Monday, February 28, 2011

The Church of the Redeemer, Charismatic Renewal, and Music in Anglican Worship

By Robin G. Jordan

Three similar but unrelated stories caught my attention this past week. The first story was that of a Church of England parish church that is facing demolition. The second story was that of a San Diego Episcopal church that is closing its doors, as the diocese can no longer subsidize the church. The third story was that of the congregation of the historic Church of the Redeemer in Houston that had been forced to abandon their building due to the condition of the building. The building needed extensive repairs and the congregation could not afford them. Money that they might have been used to repair the building, they had channeled into the church’s ministries. Years of neglecting the building had caught up with them. They also could not afford the salary of a full time priest. The congregation had dwindled in size from the heydays of charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church. The church is located in a poorer neighborhood of Houston.

One reader’s comment in response to the article was that the Church of the Redeemer was responsible for the introduction of Pentecostal worship, guitars and drums, and praise choruses in the Episcopal Church. This comment was a rather inaccurate oversimplification of the role that Redeemer played in the changes in worship in the Anglican Church in and outside of North America and the changes that have occurred in Anglican worship.

The type of worship seen at Redeemer in the early 1970s exhibited a number of significant differences from the type of worship seen in Pentecostal churches in the same period. The ubiquitous electric guitar and drum kit of today’s bands comes not from the charismatic renewal movement of the 1960s - 1970s but the Praise and Worship movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Worship in the charismatic Episcopal churches in the early 1970s did not suffer from the rawness of worship in Pentecostal churches. It was also Eucharistic. One of the things that visitors to charismatic churches immediately noticed was the quality of the congregational singing. Among the developments that accompanied renewal in the Episcopal Church was the use and enjoyment of the folk arts in Christian worship and teaching. This included mime, storytelling, dance, poetry, drama, and the graphic arts.

The Fisher Folk teams of the Community of Celebration might have used percussion in their music but it was the percussion of chimes, conga drums, castanets, claves, finger cymbals, glockenspiel, piano, stacked bells, tambourine, timpani, and triangle. The guitars that the teams used were acoustic, and might be augmented by wind instruments and other stringed instruments.

The Fisher Folk teams were not modeled on the rock band like today’s bands. They were a small ensemble of instrumentalists and vocalists.

The music the Community of Celebration used in worship included traditional hymns and classical anthems as well as simple hymns and songs, which were called “celebration songs.” This music included praise choruses but it was not exclusively choruses. These choruses were also different from today’s praise and worship songs. They were more accessible or easier to sing. They were written to help release people of all ages into praise. A lot of contemporary music is performance music, written for bands and their vocalists.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the praise and worship songs of Hosanna’s Integrity, Maranatha! Music, Mercy, and Word began to displace the celebration songs of Celebration Services and Thank You Music. The music of the Third Wave movement and the Vineyard churches also became a major influence.

I was involved in the music ministry of my church during this period. I collaborated with the music director in planning the music used in our services. As well as selecting hymns, songs, and service music with the music director and determining how they would be used in the services, I found new music, obtained copyright permission to reprint it, and taught it to the congregation.

I attended a Come Celebrate weekend, a Community of Celebration workshop on the integration of contemporary music into traditional music, during the late 1980s – early 1990s. I also had correspondence with one of the leaders of the Fisher Folk team that conducted the workshop, seeking his advice upon the use of music in the liturgy.

We used celebration songs from the Sounds of Living Water collections, Songs for Celebration—Church Hymnal Series IV, and Come Celebrate. We also used hymns and songs from Songs for Liturgy, More Hymns and Spiritual Songs, and a number of Roman Catholic collections. A number of the hymns and songs that we used, for example, “Gift of Finest Wheat,” “I Danced in the Morning,” “One Bread, One Body,” and “The Servant Song,” eventually were incorporated into Anglican hymnals around the world.

In the late 1980s – early 1990s Episcopalians who listened to Christian radio and bought cassettes at Christian books stores were hearing more and more music from the Praise and Worship movement. A number of newcomers to the church began to request that we make use of contemporary Christian music and praise and worship songs as well as the hymns and songs that we were using. During this period drum machines as well as drum kits began to make their appearance in Episcopal churches along with electric guitars.

