Friday, May 28, 2010

Lest We Forget

By Robin G. Jordan

Jesus warned his disciples that before the coming of the Son of Man they would hear of wars and rumors of wars. Nation would rise up against nation and kingdom would rise up against kingdom. Sadly war is a part of the human condition. In every generation sons and daughters will march off to war, some to fall in a foreign land, giving their lives in the service of their country.

I was born at the end of the World War II. As a child in England I remember going to the beach and seeing a washed-up mine cordoned off with barbed wire. Pillboxes and tank traps were a more common sight. I recall a slim volume of poems by Ivar Campbell that are among my mother's favorite poems. Campbell fought in "the war to end all wars." He was a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He died on January 8, 1916 at the age of 25, from wounds received in action.

In England they observe Remembrance Day in which they honor the memories of those who died in more recent wars as well as those who fell in both world wars.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, 1915

In my lifetime the United States has fought the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War and a number of smaller conflicts. US troops are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan this very moment. I, like many others in my generation and past generations and in generations to come, look forward to the day when God will “abolish the sword, the bow, and war from this land” and make us to lie down in safety (Hosea 2:18 ESV).

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.(Isaiah 11:6-9 ESV)

Until that day comes, as God promises that it will come, men and women must heed their country’s call to defend its liberties and must die on some foreign battlefield.

We have set aside one day of the year to remember their sacrifice and to honor them. But we should remember every day of the year, not just one day of the year, what they have done for their country. Some died heroically, laying their lives down for their friends and those they barely knew. Others did not have an opportunity to show their true character. They died even before they made it to the beach. Some were killed the same day that they arrived in the combat zone; others died just a short time before they were to leave for home. Some are buried in foreign soil; others lie in the soil of their native or adopted land. All are our nation’s honored dead.

How then should we honor their memory? By caring for their widows and orphans, for their loved ones. By caring for those who returned home alive but wounded in body, mind or spirit. By making adequate provision for the civilian employment, education, disability, health care, housing, and retirement of all who have served their country, for the education and health care of their children, and the care of their spouses in ill-health and old age. We owe them nothing less.

O Lord, thou lover of souls, who through the mouth of thy prophet of old hast declared that all souls are thine: We thank thee for the brave and faithful dead who have laid down their lives for their country; for the devotion and courage of the soldiers and sailors and airmen who have fallen in the cause of truth and righteousness. Grant us so to follow their good example in faithfulness and endurance, even unto death, that we may be found worthy of the crown of everlasting life; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

O Lord, our heavenly Father, we commend to thy mercy all who suffer as the result of war, especially the maimed, the blind, and those who are afflicted in mind. Have pity upon the homeless and friendless, and upon those who no longer have a country of their own. Fill us with compassion for them, prosper all who seek to minister to their needs, and hasten the coming of thy kingdom of justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Comfort, O Lord, we pray thee, all who are mourning the loss of those who laid down their lives in war. Be with them in their sorrow, support them in their loneliness. Give them faith to look beyond the troubles of this present time, and to know that neither life nor death can separate us from thy love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Emergent Church No Longer Emerging?

The "emergent church" is a loosely defined and even less organized force of postmodern evangelicals who emphasize community over Christian doctrine. Having mostly arisen a decade or more ago, and appealing primarily to twenty and thirtysomethings, emerging church types reject the traditional moralism of older conservative evangelicals.

In its place, they sometimes erect a new moralism built around environmentalism, diet, exercise, or social justice. They also react against the perceived liturgical sterility of Baby Boomer evangelicalism, with its shopping center style mega-churches, sometimes sacramental indifference, and hyper-Protestant rejection of traditional Christian symbolism and mysticism.

Rejecting much of "modernity," emergents often emphasize ancient Christian symbols and practices involving candles, icons, a frequent Eucharist, Gregorian chants, and stained glass. They also shy away from culturally confrontational issues like abortion and homosexuality and stress community and dialogue over dogma. While still loosely evangelical and often emphasizing Trinitarians, emergents are inclined towards a "generous" orthodoxy that more straight-laced Christians discern as permissive if not heretical. Emergents are stereotypically associated with soul patches, body piercings, black clothing, and coffee houses. Though too young to remember Beatniks, or Jack Kerouac, they stylistically often aspire to be their more spiritual descendants.

Unsurprisingly, emergents are typically left-wing in their political voice, though they almost uniformly insist they are non-ideological. Former suburban Maryland pastor Brian McLaren, author of A Generous Orthodoxy, and leader of the "Emergent Village," is a prominent emergent voice and close ally of Evangelical Left chieftain Jim Wallis. Wallis's Sojourners magazine recently provocatively asked: "Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?"

To read more, click here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anglicanism: Protestant or Reformed Catholic?

By Robin G.Jordan

In June 1995 J. I. Packer expressed a view that make some Anglicans quite nervous. He told a conference of Reform UK that the basic stance of Anglicanism is Protestant. In doing so, he was simply reiterating what Anglicans had believed until the Oxford movement created confusion about Anglican identity in the nineteenth century, and what Classical Anglican Evangelicalism holds to this day.

From English Reformation to the early nineteenth century members of the Church of England saw themselves as “Churchmen” and “Protestants.” They were Churchmen because they belonged to the Church of England and the Church of England was the established Church. They were “Protestants” because the Church of England was a Protestant Church. The English Reformers had joined the continental Reformers in protesting the errors of the Church of Rome. They had denied the universal authority of the Pope. They had rejected the Roman doctrines of apostolic succession and the sacerdotal character of the Christian ministry. The Thirty-Nine Articles affirmed such Protestant doctrines as the ultimate authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice, justification by grace alone by faith alone in Jesus alone, and good works as the necessary fruits of faith and the evidence of justification. The Glorious Revolution had put a Protestant monarch on the English throne and Parliament had enacted a law requiring that all English monarchs as the supreme governor of the Church of England must be Protestant.

In the nineteenth century the Scottish Episcopal Church experimented with the use of the term “Reformed Catholic” but abandoned it for “Protestant Episcopal.” “Reformed Catholic was too closely associated in the minds of the Scots with “Roman Catholic.” In our time the late Peter Toon championed the use of the term “Reformed Catholic” instead of Protestant in an attempt to accommodate Anglo-Catholics. However, a number of Anglo-Catholics have begun to use the term for Catholic doctrine and practice that is by no means reformed. They redefine “Reformed Catholic” in accordance with John Newman’s fanciful reinterpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles in which he claimed that the Articles only reject certain Roman abuses and excesses. While Anglo-Catholics might not like the term “Protestant,” it accurately describes classical Anglicanism. Unlike “Reformed Catholic,” it cannot be redefined to apply to unreformed Catholicism.

Being Protestant did not make the Church of England sectarian even though its sixteenth and seventeenth Roman Catholic detractors sought to portray the English Church as such. Unfortunately the Oxford movement would adopt this view of a Protestant Church of England and went to great lengths to demonstrate to themselves and the Church of England’s Roman Catholic critics that the English Church was Catholic. They also claimed that they more than any other church party, including the High Church party, stood for Catholic doctrine and practice and represented genuine Catholicism in the Church of England. They also claimed that they were not a church party. In all three instances their claim was untrue. A great deal of the uneasiness that modern-day Anglicans feel with the description of being Protestant reflects the influence of what the nineteenth century Evangelical Bishop of Ohio Charles P. McIlvaine called “Oxfordism.”

The English Reformers, however, were not uneasy with the use of the term “Protestant” to describe the Church of England. Between apostolic times and the sixteenth century the primitive catholic faith had become defaced and overlaid by so many innovations in doctrine and worship in the Church of Rome that it was no longer recognizably the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Free of the accretions of almost two thousand years, the faith of the Protestant Church of England was much closer to the catholic faith of the Primitive Church than the faith of the Roman Church. It was decidedly more apostolic than the faith of the latter. Rather than breaking with the Primitive Church, the Church of England had reinforced and strengthened its continuity with that Church.

The Church of Rome quickly realized that it could not win any debate over doctrine and practice if it appealed solely to Scripture, as did the Protestants. The claim of the Church of England and the other Reformed Churches that their doctrine and practice was that of the Primitive Church forced the Church of Rome to resort to several devices. The first was to claim that Church tradition had authority equal to that of Scripture if not greater than Scripture. The second was to claim that Scripture must be interpreted by Church tradition and only the Church of Rome could rightly interpret Church tradition. Consequently only the Church of Rome could rightly interpret Scripture. The third was to claim that in the imposition of the hands at the consecration of a Roman bishop a special grace of the Holy Spirit is passed on to the newly consecrated bishop. This grace has been passed from one Roman bishop to another throughout the centuries all the way back to the apostle Peter, whom Christ had designated as his earthly vicegerent. Only bishops to whom this grace has been passed on, those who stand in a line of succession going back to Peter, are true successors of the apostles. Only the true successors of the apostles taught apostolic doctrine. It was apostolic because the bishops teaching it were the true successors to the apostles, not because it agreed with what the apostles taught in the New Testament. This last device countered any claim of the Reformed Churches that their doctrine and practice was apostolic because the apostles taught it in the New Testament, that they were the true successors of the apostles because they retained apostolic doctrine and practice. This included the Church of England. The position of the Roman Church has substantially not changed since the sixteenth century.

