Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Traditional Church in the Twenty-First Century: Revitalizing the Liturgy – Part II


By Robin G. Jordan

The liturgy has a horizontal dimension as well as a vertical one. While God is its main audience, the liturgy also has two secondary audiences. The first of these secondary audiences is an audience in the sense of an assembly of listeners. It is the Christian assembly itself, the gathering of believers that meets on Sundays and festivals to celebrate the liturgy. The second of these secondary audiences is an audience more in the sense of a particular group within an assembly of listeners. It is those who are unbelieving or unlearned (1 Corinthians 14:23-25). This secondary audience may be visitors. They may be the baptized children and grandchildren of believers who have not been fully instructed in Christ’s religion and have not openly professed their own faith and promised to be obedient to God’s will.

The liturgy tells the story of God and his relationship with his creature—man. Those who have a part in the liturgy also have a part in the story. Even visitors have a part even though they may not realize it.

This recounting of God’s wondrous deeds is a part of our worship of God. We are honouring and glorifying God by declaring God’s excellencies, by showing forth his praises.

The same recounting of God’s wondrous deeds is also in part for the benefit of the participants in the liturgy, especially those participating in the liturgy for the first time. We are displaying before those whose are willing to hear and see why God is worthy of our praise, our thanks, our obedience, & c. We are also reminding ourselves.

Even the Lord’s Supper is a part of our recounting of God’s wondrous deeds. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:26 ASV) We make known what God has done for us through Christ’s death on the cross. We are showing forth His salvation.



When the apostle Paul wrote, ”Let all things be done for building up,” (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV), for “edifying” in the older English translations of the First Letter to the Corinthians, he had in mind these two secondary audiences. 1 Corinthians 14:26 comes at the conclusion of a series of passages regarding the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. It includes this passage:

“Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:6-12 ESV)

This passage, especially verse 11, and a part of a subsequent verse, “…how can anyone in the position of an outsider say "Amen" to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?”(1 Corinthians 14:16 ESV) are often used in arguments against the continued use of the services of the traditional Prayer Book. “Let everything be done for edification” is certainly an important principle in Christian worship and liturgy but does it exclude the use of these services? Are traditional Prayer Book services no longer edifying because they do not use an idiom readily understandable to the younger generations and their language is foreign to these generations? Or can they be used for the instruction and improvement of the same generations? Can the latter learn from them about repentance, faith, praise, thanksgiving, righteousness, and godliness? I believe that if we can help them across the language barrier that these services indeed can be very edifying. Even the language of these services, while it differs from their everyday language, has much to teach them.

For example, the use of the second person familiar pronoun “thou” in addressing God tells us tons about our relationship with God in a single word. See the late Peter Toon’s article, “How Did Cranmer address people at court when Henry VIII was king?” Modern liturgies cannot convey our intimate relationship with God in one word. The English of contemporary everyday speech also lacks the nuances of the English of the traditional Prayer Book. “We pray” does no have the same shade of meaning as “we beseech.”

Previous generations learned the language of the traditional Prayer Book. It is not that distance from our everyday language. It is certainly not comparable to Middle English or Latin. I have studied both languages. What then keeps the younger generations from learning it? Some attributes it to intellectual laziness. The present younger generations are adverse to the work required to learn the language of the traditional Prayer Book. I believe that it is a little more complicated than indolence on their part. They will learn the specialized languages of computer technology and of various sports, putting a lot of effort into doing so. In learning these languages, they, however, see a tangible benefit to themselves, which they do not see in learning the language of the traditional Prayer Book. They do not learn these other languages for their own sake. They learn them because they are useful to them. They learn them so they can make wider use of their personal computer and talk sports with their friends. They have all kinds of motivation to learn them.

The only young people that have any motivation to learn the language of the traditional Prayer Book are amateur theatrical performers and drama students performing the plays of Shakespeare and re-enactors recreating the Tudor and Stuart periods in history at festivals. And, of course, English Majors. These groups form a tiny sliver of the non-churchgoing population. The first group who are sometimes described as “Cultural Creatives” are not known for their church attendance. The second group may attend a church service as a part of a re-enactment. I have seen no research on the church attendance of English Majors.

The challenge for the traditional church is to motivate the younger generations to learn the language of the traditional Prayer Book. The traditional church must offer them something that tangibly benefits them. It must provide them with the motivation to not only learn the language of the traditional Prayer Book but also become a part of the particular church community. Right now the traditional church holds very little if any attraction for the younger generations. Those who are going to church are attending contemporary churches. There any prejudices against the traditional church that they may have picked up are frequently reinforced.

By now you are asking yourself, “But what does this have to do with revitalizing the liturgy in the traditional church?” Doing what we can to give new life and vigor to our celebrations of the liturgy must be a part of any strategy to reach the younger generations. I have attended celebrations of the liturgy that were thoroughly lacking in vibrancy. The service was long and drawn out due to the additions to the Prayer Book text and the particular customs of the parish. The recitation of people’s parts was perfunctory, even rushed. The use of music in the service was unimaginative. The Scripture reading was lackluster and the hymn singing unenthusiastic and at times barely audible. The priest mumbled through his parts, including the additions from the Missal. The sermon was weak on illustrations, Scriptural allusions, and substance and barely held my attention. At times the priest’s voice was a drone. I found myself looking out the window. Even after the service had reached its climax in the consecration and distribution of the bread and wine of the Holy Communion, it dragged on. After the recessional the priest read more prayers from the back of the church. The congregation remained on its knees until the altar lights and the lights on the reredos were extinguished. The words of a former rector came to mind. “Fire worship!” If I were asked to describe the service in one word, it would be “tedious.”

When our celebrations of the liturgy are tiresomely long or seeming long or slow from dullness, they are likely to weary the participants and drain their energy. Existing members of the congregation may keep coming to church out of sense of duty and obligation. The other members of the congregations are their friends and the church service presents an opportunity to chat with them. They may not see them outside of church. They may come to receive communion, having been taught that regular communion is essential to their spiritual well-being and even their salvation. Unless the visitor, however, has some overriding reason to come back to our church, we are not going to see his or her face again. Young people are not going to hang around long enough to learn the language of the traditional Prayer Book, much less to acquire an appreciation of its services.

Our celebrations of the liturgy do not need to be irksome or wearisome. Even a small aging congregation can celebrate the liturgy in such a way that visitors will come away, saying to themselves, “Those folks were really worshiping God. They’re really putting their hearts into what they’re doing. They’ve got something there. I’m going back next Sunday.”

As we saw in the first article in this series, revitalizing the liturgy must begin with the participants’ relationship with God and their prayer life. It is a key ingredient. In the next article we will take a look at what other ingredients are needed to give new vitality to our liturgical celebrations.

How to sell Christianity? Ask an atheist.


Jim Henderson is a recovering evangelist. Back in his soul-chasing, church-starting days, he began hearing a grating dissonance between his faith in Jesus and the way he went about winning new converts. Henderson realized he was doing unto others what he would never want done unto him. He was manipulating conversations to set up a pitch. Viewing people as potential notches on his evangelism belt rather than fellow sojourners and prospective friends. Listening only to the extent it could reveal an argumentative opening. He realized he hated the whole enterprise.

"I told the people in my church, 'I don't like evangelizing, and I know you hate it, so I've decided that I'm formally resigning from witnessing. You're all free to do so the same,' " Henderson recalls. "I said, 'I love Jesus, you love Jesus, and we all want to connect people with Jesus. But we're gonna have to figure out new ways to do it.' "

In the 15 years since, Henderson has blazed a new path as an innovator, author, church-evaluator, self-professed subversive, and leader in the creation of new ways to be publicly and persuasively Christian in the 21st century. Maybe the most subversive — and sensible — surprise of all is the population to which this well-caffeinated Seattle man has turned for partners, friends and teachers: atheists.

What could a Christian possibly learn from atheists? A lot, it turns out. As more and more Jesus followers like Henderson are discovering, taking a look at yourself and your religion through the eyes of the unconvinced can be a revelatory experience.

Although he is just north of 60, Henderson is emblematic of an up-and-coming wave of evangelicals intent on course correction for the church. Through public-opinion research, grassroots dialogue and ears to the shifting ground, they are getting the message that the old ways don't cut it anymore.


To read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Traditional Church in the Twenty-First Century: Revitalizing the Liturgy - Part I


By Robin G. Jordan

If the traditional church is going to survive and flourish in the twenty-first century, it will need to change its basic assumptions. The twenty-first century is not the 1950s when most people were churchgoers. In the 1950s traditional hymns were sung in most churches; traditional Bibles like the King James Version, the American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version were read from the pulpit or lectern. “The language of Zion” was heard in extempore prayers, as well as in hymns, Scripture readings, sermons and service books. Those days are long past and are not going to return.

The number of Anglicans and Episcopalians, churched and unchurched, who are acquainted with the traditional Prayer Book, the 1662 in England, the 1928 in the United States, and 1962 in Canada, who have an appreciation of its good points, and prefer its services to those of the more recent service books is shrinking. Traditional churches cannot depend upon these Anglicans and Episcopalians to fill its pews.