Robert Webber and the Worship Renewal movement began to influence Episcopal churches in the late 1980s – early 1990s. Webber championed “blended worship,” the use of a mix of contemporary and traditional music in worship, and the revival of a number of worship practices from the early Medieval Church and later. Star Song published the highly influential The Complete Library of Christian Worship, which Webber edited. The music associated with blended worship has became so widely used in the newer hymnals that it is now referred to as the “new traditional” music.

Another trend that manifest itself during the same period was the use of hymns and songs from the World Church in worship—what is known as “global music.” George Mimms, who had been the music director of Redeemer, was one of its champions. A number of denominations and music publishers produced collections of this music. It also incorporated into the newer hymnals.

The style of worship seen in Anglican and Episcopal churches in North America that is sometimes characterized as “charismatic” is more accurately characterized as “contemporary.” It shows the influence of a number of different movements that have affected these churches in recent years. They include the Praise and Worship movement and the Seeker Service/Seeker-Friendly Service movement. This style of worship can be seen in churches that are not charismatic in theology as well as those that are.

Clapping, uplifted or outstretched hands, and moving to the beat of the music are widespread practice in North America and are not limited to charismatic or Pentecostal churches. Non-charismatic churches have adopted the charismatic practice of praying in concert. The cranked-up music with its very loud volume and strong pulsing beat reflect the influence of popular secular music and the younger generations.

The marks of real charismatic worship—the manifestations of the Holy Spirit such as prophecies in tongues with interpretation, prophecies in the vernacular, and singing in the Spirit—are found in only a few charismatic churches.

It must be noted that the charismatic community that was centered on the Redeemer and the Communion of Celebration saw a place for the organ, the organ voluntary, the traditional hymn, and the classic anthem in worship. They sought to enrich the corporate worship of the local church with the music of other musical instruments, other musical forms, and a wide range of musical styles. They recognized that the music in the corporate worship of the local church properly belonged to the whole congregation and not just to the choir. At the same time they were very cognizant of the need for a worship leadership group—for, to quote Betty Pulkingham, “a group of people thoroughly committed to the corporate worship life of that body of people,” and carrying “a vision of serving the worshipping needs of the entire congregation.”

Whatever we may think of the theology of the charismatic renewal movement, it did infuse the corporate worship of a number of churches with new life. People put their hearts into the hymns, songs, readings, and prayers. They had a sense of God’s presence in their midst and this sense made a real difference to the way they worshiped. Worship in the Episcopal Church took on a vibrancy that had been lacking in the worship of that Church.

The abandonment of a church building is always a painful experience even when a congregation is prepared for the move. The congregation of Redeemer will be sharing a building and a pastor with an Evangelical Lutheran church. The move could mean new life for the congregation or its demise. With the move a chapter in the history of the Episcopal Church closes. I wanted to set the record straight on the contribution of the Church of the Redeemer and the Community of Celebration to the worship of the Episcopal Church and other Anglican Churches in North America and around the world.

The Heritage Anglican Network: The Future of Ordained Ministry in the Anglican Church in North America

One reader in a comment in response to the article, “St. Mary's Episcopal Church to Close Sunday After More Than 50 Years,” raised the question as to whether the revival of the practice of weekly celebrations of the Eucharist had really benefited the Episcopal Church. Episcopal churches were closing because they could not even afford to pay the salary of a part-time priest and the diocese was no longer willing or able to subsidize them. Congregations had lost members to the point that the diocese no longer regarded them as viable.

A number of factors have contributed to the loss of members in the Episcopal Church. These factors vary from region to region. The liberal policies of the Episcopal Church and its image as a gay church have negatively impacted churches across the United States, in some regions more than others, depending upon local attitudes toward homosexuality and homosexual practice. But other factors are also affecting the Episcopal Church as they are affecting a number of denominations.

