England in Australia and Tasmania, which was sort of still part of the Church of England. It was the struggle of how to deal with:

1. the end of the Royal Supremacy in Australia and yet still having legal links to the Church of England which was by law established;

2. no longer being the monopoly church of the nation but a church amongst others, and yet in a real sense still the church of the English or the British, and yet to become a relevant church of a very different changing Australia;

3. since arriving in this country, experiencing a relentless and constant decline in power over society and its institutions, while watching the rise of other churches especially the Roman Catholic and other Protestants as well as the general secularisation of public life;

4. emerging out of a time when the Church of England was undergoing significant challenges and changes, when Anglicanism in England was becoming significantly more diverse and splintered with anglo-catholicism, liberal Catholicism and evangelicalism.

Something of the struggle with diversity of those times is best shown in a line from a poem, probably penned during the difficulties by a Bishop of Newcastle, Francis deWitt Batty.

A few more efforts made
To please the Sydney group
And we shall very likely be
Completely in the soup.
And on the other hand
If Queensland sets the pace
The Reformation might as well
Have never taken place.

Nonetheless in 1961 a constitution was enacted which bought about an autonomous Australian church and which had these as the unalterable Fundamental Declarations:

1. The Anglican Church of Australia, being part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds
known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed.

2. This Church receives all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by the
inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation.

3. This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine,
administer His sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, follow His discipline and preserve the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry.

I offer them for your consideration and will take each in turn.

First Fundamental Declaration, the Church of Christ, and the Christian faith

1. The Anglican Church of Australia, being part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds
known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed.

I have three points to make

(1) To be being part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ first. Not so concerned with us in ourselves.

• There is a warning to all reflecting over identity questions, who are we?

Whoever would save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my
sake and the sake of the gospel will save it.
Mark 8.35

We find our identity in being his, not just looking at ourselves.

• And our identity and our mission are involved in the Christian faith above all else.

The Anglican Church of Australia, being part of the one Holy Catholic and
Apostolic Church of Christ, holds the Christian Faith . . .

We are not different from others but the same. There is a danger that “identity questions” will focus on difference questions, which may be gnats compared with the camel of being faithful to Christ, to be discussed further under the third declaration.

• Above all else Anglican identity is being part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ identity. So unless that is secure then all is lost. The question is not just “what is Anglican” but more profoundly “what is truly Christian?’

(2) A given. Not a made up.

The Anglican Church of Australia, being part of the . . . Church of Christ holds the Christian Faith as professed by the Church from primitive times….

• A historic faith in historic community (as Leslie Newbigin pointed out years ago):

[God’s purpose for the world] necessarily requires that men’s salvation
should be not by an unmediated act of God directed to each individual human soul in isolation, but by the operation of a love that works through the plane of human history, mediated by the concern of man for man into a visible community.

So in a deep sense we have to be told, to be told by others

• A sense of history and being an historical church.

An esteem for the old but freedom to change what can be changed is an Anglican feature as we will see.

This is not a claim to be original, or first, or the best, but part of an historic community with an historic faith: “the Christian Faith as professed by the Church from primitive times”.

(3) The unique place of Jesus Christ in our identity and mission

This is to state what is implicit in what we have seen already, but it is good to highlight it, as we will in a moment at the third fundamental declaration.

• Unique in our identity because we confess him to be unique in God’s purposes and truth.

The creeds

[The Christian faith] in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the
Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed.

It is profoundly triune and Christocentric expression of faith

I have found that the opening of the Windsor Report to be the best bit by far.

God has unveiled, in Jesus Christ, his glorious plan for the rescue of the whole created order from all that defaces, corrupts and destroys it.

And what of the church?

The excitement and drama of that initial achievement and that final purpose pervade the whole New Testament, and set the context for understanding why God has called out a people by the gospel, and how that people is to understand its identity and order its life.

So understanding our identity and life must occur in the context of God’s glorious plan and achievement in Jesus Christ, “the excitement and drama of that initial achievement and that final purpose”.

• The test in current controversies will be Christ.

When in August 2006 Archbishop Rowan Williams replied to a question from a Dutch journalist that ”it was time for the church to accept gay relationships in an inclusive church”[18] he gave a profound answer:

I don’t believe inclusion is a value in itself, welcome is. We welcome people into the church, we say you can come in and that decision will change you. We don’t say come in and we ask no questions. I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions. The boundaries are determined by what it means to be loyal to Jesus Christ. That means to display in all things the minds of Christ. Paul is always saying this in his letters. Ethics is not a matter of a set of abstract rules, it is a matter of living the mind of Christ. That applies to sexual ethics. That is why fidelity is important in marriage. You reflect the loyalty of God in Christ.