If a traditional church succeeds in attracting new faces, more and more of its new faces are going to come from a non-Anglican or Episcopalian background or have no church background at all. They cannot be expected to see the traditional Prayer Book as a venerable liturgy that is worthy of preservation. They are likely to view it as quaint if not unintelligible. The traditional church is faced with the challenge of overcoming such views of the traditional Prayer Book and of fostering attitudes well disposed to the book and its use.

The particular church community using the traditional Prayer Book plays a much greater role in engendering favorable attitudes toward the book and its use than the book itself. The late Peter Toon recognized the importance of this factor in his article, "Worship Simply, Engage in Mission Joyfully: How to Grow a Traditional Church." If the newcomer sees a vibrant community, it will influence their perceptions of the traditional Prayer Book. They will be more willing to overlook its antiquarianisms and its unfamiliar words and phrases. They will see its value as a means for communicating gospel truth They will see how the services of the book “enable all who participate to think in true and biblical ways about God and their life as his people.”

The Sunday service is still the initial point of contact for most people with a church. It is where they receive their first and most lasting impression of that church. It is therefore critical that the church make a good initial impression. Visitors must come away thinking that they would like to become a part of this Christian community.

The research findings of the Thom Rainer Group is that the quality of the music is one of the factors that the unchurched give for making a return visit to a particular church and eventually joining it. It is seen as a reflection of how much the church values worshiping God. Another factor is the quality of the preaching. These two factors point to the overall importance of the quality of worship.

The implications are that a liturgical church must also give attention to the quality of the liturgy, as well as its music and its preaching. One of the things that distinguish a liturgy that is well done from a liturgy that is poorly done is how the pastor or other service leader performs his part in the liturgy and how the congregation performs theirs.



Liturgy is more than a church’s formularies for public worship. Liturgy is the work of the people of God, his laos, which includes the clergy as well as the laity. Indeed, clergy and laity are artificial distinctions. God in the New Testament recognizes only one “chosen generation,” “royal priesthood,” “holy nation,” “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) Unlike the people of Israel, the people of the Old Covenant, the Church of Christ, the people of the New Covenant have no separate priestly caste. All of Christ’s Church is a “spiritual house, a holy priesthood” “built up” from “lively stones, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The people of the New Covenant have no need of a temple in which they gather to worship God. They are “God’s building, his field” (1 Corinthians 3:9) God has made them into his holy temple, his dwelling place (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21). They have no need for a caste of priests to offer sacrifices for the propitiation of their sins. Christ has made propriation for their sins with his own blood (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, and 1 John 4:10) Christ was the propitiation not only for their sins but also “for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

The liturgy is like a play or theatrical performance. The service leader is both an actor and the director. The other ministers and the congregation are the rest of the cast. Everyone has a part and everyone is a performer. The liturgy, however, differs from a play or theatrical performance in that its primary audience is God.

Before we look at this particular aspect of the liturgy, I need to explain the sense in which I am using the term “minister.” All Christians are called to the work of ministry and all Christians are ministers. They are servants of Christ. In this article I am using the term “minister” to refer those individuals who have a particular part in the liturgy—for example, they may read the Ten Commandments or the Epistle in the Communion Service or they may serve as the voice of the ecclesia, the Christian assembly, at a particular juncture in the service, for example, the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church.

God is the principal audience of the liturgy. The praise, the thanksgiving, the confession, the prayer, and even the recounting of God’s story, His “wonderful deeds,” (Psalm 9:1) are directed to Him. In the latter we declaring the excellencies of God, showing forth his praises (1 Peter 2:9).

As the Bible tells us, God does not look at our outward appearance. He looks at our hearts, our innermost selves (1 Samuel 16:7). What concerns Him is that the words of our hearts match the words of our mouths. In kneeling before Him we are bending the knee of the heart. Our hearts are indeed inclined toward Him (Joshua 24:23; 1 Samuel 12:24). We are offering Him the sacrifices that he desires—“a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalms 51:17). We are praising Him with our whole heart (Psalm 111:1). We are entreating His favour with our whole heart (Psalm 119:58) His testimonies are indeed the rejoicing of our hearts (Psalm 119:111); our hearts indeed stand in awe of His word (Psalm 119: 161) We are turning to Him with all our heart (Joel 2:12). We have laid it to heart to give glory to His name (Malachi 2:2). In drawing near to Him with our mouths and honouring Him with our lips, our hearts are not far from Him (Matthew 15:18). Rather we “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22) We indeed love Him with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul (Matthew 22:7). Our hearts are right in His sight (Acts 8:21). However we worship God, we must offer him the real thing—the worship of the heart.

In a sense the participants in the liturgy are having an audience with God. They have been admitted to speak to God. God, in turn speaks to them as an earthly king would speak to petitioners admitted into his presence. He speaks through the Scripture. He speaks through the prayers, the Creed, and the sermon. He speaks through the Holy Communion. He speaks to our hearts apart from these things as well as through them. Some parts of the conversation we may be party to; other parts we may overhear. Some parts of the conservation are private. God takes someone aside and speaks to him. We are not party to that particular part of conversation nor do we overhear it. Indeed we may never know what transpired unless God prompts that person to share that part of the conversation with us.

In a sense the liturgy itself is a command performance. We are performing before a king at his command. The king is God and God is the King of the heavens and earth and all that is within them. We are not performing before ordinary royalty. Unlike an earthly king, this King knows, as we have already seen, our hearts. We cannot dissemble before Him as we might before an earthly king. This command performance is not a one-time event. We are commanded to perform before Him every Sunday and every festival. Moreover, we are the royal company of actors. The King before whom we perform knows us intimately. He is closely acquainted with every detail of our lives, our darkest secrets, and our hidden sins. Our performance cannot be an act, that is, a pretense. He sees through all pretence, all false profession. It must be unfeigned and must come from the heart.

How then do we prepare for this weekly command performance? This preparation is the preparation of the heart. It is not something we do by confessing our sins to a priest each week albeit confession has a place in that preparation. We daily confess our sins to God and pray for his forgiveness and grace. We meet weekly in a small group with our fellow Christians and confess our failings and sins to each other, pray for each other, and encourage each other. We daily read and mediate upon God’s Word. We keep our daily appointment with God, guarding that precious time we have set aside for prayer and communion with Him. We not only ask Him earnestly for fresh supplies of grace but also for a deepening of our sense of His mercies. Even as we go about our daily activities, our hearts frequently turn to God and we converse with him as we would with a trusted friend, sharing with him what is on our heart. We endeavour to honor and glorify God in all that we do and say every waking moment of the day so that in showing forth God’s praises on Sunday, we are doing with our lips what we have been doing in our lives throughout the week. When we come to celebrate the liturgy, our hearts are truly not far from God, and we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

The liturgy is also an offering, a thing offered not as sacrifice but in sign of our devotion to God. A sign is a representation of something else, in this particular case, of our devotedness, our zealous love and loyalty to Christ who has loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood and who has made us kings and priest to God and his Father (Revelation 1:5-6). It is also a testimony of that devotion. For that reason alone what we offer should be the best that we can offer within our particular circumstances.

A proverbial saying that I associate with my grandmother, my mother’s mother, is, “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” This proverb is particularly applicable to the divine service. If we truly believe that the worship of God and the celebration of the liturgy are worth doing, they are also worth doing well. They deserve our best efforts.

The Scripture readings should be practiced. The music should be carefully selected and rehearsed. It should be gone over with the congregation as well as the cantors, the choir, and the musicians. If major or substantial changes are made in the order of service, they should be explained to the congregation ahead of time. Under some circumstances a full “dress rehearsal” may be desirable. Whatever the traditional church does on Sundays and festivals must be done well.

The seventeenth century Anglican poet-priest George Herbert in Chapter VI, “The Parson praying,” in A Priest to the Temple, or The Country Parson, His Character, and Rule of Holy Life offers some good advice for pastors and other service leaders. It is also advice from which all the participants in the liturgy would benefit.

“The Country Parson, when he is to read divine services, composeth himself to all possible reverence; lifting up his heart and hands, and eyes, and using all other gestures which may express a hearty, and unfeigned devotion. This he doth, first, as being truly touched and amazed with the Majesty of God, before whom he then presents himself; yet not as himself alone, but as presenting with himself the whole Congregation, whose sins he then bears, and brings with his own to the heavenly altar to be bathed, and washed in the sacred Laver of Christ’s blood. Secondly, as this is the true reason of his inward fear [= awe, reverence], so he is content to express this outwardly to the utmost of his power; that being first affected himself, he may affect also his people, knowing that no Sermon moves them so much to a reverence, which they forget again, when they come to pray, as a devout behavior in the very act of praying. Accordingly his voice is humble, his words treatable, and slow; yet not so slow neither, to let the fervency of the supplicant hang and die between speaking, but with a grave liveliness, between fear and zeal, pausing yet pressing, he performs his duty.”