Among these factors is a declining interest in the general population in organized religion. This is not to say that Americans do not have religious beliefs or even a form of spirituality. However, they see no benefit in membership in a religious community such as the congregation of a church, synagogue, or temple or in participation in corporate worship or other communal religious activities (e.g., group meditation). What needs that membership in such a community or participation in such activities might meet are met in other ways or go unrecognized and unmet.

This development has implications not only for the Episcopal Church but also for other denominations in North America. It also has implications for the Anglican Churches that breakaway groups of Canadian Anglican and US Episcopalians have formed during the last 35 years, including the Reformed Episcopal Church that was formed in the nineteenth century. With less people taking part in any form of organized religion these Churches that, like the Episcopal Church, have appealed only to small segment of the general population are going to have greater difficulty in recruiting new members. They are going to find themselves without the kind of financial base needed to maintain a building or to pay the salary, benefits package, and travel allowance of a part-time pastor, much less a full-time pastor.

The revival of the practice of weekly celebrations of the Eucharist in the Episcopal Church and the widespread sacramentalism in the breakaway Anglican Churches compounds this problem as do the expectations that the minister administering the sacraments must be seminary-trained and episcopaly-ordained. Anglicans and Episcopalians have professionalized the vocation of pastor to such a degree that more and more churches are going to find it prohibitive to procure the services of such a professional. Today’s weak economy exacerbates the problem.

To read more, click here.

Bricks and Moratoriums: Zoning Out Churches

The city council of Burbank, Illinois, passed a new zoning law late last year banning churches from building in commercial areas. The action came after Rios de Agua Viva, a Hispanic congregation, signed a $900,000 contract to transform an old restaurant into its new sanctuary.

The congregation did what many have done before it: it filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a 2000 federal law designed to protect houses of worship from discrimination.

More than a decade after RLUIPA's passage, however, many religious institutions face lengthy, costly battles to exercise their freedom to worship, said Richard Baker, an attorney who is representing the Burbank church.

"Churches do not realize the fight they're in," Baker said. "If you go into a commercial district, they say you're wrecking their tax base. If you go into residential, they say you're disturbing their peace."

While the issue is not new, Baker said, "The objections to churches obtaining zoning do seem to be heating up under the [economy]."

To read more, click here.

This Is Islam: Sectarian Attack on Village Leaves 4 Nigerians Dead

At least four people in a predominantly Christian village near Jos, Nigeria, were reported dead after a pre-dawn attack Monday by Muslim youth.

According to local reports, a mother and her four children were shot and killed during the attack, though an official reported only a total of four deaths.

Several more were also reportedly wounded in the village of Dabwak, located near Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau state.

To read more, click here.

Rushing to Judgment: a Spurious Defense of Title IV (Part III)

One of the most striking ways in which the proposed revisions to Title IV of the national Canons depart from previous precedent is in the broad new powers they give to the Presiding Bishop. In essence, they make the relationship between the Presiding Bishop and the other bishops in the House of Bishops analogous to the relationship between a diocesan bishop and the clergy in his or her diocese. When one bishop has such pastoral and disciplinary powers over other bishops, s/he is said to be "a metropolitan," or to have "metropolitical powers." Such metropolitan bishops are frequently (but not always) called "Archbishops."

Until the proposed changes to Title IV take effect next July 1, ECUSA will never have had a metropolitan bishop in its more than 221 years of existence since 1789. Archbishops are known to the Church of England -- the Archbishop of Canterbury has metropolitan authority over all the bishops and clergy in the Province of Canterbury, while the Archbishop of York exercises the same authority over all the bishops and clergy in the Province of York. But the strong feeling against bishops in this country after the Revolutionary War meant that there could be no thought of the creation of any such position for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Why, then, did the Title IV Task Force II revisers think that they could engineer such a drastic change in the polity of ECUSA? And not only bring about such a drastic change, but accomplish it in such a back-door manner? Here is the language from the revised Title IV which does the trick, tucked away toward the end of the proposal (from Section 2 of Canon IV.17)....

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Heritage Anglican Network: The Senses, Creativity, and the Arts in Worship

One criticism that is leveled at conservative evangelicals like myself is that we make no place for the senses or creativity and the arts in worship. This I do not believe is accurate characterization of the conservative evangelical view on these particular subjects. It is certainly not mine.