So is Anglicanism a form of Protestantism or a form of Reformed Catholicism? The answer is both. Anglicanism is a conservative, distinctly English form of Protestantism. Classical Anglicanism holds that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the written Word of God and the Sole Rule of Faith and Practice, inspired by the Holy Spirit and containing everything necessary for salvation. This belief is one of a number of things that clearly link the faith of the reformed Church of England and its formularies to Protestantism and Protestant movement. While classical Anglicanism has first used Scripture and then reason in interpreting Scripture and has as a last resort consulted the writings of the early Church Fathers in regards to their opinions as to the meaning of a text, it has never given equal authority to Scripture, reason, and Church tradition as some modern writers have falsely claimed.

At the time of the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement the Reformers sought to make the English Church more apostolic by abandoning the false teaching of the medieval Catholic Church and conforming the teaching of the Church to that of the Holy Scriptures. This teaching applied not only to doctrine but also to practice. The Reformers sought to restore in the English Church the catholic faith of the Primitive Church. In this sense Anglicanism, the faith of the reformed Church of England and its formularies, can be regarded as “Reformed Catholic.”

Due to the influence of liberalism and ritualism Anglicanism in and outside The Episcopal Church has been viewed for the large part as a liberal form of Roman Catholicism. It is liberal to the point that it tolerates practicing homosexuals and women in ordained ministry, the blessing of homosexual liaisons and “gay marriage”. It is also pluralistic and universalistic, showing its tolerance of other religions by incorporating their practices into its own worship and recommending non-Christian spiritualities to Episcopalians. Like Anglo-Catholics, radical liberals show a tendency to redefine “Reformed Catholic” to include their particular ideology.

Due to the same influences Anglicanism is now increasingly viewed in the Anglican Church in North America as a bringing together or convergence of three disparate theologies—Catholicism, Pentecostalism, and evangelicalism. The liberal character of the ideology of the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement is evidenced in its stress upon open-mindedness toward the beliefs and practices of other Christian traditions, its call for a more “generous orthodoxy,” its emphasis upon practice and piety over doctrine, and its intolerance of Classical Anglican Evangelicalism’ insistence upon stricter adherence to doctrine. Convergentism is also liberal in its stance toward the ordination of women and divorce and remarriage. While Convergentist thinking does not goes so far as to embrace pluralism and syncreticism as does radical liberal thinking, it does to some degree adopt the latter’s theological inclusivism but confines its own inclusivism to conservative theologies. Like Anglo-Catholics, Convergentists are inclined to redefine the term “Reformed Catholic” to apply to their own emphases.

As we can see the term “Reformed Catholic” along with the term“via media” can be given a meaning quite different from how we might understand the meaning of the term. Unless the term is accompanied by a clear explanation of what it means, I recommend that we avoid these two terms in our preaching, teaching, and writing.

For the foregoing reasons we need to emphasize the Protestant character of Anglicanism in the twenty-first century. At the same time we also need to help people to acquire a better understanding of not only what it means to be Protestant but also what it does not mean. Too many misconceptions of Protestantism have been fostered by detractors of the Protestant movement. We need to challenge all mistaken and erroneous ideas about Protestantism and all deliberate misrepresentations or distortions of what it means to be Protestant. Being Protestant should not be the cause of unease in Anglicans. It should be something that they not only can acknowledge and affirm but also feel honoured to be.

What makes a good song?

The search for new church songs is a seemingly endless task. It is not that we lack options - rather, the number of options is so overwhelming, that it’s difficult to sort the silver from the dross. Here’s a list of the criteria I use when evaluating songs for church...

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A New Heritage Anglican Logo

I have been experimenting with a new Heritage Anglican logo. It consists of the cross of Saint George with a shield bearing as its charge a hind or (gold) on a field azure (blue) at the juncture of the arms of the cross. The hind charge on the shield recalls the coat of arms of Sir Christopher Hatton whose armorial crest was a golden hind, or female deer. Hatton was the patron of Francis Drake and a major sponsor of Drake’s famous voyage around the world. Drake renamed his flagship, The Golden Hind (or The Golden Hinde) in honor of Hatton in 1577 as he prepared to enter the Straight of Megellan. After passing through the straight, Drake sailed North and landed somewhere in North America. He claimed the land in the name of the Holy Trinity for the English Crown and named it “Nova Albion,” Latin for New Britain. Albion is the classical name of the British Isles. Drake and his crew erected a cross to mark the occasion and his chaplain, the Rev. Francis Fletcher, celebrated the service of Holy Communion. It was one of the first Protestant church services in the New World. It was the first use of the 1559 Elizabethan Communion Service in North America. The 1559 Elizabethan Prayer Book was substantially Thomas Cranmer’s Reformed liturgy of 1552 with a few changes.

The hind charge also recalls the words of King David , “He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places” (Psalm 18:33 AV). Psalm 18 is the story of David’s own life. These particular words appear in the fifth part of the Psalm in which David acknowledges that everything that he had came from God. Psalm 18 is an important reminder of how God helps his people and why. Since God is changeless and unchanging, we can expect him to help us today, as he helped King David almost a thousand years before the birth of Christ.

Navigating the “Three Streams”: Some Second Thoughts about a Popular Typology

by Dr. Gillis Harp

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the September/October 2009 issue of Mandate magazine, and is reproduced with the permission of the author and the editor of Mandate. I originally posted this article on Anglicans Ablaze on September 24, 2009.

The discussion of the Anglican Mission’s choice of ministry partnership status with the Anglican Church in North America instead of full membership on Stand Firm has exposed the views of the Ancient-Future or Convergence movement, the dominant ideology in the Anglican Mission, to public scrutiny. In this discussion the term “Convergentist” was used, suggesting “Convergentism” as an appropriate description of this ideology. In his article Dr. Harp takes a thoughtful look at Convergentism.

While Convergentism has a strong following in the Anglican Mission, it also has adherents in the Anglican Church in North America. Archbishop Robert Duncan has used Convergentist language and themes in his addresses and sermons. Nineteenth century Evangelical Bishop J. C. Ryle identified ritualism and liberalism as perversions rather than genuine Anglicanism. In the nineteenth century liberalism helped ritualism establish itself in the Church of England and daughter churches. In the twentieth century ritualism helped radical liberalism gain ascendancy in The Episcopal Church. In Convergentism we see the emergence of what may be a new form or synthesis of ritualism and liberalism and a new perversion of genuine Anglicanism.

Gillis Harp teaches History at Grove City College and attends Grace Anglican Church in Slippery Rock, PA with his wife and three daughters.

As theologically conservative Anglicans have in recent years sought to cooperate in constructing an orthodox Anglican province in North America, many have referred to the process as a coming together of “three streams.” Usually, they are referring to Catholic, Evangelical (or Protestant) and Pentecostal (or Charismatic) traditions or “tributaries” being channeled into a single “river.” It is difficult to determine exactly where this model originated. Church of South India Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote a short book, The Household of God, back in 1953 that referred to these three elements and how their distinctive characteristics complimented each other. [1]

More than thirty years later, Gordon-Conwell church historian Richard Lovelace wrote a brief (though influential) article for Charismamagazine that argued that “there are many signs that history is moving” in the direction of organic unity between Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal streams. Among the signs he cited was the work of David du Plessis with Roman Catholic and Protestant Charismatic groups, and pointed to a large rally of Catholic and Protestant neo-Pentecostals held in Kansas City in 1977. [2]

But not only Charismatics are fond of this “three streams” language, since the late 1970s, this terminology has come into favour with evangelicals of different sorts who have discovered church history and been drawn toward liturgical Christian traditions, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and, most significant for readers of Mandate, Anglicanism.

Many of the goals that the “three streams” advocates identify are laudable. Those of us committed to classical Anglicanism can endorse the first three put forth by the late Robert E. Webber:

1. A restored commitment to the sacraments, especially the Lord’s Table.
2. An increased motivation to know more about the early church.
3. A love for the whole church and a desire to see the church as one. [3]

Yet the thinking behind these goals and the ways some have sought to blend the three streams call for further, less sentimental reflection based upon better historical and theological analysis.

The three streams paradigm celebrated by one Episcopal congregation long involved in the Charismatic renewal is typical. Its “statement of identity” distinguishes the three streams as “defining its essential character.” It contends that St. John was actually referring to these very streams in 1 John 5:8 when he wrote that “there are three witnesses – the Spirit, the water, and the blood – and these agree.” The blood represents the Catholic stream emphasizing the sacramental and liturgical life of the church; the water stands for the washing of the Word and individual cleansing; the Spirit signifies the Pentecostal stream and the power of the Holy Spirit. (Commentators may be divided about the original context of this particular passage and what heretical view the Apostle was rejecting in it, but reading this modern model into these verses seems an extraordinary stretch, a remarkable example of eisegesis rather than exegesis.) The statement goes on to highlight how each tradition or stream has handled different aspects of Christian teaching, ecclesiastical practice or personal piety. Purportedly, Catholics have stressed works (especially sacrificial service), whereas Evangelicals have emphasized faith, and Pentecostals Spirit-guided discernment “rather than [measuring orthodoxy by] objective criteria.” The statement concludes that the church at its best should knit together these “apparently incompatible approaches.” [4]

Some Episcopalians see this schema as normative of Anglicanism and confuse today’s talk about the ‘three streams’ with the historical division of the Church of England into high church, low church and broad church “parties,” as those terms were used in Anglican circles in the eighteenth century. At that time, the national church included within it clergy and laity who could be divided into at least three distinct groups; that is, a high church element that stressed the visible church (including it distinctive polity and traditional liturgical forms), a low church group that stressed the need for personal conversion and what eighteenth century evangelicals called an “experimental faith,” and a broad church party that stressed the reasonableness of the Christian faith and thus natural revelation over Scripture.