Herbert did not belong to that school of thought that insists that a pastor should pray woodenly, concealing every trace of emotion. Rather he believed that the pastor should pray with warmth, not concealing how affected he is at being in God’s presence. Seeing their pastor moved by God’s majesty, the people likewise would be moved. Herbert believed that the pastor should not only set a wholesome example for his flock but also instruct them in how they should conduct themselves in divine service and how they should pray their parts in the liturgy:

“Besides his example, he having often instructed his people how to carry themselves in divine service, exacts of them all possible reverence, by no means enduring either talking, or sleeping, or gazing, or leaning, or half-kneeling, or any undutiful behavior in them, but causing them, when they sit, or stand, or kneel, to do all in a strait, and steady posture, as attending to what is done in the Church, and every one, man, and child, answering aloud both Amen, and all other answers, which are on the Clerks and people’s part to answer; which answers also are to be done not in a huddling [=confused], or slubbering [= slobbering or careless] fashion, gaping, or scratching the head, or spitting even in he midst of their answer, but gently and pausably [= hesitantly, not rushed], thinking what they say; so that while they answer, As it was in the beginning, &c. they meditate as they speak, that God hath ever had his people, that have glorified him as well as now, and that he shall have so for ever. And the like in other answers. This is that which the Apostle calls a reasonable service, Rom. 12:1 when we speak not as Parrots, without reason, or offer up such sacrifices as they did of old, which was of beasts devoid of reason; but when we use our reason, and apply our powers to the service of him, that gives them.”


Herbert in Chapter VII, “The Parson preaching,” emphasizes that the character of a pastor’s sermon is holiness. The pastor is not witty or learned or eloquent but holy. He goes on to suggest a number of ways in which this character is gained. One of these ways merits our attention because it also applicable to how we should do everything in our worship of God: how we should sing the anthems, canticles, hymns, and psalms, read the Scripture lessons, and say the creeds and the prayers and even the Words of Administration at the distribution of the Bread and Wine:

“Secondly, by dipping, and seasoning all our words and sentences in our hearts, before they come into our mouths, truly affecting, and cordially expressing all that we say; so that the auditors may plainly perceive that every word is heart-deep.”


We must join the worship of our lips to the worship of our heart so that it is evident even to the man walking into our church services from off the street that what we are doing comes from the heart. When the depth of each participant’s relationship with God, his personal prayer life, and his devotion to God (and not just that of the pastor or other service leader) are manifest in the liturgy, it gives a tremendous vitality to the liturgy that will not be lost upon visitors. They may be prompted to say, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." (Genesis 28:17 ESV)

The Practice of the Presence of God


A key to the revitalization of the worship of any church, liturgical or otherwise, is prayer. The worship of a congregation whose members converse and communion throughout the day with God has life and power that is missing from the worship of a congregation whose members approach God only on Sunday morning.

A little book that has greatly benefited the prayer lives of many Christians—Anglicans and other Protestants as well as Catholics—is Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth century monk in Paris, France. He worked in the monastery kitchen for fifteen years and then in the monastery sandal repair shop. His particular occupation did not afford many opportunities to take time from what he was doing in order to pray. So Brother Lawrence learned to pray as he went about his work in the monastery kitchen and sandal repair shop. In his little book he shares with others what he learned. It can be found on the Internet at http://www.practicegodspresence.com/brotherlawrence/index.html

The text and audio version of Brother's Lawrence's little book can be found on the Internet at: http://www.brotherlawrenceonline.com/

Hard Truth # 7: Church is too big a step.


7. Church is rightly the locus of our lives as believers, but it is just too big a first step for un-churched unbelievers to attend.

Shane Rogerson asked whether Connect09 was simply a “new way to ring the church bell”. It wasn’t meant to be.

The whole point of “connect” was us out there in the community – whether as individuals in the day-to-day or churches and groups actively loving the local area – making new contacts.

And this happened to varying degrees.


To read more, click here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Heritage Anglican Ponders a Critical Question for North American Anglicans



By Robin G. Jordan

If North American Anglicans do not need a new Oxford Movement, what then do they need? This is a very important question. It is a question to which we must give careful thought. In this article I offer an answer to this question, which is the fruit of my own reflection.

North American Anglicans need to hear the gospel. To some this may sound like a no-brainer. But the fact is that many North American Anglicans have not heard the gospel. They may have heard a gospel. Or they may have heard a part of the gospel or a watered-down version of the gospel. However, they have not heard the full gospel as it is found in the New Testament.

”But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’” (Romans 10:14-16 ESV)

As the apostle Paul went on to write the church at Rome, “…faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 KJV)

We not only need to hear the gospel to believe in Christ but also to receive the Holy Spirit. We do not receive the Holy Spirit by works of the law but by hearing through faith (Galatians 3:2,5). To receive is to take the proffered thing into our hands or possession. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we make room for the Holy Spirit in our lives. We provide accommodation for the Holy Spirit so to speak. We choose to serve as a receptacle of the Spirit. But we do not do this by our own natural strength. We are able to do so because God has already begun to work in us (Philippians 1:6). It is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). We have no power of our own to do anything pleasing or acceptable to God unless God first gives us the grace through Christ, enabling us to have a good will, and the grace of God continues at work within us to maintain that good will.



One of the reasons that Christians do not experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives is that when they welcome him into their lives, they confine him to the front room. They do not open their whole life to him, especially the dark corners. God does not force his Holy Spirit upon us. He does not invade us like an evil spirit and take possession of us against our will. He gently prods and quietly encourages us to make more room for his presence in us, to open the doors to those parts of our lives that we are keeping closed to him. He gives us the grace to have the good will to open these doors and to yield these areas of our lives to him until he wholly reigns over our lives. We truly enter God’s kingdom when God is the complete ruler of our hearts.

North American Anglicans need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As I type these words, I can hear someone groaning, ”Why do evangelicals always bring up the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” We cannot relate to Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord if he is a remote figure in ancient Palestine. He must be a very Real Person to us, alive today as he was alive then. We may not see or touch him but he must be very much present in the here and now.

Our relationship with Christ must be personal. It cannot be our relationship of our forebears or parents. It cannot be the relationship of the Church. It cannot be the relationship of a confessor, pastor, priest, or spiritual director. It must be our own. We must personally for ourselves accept Christ as our Saviour. We must likewise accept him as our Lord. We must confess with our own mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our own heart that God raised him from the dead in order to be saved (Romans 10:9). No one else can do this for us.

It is as the apostle Paul wrote. A man may be circumcised as an infant and bear the mark of the Old Covenant but unless he is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit and not by the letter, he is no Jew (Romans 2:29). We may have been baptized in infancy, recognized as children of the New Covenant, and admitted to the visible Church but until we ourselves turn from sin, turn to Christ, accept his offer of salvation, and follow him as his disciple, we are not Christians. A couple may be betrothed, bind themselves with a promise to marry. They may announce their engagement and buy an engagement ring. But until they stand before a minister and exchange their vows, the minister offers prayer and blesses them, and they consummate their marriage, they are not husband and wife. We may have inherited our great aunt’s house. The lawyer may have given us the deed to the property and the key to the house. But until we have occupied the house, turned on the electricity, gas, and water, and made it our home, we have not come into our inheritance. All we have is a deed and a key.

When we have a personal relationship with someone else, we take him into our confidence. We share with him our ups and downs. We tell him our darkest secrets. He is our closest friend and constant companion.

At the same time we must also let him do his share of the talking and listen attentively to what he says. If someone is a very good friend—not just in our estimation but also in truth—and we trust him, we will also take to heart what he says.

Jesus has promised to those who open their lives to him, he will have intimate fellowship with them, and they with him:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV)


While Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne, he also makes himself present to us in a very real way by the power of the Holy Spirit. Catholic theologians talk about Christ’s real presence under the forms of bread and wine on the altar at Mass. But Christ is really present to us every day. His presence is not imagined. It is real albeit it is spiritual. The Spirit of Christ is present to our spirit. Indeed through the indwelling Holy Spirit Jesus also dwells in our heart, our innermost being.

An analogy that I find helpful is the difference between appearing before a king in his throne room, surrounded by his court, and meeting with him alone in his presence-chamber. A presence-chamber is the reception room of a great person where he meets privately with petitioners and others who have business with him. This analogy may not work well for Americans who have no monarch and therefore they cannot relate to the experience. But does apply to how Christ relates us but with a very important difference. Christ does not just invite us to his presence-chamber. He makes his presence-chamber in us! We can take counsel with Christ as we would with the closest of our friends and intimates.

In the High Priestly Prayer Jesus asks that the Father give eternal life to all that the Father has given him:

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3-4 ESV)


In the Greek the kind of knowing to which Jesus is referring is used to describe the intimate relationship between husband and wife.

The relationship that we enjoy with Christ in this life is a relationship that continues beyond death. It is eternal.

