By Robin G. Jordan
If North American Anglicans do not need a new Oxford Movement, what then do they need? This is a very important question. It is a question to which we must give careful thought. In this article I offer an answer to this question, which is the fruit of my own reflection.
North American Anglicans need to hear the gospel. To some this may sound like a no-brainer. But the fact is that many North American Anglicans have not heard the gospel. They may have heard a gospel. Or they may have heard a part of the gospel or a watered-down version of the gospel. However, they have not heard the full gospel as it is found in the New Testament.
”But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’” (Romans 10:14-16 ESV)
As the apostle Paul went on to write the church at Rome, “…faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 KJV)
We not only need to hear the gospel to believe in Christ but also to receive the Holy Spirit. We do not receive the Holy Spirit by works of the law but by hearing through faith (Galatians 3:2,5). To receive is to take the proffered thing into our hands or possession. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we make room for the Holy Spirit in our lives. We provide accommodation for the Holy Spirit so to speak. We choose to serve as a receptacle of the Spirit. But we do not do this by our own natural strength. We are able to do so because God has already begun to work in us (Philippians 1:6). It is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). We have no power of our own to do anything pleasing or acceptable to God unless God first gives us the grace through Christ, enabling us to have a good will, and the grace of God continues at work within us to maintain that good will.
One of the reasons that Christians do not experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives is that when they welcome him into their lives, they confine him to the front room. They do not open their whole life to him, especially the dark corners. God does not force his Holy Spirit upon us. He does not invade us like an evil spirit and take possession of us against our will. He gently prods and quietly encourages us to make more room for his presence in us, to open the doors to those parts of our lives that we are keeping closed to him. He gives us the grace to have the good will to open these doors and to yield these areas of our lives to him until he wholly reigns over our lives. We truly enter God’s kingdom when God is the complete ruler of our hearts.
North American Anglicans need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As I type these words, I can hear someone groaning, ”Why do evangelicals always bring up the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” We cannot relate to Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord if he is a remote figure in ancient Palestine. He must be a very Real Person to us, alive today as he was alive then. We may not see or touch him but he must be very much present in the here and now.
Our relationship with Christ must be personal. It cannot be our relationship of our forebears or parents. It cannot be the relationship of the Church. It cannot be the relationship of a confessor, pastor, priest, or spiritual director. It must be our own. We must personally for ourselves accept Christ as our Saviour. We must likewise accept him as our Lord. We must confess with our own mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our own heart that God raised him from the dead in order to be saved (Romans 10:9). No one else can do this for us.
It is as the apostle Paul wrote. A man may be circumcised as an infant and bear the mark of the Old Covenant but unless he is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit and not by the letter, he is no Jew (Romans 2:29). We may have been baptized in infancy, recognized as children of the New Covenant, and admitted to the visible Church but until we ourselves turn from sin, turn to Christ, accept his offer of salvation, and follow him as his disciple, we are not Christians. A couple may be betrothed, bind themselves with a promise to marry. They may announce their engagement and buy an engagement ring. But until they stand before a minister and exchange their vows, the minister offers prayer and blesses them, and they consummate their marriage, they are not husband and wife. We may have inherited our great aunt’s house. The lawyer may have given us the deed to the property and the key to the house. But until we have occupied the house, turned on the electricity, gas, and water, and made it our home, we have not come into our inheritance. All we have is a deed and a key.
When we have a personal relationship with someone else, we take him into our confidence. We share with him our ups and downs. We tell him our darkest secrets. He is our closest friend and constant companion.
At the same time we must also let him do his share of the talking and listen attentively to what he says. If someone is a very good friend—not just in our estimation but also in truth—and we trust him, we will also take to heart what he says.
Jesus has promised to those who open their lives to him, he will have intimate fellowship with them, and they with him:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV)
While Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne, he also makes himself present to us in a very real way by the power of the Holy Spirit. Catholic theologians talk about Christ’s real presence under the forms of bread and wine on the altar at Mass. But Christ is really present to us every day. His presence is not imagined. It is real albeit it is spiritual. The Spirit of Christ is present to our spirit. Indeed through the indwelling Holy Spirit Jesus also dwells in our heart, our innermost being.
An analogy that I find helpful is the difference between appearing before a king in his throne room, surrounded by his court, and meeting with him alone in his presence-chamber. A presence-chamber is the reception room of a great person where he meets privately with petitioners and others who have business with him. This analogy may not work well for Americans who have no monarch and therefore they cannot relate to the experience. But does apply to how Christ relates us but with a very important difference. Christ does not just invite us to his presence-chamber. He makes his presence-chamber in us! We can take counsel with Christ as we would with the closest of our friends and intimates.