I see no problem with worship as a multi-sensory experience provided that such an experience truly engages all the senses in the worship of God and is not used simply as justification for the reintroduction of ceremonies, customs, and usages that were rejected at the Reformation for valid reasons. I have no objection to the use of bright colors in the communion table cover, the pulpit and lectern falls, and the kneeling cushions. I find nothing in the Scriptures that says that the environment in which we worship must be somber or colorless. God has filled the world around us with color.

I have not objection to engaging the olfactory senses in the worship of God provided that it not used as an excuse for offering incense during the service. This is not to say that frankincense might not be burned in the worship space on a special occasion before the service to set that occasion apart from other occasions. This was the practice of the seventeenth century Anglican poet priest George Herbert at his little parish of of Fugglestone St Peter with Bemerton St Andrew, near Salisbury. Or frankincense essential oil might be rubbed on the legs of the chairs in which the worshipers are to sit during the service.

If the bread used in the Holy Communion is to have strong value as a sign, it should look like bread. It should smell like bread. It should have the texture of bread, and it should taste like bread. What Jesus took into his hands when he gave thanks was not white paste wafers. It was also not modern Jewish matzo. It in all likelihood bore a resemblance to the flat unleavened breads of the Mid-East of today.

I certainly see a place for creativity and the arts in worship. Here again I must add the same caveat for multi-sensory worship experiences.

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The Folly of Answering Fools

From beach novels (The Da Vinci Code) to photography (Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ") to video games (keep reading), Christian outrage and criticism have helped lift numerous works up from obscurity—and made household names of their creators. It's time to reassess.

I groaned upon reading a friend's recent Facebook update promising a review of the latest scandal-courting pop-fiction rewrite of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. In our pop-cultural world, getting noticed is by far the most difficult feat. Any author who monitors his or her Amazon sales rankings can attest as much. Blogs and tweets and vanity presses—which once were supposed to empower the talented but voiceless—have instead created a cacophony from which scarcely any influential voices emerge.

One easy way for an author to break out is to offend Christians—easier, apparently, than writing something beautiful or profound. Literary merit cannot explain the meteoric rise of mediocrities like Dan Brown. Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King) called Brown's novels "the intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese," and each of The Da Vinci Code's predecessors sold fewer than 10,000 copies.

To rise above the billowing waves of culture, the latter-day Voltaire need only to offend a small-but-vocal subset of Christians. But unlike Jonathan Edwards's angry God, the Christian culture rages ineffectually, merely providing sound bites for the familiar stories in the mainstream media. And when it comes to book sales, all press really is good press. The video-game maker Electronic Arts even staged a faux Christian protest at a convention to promote its game based on Dante's Inferno. Apparently if Christians hate it, it must be worth a look.

To read more, click here.

Dave Gibbons: What If Christians Really Lived Out Unity

Popular speaker and Southern California pastor Dave Gibbons questioned on Friday whether Christians really consider one another "brothers and sisters."

"The reason why the world looks at us and says 'sham' is because we preach 'brothers and sisters,' 'family,' and 'unity' stuff and we actually don't live it," he said, as he addressed some 2,000 pastors and lay believers.

Pastor of Newsong Community Church, Gibbons was among the last of the eight speakers at the four-day Radicalis Conference, hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.

As he tackled the topic of "radical boldness," he called on pastors to collaborate as opposed to "doing your own thing."

He spoke of collaboration not just in terms of a once a year joint initiative, but on every level.

What would happen, he posed, if all the churches were to forgo their individual names and just simply called themselves "the church."

"You can do a lot for the Kingdom of God if you forget about your brand," he said.

To read more, click here.

Christians Need to Prepare for Normalization of Gay Marriage

Though many Christians are going to try to deny "the obvious," evangelical leader Dr. Albert Mohler believes gay marriage is going to become normalized.

"I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage is going to become normalized, legalized and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that," he said Friday on the Focus on the Family radio program.

Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was speaking in response to the Obama administration's decision this week to stop defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act – federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman – in the courts.

Conservative groups and Christians have criticized Obama for going against his duty as president to defend the law.

"When a president takes oath of office, he's upholding ... defending the laws of the United States of America," said Mohler, who also noted that DOMA had passed as a bipartisan effort.

"The White House has clearly made a calculation that it can do this now with far less political risk than it could even two years ago."

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OCA Synod Places Metropolitan Jonah on Leave of Absence

In a press release issued this afternoon the Synod of Bishops of the OCA has confirmed that Metropolitan Jonah is now on an official "Leave of Absence". The Synod also announced that at the meeting it "...accepted the resignation of Archpriest Alexander Garklavs as Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America,". Fr. Garklavs was informed of his resignation this morning in a meeting at Syosset with Bishop Michael (Dahulich), where according to reports, he acceded to the Synod's decision.

To read more click here.

Related story: +Jonah Placed on Leave of Absence by Synod

Related story: Federal Complaint Filed against OCA Bishop of Alaska, Chancellor

Rushing to Judgment: a Spurious Defense of Title IV (Pt. II)

The paper published by the Title IV "Task Force II" takes up three constitutional challenges to the 2009 revisions approved for Title IV of the national Canons (dealing with the discipline of clergy). The first challenge is that the revisions are in derogation of the powers reserved to the Dioceses in Article IX of the Constitution, which provides in part: " . . . Presbyters and Deacons canonically resident in a Diocese shall be tried by a Court instituted by the Convention thereof . . ." (italics added). (The other two challenges will be addressed in subsequent posts.)

The paper answers this challenge by contending that the current language of Article IX reserves to the Dioceses literally only the power to create the courts to try priests and deacons. General Convention, on the other hand, is free (under the authors' view) to specify in detail just which kinds of persons, and how many of each, will serve on the courts; their specific jurisdiction over clerical offenses; the procedures to be followed in bringing charges, working out a consent order, referring a case for hearing, conducting a trial, and pronouncing or modifying judgment. In other words, the dioceses create only the skeleton, and supply the personnel; it is General Convention which has the power to flesh everything out and make the whole system work.

To read more. click here.

The Orthodox Church in America Reports 88% Drop in Membership

Three church organizations from widely different parts of the religious landscape reached the same conclusion — that they aren’t nearly as large as they had said previously.

In fact, each of them reduced their estimated number of adherents by about 1 million.

The revisions come in the 2011 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, newly published by the National Council of Churches. The yearbook staff collects data from each religious group, whose methodologies vary widely. If they don’t update them — and many haven’t for years — the yearbook carries forward the previous estimate in its annual list ranking the nation’s denominations by size.

To read more, click here.

This Is Islam: Egyptian Army fires on Coptic Christians in monastery

For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army's use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday's army attack.

Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

"When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen," said Monk Ava Bishoy. "Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest."

The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.

Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. "The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying 'Lord have mercy' without running away. This is what really upset them," he said. "As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting 'Allahu Akbar' and 'Victory, Victory'."

He also added that the army prevented the monastery's car from taking the injured to hospital.

To read more, click here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Heritage Anglican Network: Three Principles of Practice

I have a makeshift bird feeder on my front porch on which I put out wild bird seed for the birds wintering in my area. I have seen slate-colored juncos, house wrens, mourning doves, cardinals, tree sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, mocking birds, robins, and even house finches and rufous-sided towhees. House finches are usually found in the West but the cold weather and the ice and snow must have driven them to the East.

Bird watching is like observing the different groups of Anglicans in and outside of North America. Except for the occasional squirrel all the visitors to my bird feeder can be categorized as birds. If one accepts self-description as a criterion for being an Anglican, all these groups can be broadly categorized as Anglican. Just as the birds that visit my bird feeder belong to different families—warblers, sparrows, etc.—so do these groups. Just as some of the visitors to my bird feeder are difficult to identify and classify, so likewise are these groups. To my knowledge the different species of birds do not interbreed. However, Anglican groups produce all kinds of hybrids.