To a number of Catholics it comes as a surprise that they can meet with Christ in the presence-chamber of their heart. They have been taught that they need the Blessed Virgin Mary and other intermediaries to approach Christ in the throne room on their behalf. Christ has been presented to them as not a particularly approachable figure, certainly not someone with whom they can enjoy a personal relationship. They have also been taught that they need priests by whatever mystical powers they are supposed to have been given at their ordination through the laying-on-of-the bishop’s hands to make Christ present for them under the forms of bread and wine.This presence is not particularly personal. It is more like the fire-berry that every morning a bird brings the retired star Ramandu from the valleys in the Sun in C. S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and by which a little of his age is taken away until he becomes as young as the child born yesterday, whereupon he can take his rising again and once more tread the great dance. [1]

How do we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? The first step is to believe in him and to accept him as our Saviour and Lord. But that is only the beginning. Like any other relationship, our relationship with Christ will not grow if we do not make time for that relationship and invest in it. We can have no relationship with anyone, including Christ, if we do not seek his company or converse with him, if we do not make room for that person in our lives.

What comes from our relationship with Christ reveals what kind of relationship we have with him. If we say that we have a relationship with Christ but our life is unchanged, then our claim to have a relationship with Christ must be questioned. We may not be putting into our relationship with Christ what we should be—showing our love for Christ by obeying him and by loving others. Or we may really not have a relationship with Christ at all. As with any person with whom we have the relationship, we must trust Christ, and trusting Christ means heeding what he says. The extent of our relationship reveals the extent of our trust.

North American Anglicans not only need to be on intimate terms with Christ but also God’s Word written. God has given us the Holy Scriptures to guide us through this life and to enjoy a right relationship with him. They provide us with the only rule of life that we need. They set forth everything that is necessary for our salvation. They are a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path in the darkness of this world (Psalm 119:105). The unfolding of God’s Word gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). It makes them wise (Psalm 19:7) In God’s light, we see light (Psalm 36:9).

Imagine being in a room in pitch darkness. We cannot even see our hands before our face not matter how closely we hold them to our eyes. Then someone puts a book into our hands. We open the book and light shine from its pages, illuminating the room around us. From this book we learn how we can get to a room filled with the light of God’s presence and enjoy being in that light for all eternity. We also read how we can also find ourselves in another room for all eternity, one even darker than this one and filled with things from our worst nightmares and worse, things beyond our imagining. God has given us such a book and that book is the Bible.

In an earlier time we might have described the Holy Scriptures as a map and a compass to help the traveler find the right path and to stay on it. Today we might describe it as God’s geographic positioning system (GPS) for those on life’s highway.

In the Holy Scriptures God makes known that part of his will that he has chosen to reveal to us. He does not reveal all of his will but he does reveal all of his will that we need to know.

In reading and study the Bible, in memorizing passages from the Bible, in mediating upon passages of Scripture, we nourish our souls. In immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, God’s Word becomes a part of us. Through God’s Word the Holy Spirit renews our minds (Romans 12:2). We become “skilled in the word of righteousness” (Hebrews 5:13), and we learn to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Our powers of discernment are trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). The mind of Christ is formed in us.

North American Anglicans need to live a life of repentance, godliness, and holiness. What we say and do most be consistent with each other.

”This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6 ESV)


If we are going to claim knowledge of God, then our lives must reflect that we do indeed know him:

”Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” (1 John 2:4-5 ESV)


We may not see through our hypocrisy but others do, in particular those who are not Christians and those who are unchurched. They may already have a preconception of Christians as being hypocrites. We reinforce that preconception.

Our conduct, and our conversation should clearly show who is the Lord of our life:

“By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6 ESV)


Our manner of life should be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).

[5] North American Anglicans need to feel a deep concern for the souls of others and to act upon what they feel. They need to become missionaries wherever God has placed them. They need to invest in relationships with the lost in their lives and to be not only the messengers of God’s grace, of his favour and goodwill, but the message too. They need to develop their skills at building relationships, listening to others, encouraging them, and, when the time is right, drawing them into spiritual conversations and eventually sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ. This requires learning to find what Sjogren, Ping, and Pollock call an individual’s “spiritual address.”

“Every human being of planet Earth has a unique address in relationship to the kingdom of God. Some are very close; others are much further from faith in Christ. In passages such as Mark 12:34 and Matthew 15:8, Jesus refers to people’s spiritual addresses, saying that someone is ‘not far’ from the kingdom or that others’ ‘hearts are far from me.’

The concept of a spiritual address is crucial to all of us who want Christ’s messages to reach and change people’s hearts. Why? Because messages that are brilliantly effective for those close to faith will quite often alienate and repel those who are far from it. In evangelism, as in most things, one size does not fit all.” [2]


North American Anglicans need to learn to love the lost and to show them God’s love even though they may at a particular time not be ready to accept Christ. They need to be mindful that for many people they may be the only Christ that these people may ever know.

Being a witness to Christ is a tremendous responsibility. Our lives must attest to the truth of our words. They must give testimony that knowing Christ, having a intimate personal relationship with him, does indeed make a difference, that Christ is all that we say that he is. Anglo-Catholic theologians are mistaken in their description of the priest at the altar as an icon of Christ. It is the people of Christ in their daily lives who are the true icons of Christ, the windows through which the lost see Christ.

North American Anglicans need to have more than a passing acquaintanceship with the historical Church of England formularies and the received interpretation of these formularies. The historical Church of England formularies are important statements of what Anglicans believe. They are standards of faith and practice for Anglicans, authoritative solely on the basis that they are agreeable to Scripture.

James Packer has written about the place and use of the Thirty-Nine Articles today. He acknowledges that he is an enthusiast for the Articles:

“Coming from a time when the most basic question in Christianity, namely the terms of the gospel itself, was being fought out with scholarship and passion, they centre on the fundamentals and define the gospel in a way that by biblical standards must be judge classic. They are thus abidingly relevant, and never more so than in a day like ours, when by reason of unsettlement resulting from what I think are unsound approaches to the Bible, the churches of the Reformation have lost their certainty about this classic definition.”[3]


Packer goes on to admit that he is casting the Articles in a rescuer’s role:

“The deepest reason for producing them, over and above the short-term political gains of doing so, was to provide for the future the Anglican answer to the question, what is the gospel? Constitutionally, the Articles still do this. Since by biblical standards they answer thquestion correctly, and since the greater body of Anglicans have drifted away from the answer, much to their loss, my enthusiasm will I hope be pardoned, however unfashionable it might seem. I cannot really think of any healthier course of study for Anglicans generally in these days than to analyze and assimilate the Christian message as the Articles define, display, and delimit it.” [4]


In Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group examine the place of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They point to our attention that the 1662 Prayer Book has been the standard liturgical resource for Anglicans since its adoption. It has been translated into many languages and adapted to different circumstances. The orders of services that are found in the 1662 Prayer Book provide an important and distinct approach to Anglican sacramental and liturgical life, as do Archbishop Cranmer’s Prefaces. [5]

They make note of the fact that the 1662 Prayer Book, unlike more recent liturgies, keeps a focus on scripture, repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and praise.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer remains a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, because the principles it embodies are fundamentally theological and biblical. The liturgies of this book enable all who participate to think in true and biblical ways about God and about their life as his people.”[6]


They stress:

“Cranmer’s genius lay in preserving those elements of earlier orders of service which communicated gospel truth, and then expressed them in the vernacular language of the day…His prefaces provide principles for continued liturgical revision, so that in every age gospel truth may be conveyed and celebrated without confusion…The 1662 Prayer Book provides a standard by which other liturgies may be tested and measured….The further removed a proposed liturgy may be from the 1662 Prayer Book, the more important it is that it should be subject to widespread evaluation throughout the Communion.” [7]


In relation to the Anglican Ordinal, which has been bound within The Book of Common Prayer since 1552, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group make this very important point:

“Ordained ministers are always and only ministers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This gospel is entrusted to them (1 Timothy 1:12-14), and they are accountable to the Lord for their faithfulness to it.” [8]


North American Anglicans need to have fellowship with other Christian men and women in a local expression of the Body of Christ. The local church is not the diocese, district, presbytery, or other judicatory. It is a congregation of faithful men and women—a gathering of believing Christians—in which the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, are ministered with due order and discipline as ordained by Christ. While all believing Christians in all places and all times are linked by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ their head and into the invisible Church of Christ, the local church is a particular visible expression of Christ’s Body in a particular place and a particular time. It may serve a particular community or it may be targeted at a particular segment of the population, a particular subculture in the culture, or a particular affinity group, for example a Hispanic church, a church for “Cultural Creatives,” or a cowboy church.

Fellowship is more than socializing with like-minded people. It involves sharing our hopes, our dreams, our troubles, our disappointments, and our burdens with other Christians. It means disclosing ourselves, being vulnerable, not wearing a mask or trying to control how others perceive us. It means being seen as God sees us.

Fellowship entails confessing our sins to each other, and holding each other accountable not only for what we say and do but also what we think and feel. It especially means loving each other as Christ loved us. Unlike Cain, we are our brother and our sister’s keeper. The love that Christians bear for one another is not a love that would wink at a brother or sister jeopardizing his or her soul.