This centrality of Christ is spelt out more as we will see in a moment at the third fundamental declaration where we state we will as a church “ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion and follow His discipline”.

Second Fundamental Declaration, the ultimate rule and standard of faith

2. This Church receives all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by the
inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation.

This picks up the language of Article VI, Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that
whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be
required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

and the questions to the priest at ordination. This is a distinctively Anglican emphasis.

(1) Salvation is a key category for Anglican identity and mission.

The first point is not about Scripture but something even more important.

It is often said that the incarnation is a distinctive Anglican emphasis.19

Maybe, in some derived sense.

(Most often they mean God’s providential work in the world, which isn’t the same thing.)

But when you look at classic Anglican principles you find another emphasis: the Holy Communion service in the Book of Common Prayer. It is salvation.

The doctrine of the place of Scripture immediately involves questions of what are those things necessary for salvation.

a. Let me take you to the first of the Homilies, “A Fruitful exhortation to the reading of holy Scripture” which begins

Unto a Christian man, there can be nothing either more necessary or profitable, than the knowledge of Holy Scripture;

Then a little later

For in holy Scripture is fully contained what we ought to do, and what to
eschew; what to believe, what to love, and what to look for at GODS hands at length. In these Books we shall find the father from whom, the son by whom, and the holy Ghost, in whom all things have their being and keeping up, and these three persons to be but one GOD, and one substance. In these books we may learn to know our selves, how vile and miserable we be, and also to know GOD, how good he is of himself, and how he maketh us and all creatures partakers of his goodness. We may learn also in these Books to know GODS will and pleasure, as much as (for this present time) is convenient for us to know. And (as the great Clerk and godly Preacher Saint John Chrysostom saith) “whatsoever is required to salvation of man, is fully contained in the Scripture of GOD.

That is what “necessary for salvation” is about. An understanding of God and human need and God’s provision in Christ. A reminder of the importance of that father of the Eastern church “the great Clerk and godly Preacher Saint John Chrysostom” in Anglicanism.

b. Salvation emphasis is no passing commonplace. A key Anglican emphasis here.

I have always been struck by a particular passage in Ashley Null’s Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance.

Despite the pressures of his office and his era, Cranmer’s most striking characteristic was to forgive his enemies … his customary response to personal wrongs was unmerited forgiveness, often to the irritation of his friends and the delight as well as the abuse of his enemies […]

Cranmer was certainly not unique in his day for emphasizing the love of enemies as the essence of true Christianity … What set Cranmer apart from his former Catholic humanist colleagues was his mature theological understanding of this command. For Erasmus, Gardiner, and traditional Catholicism in general, love of enemies was a matter of obedience, a necessary condition for salvation. For Cranmer, such unmerited love for others was necessarily a response to and the inevitable result of receiving the assurance of unmerited salvation. Consequently, he intended his well-known reputation for giving grace to the unworthy to be a cardinal signal, a scarlet cord hung openly from the window of Canterbury, so that in the midst of the battles of his times and since, those with eyes to see should spot where the wall of the old order was first breached in England and recognize as comrades those in the household where the gospel conspiracy was first forged.

For Cranmer’s commitment to love his enemies was more than just the outward fruit of his living Protestant faith. It was its very foundation. The logic is breathtakingly simple. Christ commands us to love our enemies so that we show ourselves sons of our Father in heaven. If the highest expression of divine love is to love one’s enemies, that must be the very same kind of love by which God saves sinners. And that, in fact, is what the apostle Paul himself wrote in Romans 5:10 - ‘when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son’. Since God loved those who had not a right to be loved, Cranmer reached out to his opponents with unmerited forgiveness and favour in hope that they would realize that God did likewise when he brought salvation. This emphasis on God’s love for the unworthy is the common thread which runs throughout Cranmer’s theological writings. [20]

Sure, some of Cranmer’s theological writings are just his, one theologian of many, but some by God’s providence became foundational through the various Books of Common Prayer, especially the Communion Service, and to a lesser extent the Homilies.

So I believe that God’s love for the unworthy is a key Anglican emphasis important for our identity.

It would be better if I allow Null to slightly expand what he calls the heart of Anglican theology gleaned from the Book of Common Prayer.

