Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Put on the Whole Armor of God

By Robin G. Jordan

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

The only movement that appears to have so far played a very minimal if not non-existent role in the shaping of the Anglican Church in North America is the evangelical movement. This may in part account for the weak attachment of the Anglican Church in North America to authentic historic Anglicanism. The evangelical movement has historically championed the Protestant and Reformed faith of the Church of England and her formularies. This is not to say that the Anglican Church in North America does not included congregations and clergy committed to upholding authentic historic Anglicanism. However, they have not influenced the development of the new denomination in a significant manner.

Some observers of the Anglican Church in North America predict that such congregations and clergy will eventually be assimilated into the prevailing culture of the new denomination, losing their Protestant and Reformed identity. The present situation in the Anglican Church in North America is apparently not a cause of serious discomfort for them. Such a scenario is not implausible. Consider what happened to the evangelical Episcopalians who did not succeed from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the 1870s. They became Broad Church liberals.

This observer would argue that these congregations and clergy are not the only conservative evangelicals in the North American Anglican community that are suffering from crippling apathy. Indeed such apathy seems endemic among conservative evangelicals on the North American continent. We appear to be gripped by a paralysis that keeps us from taking the future of authentic historic Anglicanism and our own future into our own hands and doing something about it. We wait passively and unprotesting for the approaching juggernaut to crush the Protestant and Reformed faith of the Church of England and us under its wheels. We seem to be resigned to this fate.

We have become infected by a spiritually unhealthy pessimism that is leading us to accept the extinction of authentic historic Anglicanism without a fight. Once we are infected with this pessimism, it colors our entire thinking and influences our choices. We are prone to infect others with the same pessimism. Those who are infected with this pessimism reinforce each other’s negative thinking. It comes to so dominate our thinking that we resist and reject anything that does not fit with this attitude. We place ourselves in circumstances that reinforce it.

This pessimism, this inclination to take dark views, is more than an attitude of the mind. It has decided spiritual dimensions. In a number of ways it resembles occult oppression. It should be, I am convinced, a major cause for concern. It is not something that we should allow to take over how we see the world and to determine how we relate to it. Rather we should recognize it for what it is—a spiritual weapon that is being used against us. The evil one will do everything in his power to prevent us from serving God to the fullest. This includes darkening our thoughts with a pessimistic frame of mind.

More than ever we must take to heart Paul’s advice to the Church at Ephesus. We must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil. We must take up the whole armor of God because the evil day is upon us and only if we put on God’s whole armor can we withstand the devil and make the best use of the time, walking not as the unwise but as the wise (Ephesians 5:16).

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