In Proverbs 27:17 we read, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” It is primarily in the local church in which this sharpening—the conversations through which Christians make one another wiser and better—takes place. New Christians are instructed in the Christian faith and mentored in the Christian way of life. For good or for evil each Christian set an example for his fellow Christians. In the large membership or mega church the sharpening takes place in the smaller ecclesia of the small group meeting in homes, offices, and other venues. In the small membership church it may occurs in the congregation itself, depending upon the size of the church.

The manifestations of the Holy Spirit, what are called spiritual gifts, are given not to the individual Christian but to the Body of Christ in its local expression for the upbuilding of that Body. Where a particular gift such as “tongues,” or a personal prayer language is given to an individual Christian, it is given to build up the faith of that Christian so that he can, in turn, use what other spiritual gifts or natural talents God has bestowed upon him to build up the faith of the local church. It does not make that Christian more spiritual than other Christians. On the contrary, as pastor of my acquaintanceship drew to my attention, such gifts are often bestowed upon those who are weak in faith. In his case he had struggled with alcoholism for years. This particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit in his life was not a mark of spiritual superiority but of his own weakness and of God’s compassion.

Over the years God has shown me that the individual Christian himself is God’s gift to the local Church, to the local expression of the Body of Christ. We ourselves may not always see how a particular individual is a gift. He or she may not to our way of thinking have the appearance of a gift. However, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). In time God may reveal to us how such individual is a gift and to our amazement the gift God has given us is a precious one indeed. He has given us one of the least of his children to whom in ministering we are ministering to Christ.

North American Anglicans need to study the history of the Christian Church especially those periods that are key to understanding the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of Anglicanism. If they are not acquainted with a particular historical period, its major events, the effects of these events, its leading figures, and their thinking, they cannot tell if a particular individual is promoting a myth or theory that is not grounded in historical fact. They may consequently be led to draw the wrong conclusions about Anglican beliefs, Anglican identity, Anglican practices, and a host of other important issues. A thorough knowledge of the historical context and the authors’ intent, for example, is essential to understanding the Church of England formularies.

North American Anglicans need to develop their ability to separate fact from opinion, to discern what is true from what is false, to tell apart sound logic from faulty or questionable logic, and to see through sophistry and subtle argument. They need to hone and sharpen their own judgment and not to rely upon the judgment of others. They need to learn to recognize what is truly scriptural, that is found in Scripture or may be proved by Scripture, from that which is not. The latter requires not only familiarity with Scripture but also the basic principles of Bible interpretation and common mistakes in such interpretation. It also requires a close acquaintance with the rules of logic and their application. We live in a post-Christian, post-logical world in which people make critical decisions upon experience, feelings, and intuition. Cognitive processes have changed. Millenials come to conclusions in a peculiar roundabout way while former generations were more linear and logical in their thinking. This makes them particularly susceptible to doctrines and practices that are strange, erroneous and disagreeable with Scripture.

I am convinced that these things are the most important things that North American Anglicans need today. But there is one other thing that I have not mentioned so far. Above all else, there is clearly a need for spiritual revival.

Heavenly Father, we beg you to pour out your Spirit in these days. Awaken the unconverted and revive those who love you. Grant your people a true vision of your glory, a renewed faithfulness to your Word, and a deeper consecration to your service so that through their witness your kingdom may advance and all peoples be brought to fear your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Endnotes:
[1] C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, (NewYork: HarperCollins, 1980), 226-227.
[2] Steve Sjogren, Dave Ping, and Doug Pollock, Irresistible Evangelism, (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2004), 66.
[3] J. I. Packer and R. T. Beckwith, The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2007) 74.
[4] Ibid., 75.
[5] Nicholas Okoh, Vinay Samuel, and Chris Sugden, eds., Being Faithful: The Shape Of Historic Anglicanism Today (London: The Latimer Trust, 2009), 46.
[6] Ibid., 47.
[7] Ibid., 47-48.
[8] Ibid., 50.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Oxford Movement Unmasked


By Robin G. Jordan

If we believe the propagandists for the Oxford Movement, the English Church had fallen upon dire straights in the eighteenth century and the Oxford Movement came to the rescue. They found a church that had become divorced from its Catholic heritage and inspired a renewal of Catholic doctrine and practice. The truth of the matter is that all these claims are a lie!

The Oxford Movement from the outset conducted an intense propaganda campaign from the pulpit, on the lecture platform, and in its articles, books, pamphlets, and tracts to portray itself as the savior of the Church of England. Rather than being the sole surviving representative of authentic Catholicism in the Church of England, the Oxford Movement, however, was one of several Catholic groups in the English Church. The Oxford Movement sought to discredit these groups while at same time endeavoring to co-opt their members. The movement also played these groups and their members against each other. The leading figures of the Oxford Movement were far from the saintly group of Oxford churchmen that they were portrayed in later years. Modern scholars have documented ample grounds for the veracity of the charges of the Oxford Movement’s nineteenth century critics.

Those whose support the leading figures of the Oxford Movement publicly cultivated, they often privately attacked behind their backs. As the Oxford Movement became more strident in its rhetoric and vociferous in its accusations a number of clergy and prominent laypersons who had initially supported the movement left the movement and joined its critics. Some were forced out of the movement when one or more of its leading figures turned on them.



The Evangelicals were not the only churchmen to oppose the Oxford Movement. The High Church Party of the time was divided into several factions and these factions were, both amongst and within themselves, not of one mind in regards to the Oxford Movement. A number of leading High Churchmen set themselves against the movement.

The leading figures of the Oxford Movement like John Newman and Edward Pusey did not conceal their sympathy for the Church of Rome, the Council of Trent, and Romanism (i.e., Roman Catholic doctrines and practices). Their tendency toward post-Tridentian Roman Catholicism is one of the things that distinguished the Oxford Movement from the other Catholic groups in the Church of England. The latter leaned toward the primitive Catholicism of the Church Fathers of the first five centuries of Christianity, as had the Caroline High Churchmen.

As I have written elsewhere, John Newman and other leading figures of the Oxford Movement were not past making selective use of passages from the Edwardian and Elizabethan Homilies and the works of John Jewel, Richard Hooker, and the Caroline Divines to serve their own purposes. They, like the Jesuits, had no qualms at stretching the truth or even telling an outright lie to advance their cause.

As well as not hiding its sympathy for the Church of Rome and its doctrines and practices, the Oxford Movement was open in its contempt for the English Reformation. It saw itself as the champion of a resurgent Catholicism against what it viewed as a heretical Protestantism. As I have also written elsewhere, the Oxford Movement falsely claimed to be the heir and successor to the Caroline Divines. Interestingly a number of recent Anglo-Catholic scholars have rejected the Caroline Divines as not being true Catholics, as they did not accept the authority of the Pope and had a receptionist view of the sacrament of Holy Communion.



Among the myths that later writers sympathetic to the Oxford Movement have perpetuated are that the Oxford Movement was critical to the spiritual renewal of the Church of England in the nineteenth century. Any spiritual renewal that may have accompanied the Oxford Movement was, as Samuel Leuenberger has shown in Archbishop Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest, a result of the Oxford Movement’s preservation of the Book of Common Prayer in its first phase before 1850. It was effected by the content of the Prayer Book, being “the very pure Word of God, the holy Scripture, or that which is agreeable to the same.” It was not the result of the ceremonial embellishments of the liturgy that occurred in the Oxford Movement’s second phase, in so-called ritualism.

In this second phase, this ritualism, another myth maintains, enabled Anglo-Catholic clergy and parishes to reach the working classes and the poor in London and other English cities. In actuality a large number of those who flocked to Anglo-Catholic churches were upper middle class, attracted by the novelty and “sensual worship” of ritualism—the elaborate ceremonial, the flickering candles, the sumptuous vestments, the clouds of incense, the ringing of bells, and the pageantry. In a nineteenth century cartoon title "Religion A La Mode," a house maid complains:

"I tell you what it is, Parker. I shall be very glad when missus gets tired of this Puseyism. It may be the fashion. But with her comin' home late from parties, and getting up for early service, and then goin' to bed again, we poor servants have double work a'most."

It is difficult to see what benefit ritualism was to the lower classes even if they were attracted to it. Lighting votive candles and praying to the blessed Virgin and the saints, carrying images through the streets, and attending Mass does not justify us in the eyes of God. We are justified by only faith in Jesus Christ, the faith that comes from hearing Christ’s word and which ultimately is a gift of God’s grace. The Oxford Movement in its ritualist stage contributed to the “blind superstition" of a segment of English society that was prone to “blind superstition.”

As has been the case in the twenty-first century, ritualism offers a spiritual experience that does not require a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is therefore very appealing, both to Anglo-Catholics and liberals. The Cambridge Camden Movement, a spinoff of the Oxford Movement, sought to intensify this spiritual experience by retrofitting English churches to meet its ideas of medieval church architecture and in the process mutilated some of the finest medieval English church buildings.



The mutilation of English church buildings is not the only damage that the Oxford Movement would do. At the time the Oxford Movement came upon the scene, what is now called West Gallery music was enjoying its heyday in English churches. In West Gallery Music Francis Roads provided the historical background to West Gallery music.

