Tuesday, November 30, 2010
By Robin G. Jordan
Conservative North American Anglicans have reached another crossroads. The fingerpost points in a number of directions. They can join the exodus from the Anglican Church, abandon what small part of the Anglican heritage onto which they have hung, and become Roman Catholics. They can continue in their present direction away from authentic historic Anglicanism, pulled this way and that way by whatever ecclesiastic fad of the moment grips their imagination. Or they can turn back to the old paths of the Bible and the Reformation, of the Protestant faith of the reformed Church of England and her venerable formularies. They can once more set their feet upon the true Anglican Way.
Those who do will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the true Anglican Way in broad enough for High Churchmen in the Anglican Reformed tradition as well as classical Evangelicals. They will also find it broad enough for those who highly esteem the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, as a perusal of the Homily on the Holy Spirit for Whit-Sunday will reveal. While requiring uniformity on primary matters, the true Anglican Way permits liberty on secondary matters and encourages Christian charity in all things. The true Anglican Way has never sought to bind men’s consciences any tighter than the Scriptures bind them.
The true Anglican Way gives great weight to the teaching of the Bible. For those treading its path the Bible is the Word of God written, and the final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and life. The Holy Scriptures is the test by which the truth of every doctrine must be tried. What weight the true Anglican Way gives to the Creeds, the Councils of the Church, to early Church Fathers, and the historic Anglican formularies comes from their agreement with the teaching of the Bible. Where their teaching parts from that of the Holy Scriptures, farers on the true Anglican Way part from their teaching.
The true Anglican Way gives a place to the sacraments, to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, in the spiritual journey of the Christian. Those who tread its path recognize these two ordinances of Christ as more than bare signs: they are means of grace. Through these two sacraments God shows his goodwill and favor to us. However, those to whom these sacraments are administered do not automatically or invariably benefit from them. Requisite conditions for them to possess the benefits of the sacraments are that they must also possess true repentance and a lively faith. They must turn from sin and to Christ. They must trust in Christ for their salvation. Repentance and faith are the fertile soil upon which the seeds of sacramental grace must fall in order to bear fruit.
Farers on the true Anglican Way do not count confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, or extreme unction as sacraments. They understand that these five “commonly-called (i.e., mistakenly called) sacraments” have grown partly from the corrupt following of the apostles. They are partly states of life that the Scriptures allow. Unlike Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they do not have the nature of sacraments: they do not have any visible sign or ceremony that God ordained.
Those who tread the true Anglican Way are very mindful of the vital role of the Holy Spirit in their spiritual lives. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life to those who are spiritually dead. Without the Spirit’s quickening we have no will to please God and without the Spirit’s working within us we have no power to do so. The Holy Spirit equips, empowers, guides, and sanctifies us, enabling us to bear much fruit to the glory of God.
Those who take the time to explore the true Anglican Way discover to their delight that the three elements of the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Spirit, three elements that the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement has appropriated, are very much a part of that path. At the same time the true Anglican Way does not depart from the Bible and the Reformation while the path of the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement leads those upon it into the howling wilderness of unreformed Catholicism and then disappears like a rabbit track in the woods, fading into nothing. The Bible and the Reformation are God’s gifts to his people—the first to keep them on the right path and the second to return them to the right path. They show us how to follow Jesus and to be a part of the true apostolic church.
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 7:49 PM