Notably, this interpretation was primarily a description of the contemporary situation within the established church; it was rarely celebrated as an ideal, and it was almost never viewed as the way toward some sort of desired future theological synthesis. Moreover, prior to the mid-nineteenth century, members of all three parties would have defined themselves as Protestants in a general sense (indeed, traditional high churchmen sometimes expressed views sharply critical of Roman doctrine and practice). Also, there would not have been major differences in clerical vesture or ceremonial among the clergy of these three parties, and there was a common reading of the Bible rooted in the Book of Common Prayer.

The emergence and growth of two groups in the late 1800s changed this picture, however. These were the Anglo-Catholics and theological modernists. The latter transformed the restrained liberalism of the Broad Church, making it far more radical, and the former turned the High Church party away from some tenets of the Reformation and low church worship that had characterized most of the Church of England since the Reformation. The result was an Anglican comprehensiveness that went far beyond that envisioned by the Anglican Reformers and has, as we see, made for theological and ethical incoherence in latter part of the twentieth century.

But in looking at the new “three streams” typology, one meets with at least four difficulties. First,it takes a possibly helpful (but over-simplified) descriptive model of the Western church during the middle part of the twentieth century and turns it into a prescriptive theological ideal. Newbigin’s original description may be an easy way to conceptualize some of the different traditions within Christianity in the effort to facilitate ecumenical discussion, understanding and cooperation. But using it to create a kind of doctrinal synthesis is, however, an entirely different matter. The differences between the three streams (at least as commonly identified by champions of the model) are not all simple differences of emphasis; some actually constitute opposed positions based upon very different readings of the Bible.

Two of the three streams, for instance, reject the classical Pentecostal teaching about a postconversion baptism of the Holy Spirit or the normative practice of Glossolalia and prophecy. Two of the three have historically repudiated the Roman Catholic understanding of the ordained ministry as sacerdotal, and would have a very different view of the nature and number of the sacraments. And, despite measured progress in ecumenical dialogue since the 1950s, one of the three does not understand justification as primarily the gracious imputation of Christ’s righteousness to individual believers received through faith alone. These are not peripheral matters. Wishful thinking about a tidy Hegelian historical synthesis of the three streams will not erase the contradictions. As Philip E. Hughes once wrote about dialogue between Roman Catholics and Anglicans during the early 1970s, “to resort to fine-sounding but ambivalent terminology is to paper over the cracks and then to call attention to the attractiveness of the wallpaper.”

Second, to effect this synthesis, some advocates of the three streams approach have handled Scripture in a highly problematic way (as already noted above), lifting verses out of their original contexts. Some have extended certain metaphors in the Bible, applying them in ways incompatible with their plain sense. A few leaders of the Charismatic renewal have viewed such fanciful applications of certain Biblical passages as genuinely prophetic. In this way, Newbigin’s modest insight has gained virtual divine imprimatur. Paul W. Boosahda, an archbishop in the Communion of Convergence Churches USA, describes the development this way:

The key Scriptural passage that began to act as a prophetic matrix of understanding for this discovery was found in Psalm 46:4,5 – “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall.”

The insight that was given from this passage was that there is “A” river (singular)“whose streams (plural) make glad the city of God (the Church, His covenant people and dwelling place), the holy place where the Most High dwells.”

As leaders from across the Church pondered this insight, it began to be clear they were all hearing the same Voice explaining that the one River of God’s Spirit and grace poured out into the world through the birth of His one Body, the Church on earth, had over time been fragmented into separate streams by breaking off from the unity and oneness and fullness of the River. [5]

As the passages are detached from their original historical contexts, there has developed a kind of far-fetched argument not strictly exegetical or theological. Again, Boosahda justifies the popular application this way: “River analogy runs all through the Scriptures when speaking of God’s saving and healing activity in history to bring about renewal, restoration, sanctification or spiritual Life.” [6] It would be difficult to disagree with this general observation but it hardly constitutes a persuasive argument from Scripture for the three streams as a prescriptive theological model.In Psalm 46, the “streams” more likely imply the abundance of water that is a metaphor for closeness to God. The metaphor seems to be drawn from the description of the river that flowed out of Eden in Gen 2:10-14. There, the river divided into four “river heads.”

Third, some champions of the three streams often display a simplistic and romantic view of the early church. They sometimes portray the first four centuries as a time of tidy doctrinal consensus and ecclesiastical harmony. The historical record, as evidenced by early church councils and the heated debates about everything from Christology to iconography, paints a different picture. The Ancient Fathers did not speak with a single voice on all theological and ethical matters, in fact, they disagreed about some questions. There is certainly a lot that the church can learn today from the teaching of the early Fathers and ignorance of their writings has definitely harmed contemporary evangelicals. But they are to be deferred to only insofar as their teaching is based upon “most certain warrants of holy Scripture” (see Article VIII). As Article XXI puts it succinctly, general councils “may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God.” While the portrait of the early church in these circles is romanticized, the adherence to Patristic teaching is highly selective. Many appear eager to follow Hippolytus to the letter with regard to fine liturgical points but the same individuals are less enthusiastic about what the Fathers said about the ordination of women or the remarriage of divorced persons. Similarly, they are eager to employ the 1979 American book in worship, yet overlook its Pelagian catechism.

Fourth, because they follow the work of Robert Webber, they fall victim to his biases toward two twentieth-century theologians, Dom Gregory Dix and Gustaf Aulen whose work should be viewed with some skepticism by defenders of classical Anglicanism. Some “three streams” teaching either misunderstands the Protestant Reformation, summarizes it cursorily, leaps over it, or virtually ignores it. Although Webber occasionally noted the superiority of the Reformers’ worship over that of modern American evangelicals, he focused far greater attention in his many books on the first five centuries of church history.

When handling subjects where the Reformers disagreed with Patristic positions, Webber rarely sided with the Reformers. Significantly, he invariably drew upon the 1979 American book rather than the historic 1662/1928 BCPs. Much of his understanding of the eucharist was based upon Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy. (Dix was no fan of Cranmer’s theology. He agreed that the 1662 communion service brilliantly communicated the doctrine of justification by faith but bluntly dismissed the latter teaching.) Although Webber rejected a late medieval understanding of the eucharist as a re-sacrifice of Christ, he still argued that it should “be regarded as an offering of Jesus Christ to the Father.” [7] Similarly, Webber stressed Gustaf Aulen’s ‘Christus Victor’ understanding of the atonement over against the substitutionary interpretation followed by the Reformers, which constitutes the heart of the 1662/1928 eucharistic canon.

Consequently, looking at their writings from the standpoint of the Reformed Catholicism of the Prayer Book, three stream spokesmen mistakenly attribute the errors or distortions of nineteenth or twentieth-century evangelicals to the sixteenth century Reformers. One Pentecostal theologian recently asserted that the Magisterial Reformer had sacramental and liturgical emphases in their theology but they weren’t reflected in their practice. [8] Even a rudimentary historical study of the actual practice of Luther, Calvin and Cranmer would quickly prove the inaccuracy of that argument. This sort of bias against the English Reformation should be openly acknowledged.

If this is the path of the new Anglican movement in North America then it distorts and caricatures the position of the Anglican Reformers. The theological divide of the Reformation is happily not in some respects as wide as it once was; for that fact we can all be grateful. Nevertheless, it is important to confront its central Biblical and theological questions head-on and without fudging the remaining differences. Since the three streams theology is rooted more in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than in the sixteenth, it is important to note how it shares in the Pietistic tendency to allow subjective (inward) experience to trump propositional (external) truth. Yet classical Anglicanism holds both together while affirming the supremacy of “God’s Word written.” Also, if through its putatively Anglo-Catholic stream, the three streams approach now adopts select medieval traditions along with Pentecostal experience, one might logically wonder whether what we are seeing here is actually mostly contemporary American culture.

Along these lines, it is striking how Lovelace’s original article based its argument almost entirely upon experience, a reading of significant “signs of the times,” rather than upon doctrinal reflection. His conclusion was particularly revealing: “There will be many knots to be untied before we have a united church which is truly Catholic, evangelical and Pentecostal. In the meantime, we should design events which model the mixture, which form signposts pointing toward the meeting of the streams.” [9]

Back in 1978, David F. Wells expressed similar concerns about the movement of evangelicals that was just then emerging. The movement’s leaders, said Wells, had commendably “done much to isolate those aspects of evangelicalism that needed to be reformed.” Yet, “in their search for answers they ranged so widely and so indiscriminately among traditions that are essentially incompatible with evangelical belief. The vacuity of contemporary evangelicalism is inadvertently exposed by” this sort of response, he concluded. [10]

For orthodox Anglicans, aspects of this ‘three stream’ approach are problematic since our traditional formularies (i.e., the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles of Religion, the Ordinal and the two Books of Homilies) are all products of the Magisterial Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement. The chief author of the Prayer Book and architect of the English Reformation, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, certainly sought (where Scripture allowed) to maintain continuity with the undivided church. Through its preservation of set liturgical forms, orders, an episcopal polity and the parochial system, the English Reformers preserved aspects of the Church of England’s catholicity better than did some of the other continental Reformers. They definitely sought to construct what the late Peter Toon liked to call a “Reformed Catholicism.” But their understanding of catholicity was not romantic; nor did it attempt to synthesize opposites. Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were unsparing in how they pruned beliefs and practices (including even some ancient ones) if they deemed them harmful to evangelical truth. The authors of our Prayer Book and the other Anglican formularies brought everything to the bar of the Apostolic witness of the New Testament, at the heart of which stood the Gospel message of God’s unmerited grace via the crucified and risen Savior.