“Green, Boyce, the Wesleys such composers spring readily to mind when one thinks of English church music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their music was sung in cathedrals, collegiate chapels, chapel royal and anywhere an organ and a choir of professional standard was available.

But it was not the music of such composers that was typical of that heard in ordinary parish churches of town and country, where usually there was no organ for accompaniment, and the musical forces available were of amateur standard. For such churches a quite different body of sacred music came into being, often referred to a ‘West Gallery’ music. The reason for this name is the fact that the quires which used it often performed from a gallery at the west end of the church, opposite the altar, and not from the chancel. The spelling ‘quire’ is used to denote a body of both instrumentalists and singers. It was music written for, and in many case, by amateur musicians.”

The majority of the West Gallery repertoire was metrical psalm settings. During the West Gallery period, the singing of non-scriptural texts in church was held to be highly questionable, so hymn settings represent a minority of the repertoire. The repertoire also includes anthems, mostly settings of scriptural texts, and the settings of the canticles, both metrical and Prayer Book versions. Among the peculiarities of West Gallery music was a fondness for modal harmony, open fifths, and fugueing.

The Oxford Movement inspired a number of “reforms” in parish church music. The West Gallery quires were replaced by surplice choirs modeled on cathedral practice. The music of these quires was replaced by that of Hymns Ancient and Modern and other music felt to possess a sufficient degree of solemnity for Victorian sensibilities. Church organs were also installed. These changes would have a negative impact that has lasted to this day. Most small membership churches do not have the musical resources or the kind of acoustical setting to provide cathedral music, much less to meet the high standard for that type of music. Many are located in communities where cathedral music is not appreciated. They have not only developed an inferiority complex in the area of church music but struggle to perform church music that is ill suited to their particular locality.

Of course, the greatest damage that the Oxford Movement did was to reintroduce into the Church of England the superstition and the unreformed doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome. Christ’s benefits were darkened and confounded as they were before the English Reformation. The English Church became like the man out of whom an unclean spirit had gone only to return, bringing with him seven other spirits more wicked than he, so that the last state of the man is worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45). We see the fruits of the Oxford Movement in Suffolk every year in the village of Walsingham where Anglo-Catholics carry the consecrated host in a monstrance through the streets for everyone to gaze upon, bow down to, and to worship. We see the fruits of the Oxford Movement in Anglo-Catholic clergy who take great delight in calling the Holy Communion Mass because they believe that it angers and offends Protestants. They are oblivious to our Lord’s teaching to love even our enemies—those who hate and despise us, and apostle Paul’s teaching to respect the tender consciences of our brothers and sisters in Christ. As our Lord drew to his disciples’ attention, every tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush (Luke 6:44). A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit. Nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit (Matthew 7:18).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blow the Trumpet Through the Land


By Robin G. Jordan

The Anglican Church in North America loudly proclaims its theological diversity but that diversity does not represent genuine diverseness. ACNA tolerance of diversity certainly does not include radical liberalism. It especially does not extend to traditional conservative evangelicalism. It embraces only those groups that are willing to accept or accommodate the partisan ecclesiology and theology of the ACNA constitution and canons. This boils downs to not openly rejecting unreformed Catholic doctrine, order, piety, and practice, and at least going along with them if not regarding them with favor, It is a lop-sided tolerance at best, skewed to treat unreformed Catholicism with partiality.

From the perspective of the Roman Catholic hierarchy an unreformed Catholic Anglican Church would be more amenable to embracing the authority of the Pope. Witting or otherwise, a new Oxford movement would be a useful partner inside the Anglican Church. With the help of such a partners papacy and papalism might be restored in the Anglican Church and the ecclesia Anglicana returned to the bosom of Mother Church.

Heritage Anglicans, those who conscientiously seek to uphold and maintain the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church, should not be surprised if a leader of Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA), an organization that is committed to promoting the spread of traditional Anglo-Catholicism in North America should call for a new Oxford movement. The Oxford movement established a beachhead for unreformed Catholicism in the Anglican Church. The hope of those calling for a new Oxford movement is that through the influence of that movement unreformed Catholicism will capture more ground in the Anglican Church especially in North America, carving out a larger territory for itself.



In favoring unreformed Catholicism the constitution and canons of the ACNA plays into the hands of those calling for a new Oxford movement, both Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic. This should not surprise heritage Anglicans either. Anglo-Catholics and those open to unreformed Catholicism compiled these two documents under the leadership of an Anglo-Catholic bishop who now is the Archbishop of the ACNA. Anglo-Catholics on the Common Cause Leadership Council and the ACNA Provincial Council have worked hard to prevent any change in these documents that might affect their partial treatment of unreformed Catholicism. They blocked an attempt at the Bedford Provincial Council meeting to amend the language of the fundamental declarations to make them neutral, not aligned with any particular school of thought. Any change in the wording and emphases of the fundamental declarations might have made room for conservative evangelicals in the ACNA without forcing them to compromise their beliefs. Their presence would have complicated matters for Anglo-Catholics as they could be expected to press for a central place for the Anglican formularies in the teaching and life of the ACNA and for other changes in the ACNA and to resist Anglo-Catholic efforts to move the ACNA further in an unreformed Catholic direction.

The existing language of the fundamental declarations not only denies positions of leadership in the ACNA to the more conservative of the evangelicals but it keeps them out of the ACNA altogether. It particularly stops them from uniting with more moderate evangelicals in the ACNA and forming conservative evangelical sub-provincial jurisdictions and judicatories in the ACNA and thereby becoming an obstacle to Anglo-Catholic aspirations. As long as conservative evangelicals have scruples and tender consciences Anglo-Catholics can count upon the fundamental declarations to serve a prophylactic to traditional conservative evangelicalism in the ACNA. Anglo-Catholics pushed conservative evangelicals out of the Protestant Episcopal Church. They have no plans to welcome them to the Anglican Church in North America.

While many in the ACNA reacted with alarm to the decision of the Anglican Mission to remain a part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and to accept the role of a ministry partner with the ACNA rather than that of a constituent part of the ACNA, traditionalist Anglo-Catholic leaders saw this turn of events as an opportunity to further the cause of unreformed Catholicism in the ACNA. While the Anglican Mission is often mistakenly seen as evangelical and low church, it is in actuality Convergentist as can be seen from even a quick perusal of the Summer 2010 Edition of its quarterly magazine Wave. Convergentism blends together Catholic, evangelical, and Pentecostal piety and practice and does not press doctrine. The Anglican Mission has its own Anglo-Catholic wing, which exercises a degree of influence in the Anglican Mission disproportionate to its size. The Anglican Mission’s canonical charter and the canons of the Rwandan Church under which it operates reflect the influence of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law in doctrine, language, norms, and principles. The Anglican Mission has in turn greatly influenced the constitution and canons of the ACNA. The Anglo-Catholic wing in the Anglican Mission is not only responsible for the policy of US Anglican Mission against the ordination of women priests but also greatly influenced the two service books that the Anglican Mission has produced in the past five years. In the most recent service book—An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), the translation of the traditional American, English, and Canada rites into contemporary language was used to introduce other changes into these rites, moving them in a more unreformed Catholic direction. The Anglican Mission’s decision to remain a part of the Rwandan Church removed a potential rival to the leadership of more traditionalist Anglo-Catholic leaders in the ACNA. The Anglican Mission exercised considerable influence in the ACNA due to its financial support and size. Traditionalist Anglo-Catholic leaders no longer must reckon with the Anglican Mission’s influence.



At the same time traditionalist Anglo-Catholic leaders see a very real possibility that the Anglican Mission’s own Anglo-Catholic wing may eventually move that body in a more unreformed Catholic direction. Even though the Anglican Mission’s Solemn Declaration of Principles affirms the Anglican formularies and adopts them as the Anglican Mission’s standards of faith and worship, it contains provisions recognizing and tolerating Anglo-Catholic and Pentecostal practices and piety. In the production of its two service books it ignored the requirement of the Solemn Declaration of Principles that all alternative rites and forms used in the Anglican Mission must conform to the doctrine of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. From what I gather, although the clergy of the Anglican Mission meet annually to reaffirm their commitment to the Solemn Declaration of Principles, few of them in practice adhere to the doctrine of the Anglican formularies.

For conservative evangelicals Bishop Ackerman’s call for a new Oxford Movement signals the beginning of a time of greater intolerance to traditional conservative evangelicalism in the ACNA. Conservative evangelicals who became involved in the ACNA at the Common Cause Partnership stage with the hope that they could work within the new body to restore the Anglican formularies to a central place in its teaching and life have a deep furrow to plough in very rocky soil—with a wooden plough share and no horses, mules, or oxen to pull the plow. They face a formidable task. It brings to mind the old proverbial saying, “It is ill sitting at Rome and striving with the Pope.” How much they can accomplish in such a climate remains to be seen.