In the High Priestly Prayer Jesus asks that the Father give eternal life to all that the Father has given him:
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3-4 ESV)
In the Greek the kind of knowing to which Jesus is referring is used to describe the intimate relationship between husband and wife.
The relationship that we enjoy with Christ in this life is a relationship that continues beyond death. It is eternal.
To a number of Catholics it comes as a surprise that they can meet with Christ in the presence-chamber of their heart. They have been taught that they need the Blessed Virgin Mary and other intermediaries to approach Christ in the throne room on their behalf. Christ has been presented to them as not a particularly approachable figure, certainly not someone with whom they can enjoy a personal relationship. They have also been taught that they need priests by whatever mystical powers they are supposed to have been given at their ordination through the laying-on-of-the bishop’s hands to make Christ present for them under the forms of bread and wine.This presence is not particularly personal. It is more like the fire-berry that every morning a bird brings the retired star Ramandu from the valleys in the Sun in C. S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and by which a little of his age is taken away until he becomes as young as the child born yesterday, whereupon he can take his rising again and once more tread the great dance. 
How do we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? The first step is to believe in him and to accept him as our Saviour and Lord. But that is only the beginning. Like any other relationship, our relationship with Christ will not grow if we do not make time for that relationship and invest in it. We can have no relationship with anyone, including Christ, if we do not seek his company or converse with him, if we do not make room for that person in our lives.
What comes from our relationship with Christ reveals what kind of relationship we have with him. If we say that we have a relationship with Christ but our life is unchanged, then our claim to have a relationship with Christ must be questioned. We may not be putting into our relationship with Christ what we should be—showing our love for Christ by obeying him and by loving others. Or we may really not have a relationship with Christ at all. As with any person with whom we have the relationship, we must trust Christ, and trusting Christ means heeding what he says. The extent of our relationship reveals the extent of our trust.
North American Anglicans not only need to be on intimate terms with Christ but also God’s Word written. God has given us the Holy Scriptures to guide us through this life and to enjoy a right relationship with him. They provide us with the only rule of life that we need. They set forth everything that is necessary for our salvation. They are a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path in the darkness of this world (Psalm 119:105). The unfolding of God’s Word gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). It makes them wise (Psalm 19:7) In God’s light, we see light (Psalm 36:9).
Imagine being in a room in pitch darkness. We cannot even see our hands before our face not matter how closely we hold them to our eyes. Then someone puts a book into our hands. We open the book and light shine from its pages, illuminating the room around us. From this book we learn how we can get to a room filled with the light of God’s presence and enjoy being in that light for all eternity. We also read how we can also find ourselves in another room for all eternity, one even darker than this one and filled with things from our worst nightmares and worse, things beyond our imagining. God has given us such a book and that book is the Bible.
In an earlier time we might have described the Holy Scriptures as a map and a compass to help the traveler find the right path and to stay on it. Today we might describe it as God’s geographic positioning system (GPS) for those on life’s highway.
In the Holy Scriptures God makes known that part of his will that he has chosen to reveal to us. He does not reveal all of his will but he does reveal all of his will that we need to know.
In reading and study the Bible, in memorizing passages from the Bible, in mediating upon passages of Scripture, we nourish our souls. In immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, God’s Word becomes a part of us. Through God’s Word the Holy Spirit renews our minds (Romans 12:2). We become “skilled in the word of righteousness” (Hebrews 5:13), and we learn to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Our powers of discernment are trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). The mind of Christ is formed in us.
North American Anglicans need to live a life of repentance, godliness, and holiness. What we say and do most be consistent with each other.
”This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6 ESV)
If we are going to claim knowledge of God, then our lives must reflect that we do indeed know him:
”Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” (1 John 2:4-5 ESV)
We may not see through our hypocrisy but others do, in particular those who are not Christians and those who are unchurched. They may already have a preconception of Christians as being hypocrites. We reinforce that preconception.
Our conduct, and our conversation should clearly show who is the Lord of our life:
“By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6 ESV)
Our manner of life should be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).
 North American Anglicans need to feel a deep concern for the souls of others and to act upon what they feel. They need to become missionaries wherever God has placed them. They need to invest in relationships with the lost in their lives and to be not only the messengers of God’s grace, of his favour and goodwill, but the message too. They need to develop their skills at building relationships, listening to others, encouraging them, and, when the time is right, drawing them into spiritual conversations and eventually sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ. This requires learning to find what Sjogren, Ping, and Pollock call an individual’s “spiritual address.”