Divine gracious love, constantly communicated by the Holy Spirit in the regular repetition of Scripture’s promises though Word and Sacrament, is to inspire human love, drawing believers towards God, their fellow human beings and the pursuit of lifelong godliness. [21]

c. Which, if true, leads to a question of what happened to this?

How do we account for the recognition we feel when we hear Oscar Wilde’s famous quip [22]

[The Roman Catholic church was] for saints and sinners alone - for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.

Which raises the problem of the possibility of a shadow Anglican identity.

An identity that is a sad caricature of us that we deny.

Moralism in the face of doctrinal indifference? That comes down respectability?

It reminds me of the famous Yes Prime Minister about appointing a bishop in the Church of England:

Sir Humphrey Appleby:The church is trying to be more relevant.
James Hacker: To God?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Of course not minister, I mean relevant in sociological terms.

A caricature of course. But a spark of truth? “For respectable people”?

• An aside on moralism

One reason for the crisis in the Anglican Communion is that I think that one of the shadow identities was of an Anglicanism that contented itself with broad low grade theology with an emphasis on good works and good behaviour, rather than theological truth. It may well be that such a concern for providing a faith that at least people to be good has been a long term feature of Anglicanism, at least going as far back as the Reformation with a bruised England recovering from the disastrous 30 years War of the Roses. [23] Certainly there have been other occasions where theological or social conflict may well have led to Anglicanism agree that, whatever else it the Christian faith has to offer, first and foremost it is, as the words of the
famous Victorian children’s hymn [24] also describe the death of Jesus, “to make us good.”

But what happens when the take it for granted moral consensus collapses and becomes as fraught as theology? [25] Moralism as a way to keep peace fails.

This point cuts to both sides of the division over same sex relationships, as Null himself pointed out at when addressing GAFCON in June last year.

[U]nless GAFCON can identify a common theological basis, we will have only a common morality to hold us together, and I fear that will not be enough for us in the future as it has not proved enough for the Anglican Communion. [26]

(2) “Sufficiency” of Scripture is a claim against those who say that Scripture is not enough and that more is needed like “the church or the Pope”.

a. Anglicanism had a war on two fronts with regard to Scripture.

First front the Roman Catholics

The place of Scripture is central and foundational in the self-understanding of the Church of England that has renounced the Pope. That first homily is not backwards on this point.

Let us diligently search for the Well of Life in the books of the New and Old
Testament, and not run to the stinking puddles of men’s traditions (devised
by men’s imagination) for our justification and salvation.

The whole break with Rome of was, whatever you think of the divorce and the Tudor imperialism, theologically grounded on the appeal to Scripture against the Pope.

According to John Jewel, An Apologie of the Church of England (1561):

We receive and embrace all the Canonical Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, giving thanks to our God, who hath raised up unto us that light which we might ever have before our eyes, lest, either by the subtlety of man, or by the snares of the devil, we should be carried away to errors and lies. Also, that these be the heavenly voices, whereby God hath opened unto us his will; and that only in them man’s heart can have settled rest; that in them be abundantly and fully comprehended all things, whatsoever be needful for our salvation, as Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Cyrillus have taught; that they be the very might and strength of God to attain to salvation; that they be the foundations of the prophets and apostles, whereupon is built the Church of God; that they be the very sure and infallible rule, whereby may be tried, whether the Church doth stagger or err, and whereunto all ecclesiastical doctrine ought to be called to account; and that against these Scriptures neither law nor ordinance, nor any custom ought to be heard; no, though Paul his own self, or an angel from heaven, should come and teach the contrary. [27]

Not just our identity from a controversy that defined us in a negative way.

The identity of the church as church, as Oliver O’Donovan has recently written, is dependent on Scripture in its midst:

when we read [this word] in public worship we confess that we have
received it from a source we cannot ignore, from God, through the teaching of Jesus Christ and the testimony of his apostles, and that we cannot simply take it up and put it down, but read it as the church, depending on it for our identity. . .

No collective spiritual exercise, no sacrament, no act of praise or prayer is so primary to the catholic identity of the church gathered as the reading and
recitation of Scripture. It is the nuclear core. When Paul instructed his letters
to be passed from church to church and read, it was the badge of the local
church’s catholic identity.

This is no more than an expression of the Apostolic description of “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2.20).

Notice that “the Christian Faith as professed by the Church from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the creeds known as the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed” is not an exception to the supremacy of Scripture. Even they are brought to it.