[1] Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God (New York:
Friendship Press, 1954).
[2] Richard Lovelace, “Three Streams, One River?” Charisma
(September 1984), 8.
[3] Source: Robert Webber, “Synthesis: The Convergence Worship
Movement” at
[4] See:
[5] Paul W. Boosahda, “A Threefold Cord,” 5. See: http://saintcolumban.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Robert E. Webber, Worship Old & New: A Biblical,Historica,l and Practical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 236.
[8] See Simon Chan’s lecture at: http://ancientwisdomanglicanfutures.
[9] Lovelace, “Three Streams, One River?” p.?? Emphasis
[10] David F. Wells, “Reservations About Catholic Renewal in
Evangelicalism,” in Robert Webber and Donald Bloesch,
eds., The Orthodox Evangelicals (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1978), 223-224

The Relation between Christ’s Sacrifice and Priesthood: An Attempt at a Summary Statement

One of the deepest differences of conviction in the Anglican Church at the present time, which has revived one of the sharpest conflicts of the Reformation, and is reproducing itself once more upon the ecumenical stage, concerns the issues of priesthood and sacrifice. In what sense are the ordained ministry (as distinct from Christians in general) priests? And in what sense is the Holy Communion (beyond being a feast upon the sacrifice Christ offered) the actual offering of a sacrifice, whether of his sacrifice, or of the spiritual sacrifices of Christians? In other words, how are Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood related to those of the Church, and, within the Church, to the work of its ordained ministers? To understand this debate, one needs to trace the main stages of its development in the history of the Church, and the present essay is an attempt to do this in brief compass, beginning with the New Testament and ending at the present day.

To read Roger Beckwith's essay originally published in Churchman 103/3 1989,
click here.

An Interview with Bryan Chapell on Young, Restless, & Reformed and the Future of the PCA

Here is a very helpful conversation: Ligon Duncan interviews Covenant Theological Seminary Bryan Chapell.

In the first half of the interview they talk about the young “Reformed” movement—where it comes from, where it’s going, how Acts29 fits into this, the focus of this movement, how the PCA needs to change in welcoming people “not like us,” what the PCA has to offer, etc. I found it especially interesting—and encouraging—to hear about this from a more global perspective.

In the second half of the interview they talk about the PCA’s 2010 Strategic Plan.

To hear this interview, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

News Analysis: Anglican Mission chooses Ministry Partnership over ACNA Membership

By Robin G. Jordan

What really happened? In my experience as a close observer of developments in the Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America the story that is put out for public consumption is only the spin that one or both organizations want to give to a particular development. The full story may not come to light until months or years later or never at all.

What is the advantage to the Anglican Church of Rwanda of not permitting the Anglican Mission from integrating into the Anglican Church in North America at the present time? What does it gain? We are told that back in January the Rwandans told the Anglican Mission that its bishops could not sit in the Rwandan House of Bishops if they sat in the ACNA College of Bishops? Were the Rwandans telling the Anglican Mission that it needed to make up its mind about its relationship with Anglican Church of Rwanda and the ACNA? Choose the ACNA or us but you cannot be a jurisdiction of both churches.

As I see it, the only thing that the Anglican Church of Rwanda gains from not permitting the Anglican Mission to integrate with the ACNA is leverage with the ACNA at a future date. But how would the Anglican Mission give them leverage with the ACNA? And why would the Rwandans want it?

Of the Common Cause Partners that formed the ACNA, the Anglican Mission is one of the oldest. Of these partners, the Anglican Mission has also enjoyed sustained growth. Over a period of ten years it has grown to 150 congregations with an ASA of at least 50 on Sundays. It has acquired the most experience in planting new churches and a large percentage of its congregations are composed of folks who were never a part of the Anglican Church of Canada or The Episcopal Church. Archbishop Duncan’s wife in comments on Tex-Anglican’s Blog admits that the ACNA has gone out of its way to accommodate the Anglican Mission. She confirms what my own research shows.

Any plan of using the Anglican Mission as leverage with the ACNA would require continued growth on the part of the Anglican Mission and lackluster or non-existent growth on the part of the ACNA. The ACNA would be the weaker partner in the merger and the partner from which the Anglican Mission as the stronger partner could exact concessions favorable to it. This, however, does not sound very African. But it does sound very American.

While we are told that the decision of the Anglican Church of Rwanda forced the Anglican Mission to choose Ministry Partnership status, was that really the case? Who benefits from keeping the Anglican Mission a separate organization from the ACNA? I have heard the argument that the Anglican Mission is a cash cow for the Rwandans but I do not believe that pecuniary motives are behind this development. Those who benefit the most from this development are the present leaders of the Anglican Mission, in particular Primatial Vicar/Chairman Bishop Charles Murphy. Another group that benefits are those who like the present organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance of the Anglican Mission, which is heavily indebted to the doctrine, language, norms, and principles of the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, as are the Rwandan canons. This Code of Canon Law is a primary source of both the Anglican Mission canonical charter and the Rwandan canons. An important second source is the canons of the Episcopal Church as revised through 1967. This points to the involvement of the Anglican Mission in the drafting of the Rwandan canons. Both the Anglican Mission canonical charter and the Rwandan canons were promulgated in 2008. An important question is, “Did the influence of Roman Catholic canon law upon both documents come from within the Anglican Church of Rwanda or the Anglican Mission?” While the Roman Catholic Church is the largest denomination in Rwanda and there is a strong likelihood of the source of this influence being Rwandan, the Anglican Mission is not the evangelical and low church organization that some people believe it. It does have an Anglo-Catholic wing and that wing has a strong commitment to Catholic doctrine, order, and practice. The Anglican Mission itself could also be the source of the Roman Catholic influence as well as the Episcopal influence.

One Anglican Mission priest’s rationalization for what he described as the Anglican Mission’s “top-down structure” was that the Anglican Mission is a mission organization. However, a mission organization to operate effectively does not need to adopt the organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance almost identical with that of a Roman Catholic archdiocese or diocese, a structure and form of governance in which all power and authority is derived from the Primate of Rwanda through the Primatial Vicar and whatever power and authority that an office bearer exercises is delegated to him by someone above him in a centralized hierarchy and is not vested in the office he holds. It does not need to adopt the ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic Church in which all power and authority are ultimately derived from the Pope as purported Vicar of Christ. Being a “missionary district” or a “missionary society” does not explain why the Anglican Mission adopted this particular organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance.

In another comment on the Internet before this news broke an Anglican Mission canon missioner suggested that the Anglican Mission leaders were not prepared to fully integrate the organization into the ACNA until the organization’s congregations and clergy had fully assimilated what he described as its “African methods.” However, the methods that the Anglican Mission has adopted are not particularly African. They actually originated in the Roman Catholic Church and corporate America. While they may not be familiar to some North American Anglicans, they are not particularly innovative or new. His comment points to a reluctance to dismantle the present organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance of the Anglican Mission. There is a strong investment in how the Anglican Mission is currently structured and governed.

The Rwandan canons make provision for the transfer of missionary districts and societies to the jurisdiction of another province. The language of the particular canon suggests that those who drafted it envisioned the transfer of such districts or societies intact, with the Primate of the new province assuming the role of the Primate of Rwanda in relation to the missionary district or society. The missionary district or society would retain its existing organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance. One gain that both the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission would desire from obtaining additional leverage with the ACNA is a stronger constitutional guarantee of that structure and form of governance and in the case of the Anglican Mission control over appointments to the highest positions in its hierarchy, including the office of Primatial Vicar. I gather from a number of comments on the Internet that members of the Anglican Mission do not have a high opinion of the leadership of present ACNA leaders especially in the area of mission.

A major problem that I anticipate with this development should it occur is the tendency of the Anglican Mission to enfold in its own organization the new churches that it plants, rather than release them to the regional-based judicatories in which they may be located. The Anglican Mission has no policy against releasing churches to other Anglican bodies. However, Anglican Mission new church plants are assimilated and incorporated in the organization from the outset and once they have achieved self-supporting status, they have little incentive to transfer to another body. If the Anglican Mission enjoys continued growth while the ACNA, which is largely composed of former Canadian Anglican and US Episcopal congregations and clergy, maintains a more moribund existence, the Anglican Mission will always be the dominant partner in the relationship even though it may eventually become the missionary arm of the ACNA once more. This possibility causes me less concern than another possibility that I am going to examine next.

While the Anglican Mission was not the oldest Anglican body in the Common Cause Partnership from which the ACNA was formed, it was one of the largest bodies, if not the largest body, in that coalition. Its position in the CCP was like that of the senior partner in a firm. Through its representatives in the CCP/ACNA Governance Task Force, the CCP Leadership Council/ACNA Provincial Council, and the CCP/ACNA Executive Committee the Anglican Mission influenced the shape of the ACNA, its organizational structure and its form of ecclesiastical governance. The fingerprints of the Anglican Mission are seen all over the ACNA constitution and canons. The Provincial Assembly is modeled upon the Anglican Mission Winter Conference, which plays no role in the governance of the Anglican Mission but functions like a Mission Network Gathering but on a larger scale. The Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) requirement for recognition as an ACNA judicatory may have come from the Anglican Mission. The canonical provision permitting the banding together of dioceses for common mission or as distinct jurisdictions within the ACNA was drafted with the Anglican Mission in mind. So was the canonical provision permitting judicatories gathered under another province at the time of the formation of the ACNA to remain under the constitution and canons of their parent province. The canonical provisions relating to the ministry of bishops and the criteria for the episcopate come from the Rwandan canons, which in turn come from the canons of the Roman Catholic Church. The description of the ministry of bishops includes a reference to the Roman Catholic doctrine of tactual succession that is also found in the original Roman Catholic canon. The minimum age requirement of an ACNA bishop is the minimum age requirement of a Rwandan missionary bishop. The mode of episcopal election that the ACNA canons commend to its constituent bodies and establishes as the norm for new judicatories is adapted from the Rwandan canons, which in turn are adapted from the canons of the Roman Catholic Church. The disciplinary canons show the influence of the Rwandan canons and through the latter the influence of the canons of the Roman Catholic Church and the influence of the canons of The Episcopal Church as revised through 1967. The mode of election of the Archbishop of the ACNA is also indicative of the influence of the Rwandan canons.