“Every human being of planet Earth has a unique address in relationship to the kingdom of God. Some are very close; others are much further from faith in Christ. In passages such as Mark 12:34 and Matthew 15:8, Jesus refers to people’s spiritual addresses, saying that someone is ‘not far’ from the kingdom or that others’ ‘hearts are far from me.’
The concept of a spiritual address is crucial to all of us who want Christ’s messages to reach and change people’s hearts. Why? Because messages that are brilliantly effective for those close to faith will quite often alienate and repel those who are far from it. In evangelism, as in most things, one size does not fit all.” 
North American Anglicans need to learn to love the lost and to show them God’s love even though they may at a particular time not be ready to accept Christ. They need to be mindful that for many people they may be the only Christ that these people may ever know.
Being a witness to Christ is a tremendous responsibility. Our lives must attest to the truth of our words. They must give testimony that knowing Christ, having a intimate personal relationship with him, does indeed make a difference, that Christ is all that we say that he is. Anglo-Catholic theologians are mistaken in their description of the priest at the altar as an icon of Christ. It is the people of Christ in their daily lives who are the true icons of Christ, the windows through which the lost see Christ.
North American Anglicans need to have more than a passing acquaintanceship with the historical Church of England formularies and the received interpretation of these formularies. The historical Church of England formularies are important statements of what Anglicans believe. They are standards of faith and practice for Anglicans, authoritative solely on the basis that they are agreeable to Scripture.
James Packer has written about the place and use of the Thirty-Nine Articles today. He acknowledges that he is an enthusiast for the Articles:
“Coming from a time when the most basic question in Christianity, namely the terms of the gospel itself, was being fought out with scholarship and passion, they centre on the fundamentals and define the gospel in a way that by biblical standards must be judge classic. They are thus abidingly relevant, and never more so than in a day like ours, when by reason of unsettlement resulting from what I think are unsound approaches to the Bible, the churches of the Reformation have lost their certainty about this classic definition.”
Packer goes on to admit that he is casting the Articles in a rescuer’s role:
“The deepest reason for producing them, over and above the short-term political gains of doing so, was to provide for the future the Anglican answer to the question, what is the gospel? Constitutionally, the Articles still do this. Since by biblical standards they answer thquestion correctly, and since the greater body of Anglicans have drifted away from the answer, much to their loss, my enthusiasm will I hope be pardoned, however unfashionable it might seem. I cannot really think of any healthier course of study for Anglicans generally in these days than to analyze and assimilate the Christian message as the Articles define, display, and delimit it.” 
In Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group examine the place of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They point to our attention that the 1662 Prayer Book has been the standard liturgical resource for Anglicans since its adoption. It has been translated into many languages and adapted to different circumstances. The orders of services that are found in the 1662 Prayer Book provide an important and distinct approach to Anglican sacramental and liturgical life, as do Archbishop Cranmer’s Prefaces. 
They make note of the fact that the 1662 Prayer Book, unlike more recent liturgies, keeps a focus on scripture, repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and praise.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer remains a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, because the principles it embodies are fundamentally theological and biblical. The liturgies of this book enable all who participate to think in true and biblical ways about God and about their life as his people.”
“Cranmer’s genius lay in preserving those elements of earlier orders of service which communicated gospel truth, and then expressed them in the vernacular language of the day…His prefaces provide principles for continued liturgical revision, so that in every age gospel truth may be conveyed and celebrated without confusion…The 1662 Prayer Book provides a standard by which other liturgies may be tested and measured….The further removed a proposed liturgy may be from the 1662 Prayer Book, the more important it is that it should be subject to widespread evaluation throughout the Communion.” 
In relation to the Anglican Ordinal, which has been bound within The Book of Common Prayer since 1552, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group make this very important point:
“Ordained ministers are always and only ministers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This gospel is entrusted to them (1 Timothy 1:12-14), and they are accountable to the Lord for their faithfulness to it.” 
North American Anglicans need to have fellowship with other Christian men and women in a local expression of the Body of Christ. The local church is not the diocese, district, presbytery, or other judicatory. It is a congregation of faithful men and women—a gathering of believing Christians—in which the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, are ministered with due order and discipline as ordained by Christ. While all believing Christians in all places and all times are linked by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ their head and into the invisible Church of Christ, the local church is a particular visible expression of Christ’s Body in a particular place and a particular time. It may serve a particular community or it may be targeted at a particular segment of the population, a particular subculture in the culture, or a particular affinity group, for example a Hispanic church, a church for “Cultural Creatives,” or a cowboy church.