Article VIII Of the Three Creeds
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

b. This specific sufficiency of Scripture is the limit over the authority of the church.

Article XX Of the Authority of the Church
The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.

Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed for necessity of salvation.

• The church is not to decree “anything against the same” because the church is a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ;

• and it is “not to enforce” anything as necessary for salvation without explicit authority of God’s word written.

• Contrast a recent statement by a bishop of the TEC.

This sounds ok at first, but listen carefully:

Christians believe it isn’t the Bible but the Jesus “event” – his life, death, and resurrection – that offers the perfect revelation of God. The Bible is the best and most trustworthy witness to that event, but it neither replaces Jesus as the Word nor takes precedence over Christ’s continuing action in the world through the Holy Spirit. [29]

This sounds almost right, for a moment. Jesus is the word of God, image of the invisible God. And then you ask the big question. What is this “Christ’s continuing action in the world through the Holy Spirit” which apparently has precedence over the Bible? How do you recognise it and test it? The issue of discernment becomes profoundly urgent if we were to take it as an authority that in effect, despite all the nice words, displaces the apostolic testimony.

We need to be clear about the promise Jesus made to the disciples gathered in that hidden room as he prepared for his going as described in John 16.12ff:

12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Of course the big question is who is the “you” that the Spirit of truth will guide into all truth? Not us. But them. Those in that room. The first disciples. Witnesses.

As shown in the context and in the special prayer John 17 prays for those “you given me”.

I have given them your word. Sanctify them in your word.

And then Jesus distinguishes them from us, whom he also prays for.

20 I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will
believe in me through their word, that they may be one.

This is a text that enhances apostolic authority, not relativises it for the ongoing judgments of some part of the Christian movement.

c. This specific sufficiency of Scripture is a negative control over the authority of the human imagination and piety.

Oliver O’Donovan recently wrote on the authority of Scripture and reality. [30]

All authority arises from mediation of reality. The free imagination and ranging purposes of the human mind are brought to heel by an interruption of something that simply and unnegotiably is the case.

And the authority of Scripture is the moment at which the attested reality of God’s acts disturb the ideal constructions and zealous projections of human piety. Those who are anxious about the church’s weakening attachment to Scripture do not anticipate a loss of piety, but a rank growth of it; they fear the promiscuous multiplication of religious images in which history and fantasy are blended in equal measure, in which Star-Trek and Jesus are equally apt for our devotion.

He later remarks

The practices that acknowledge the authority of Scripture in the church arm it against the greatest danger of a culture that declares itself “post-modern”,
the loss of a sense of difference between image and reality.

(3) There is a limit to Scripture’s purpose and authority. Sufficiency for a purpose leaves freedom for authorities.

a. As said in the previous point, there was a war on two fronts with regard to Scripture: first front, the Roman Catholics and the second, the Presbyterians.

The latter battle in the Elizabethan church with such as Richard Hooker (1554-1600).

Those who overplayed the role of Scripture he kindly rebukes as well intentioned but dangerously wrong.

Two opinions therefore there are concerning sufficiency of Holy Scripture,each extremely opposite unto the other, and both repugnant unto truth. The schools of Rome teach Scripture to be so unsufficient, as if, except traditions were added, it did not contain all revealed and supernatural truth, which absolutely is necessary for the children of men in this life to know that they may in the next be saved. Others justly condemning this opinion grow likewise unto a dangerous extremity, as if Scripture did not only contain all things in that kind necessary, but all things simply, and in such sort that to do any thing according to any other law were not only unnecessary but even opposite unto salvation, unlawful and sinful. Whatsoever is spoken of God or things appertaining to God otherwise than as the truth is, though it seem an honour it is an injury. (Lawes II.8.6) [31]

He, like Cranmer before him in his dispute with Knox, held that Scripture was normative but not regulative in all matters other than what is necessary for salvation.

The famous, and so often misunderstood ‘three-legged stool’ of Anglicanism comes from this dispute, although for Hooker it was not three equal authorities, Scripture, reason and tradition, but a definite progression, Scripture, then reason and finally tradition. In book 5 of his Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity he contrasts matters of order which are changeable and articles concerning doctrine which are not so, and then goes on:

Be it in matter of the one kind or of the other, what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next
whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason overrule all other inferior judgments whatsoever.
(Lawes V.8.2) [32]

And by “force of reason” Hooker was not writing of post-Enlightenment autonomous reason but right reason by the grace of God.

b. But this does leave room for adaptation and development of Christian practice and church life, within the overall limits of Scripture.