While the Anglican Mission is not the only former Common Cause Partner with authoritarian leanings, these tendencies are particularly evident in provisions traceable to the Anglican Mission. Determining the extent to which such tendencies are homegrown and to which they reflect Rwandan influence and through that influence Roman Catholic influence would be a worthwhile study.

The proclivity of the Anglican Mission for authoritarian organizational structures and authoritarian forms of ecclesiastical governance points to another motive for desiring to gain greater leverage over the ACNA. The Anglican Mission would be able to extract concessions from the ACNA in the form of changes to the ACNA organizational structure and form of ecclesiastical governance to bring them more in line with those of the Anglican Mission.

In addition to studying the Rwandan canons and the Anglican Mission canonical charter, I have also examined the Anglican Mission Network Development Manuel. I found nothing in the Manual that was particularly African. Rather the Manual drew largely upon sound business management and church planting principles. They included establishing cohesive Mission Networks, making sure the best people—those with proven leadership ability and experience and a strong commitment to the organization, its vision, its goals, and its values—were picked for leadership positions, ensuring funds were put to the best use, making sure everyone shared the same vision, goals, and values, and ensuring a high level of commitment, co-operation, and giving. A primary focus of the Anglican Mission is church planting. The Anglican Mission has learned from the mistakes of its earlier years.

From my examination of the Manual I conclude that the authoritarian organizational structure and authoritarian form of ecclesiastical governance at the upper levels of the Anglican Mission are unnecessary. The Mission Networks could operate effectively without this authoritarian superstructure and its Roman Catholic ecclesiology.

I also conclude that the Manual is weak in its identification with Anglicanism. I could have omitted the few references to Anglican and Anglicanism and used the Manual for any church with missionary bishops. What theological emphases I found were not so much Anglican as Ancient-Future or Convergence. As I noted earlier the Anglican Mission is not the evangelical and low church organization that some people believe it. It does have an Anglo-Catholic wing and that wing has a strong commitment to Catholic doctrine, order, and practice.

In 2006 the Anglican Mission and the Prayer Book Society USA jointly produced a collection of trial services for the use of the Anglican Mission, which were supposed to be contemporary English versions of the services of the classical Anglican Prayer Book—The Book of Common Prayer of 1662. In actuality, the trial services largely came from the 1928 American Prayer Book and were much more Catholic in tone than the services of the 1662 Prayer Book. In 2008 the Anglican Mission and the Prayer Book Society USA jointly produced An Anglican Prayer Book. This time there was no pretense that the services were contemporary English versions of the 1662 Prayer Book services. The book was advertised as a contemporary English introduction to the services of the 1662, 1928 American, and 1962 Canadian Prayer Books. Examination of the book revealed that a number of changes had been made in these services making them more Catholic in doctrine. The Anglican Mission’s Solemn Declaration of Principles requires any alternative rites or forms used in the Anglican Mission to conform to the doctrine of 1662 Prayer Book. The services in An Anglican Prayer Book failed to meet this critical requirement. Yet Bishops Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers endorsed the book and commended it not only for the use of Anglican Mission congregations and clergy but also other North American Anglicans.

The dominant ideology of the Anglican Mission is Ancient-Future or Convergence. It brings together non-Anglican evangelicals and charismatics with a penchant for antiquity, liturgy, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. It emphasizes piety and practice and does not press doctrine. Unlike conservative Anglican evangelicals, the adherents of this twentieth century ideology are not greatly troubled by the Anglican Mission’s token adherence to the doctrine of the reformed Church of England and its formularies and its flirtation with prelacy and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. They are convinced that they are the forefront of a new movement of the Holy Spirit and represent the future of Anglican Christianity in North America, a self-perception that the Anglican Mission leaders are only too willing to encourage and reinforce.

In opting for Ministry Partnership relationship with the ACNA, the Anglican Mission has caused something of a crisis in the ACNA. It has upset the ACNA’s equilibrium. This is necessarily a bad thing. Crises provide motivation for change. And the ACNA needs to make a number of changes in its constitution and canons, which I have identified elsewhere. The ACNA also needs to make clear to its leaders that the constitution and canons are not a mandate for them to do what they like. They are expected to operate within the limits established by these documents. Constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law are an important part of the North American Anglican heritage, the value of which cannot be stated too strongly. They are worth protecting and passing on to future generations.

Praying with Understanding: Explanations of Words and Passages in the Book of Common Prayer

This booklet, printed by the Latimer Trust, began as an address Roger T. Beckwith gave at the Prayer Book Society’s 1989 annual conference. Beckwith’s modest proposal to do some “invisible mending” in the language of The Book of Common Prayer to make it more intelligible has merit today, as it did when he gave the address to the Prayer Book Society. This kind of mending, as Beckwith draws to our attention, was done in 1662. The editors of the King James Version of the Bible have also done this kind of mending with each successive edition of the Authorized Version.

One of the reasons some language of the Prayer Book is unintelligible to modern congregations is that the English language has changed over time. Some words have vanished from the English language in present use while others have been given new meanings different from those of the Prayer Book. New words have also been added to the vernacular. Another reason is that many of the young people who are now graduating from high school and university have no acquaintance with the language and idioms used a generation or two ago, much less familiarity with the language of classical English literature. Rapid technological change in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has caused similar change in everyday language. While the English language may have become enriched by the addition of a plethora of technological terms, it has also become impoverished by discontinued use of a great number of formerly common words.

The Roman Catholic Church’s release of its new Sacramentary in advance of its introduction of a new liturgy in 2011 is likely to spark renewed interest in Prayer Book revision and the language and theology of the Prayer Book, as is the work of the Anglican Church in North America’s Prayer Book and Common Worship Task Force on a common liturgy for the ACNA.

One of the greatest failures of the church in recent years has been the failure to teach. So much so, that lay people today are often crying out for teaching, but the clergy (whether through uncertainty, mistaken priorities or sheer overwork) are still not supplying the need. The services which are used every Sunday are an obvious subject for teaching, yet it has often been taken for granted that people know why they use them and fully understand what they mean. Much, of course, can be learned about them simply by thoughtful use of them, but certain things cannot. Then, when the church enters an era of revolution, as at present, it is possible for the revolutionaries to decry the traditional services as 'unintelligible', simply because they contain some things hard to understand, which nobody troubles to make clear.

If the Book of Common Prayer were unintelligible, its compiler Archbishop Cranmer would be the first to tell us not to use it. In his prefaces 'Concerning the Service of the Church' and 'Of Ceremonies, why some be abolished and some retained', he lays great stress on St Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 14 that all things in public worship ought to be done 'unto edifying', and explains that this is why he has substituted the English language for Latin, and has reformed obscure and misleading ceremonial. A hundred years after his work had been done, the 1662 revisers tell us in their 'Preface' that they had found certain words and phrases which had fallen out of use or changed their meaning in the meantime, and that they had therefore substituted others. Today, three hundred years later again, it is not surprising if the same situation has arisen once more; and, in any revision carried out on the modest principles of the 1662 revisers, a sprinkling of words and phrases might well need to be changed for the same reasons. But that is all. The number of such words and phrases is not great, and it would be no more necessary today, in the cause of intelligibility, to change the whole substance and style of the Prayer Book, than it was in the seventeenth century. The text, as the 1662 revisers left it, was essentially Cranmer's text, and a modern revision carried out on the same principles would again leave us with a text that was quite recognisably Cranmer's. The 'invisible mending' would hardly show. It would not be in everyday speech, and would include some harmless antiquarianisms like 'thou', 'thee' and 'thy'; but then the Prayer Book never was in everyday speech - rather, it was in a finer form of speech, which sometimes differed from everyday speech chiefly in being simpler and clearer. An unusual way of speaking is quite a different thing from an unintelligible way of speaking, though today they are so regularly supposed the same. To change words and phrases which have fallen out of use or altered their meaning would remove all trace of unintelligibility, while leaving a nobly unique text which was still unmistakably Cranmer's own.

In the meantime, such words and phrases can at least be explained. The clergy can, of course, explain them by word of mouth, and one of the aims of the present booklet is to show clergy how easily this teaching gap can be bridged. However, in parishes where this is not as yet being done, it may help to have the explanation available for laity also in brief written form.

To read the entire booklet online, click here.
To download the booklet as a PDF file, click here.

Fresh embrace of everlasting salvation: After nine years of work, Catholic authorities have rewritten the Mass

In praying to the omnipotent God at mass, George Pell contends, it is not appropriate to "talk in the same way we do at a barbecue".

On the cardinal's desk sits an impressive, red-covered tome of 1266 gilt-edged pages, the new English edition of the Roman missal: one of a handful of copies in the world.