Those congregations and clergy in the ACNA, which are committed to upholding and maintaining the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of Anglicanism, need to join with like minded clergy and congregations in the Anglican Mission to form a united front against any resurgence of unreformed Catholicism in both bodies. They need to ally themselves with conservative evangelicals outside of these bodies in and outside of North America. Conservative evangelicals in Australia, Ireland, South Africa, South America, and the United Kingdom need to open their eyes to what is happening in the ACNA and not be so unqualified in their support of that body. Rather they need to extend their support to their fellow conservative evangelicals in North America, in and outside of the ACNA and the Anglican Mission. What is needed in the Anglican Church is not a new Oxford movement but a heritage Anglican movement grounded in the teaching of the Bible and the Reformation and committed to the preservation and propagation of confessional Anglicanism. It is time to blow the trumpet through the land, to sound the clarion to warn evangelicals of the coming sword and to summon them to fight for what they believe

Restoring the Equilibrium



By Robin G. Jordan

Anglicanism is the faith of the Reformed Church of England as set forth in its formularies—in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571, the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the Ordinal of 1661, and the Books of Homilies of 1547 and 1571. It is grounded in the teaching of the Bible and the Reformation It is explicated in the works of the standard Anglican Divines in the reigns of Edward VI, Elizabeth I, and James I, and to a lesser extent in the works of the Caroline Divines in the reign of Charles I and Charles II.

The term “Anglican” and “Anglicanism” did not come into popular use until the nineteenth century. Before that time term “Anglican” was found only in a Latin phrase describing the Church of England—the “ecclesia Anglicana”, literally the “English Church.”

Anglicanism has been described as a peculiarly English conservative form of Protestantism. This is the best description of its character. The post-Reformation Church of England in its doctrine was unmistakably Reformed and evangelical. However, the post-Reformation English Church in its practices was in some ways more Catholic than the Continental Reformed Churches. This is an example of its peculiar Englishness. It can be attributed to deeply ingrained English conservatism and practicality rather than to any attachment to Catholicism. The English Church retained such practices as wearing surplice and cope in church services, kneeling to receive communion, making the sign of the cross on the forehead after baptism, giving the ring at weddings, churching women after childbirth, giving absolution to the penitent sick person, burying the dead with prayers, and consecrating bishops as well as ordaining presbyters and deacons. The English Church saw no inconsistency between its retention of these practices and its Reformed and evangelical faith.

The history of the Church of England from the reign of Charles I in the seventeenth century to the Oxford Movement in the nineteenth century reflects two opposing tendencies. The first tendency is represented by the Puritans who sought to further reform the English Church on the Continental Reformed Church model especially that of Geneva and to replace episcopacy with a presbyterian form of church government. The second tendency is represented by the High Churchmen who endeavored to move the English Church in a more Catholic direction not only in its practices but also in its doctrine and to uphold episcopacy against presbyterianism. The English Civil War would lead to the temporary abolition of episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 secured the Protestant identity of the Church of England for the next 150 years.



In this period the Evangelicals, the successors of the Puritans who had conformed at the Restoration, and the Protestant High Churchmen, the successors of the Caroline High Churchmen who had not become Non-Jurors, established a state of balance. The nineteenth century Oxford Movement would upset this delicate equilibrium. The Oxford Movement not only sought to tip the English Church not just in a Catholic direction but also in a Rome-ward direction. While the Oxford movement claims to be the successor to the Caroline High Churchmen, its claim was far from the truth. The Caroline High Churchmen were decidedly more Catholic and more ritualistic than the English Reformers and the Elizabethan Divines but they were not Romanists. The Oxford Divines did not disguise their admiration for the Church of Rome and their acceptance of the dogmas of the Council of Trent. The Oxford Movement was followed by the Ritualist Movement, sometimes known as the Cambridge Camden Movement. This movement took the position that the English Reformation was a monumental disaster. If the English Reformation had not occurred, the English Church would be like the Continental Roman Catholic Church. The movement undertook the self-appointed task of transforming the English Church into a semblance of the Continental Roman Catholic Church, introducing nineteenth century Roman Catholic doctrine and practice into the English Church and making unauthorized changes in the English Liturgy. Today’s Anglo-Catholics are the successors of these two movements. They are definitely not the successors of the Protestant High Churchmen who were a target of Oxford Movement acrimony and scorn.

A new Oxford Movement will not restore the balance between evangelical and High Church. Rather it will seek to tip the Anglican Church further toward the Church of Rome. There is a desire among traditionalist Anglo-Catholics for an Anglican Church that is Catholic and Roman but without the Pope. If they become Roman Catholics, they loose their Anglo-Catholic identity. If they are clergy, they must relinquish their orders. Even if they are reordained, they can only expect a very low place in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Those who are married may never be accepted by the Roman Catholic clergy. They are likely to be treated as second class Roman Catholics, which has been the experience of the married clergy of the Eastern Uniate Churches.

At the same time traditionalist Anglo-Catholics are not satisfied to be a minority group within whatever Anglican body they find themselves. Even if they are a small group within a particular Anglican body, history shows that they have sought dominate the church body of which they were a part—to shape its ecclesiology, its theology and its liturgy, to remake the church body more to their liking.

Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics recognize that they have no hope of transforming the Roman Catholic Church. For the time being it is better to stay in the ACNA and give that body a makeover. But the commitment of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics to the ACNA is provisional. If they see no progress in the ACNA moving in a more Catholic direction, they are likely to re-examine their options. In the meantime, the ACNA must suffer through the trauma that a new Oxford Movement will inflict upon that body.

A Kind of Noah’s Ark? The Anglican Commitment to Comprehensiveness - Latimer Studies 10


Anglicans who call themselves evangelicals, like those who claim to be Anglican (Anglo-) Catholics, see themselves as holding in trust for the rest of the church a heritage of truth and insight, perceptions of reality and duty, and traditions of stockpiled wisdom and spiritual experience, which form part of the wealth laid up in Christ for all, but which, partly through unawareness of true notions and partly through prepossession by false ones, not all up to now have been able to grasp. In my earlier study I noted as chief among the truths of which evangelicals are trustees:

(1) the supremacy of Scripture as God-given instruction, a sufficient, self-interpreting guide in all matters of faith and action;

(2) the majesty of Jesus Christ our sin-bearing divine Saviour and glorified King, by faith in whom we are justified;

(3) the lordship of the Holy Spirit, giver of spiritual life by animating, assuring, empowering and transforming the saints;

(4) the necessity of conversion, not as a stereotyped experience but as a regenerate condition, a state of faith in Christ evidenced by repentance and practical godliness;

(5) the priority of evangelism in the church’s agenda;

(6) the fellowship of believers (the faith-full) as the essence of the church’s life.[2]

Evangelicals stress that faith, like charity, must begin at home, in the sense that convertedness is first to seek because unconverted folk can neither know God’s forgiveness and favour nor serve him or others as they should. Immature evangellcals have sometimes settled for a euphoric, man-centred pietism, concerned only with possessing and spreading the peace and joy of ‘knowing Christ as my personal Saviour’ (sadly, these precious words are nowadays a cant phrase), and never appreciating God’s revealed concern for truth and righteousness in church and community. Maturer evangelicals, however, have always recognized that though personal conversion is the starting-point Christians must learn a biblical God-centredness and seek after ‘holiness to the Lord’ in all departments of the church’s worship, witness and work and in every activity and relationship of human life. Over the past four centuries in England this maturity has been most apparent when evangelicalism has been closest to its historical roots in Reformed (that is, Reformational, or, to use a word which would have distressed John Calvin, Calvinistic) theology.

‘Evangelical’ and ‘Reformed’ are not synonyms. Not all evangelicals, Anglican or other, would call themselves Reformed (some profess to be Lutheran, Wesleyan, Pentecostal or just nondescriptly biblicist); nor can all conservative Calvinists properly be called evangelicals (some are formalists in doctrine and devotion, some are institutionalists in pastoral care and strategy, and some are quietists wholly absorbed in monitoring the drama of God’s life in their souls). But whenever evangelicalism is fuelled by teaching that reproduces the biblical theocentrism of Calvin’s Institutes or the Anglican formularies or the later Westminster standards (drafted, be it said, mainly by Anglicans), all of which documents show the same balanced concern for personal faith, a pure church and a godly society, it manifests the mature breadth of which I am speaking.


To read the entire study by J. I.Packer, click here.

Make your vision clear and specific


Good, godly leaders know where God wants to take their ministries. Leadership starts with a vision. Do you have one?

I talk to pastors all the time who don’t really know what God wants them to do in their ministries. They’re just drifting. They don’t know what God wants for their church. They don’t know what God wants to do with their family.

And they’re frustrated. They’re tired of simply being a ministry caretaker – just keeping up with the status quo. Yet they have only a vague idea of where God might want their ministry to go.

Every leader should have a vision. But it has to be clear and very specific. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. And the more specific you are, the better.