Though in classic Anglicanism we find both freedom from and a respect for ancient and appropriate forms.

Article XXXIV Of the Traditions of the Church
It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or
utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed
according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that
nothing be ordained against God’s word. . .

Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and
abolish ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority,
so that all things be done to edifying.

Third Fundamental Declaration, to Obey Christ

3. This Church will ever obey the commands of Christ, teach His doctrine, administer His sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, follow His discipline and preserve the three orders of bishops, priests and deacons in the sacred ministry.

(1) A big ask. To confidently declare that we “will ever obey . . . teach . . . administer . . .[and] follow” Christ’s command, doctrine, sacraments and discipline!

Was there not a moment when our founders drew back at the audacity of this?

a. Shades of Joshua 24

when the people confidently declare they will serve the Lord as his people. Joshua warns them that they do not realise what they are committing to.

You cannot serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good." 21 And the people said to Joshua, "No, we will serve the LORD!". (Joshua 24:19-21)

There is something of this in the third Fundamental Declaration.

• But what else can a church that claims to be part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ do?

But what else can a way of being Christian be? After all we have heard the words of Jesus:

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of
heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
[Matthew 7:21]

So we are committed, whatever diversity we allow and tradition we keep, to Christ, obeying him, teaching his truth, administering his sacraments and observing his discipline among us as his people.

b. This is where the question of mission is clarified.

To obey Christ will be, in love, to be active as a community in announcing and embodying the great news of his lordship, which is the power of God for salvation for all who believe.

c. May I say that this is a crucial attitude to unite us in controversy as Anglicans.

It at least recognises that if each of us is really taking this obedience and observing and teaching and administering the things of Christ seriously, then there is a ground to meet as fellow Christians and Anglicans, even if we do disagree about what some of those commands teaching and discipline are.

(2) But there is one commitment that is the odd one out. Why is it just “the three orders” not His three orders!

Bruce Kaye [33] notes how Hooker defended the Anglican settlement with regard to episcopacy by arguing that it was providentially arranged by God but not mandatory. This disappointed Keble who, in his edition of Hooker, commented that the obvious way to deal with the Puritans was to argue the case for episcopal succession. But sadly,

It is notorious . . . that such was not, in general, the line preferred by Jewel, Whitgift, Bishop Cooper and others to whom the management of that controversy was entrusted during the early part of Elizabeth’s reign. They do not expressly disavow but they carefully shun that unreserved appeal to Christian antiquity, in which one would have thought they must have discerned the very strength of their course to lie. It is enough, with them to show that the government by archbishops and bishops is allowable; they never ventured to urge its exclusive claim, or to connect the succession with the validity of the holy sacraments. And yet it is obvious that such a course of argument along (supposing it borne out by facts) could fully meet all the exigencies of the case. [34]

In writing the Fundamental Declaration as they did, the Constitutional Fathers and mothers allow both the Kebles and the Hookers among us a place as no particular view is mandated. But it does declare that we will keep the three orders, even if we are not so clear if they are divinely mandated.

This is part of a broader Anglican way of esteeming some aspects of our providential past that identify us. It comes out further in the next chapter of the 1961 Constitution (that you will be relieved to know I will not be exegeting) entitled “ Ruling Principles” and states that “this Church, being derived from the Church of England, retains and approves the doctrine
and principles of the Church of England embodied in the Book of Common Prayer”, the ordinal and articles. It can move on from them but has bound itself not to “contravene any principle of doctrine or worship laid down in such standard.”

I am well aware that this focus on the declarations does not conclude the discussion of Anglican identity and mission. Much more can and will be said. Perhaps it never ends. Nor should it.

Conclusions: A Christianity that is . . .

(1) A Christianity that responds to God’s love in Christ.

• Distinctive as Christ is. Stand for something? A lot!

This principle is best summarised in a recent Anglican statement:

We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things. [35]


We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith. [36]

• Responsive to Christ in mission

Again, two further statements express this well.

We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy. [37]

(2) A humble Christianity. Cautious in its claims and aware of human frailty.

Humility before the reality of God and the intrusive and limiting authority of Scripture.

That sense of difference between our concerns and dreams and desires and God’s.