Barbecue lingo it is not, but when the new translation of the Catholic mass is introduced, its striking changes may prove to be a "barbecue stopper" at church gatherings and possibly beyond. Because, in introducing them, the church has struck a powerful blow in the culture wars against postmodernism and meaninglessness in favour of rigorous scholarship and precision of language

To read more, click here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pastoral Ministry in the Small Membership Church

By Robin G. Jordan

A perennial problem of the small membership churches is finding and keeping a pastor. Only a few small membership churches have the financial resources to pay the stipend of a full-time pastor. This task is often complicated by denominational expectations and requirements.

A growing number of small membership churches have a non-stipendiary part-time pastor who supports himself by secular employment. This practice is seen in some denominations more than in others. The pastor may have a seminary or Bible college education. He may be a part-time student at a local seminary or Bible college or enrolled in a distance-learning program of a seminary or Bible college. He may be pursuing a program of independent study. The church may pay him a small stipend but not full support. It may offer him a benefits package, paying him a travel allowance, paying his health insurance premium, and contributing to his retirement plan. The church may also be a new plant and the pastor a bi-vocational church planter. He may receive a small stipend but not full support from a consortium of churches that have recruited him to plant the new church. The pastor may be a retired pastor who is receiving a pension or military retirement pay but is still active in pastoral ministry.

For two years I was involved in a thriving church plant whose pastor operated a janitorial service and cleaned offices at night. His wife worked as a medical receptionist. His night job freed him to meet people in the community and build relationships with them during the day. Both he and his wife tithed to the new church. He is now planting a second new church.

Two or more small membership churches in same geographic area may form a Ministry District and jointly pay the stipend of a full-time pastor who officiates and preaches at each church in the Ministry District at least once every Sunday or once or twice a month, depending on the number of churches in the Ministry District and their proximity. This option is frequently seen in those dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia that are largely comprised of sparsely populated rural areas.

In Ministry Districts that consists of more than two or three churches and in which the District Pastor officiates and preaches at member churches only once or twice a month a licensed Reader usually officiates and preaches on Sundays that the District Pastor does not officiate and preach. On the one or two Sundays the District Pastor officiates and preaches, he also administers the sacraments—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. A Reader is sometimes licensed to administer the sacrament of Baptism as well as to conduct services of public worship and preach sermons.

The role of the District Pastor is in some ways similar to that of a bishop during the period in Church history when bishops began to oversee not only one church but also several outlying churches in the same district. The role of the District Pastor is primarily to preach and to teach and to administer the sacraments. He is the principle equipper of the Ministry District. He pastors the Readers of the Ministry District and has a supervisory role in the selection, training, and commissioning of new Readers. He has a role as the spokesman of the Ministry District to the wider world and otherwise leads the Ministry District in mission. As a senior minister he may be licensed to confirm baptized persons, which is the practice in a number of denominations, including the Church of England in South Africa and the Roman Catholic Church.

In a Ministry District a part of the work of the District Pastor is to identify and cultivate likely persons for ordination as deacons and presbyters. A part of his job is to put himself out of a job. Or to obtain a promotion to bishop of a Mission Area in a denomination with a policy of organizing into Mission Areas with its own bishop the churches of the former Ministry Districts once the participating churches having their own pastor.

One of the drawbacks of a Ministry District is that the District Pastor may single out one church and give it more attention than the others. This may be the church where the District Pastor is based or a church that the District Pastor believes would benefit from his attention. Another drawback is the tendency of some small membership churches to regard their pastor as a chaplain whose role is to ministers to their spiritual needs. The members of these churches see themselves as consumers of a service that the pastor provides. Some pastors are quite willing to fulfill this expectation. This development, however, is neither healthy for the church nor the pastor. It can be a serious obstacle to numerical and spiritual growth of the church. The church members are not only abdicating their responsibility as Christians to care for each other but also to reach beyond their own fellowship and care for the members of their community and the strangers and the sojourners in the community. They are also refusing to recognize their own primary role as gospel co-workers with God, missionaries for Jesus Christ, whether God has placed them. In a Ministry District these churches can be a drain on the other participating churches as well as the District Pastor. Their basic position is one of passive dependency. Due to circumstances they may be able to make a large contribution to the District Pastor’s stipend and in doing so expect the District Pastor to give them a large part of his attention.

For this approach to succeed, the agreement between the churches of a Ministry District and the District Pastor must not only unambiguously delineate the role of the District Pastor but also the role of the churches of the Ministry District themselves. The participating churches must understand and accept that all Christians are called to be ministers and the work of ministry is the work of all Christians. It must be clear to the participating churches that their role includes providing pastoral care to their members and performing gospel ministry in their respective communities or districts in which they operate. The role of the District Pastor is to equip and lead them in these areas but not to do these things for them. The members and leaders of the participating churches must receive adequate training in the provision of pastoral care, the performance of gospel ministry and other important areas of church life. This task should not be too difficult as a wealth of training resources is available. One of the things that training does is to build up folks’ confidence to do that for which life may have already equipped them or for which they already show a natural talent or spiritual gift. It helps to reinforce their existing efforts and focus them. It can also offer correctives where and when needed.

A number of small membership churches have opted for a homegrown pastor. A likely person who shows the requisite preaching and teaching gifts is invited to pastor the church. This person may be preparing for pastoral ministry on a part-time basis at a local seminary or Bible college. He may be a mature Christian whom life and independent study has prepared for pastoral ministry. Homegrown pastors are most likely seen in churches with a congregational polity but they are not confined to such churches or to small membership churches. An increasing number of large membership churches and mega churches are recruiting, training and ordaining pastors from within the membership of the church. They find that these pastors are better able to meet their needs than seminary educated ones.

A growing number of denominations are recognizing that, while those actively involved in pastoral ministry might benefit from a two or three year residential training program, it is not always practicable. Training for pastoral ministry must be provided outside a residential setting. A number of seminaries and Bible colleges offer distance-learning courses on the Internet. Several denominations and judicatories have developed non-residential training programs for those active in pastoral ministry but lacking a seminary education. The Moore Theological College Correspondence Courses are a good starting point for Anglicans.

Training also need not be formal. A candidate for ordination may pursue a program of independent study under the supervision of a senior clergyman. This relationship may continue after ordination, with the senior minister mentoring the new pastor and offering encouragement and support.

A number of small membership churches share a pastor with a large membership church. The pastor may be an assistant or associate pastor on the staff of the large membership church. This has become one way that cash-strapped judicatories provide pastoral leadership to small membership churches assisted by the judicatory. A self-supporting large membership church or even a well-endowed middle-sized church that has more than one pastor is asked to share one of its pastors with one or more small membership churches within the region of the judicatory in which it is located. The pastor may be a pastor-church planter that the larger membership church has recruited to plant a new church or new churches in the region and the small-membership church may be a new church plant.

All of these approaches have their strengths and limitations.

We are also seeing in both western and global south Anglican provinces and dioceses a more creative use of the assistant office of Reader not only in providing small-membership churches with pastoral leadership but also in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. In these provinces and dioceses the Reader’s ministry is a preaching and teaching ministry. Readers are preparing and preaching their own sermons, as well as conducting services of the church and assisting at the Holy Communion.

In the Church of England Readers may be paid a small stipend. In Our Modern Services (2002, 2003) of the Anglican Church of Kenya the service for Admitting Lay Readers parallels that of the ordination services for deacons and presbyters.
The candidates for licensing are presented to the Bishop who then asks the congregation if anyone has any objection to the admission to a particular candidate to come forward and make it known. If there are no objections, the Bishop presents the candidates to the people for their acclamation. The Bishop then gives the following charge:

“As a Lay Reader you are called to serve the church by supporting the Parish Priest in reading the word and conducting the service; leading in worship and expounding the scriptures so that people may be nurtured in the truth. You are to work under the Parish Priest, assist him in pastoral duties such as visiting the parishioners, the sick, the lost, praying with them and encouraging them; burying the dead; and offering such help and services as may be required by the Parish Priest from time to time.”

The Bishop then asks the candidates:

“Are you willing and ready to perform these duties faithfully and without being goaded?”

To which the candidates respond, “Yes I am.”

The Bishop then examines the candidates. Among the questions that he asks them are the following two questions:

“Will you by your life and ministry set a good example to unbelievers and to those around you?”

“Will you also endeavour to fulfill the great commission by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ with fervour in season and out of season?”

Each candidate kneels before the Bishop who shakes their hand as he presents each with the license saying:

“N, I admit you to serve the Church as a Lay Reader in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

The Bishop presents the candidate with the New Testament saying:

“Preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in season and out of season. Amen.”

The candidate is then presented with a blue scarf. After all have been licensed, they stand in a line and the Bishop prays:

“Almighty and everliving God, who sent your only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us and thus reconcile us to our maker, we thank you for calling these people to be partakers in the great commission in which your Son Jesus Christ commanded that we preach the gospel at home and abroad, till everyone on earth has heard it. We thank you for the confidence their respective congregations have in them, to serve the church not expecting any monetary remuneration, except for the sheer joy of serving the Church of Christ.”

He stretches his right arm towards them and continues:

“May God our Father, look with favour upon you. May he equip you with the power of the Holy Spirit that you may be fully prepared for the services ahead, to the end that your work will glorify God and edify his Church. May the Lord bless your going out and your coming in, from this day and forever more Amen.”

After this the congregation greets the new Lay Readers with ululations, songs, and other gestures of praise. If the service is used in the context of Holy Communion, it continues as Holy Communion beginning with Prayer for the Church.

In the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda Parishes may be divided in Sub-Parishes. Each Sub-Parish is headed by a Lay Reader and has its own Sub-Parish Council. The Sub-Parish is run in the same manner as a Parish. Sub-Parishes are created by Parish Councils with the approval of the Area Archdeacon. A Parish based in a regional town may have a number of Sub-Parishes in the surrounding villages.