To read more, click here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Heritage Anglican Replies to Bishop Ackerman’s Call for a New Oxford Movement



By Robin G. Jordan

First Roman Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper and now FIFNA Bishop Keith Ackerman have called for a new Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church. (See TexAnglican's Blogspot for a summary of Bishop Ackerman's address and his own observations.) The Oxford Movement was the leading edge of a storm front that caused tremendous damage to the Anglican Church in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Anglican Church is still reeling from its onslaught.

The Oxford Movement propagated a false gospel of sacramental salvation. It taught that people are saved not by grace by faith in Christ but by good works and sacraments. The Oxford Movement made people dependent upon their priests for salvation, not Jesus Christ. It set many feet upon the broad road to perdition.

The Oxford Movement closed the Bible to the laity, as the Church of Rome had done during the Middle Ages. The English Reformation gave the English people a Bible in their own tongue and put it into their hands. “A Fruitful Exhortation to the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture” in the First Book of Homilies pointed to their attention the profits of the reading and knowledge of God’s Word: “…as drinke is pleasant to them that bee drie, and meate to them that be hungrie: so is the reading, hearing, searching, and studying of holy Scripture, to them that bee desirous to know GOD or themselues, and to doe his will.” The Oxford Movement took the Bible away from the ordinary Christian. It told him that he could not understand the teaching of the Bible for himself. Rather he must rely on the Church and the clergy for an explanation of what it teaches. It further told him that certain doctrines must be withheld from all but the most mature Christians who have shown their maturity through good works. The result was a laity who was not only unfamiliar with the teaching of the Bible but could not discern the truth from false teaching.

The Oxford Movement, also known as the Tractarian Movement, was at the forefront of the nineteenth and twentieth century assault on the Anglican formularies. Leading Tractarian John Newman reinterpreted the Thirty-Nine Articles in a Rome-ward direction. It was Newman’s practice to selectively take quotes from the homilies to support his fanciful ahistorical reinterpretation of the Church of England’s confession of faith. However, if his readers had been given fuller information on the matter under discussion, they would have had a different perspective of it. As Peter Knockles has documented in Oxford Movement in Context: Anglican High Churchmanship 1760-1857 this kind of scholarship, which can be described as faulty if not intellectually dishonest, would come not only to characterize the Oxford Movement but also its offsprings, the Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist Movements. Newman and a number of other Tractarian and later writers would do the same thing to the works of the Caroline Divines, using carefully selected quotes from their works to claim that the Caroline Divines were forerunners to the Oxford Movement and the Oxford Movement was the Caroline Divines’ heir and successor. The Oxford Movement also represented itself as the only advocate of Catholicism in the nineteenth century Church of England, which was patently untrue.



The second generation of the Oxford Movement called for the abolition of the Thirty-Nine Articles as the Church of England’s confession of faith and the substitution of the Prayer Book in its place. The latter they reinterpreted “in a Catholic sense.”

The Episcopal Church, when it adopted its own revised version of the Thirty-Nine Articles in 1801, did not require clergy subscription to the Articles. This, however, did not satisfy Anglo-Catholics in Episcopal Church. They demanded that the Articles should be dropped from the American Prayer Book. They found allies in the Broad Church liberals who had come to dominate the Episcopal Church with the Anglo-Catholics in the early twentieth century. They secured the passage of a resolution in the General Convention, which authorized the omission of the Articles from the Prayer Book. They, however, were frustrated in their designs by the Episcopal Church’s constitution. In 1979 the General Convention relegated the Articles to the historical documents section of the new Prayer Book, a step away from removing it from the Prayer Book altogether. Anglo-Catholicism has been largely responsible for Episcopalians’ lack of knowledge and understanding of Anglicanism’s confession of faith. We are still seeing the consequences of non-confessional Anglicanism worked out in North America, not just in provinces of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church but in the extramural Anglican bodies of the Anglican Church in North America and the Continuing Anglican Churches.

The early Tractarians were staunch defenders of the English Prayer Book. However, they rejected the received interpretation of the Prayer Book. They subjected the Prayer Book to a minute examination and identified every passage and expression that they might reinterpret to support their teaching and practice. The Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist Movements were not satisfied to reinterpret the Prayer Book “in a Catholic sense.” They made unauthorized changes in the English liturgy and imposed the rubrics of the Roman rite upon the English rite. They produced manuals like The Anglican Missal. They agitated for Prayer Book revision. The 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, twice rejected by the English Parliament, reflects their influence both in its theology and liturgical usages.

The same alliance of Anglo-Catholics and Broad Church liberals, which tried to remove the Thirty-Nine Articles from the American Prayer Book did, however, secure the adoption of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, which was the first major revision of the American Prayer Book and was far-reaching if not radical in the changes that it introduced. The result was a Prayer Book that was not only more Catholic than its predecessors but also more liberal. It set a precedent for the next revision of the American Prayer Book—the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which is even more Catholic and liberal than the 1928 revision.

The influence of the Anglo-Catholic Movement is seen in a number of the more recent Prayer Books. These service books are far removed in doctrine and practice from the classical Anglican Prayer Book—The Book of Common Prayer of 1662. The Global Anglican Future Conference in its 2008 Jerusalem Declaration affirmed the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as “a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer” for Anglicans. The 2009 Assembly of Forward in Faith in North America adopted a resolution calling for the use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, supplemented by The American Missal and The Anglican Missal. The 1928 Prayer Book, without the addition of supplemental material from these manuals, departs from the doctrine and practice of the 1662 Prayer Book at a number of points. The addition of supplemental material from The American Missal and The Anglican Missal remove the 1928 Prayer Book even further from the 1662.



The Oxford Movement fostered superstition and beliefs and practices repugnant to Scripture. The Oxford Movement taught that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice and that the clergy are a sacrificing priesthood. It taught that Christian people needed other mediators between themselves and God beside Jesus Christ—saints and priests. It not only taught that Christians should pray to the saints and to venerate their relics but also that Christ was substantially present under the forms of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper and they should adore him in the consecrated elements. Christ was present even to those who lacked a vital faith. The consecrated elements were once more elevated after the consecration and carried about in processions and displayed upon altars that they might be gaze upon and worshipped.

The Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist Movements reintroduced into the Anglican Church many of the “dark and dumb ceremonies” that the English Reformers had “cut away and clean rejected.” Their adherents have shown an addiction to ceremonies which exceeds that seen in the time of Augustine and in the Middle Ages. From all the ceremonies we might be forced to conclude that “Christ’s Gospel is… a Ceremonial Law” and not “a Religion to serve God…in the freedom of the Spirit.”

The Oxford Movement robbed the laity of their proper place in the Church. Instead of giving the people of God their rightful place in the Church as Christ’s royal priesthood, the Oxford Movement promoted clericism and sacerdotalism. It made the laity assistants, servants, and subordinates to a priestly caste for whose existence no warrant exists in the Bible. The result has been a passive servile laity highly susceptible to “strange and erroneous doctrines” and ill equipped for the work of ministry.

The Oxford Movement was not satisfied to return to the medieval Catholicism of the pre-Reformation English Church. It introduced into the Church of England and its daughter churches the tenets of the Counter-Reformation, the dogmas of the Council of Trent. It spawned the Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist Movements that went a step further and introduced into these churches Roman innovations in doctrine and practice that had developed since the sixteenth century. They spurned the pre-Reformation English Church’s own rich medieval Catholic heritage for the gewgaws and novelties of nineteenth century Continental Catholicism.



The Oxford Movement propagated the myth of Anglicanism as a via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The two Oxford Movement theologians closely associated with this theory of Anglican identity are John Newton and Edward Pusey. Newton would eventually reject tenability of the theory and convert to Roman Catholicism. Pusey, on the other hand, further developed the theory, holding that the ecclesia Anglicana represented a third strand of Catholicism alongside Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The tenets of the Oxford Movement and Pusey would become so closely identified that for a time the critics of its tenets referred to them as Puseyism.

The Oxford Movement deliberately sought to change the identity of the Church of England. For four hundred years English Churchmen had seen themselves as Protestants. The Oxford Movement broke down the hedge that separated Anglicanism from Roman Catholicism. It created confusion in regards to Anglican identity that has lasted until the present day.

The Oxford Movement undermined the Protestant and Reformed character of the Episcopal Church. During the nineteenth century the then Protestant Episcopal Church had a vibrant Evangelical wing. The Oxford Movement radicalized the High Church party and brought it into sharp conflict with the Evangelical wing. In the Church of England the more extreme adherents of the Oxford Movement tried to drive the Evangelicals out of the church. In the Episcopal Church they succeeded.

The Oxford Movement paved the way for the ascendancy of liberalism in the Episcopal Church. The influence of the Oxford Movement produced generations of Episcopalians who deferred to their priests in all matters of doctrine and practice. Once the clergy of the Episcopal Church and its seminaries became infected with liberalism and modernism, it quickly spread through the Episcopal Church. The sheep caught the infection from their shepherds.



The Anglican Church has not recovered from the havoc that the Oxford Movement wrought in the Church. It certainly does not need a new Oxford Movement any more than Louisiana and Mississippi need another Hurricane Betsy, Camille or Katrina. The original Oxford Movement has caused enough devastation.