We agree with Paul when he says “we know in part”. That is why I am so uneasy for us to declare God’s blessing on what we cannot be sure he does bless, and in the face of Scripture may even be lying on behalf of God.

While I admit it is in principle possible that the church has been mistaken in its long held conviction that the two basic ways of life God blesses is sexual marriage and celebrate singleness, the onus is very much on those who posit a third alternative of some form of committed homosexual relationship to make their case that it is compatible with Scripture. Something of the immensity of that task can be gauged by the conclusions of Robert Gagnon Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a leading scholar this issue, which are at least a good statement of the prima face situation.

The two-sexes prerequisite is no little “detail” in Scripture but a core value in sexual ethics. The universal witness of Scripture to a male-female prerequisite for valid sexual unions—the flip side of which is the witness of Scripture against every form of homosexual practice—is no little “detail.” It is a core value among Scripture’s sexual ethics. It is a value held: pervasively, that is, within each Testament and across Testaments;absolutely, that is, without exception; strongly, that is, as or more offensive than adultery and the worst forms of consensual adult incest; counterculturally, that is, in opposition to broader cultural trends. [38]

Gagnon may have it wrong, but he shows the seriousness of the issue for a Christianity that limits itself humbly to the limits of Scripture as Anglicanism does.

So there is a place for Scripture as supreme but not omnicompetent, and a place for what has been handed down to us to be tested by Scripture, and a place of human reason, both in reading and attending to Scripture and to what is learnt from the world around us. There is a great deal of freedom too.

Certainly Anglicanism has a heart with fuzziness at the edges.

(3) A remembrance of things past. The catholic gospel past. Conservative in tenor

This is the spirit of the preface “Of Ceremonies: Why some be abolished, and some retained” which is a defence of keeping old ceremonies that meet the standard of being Christian and edifying makes a point that captures this spirit. Those who despise the retention of the old

… ought rather to have reverence unto them for their antiquity, if they will declare themselves to be more studious of unity and concord, than of innovations and new-fangleness, which (as much as may be with the true setting forth of Christ’s Religion) is always to be eschewed.

The church has a culture like that, although it can be destructive if it just becomes old-fashioned in church style. In fact the worst would be to keep the forms of an older church style and then change the content of the message of the faith. Exactly the wrong way round.

(4) At home in the world (at times too at home)

A legacy from its days as the national church of England that continues long after it has left England. Alister McGrath’s [39] via media between fundamentalism and liberalism, though a little too cute, does have a point about Anglicanism’s position as neither isolating Christianity from the world nor making Christianity indistinguishable from it.

The acceptance of God’s work and providence in the world is a strength.

Though it collapse into a “blessing of what is” or the usurping of the gospel and the Scriptures.

The value of Anglicanism has always stopped evangelicalism in Sydney going fundamentalist and obscurantist.

Back in 1992 I wrote a “Bah Humbug” column on the diocesan newspaper Southern Cross in which I gave a number of reasons why I had been attracted to the Anglican Church back in 1972 when I moved straight from being a ministry candidate in the then Methodist church to a candidate for the Anglican ministry.

The first two reasons I gave were

1. The central issue was the clear commitment to the authority of Scripture
and the centrality of Christ’s cross and resurrection in the Christian life
which I detected in Sydney Anglicanism.

2. (This will surprise many.) I was also attracted by the freedom Sydney
Anglicanism’s theological conservatism offered me as an alternative to
fundamentalism. I was looking for an antidote to wishy-washy theological
liberalism. I found in Sydney Anglicanism an intelligent and scholarly
theological conservatism without the obscurantist or reactionary elements
you can often find in some anti-liberal positions. Yes. folks, one reason I
became a Sydney Anglican was to escape fundamentalism!

(5) Not bossy

I am thinking here about the concept of “dispersed authority” that gives freedom and responsibility to clergy and laity and bishops and parish priests and dioceses and the national church and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the different provinces and so on and so on. No one can force an ultimate compliance on anyone else. I once described our polity to a magistrate at a hearing, who was trying to understand the Anglican church, as “democratic feudalism”

For those of a Myers Briggs type that is strongly “J” (let the reader understand) this aspect of Anglicanism will drive them crazy, but for others of us, as frustrating it can beat times, it is also immensely valuable.