One major obstacle not only to the more creative use of the assistant office of Reader in the North American Anglican Church but also to the growth of that Church has been the central place that the North American Anglican Church gives to the service of Holy Communion on Sunday morning. This is attributable to the influence of the ecumenical and liturgical renewal movements of the 1960s and 1970s and the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the 1985 Book of Alternative Services. They not only promoted the idea of the Holy Communion as the central act of Christian worship but the ex opere operato view of the efficacy of the sacraments, a more realist view of the eucharistic presence and the doctrine of the eucharistic sacrifice that theorizes that Christ’s sacrifice is more than his once-for-all death on Calvary and somehow continues in the present and that through the Church’s union with Christ Christians are incorporated into Christ’s present sacrificing activity. They participate in Christ’s sacrifice. This doctrine gave new life to the medieval view that presbyters are more than pastors and teachers as the classical Anglican Ordinal sees them. They are sacrificing priests. They may no longer re-offer the sacrifice of Christ’s body under the forms of bread and wine as the medieval Church taught. They are, however, the Church’s representatives through whom Christians take part in Christ’s sacrifice.

These developments emphasized the importance of the priest and the sacraments to the neglect of the preaching of God’s Word. The spread of modernism and liberalism further undermined the place of the Bible in the hearts and minds of North American Anglicans. Among the consequences was the craving for more immediate spiritual experiences—in traditionalist Anglo-Catholic eucharistic piety, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, mysticism, labyrinth walking, and, as pluralism became more acceptable, forms of non-Christian spirituality and practices of other world religions.

In some churches the role of the presbyter continued its movement away from the role of minister of the Word as envisioned by the classical Anglican Ordinal in the direction of the medieval sacrificing priest and intermediary between man and God; in other churches that role moved in the direction of master of ceremonies and spiritual adviser and guide. The ancient office of Reader as an assistant minister of the Word was abolished and replaced by a host of lay ministries, which emphasized the centrality of the Holy Communion. In either case an ordained clergyperson who was well versed in the correct ideology and committed to its views was required to preside over the worship celebration and to give any talk that might be a part of the celebration.

Whatever else happened in the worship celebration the people came to expect communion. For many it was the principal reason they went to church. The nineteenth century Tractarian belief that communion was the most important part of the service as Christ was the most present in the communion elements than he was in any other part of the service become widespread. At least one Anglo-Catholic priest of my acquaintance believes that if folks are baptized, regularly receive communion, and live decent moral lives they will go to heaven. He is not alone in his belief.

In the North American Anglican Church the expectation of communion at all worship celebrations changed the entire landscape. The planting of a new church required someone to administer the sacrament of Holy Communion. When Morning Prayer was a regular service of public worship in the 1950s, a new church plant needed only a deacon or a Lay Reader to conduct the services of the church and to preach. By 2002 a home fellowship organized as the first step in a new church plant needed a priest to administer the sacrament of Holy Communion. In the 1950s a priest working in concert with a team of Lay Readers could plant and grow several churches in the same region. By 2002 it took an Episcopal deacon, two Episcopal priests, and the bishop of Continuing Anglican Church to get one new church plant off the ground. Folks were no longer satisfied to take nourishment from God’s Word once a week and quicken and strengthen their faith with the observance of the Lord’s Supper once or twice a month. The priest could give a talk on anything that he fancied as long as he consecrated bread and wine and distributed it to those present. This was a main reason that folks came to the home fellowship meetings, communion and the singing of praise songs, prayer, the laying-on-of-hands and anointing with oil, and the enjoyment of each other’s company.

The expectation of frequent and regular communion had a similar impact upon small-membership Anglican churches. The pastoring of a small-membership church would likewise require a priest. The pastor of a small-membership church could no longer be a minister of the Word, a deacon or a Lay Reader. He had to be a minister of the sacraments. A deacon or a Lay Reader might support himself by secular employment. The services of a priest, however, mean the payment of a stipend, which, in turn, means, finding the money for the stipend. While the seminary education of a priest has often been used to justify the choice of a priest over a deacon or a Lay Reader, the bottom-line is the expectation of weekly communion.

Generations of Anglicans communicated only three times a year and even though they communicated infrequently, their spiritual lives were unaffected. They were faithful to God and his written Word and they evidenced the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. On the other hand the at-least-weekly reception of communion has been a regular practice in the Episcopal Church since the late 1960s. Yet a substantial number of Episcopalians do not appear to have gained any benefit from this practice. On the contrary, they no longer believe in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and have fallen into apostasy. While frequent communion may be desirable, it is not absolutely essential to the spiritual health and well being of a Christian. As the rubrics of the Communion of the Sick in the classic Anglican Prayer Book teach, those who truly repent of their sins and steadfastly believe that Jesus has suffered death upon the cross for them and shed his blood for their redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits they have by Christ’s blood shedding, and giving Christ heart-felt thanks for these benefits, do eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Savior Christ profitably to their souls’ health, although they do not receive the sacrament of the Holy Communion with their mouths. As Saint Augustine said, “Believe and ye have eaten.”

The North American Anglican Church needs to re-evaluate and re-think the place of Holy Communion in Christian worship. It is important but it should not be allowed to overshadow God’s Word. Faith is the means by which Christians receive and eat the Body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper (Article XXVIII), and “faith,” the apostle Paul tell us, “comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The development of a more balanced view of the sacrament of Holy Communion giving a larger place to the reading and preaching of God’s Word in the worship of the Church would permit the more creative use of deacons and Lay Readers in the planting of new churches and the pastoring of small-membership churches in the North American Anglican Church. The visible church is a gathering of believing people in which the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments are ministered with due order and discipline as Christ ordained (Article XIX). To be the visible church does not require weekly communion.

Shifts in demographics and changes in attitude toward organized religion and church attendance are among the challenges facing the North American Anglican Church today. Historically the Anglican Church has seen itself as a church to all people—of all ages and in all walks of life, not to one segment of the population. In our changing world the Anglican Church needs to be more adaptable and more flexible to achieve this vision. At the same time the Anglican Church needs to be uncompromising in preaching the gospel message. Any strategy to reach North America with the gospel of Jesus Christ will require churches of all sizes.

The North American Anglican Church must not turn it back on those who live in places that are less than ideal for planting or growing an Anglican church. New strategies are needed to start new congregations or support the witness of existing ones in such places. We are called to be Christ’s witnesses not just in the church-attending Southern Bible belt but also in Butte, Montana, Fairbanks, Alaska, “and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As the Anglican Church of Kenya’s service for Admitting Lay Readers reminds us, Christ has commissioned to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). How did the disciples respond to this commission? “They went out and preached everywhere” (Mark 16:20).

Archbishop of Canterbury Speaks on Mary Glasspool Consecration


Anglican Network in Canada Statement on Changes in the Anglican Church in North America

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has announced to all ACNA clergy that one of its founding partners, the Anglican Mission in the Americas (formerly known as AMiA and now known as “theAM”) has changed its status with ACNA. Assuming the move is approved at the ACNA Provincial Council meeting in June, theAM will become a Ministry Partner, joining other ACNA ministry partners such as the American Anglican Council, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Forward in Faith and the Federation of Anglican Churches in America. This change includes theAM’s Canadian churches in the Anglican Coalition in Canada.

Bishop Don Harvey commenting on this development said, “I do not see this as good news, in fact it is a sad development in many ways. But it seems to be the best solution for now given the relationship between the Rwandan Church and theAM. The good news, I believe, is that this change will not hinder our working together both to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who desperately need our Saviour and to plan churches in Canada and the US.”

To read more, click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Like Silver Refined in a Furnace

By Robin G. Jordan

The recent announcement that the Anglican Mission has chosen to become a Ministry Partner with the Anglican Church in North America caught many ACNA folks off guard. They were expecting the Anglican Mission to move toward further integration in the ACNA. Yet the Anglican Mission has been signaling that further integration was not the direction that it was going to take for the foreseeable future. First, the Anglican Mission changed its name. Then it made public its then existing protocol with the ACNA and announced that it was negotiating a new protocol with the ACNA Executive Committee and the Provincial Council. Then one of its canon missioners stated in response to a comment that I posted on Stand Firm that the Anglican Mission leadership wanted to ensure that the organization had thoroughly assimilated what he described as “African methods” before it embarked on integration with the ACNA. My own study of the canonical charter of the Anglican Mission and the canons of the Anglican Church of Rwanda suggested that full integration into the ACNA would be a difficult choice for the Anglican Mission leadership due to the particular structure and form of governance of the organization. I examined the latter as well as the pertinent Rwandan canons in “The Anglican Mission and the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic: A Contrast in Ecclesiology.” While the length of the article may discourage some people from reading it, those who do will come away with a much better understanding of the ecclesiastical (and secular) organization of the Anglican Mission and what for the Anglican Mission full integration into the ACNA would have entailed.