Fellowship is more than socializing with like-minded people. It involves sharing our hopes, our dreams, our troubles, our disappointments, and our burdens with other Christians. It means disclosing ourselves, being vulnerable, not wearing a mask or trying to control how others perceive us. It means being seen as God sees us.
Fellowship entails confessing our sins to each other, and holding each other accountable not only for what we say and do but also what we think and feel. It especially means loving each other as Christ loved us. Unlike Cain, we are our brother and our sister’s keeper. The love that Christians bear for one another is not a love that would wink at a brother or sister jeopardizing his or her soul.
In Proverbs 27:17 we read, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” It is primarily in the local church in which this sharpening—the conversations through which Christians make one another wiser and better—takes place. New Christians are instructed in the Christian faith and mentored in the Christian way of life. For good or for evil each Christian set an example for his fellow Christians. In the large membership or mega church the sharpening takes place in the smaller ecclesia of the small group meeting in homes, offices, and other venues. In the small membership church it may occurs in the congregation itself, depending upon the size of the church.
The manifestations of the Holy Spirit, what are called spiritual gifts, are given not to the individual Christian but to the Body of Christ in its local expression for the upbuilding of that Body. Where a particular gift such as “tongues,” or a personal prayer language is given to an individual Christian, it is given to build up the faith of that Christian so that he can, in turn, use what other spiritual gifts or natural talents God has bestowed upon him to build up the faith of the local church. It does not make that Christian more spiritual than other Christians. On the contrary, as pastor of my acquaintanceship drew to my attention, such gifts are often bestowed upon those who are weak in faith. In his case he had struggled with alcoholism for years. This particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit in his life was not a mark of spiritual superiority but of his own weakness and of God’s compassion.
Over the years God has shown me that the individual Christian himself is God’s gift to the local Church, to the local expression of the Body of Christ. We ourselves may not always see how a particular individual is a gift. He or she may not to our way of thinking have the appearance of a gift. However, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). In time God may reveal to us how such individual is a gift and to our amazement the gift God has given us is a precious one indeed. He has given us one of the least of his children to whom in ministering we are ministering to Christ.
North American Anglicans need to study the history of the Christian Church especially those periods that are key to understanding the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of Anglicanism. If they are not acquainted with a particular historical period, its major events, the effects of these events, its leading figures, and their thinking, they cannot tell if a particular individual is promoting a myth or theory that is not grounded in historical fact. They may consequently be led to draw the wrong conclusions about Anglican beliefs, Anglican identity, Anglican practices, and a host of other important issues. A thorough knowledge of the historical context and the authors’ intent, for example, is essential to understanding the Church of England formularies.
North American Anglicans need to develop their ability to separate fact from opinion, to discern what is true from what is false, to tell apart sound logic from faulty or questionable logic, and to see through sophistry and subtle argument. They need to hone and sharpen their own judgment and not to rely upon the judgment of others. They need to learn to recognize what is truly scriptural, that is found in Scripture or may be proved by Scripture, from that which is not. The latter requires not only familiarity with Scripture but also the basic principles of Bible interpretation and common mistakes in such interpretation. It also requires a close acquaintance with the rules of logic and their application. We live in a post-Christian, post-logical world in which people make critical decisions upon experience, feelings, and intuition. Cognitive processes have changed. Millenials come to conclusions in a peculiar roundabout way while former generations were more linear and logical in their thinking. This makes them particularly susceptible to doctrines and practices that are strange, erroneous and disagreeable with Scripture.
I am convinced that these things are the most important things that North American Anglicans need today. But there is one other thing that I have not mentioned so far. Above all else, there is clearly a need for spiritual revival.
Heavenly Father, we beg you to pour out your Spirit in these days. Awaken the unconverted and revive those who love you. Grant your people a true vision of your glory, a renewed faithfulness to your Word, and a deeper consecration to your service so that through their witness your kingdom may advance and all peoples be brought to fear your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, (NewYork: HarperCollins, 1980), 226-227.
 Steve Sjogren, Dave Ping, and Doug Pollock, Irresistible Evangelism, (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2004), 66.
 J. I. Packer and R. T. Beckwith, The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2007) 74.
 Ibid., 75.
 Nicholas Okoh, Vinay Samuel, and Chris Sugden, eds., Being Faithful: The Shape Of Historic Anglicanism Today (London: The Latimer Trust, 2009), 46.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47-48.
 Ibid., 50.