[1]The Library of Christian Classics Volume XXVI English Reformers ed T.H.L Parker p. 33
[2]Colin Buchanan Is the Church of England Biblical? DLT 1998 p.345
[5] Gene Robinson. In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God. 2008 p.61
[6] J.I Packer “A Personal Response to the St. Michael Report” accessed
[7] Rowan Williams “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” 27 July 2009 Accessed from on 28.07.09
[8]Tom Frame Anglicans in Australia (2007) p265
[9] See Philip Jenkins The Lost History of Christianity: the thousand year golden age of the Church (HarperOne 2008) on the death of the churches of the east.
[10] John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. God is back : how the global revival of faith is changing the world (New York :Penguin Press, 2009)
[11] Martyn Percy Clergy: The Origin of Species (Continuum 2006)
[12] Aphorism 65-69 from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations with commentary on the right by Lois Shawver. Accessed at on 23.07.09
[13] Williams “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” 27 July 2009 Accessed from on 28.07.09
[14] ABC Radio National “Religion Report” 5 July 2006
[15] Bishop Graham Kings “Federation isn't enough” Accessed from on 06.08 .09
[16] Cited by John Davis, Australian Anglicans and their Constitution. (Acorn: 1993) p.116
[17] J.E. Lessie Newbigin The Household of God (London SCM 1953) p.101
[18] Reported by Robert Tong: “As recently as (19th) August 2006, Archbishop Rowan Williams in reply to a question from a journalist (Interview with Wim Houtman, Religion Editor Nederlands Dagblad)
[19] As, for example, Bruce Kaye Church without Walls (Harper Collins Melbourne 1995
[20] Ashley Null Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance (Oxford 2000) p.21
[21] Ashley Null “The Classical Anglican Understanding of Salvation and its decay” Unpublished paper from GAFON Jerusalem 2008 p.11
[22] accessed 21.07.09
[23] A point suggested by Ashley Null in his unpublished Moore College Annual Lectures for 2009 “Renewing the Power to
Love: Repentance in Classical Anglicanism”
[24] “There is a Green Hill” Cecil F. Alexander 1847
[25] A point explored at depth by Oliver O’Donovan A Conversation Waiting to Begin (2009) Chapter 1 “The Failure of the Liberal Paradigm”
[26] Ashley Null “The Classical Anglican Understanding of Salvation and its decay” Unpublished paper from GAFON Jerusalem 2008 p.16
[27] The Library of Christian Classics Volume XXVI English Reformers ed T.H.L Parker p. 26
[28] Oliver O’Donovan “The Reading Church Scriptural Authority in Practice” a lecture given at St Mary Islington, 27 April 2009, at the launch of his book A Conversation Waiting to Begin: the Churches and the Gay Controversy’ (SCM Press, 2009)
[29] Gene Robinson. In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God. (Seabury 2008) p22
[30] Oliver O’Donovan “The Reading Church Scriptural Authority in Practice” a lecture given at St Mary Islington, 27 April 2009, at the launch of his book A Conversation Waiting to Begin: the Churches and the Gay Controversy’ (SCM Press, 2009)
[31] Richard Hooker, The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine Mr. Richard Hooker with an Account of His Life and Death by Isaac Walton. Arranged by the Rev. John Keble MA. 7th edition revised by the Very Rev. R.W. Church and the Rev. F. Paget(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888). 3 vols. Vol. 1. Chapter: OF THE LAWS OF ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY, EIGHT BOOKS. Accessed from on 4.08.09
[32] Richard Hooker, The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine Mr. Richard Hooker with an Account of His Life and Death by Isaac Walton. Arranged by the Rev. John Keble MA. 7th edition revised by the Very Rev. R.W. Church and the Rev. F. Paget(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888). 3 vols. Vol. 2. Accessed from on 4.98.09
[33] Bruce Kaye A Church without Walls Harper Collins Melbourne 1995 p.126
[34] J. Keble The Works of that Learned and Judicious Divine Mr. Richard Hooker with an Account of His Life and Death by Isaac Walton. Arranged by the Rev. John Keble MA. 7th edition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888). cited in Kaye A Church without Walls Harper Collins Melbourne 1995 p.126
[35] The Jerusalem Declaration point 1
[36] The Jerusalem Declaration point 5
[37] The Jerusalem Declaration points 9 and 10
[38] Robert A. Gagnon “Case Not Made: A Response to Prof. John Thorp’s “Making the Case” for Blessing. Homosexual Unions in the Anglican Church of Canada” Accessed from on 10.08.09 (Further
significant material can be found at
[39] A.E. McGrath The Renewal of Anglicanism (Morehouse Publishing 1993) p129