In brief, the ecclesiastical organization of the Anglican Mission is modeled upon that of a Roman Catholic archdiocese or diocese in which the archbishop or diocesan bishop derive their authority and power from the Pope and the different officials of the archdiocese or diocese in turn derive their authority and power from the archbishop or diocesan bishop. In the case of the Anglican Mission the Primatial Vicar derives his authority and power from the Primate of Rwanda for whom he is the deputy and representative in Canada and the United States and to whom he is responsible. The Rwandan canon governing the relationship of the Primate of Rwanda to the Primatial Vicar is adapted from the Roman Catholic canon governing the relationship of the Pope to his subordinates in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Missionary Bishops are elected by the Rwandan House of Bishops and confirmed by the Primate of Rwanda. They derive their authority and power from the Primatial Vicar and are responsible ultimately to the Primate of Rwanda. The Council of Missionary Bishops recommends candidates for the office of Missionary Bishop to the Rwandan House of Bishops for consideration; the Primatial Vicar may veto the recommended candidates. The Primatial Vicar is the supreme legislative and executive authority of the Anglican Mission and governs the ecclesiastical organization of that body working through the Council of Missionary Bishops that is under him. The Primatial Vicar appoints the Network Leaders with the approval of the Council of Missionary Bishops and each Network leader derives his authority and power from the Missionary Bishop overseeing him. The clergy and laity have no role in the governance of the ecclesiastical organization of the Anglican Mission except at the congregational level. The Anglican Mission clergy form a College of Presbyters that is similar to the Council of Priests in a Roman Catholic archdiocese or diocese and like that body is purely consultative. Both the Anglican Mission canonical charter and the Rwandan canons are heavily indebted to the doctrine, language, norms, and principles of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law. The secular organization of the Anglican Mission is that of a non-profit corporation with a board of directors and corporate officers. The Primatial Vicar is the chairman of the board and the chief executive officer of the corporation. The president of the corporation is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Anglican Mission and exercises such executive authority as is delegated to him by the Primatial Vicar. He reports to the Primatial Vicar and through the Primatial Vicar to the board of directors. The board of directors has control of the funds of the Anglican Mission and must approve all requests for funding. As in the governance of the ecclesiastical organization of the Anglican Mission, the Primatial Vicar is the center of authority and power in the administration and management of the Anglican Mission’s secular organization. The articles of incorporation and the by-laws are not posted on the Anglican Mission website and the composition of the board of directors and its mode of election or appointment is unknown to this writer.

From what I gather a substantial number of people who are involved in the ACNA or supportive of that body perceive this development as nothing short of a disaster for the ACNA. But is this development really a disaster for the ACNA? Is it such a great misfortune as these folks apprehend it? I believe that it is not quite the setback that they believe it. Rather it is a wonderful opportunity.

First, it forces the ACNA leadership to make a realistic appraisal of the actual size of the ACNA, its strengths, and its weaknesses. The addition of Anglican Mission congregations and clergy has inflated the statistics relating to how large the ACNA is numerically.

Second, it forces the various groupings forming the ACNA to re-evaluate their actual commitment to evangelism and church planting and their mobilization of resources for these purposes. It also forces the ACNA leadership to re-examine what they are doing to create an environment supportive of evangelism and church planting in the ACNA and its judicatories. The ACNA leadership has relied too much on the Anglican Mission to be the evangelism and church-planting arm of the ACNA and to spearhead ACNA efforts in these areas.

What has been happening is that the Anglican Mission has been planting new churches and folding them into its own organization. While the Anglican Mission has not prevented any church from transferring to another constituent body of the ACNA such as a regional-based judicatory in the church’s area of operation, Anglican Mission churches are so closed tied into their Networks from the beginning that few have any incentive to transfer out of their Networks to another judicatory. Most share the vision and goals of the Anglican Mission and are content to remain a part of that organization.

Third, it forces ACNA leaders to take a hard look at the message that the ACNA is proclaiming. Is it really the message of the gospel of divine grace as found in the New Testament and the Thirty-Nine Articles? Only if the church proclaims the same message can it expect to see gospel growth—growth in conversions, growth in new congregations, and growth in spiritual maturity. At the present time ACNA churches are proclaiming a number of messages. Only the gospel message offers life and therefore produces growth.

Fourth, it provides further incentive to reform the organizational structure and form of government of the ACNA, to revise its constitution and canons, and to make other needed changes in the ACNA. The ACNA constitution and canons were written to accommodate the Anglican Mission. This includes a Provincial Assembly stripped of all executive and legislative powers and modeled on the Anglican Mission Annual Winter Conference, the provision permitting judicatories to operate under the constitutions and canons of their parent provinces, the College of Bishop’s election of bishops as the preferred mode of electing bishops, the minimum age requirement of 35 for bishops, the College of Bishop’s election of the Archbishop, the assignment of a number of the functions and powers to the Archbishop in the canons for which the constitution makes no provision, and the establishment of a Court of Extraordinary Jurisdiction. The present ACNA leadership have shown too greater disregard for constitutionalism and the rule of law and have sanctioned the present Archbishop’s appointment of a Dean of the province and his establishment of an Archbishop’ Cabinet for which there is no provision in the ACNA constitution and canons. The constitution and canons are lacking both in much needed clarity and detail. The provisions of the canons relating to discipline of clergy are particularly defective and provide few safeguards for the rights of the accused or the victim.

Fifth, it also provides further incentive to modify the language of the Fundamental Declarations and the canons to make that language from a doctrinal standpoint neutral in tone and not aligned with a particular theological school of thought in Anglicanism. In an earlier article I proposed as a starting point the following new set of Fundamental Declarations for the Anglican Church in North America. They stress the autonomy of the judicatories forming the ACNA and the voluntary nature of their association. They give to the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Creeds, the Church of England Formularies, and the threefold ministry of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon the place that the Anglican tradition has historically given to them. In contrast to the existing Fundamental Declarations, they express greater unity with the fundamental declarations or the equivalent of the Anglican entities that have supported the establishment of a new orthodox province in North America and extend their recognition to the ACNA as that province in formation. They permit a broader range of opinions on key issues that have historically divided Anglicans, and keep alive the vision of the ACNA as a truly comprehensive church for Anglo-Catholics, Conservative Evangelicals, and “mere Christians.”

1. The Anglican Church in North America is a voluntary association of autonomous and self-governing dioceses within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, worshiping the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, united under one Divine Head, and dedicated to the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ and the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

2. We hold the Christian faith as professed by the Church of Christ from primitive times and in particular as set forth in the Catholic Creeds and the Church of England Formularies, that is, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571, the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons of 1661.

3. We receives all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being the Word of God written and being the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by the inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation.

4. We retain inviolate these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church--Bishops, Presbyters (or Priests), and Deacons, which offices have been known since the apostles’ time and have been held in such high esteem that no man might presume to perform any of these offices, except he were first called, tried, and examined, and known to have such qualities as are need for such offices; and also, by public prayer, with imposition of hands, were approved and admitted into them by lawful authority.

5. We are determined by the help of God to uphold and preserve the Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ as the Lord has commanded in his Holy Word, and as the Church of England has received and set forth in its Formularies; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.

6. We seek to be and desire to continue in full communion with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses, and Provinces holding the historic Christian faith and maintaining the aforesaid Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ.

The Anglican Mission is a para-church that has as its primary mission reaching the unchurched and spiritually disconnected in North America, planting and growing new churches and strengthening existing ones. It has taken the Anglican Mission ten years to reach its present size of 150 congregations of an average Sunday attendance of more than 50. In that time it has experimented with several different organizational structures and forms of governance. Becoming a Ministry Partner is a reasonable and logical step for the Anglican Mission. Full integration into the ACNA would require the Anglican Mission to dismantle its present organizational structure and form of governance, which its leaders believe is its most effective and efficient to date.

Rather than responding to this development with hand-wringing and finger pointing, we need to see it as an opportunity for growth, not only numerical but also spiritual.

In Job 23:10 in his suffering Job speaks of how God tries the heart and tests us (Psalms 17:32, 26: 2, and 139:33). He is confident that God will through his trials make him a better man:

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

In Psalm 66:10 the Psalmist reminds God how he has tested his chosen people and tried them as silver is tried.

In Proverbs 17:3 King Solomon reminds us, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.”

In Isaiah 48:10 we read how God used the calamities and troubles his chosen people brought upon themselves to free them from impurities:

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you (or chosen you) in the furnace of affliction.”

God spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah:

"I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." (Jeremiah 17:10 ESV)

Zechariah 13:8-9 we read these words of prophesy:

“…In the whole land, declares the LORD, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.' "

In last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 3:2-3, we also read these words of prophesy:

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.”

Fullers’ soap is used to clean and thicken cloth before it is dyed. It is also used to whiten cloth that is not going to be dyed.

If God did not spare his chosen people from such refining, should we expect any better treatment? God wishes to separate the dross from the pure silver. In the crucible the dross rises to the top and the refiner skims it off. Or the heat of the refiner’s fire may burn away the dross.

In 1 Peter 1:6-7 we read how believers of Peter’s day experienced all kinds of trials:

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

He goes on to write that all believers must expect to face such trials:

“Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening.” (1 Peter 4:12 ESV)

James, Jesus’ older brother and, like Peter, a martyr, wrote these words of comfort:

“Count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV)

We should not be surprised at the trials we face. God tests and strengthens our faith in the fire of adversity. We are purified like silver refined in a furnace.

Archbishop Duncan may have done a great disservice in his use of the exodus from Egypt analogy in his addresses and sermons. He created the impression that those who had fled Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church had, upon joining the ACNA, arrived in the Promised Land. He did not prepare them for the further trials that they might face. In allowing the circumstances that led to the Anglican Mission’s decision to enter into a Ministry Partnership with the ACNA instead becoming fully integrated into that body, God may not only be testing the hearts of the people and leaders of the ACNA but also those of the people and leaders of the Anglican Mission. In this time of testing God is giving those of us outside of the ACNA and the Anglican Mission, as well as the folks in these two bodies, an opportunity to draw closer to Him and to rely more upon Him. A mistake that his chosen people made was to put their trust in human allies, in chariots and horses, instead of God. We all need to learn from their mistake. Let us take to heart the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)