If one uses doctrine as a criterion, the “true gospel” and the “Protestant Reformed religion” of the 1688 Coronation Oath Act, then the number of groups that can be categorized as Anglican shrinks markedly. If one adds practice as a criterion—the bare unadorned churches, the movable wooden communion tables, and the surpliced clergy of Matthew Parker’s Advertisements and the 1604 Canons, then the number of groups shrinks even further. Of course, the different groups that claim the self-appellation of Anglican at this point will be objecting strenuously to their disqualification as being Anglican. Yet by these standards they are not Anglican—of the Protestant Reformed Church of England and the particular tradition that flows from that Church. They may represent what may have become accepted as Anglican in certain quarters of the worldwide Anglican Church but what they represent is a fiction—a falsehood that has gained tacit acceptance in these quarters.

The Global Anglican Future Conference wrestled with the problem of Anglican identity and produced the Jerusalem Declaration. Anglo-Catholics have not been too happy with the Jerusalem Declaration as it is too Protestant for their liking. Conservative evangelicals have pointed to the attention of GAFCON primates and bishops a number of doctrinal weaknesses in the Jerusalem Declaration from their perspective. The Jerusalem Declaration also does not address the question of practice.

To read the full article, click here.

Shawn Lovejoy Speaks on the Greatest Commandment Ever … Forgotten

All is not well in ministry world, shared one concerned pastor and church planter.

Distressed with the state of pastors and churches throughout America today, Shawn Lovejoy, founder of, spoke truthfully to some 2,000 people at the 2011 Radicalis Conference.

“The church planting world, the church planting movement on the surface looks like a successful movement,” said Lovejoy, “but I want to tell you being up close and personal with it that there is a dark side of the force.”

Citing a study conducted by Exponential, which surveyed over 2,000 church plants, he stated that eight out of 10 pastors who were currently out in the field planting churches felt the following primary emotions: drivenness, discouragement, disillusionment, and discontentment.

Pastors admitted that the large majority of them were struggling spiritually, relationally and emotionally.

Wrestling with the questions of why, Lovejoy wondered what was going on in churches that were allowing this to happen? And what was wrong with pastors?

To read more, click here.

Praying In Crisis: Helpful Or Hypocritical?

It is an old wartime saying that ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’. Leaving aside the silly arguments as to whether this is statistically true or an aphorism – is it a good thing? Will God be pleased to answer the prayers of those in danger? Is God honoured when we pray to him in times of trouble?

Prayer is one of the most basic human responses to trouble. When the doctor’s diagnosis is really grim, it is only natural to seek divine help. When our children are in danger, who doesn’t utter a quick prayer for safety?

But is prayer to be encouraged amongst people who ignore God except in times of crisis? Is God to be used as a ‘phone-a-friend’ when the going gets tough? Will God allow us to be his ‘fair weather friends’ – only calling upon him in times of difficulty?

To read more, click here.

Ordinariate Watch: 'Anglo-Lutheran Catholics' to Enter Catholic Church through Anglican Ordinariate

On Thursday I received an E mail from Archbishop Irl Gladfelter, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church entitled, "New Information About The Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church." Readers of my articles on Catholic Online know I have written extensively concerning the Anglican Ordinariate. I mentioned this group of sincere Christians who desire full communion with the Catholic Church on July of 2010 in a piece entitled "Are Lutherans Next? Lutherans Seek Full Communion with Catholic Church".

In that article I wrote: "I am in a dialogue with Archbishop Irl A. Gladfelter, CSP, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, a group of Lutherans who have embraced the Catholic Catechism and the teaching of the Magisterium. They are humbly knocking at the door of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seeking a way into full communion. . .Some have said that their smallness and placement on "the fringes" of the Lutheran community makes them less representative. I recall that those were the same comments made about the "Traditional Anglican Communion" in their early efforts. They became the prophetic vehicle the Holy Spirit used to open up an historic breakthrough."

To read more, click here.

Related article: Will Traditional Anglicans enter Catholic Church?

Related article: Priests explain why they now want to be Catholic

Clarification of CANA under the jurisdiction of Nigeria

A recent article in Vanguard Online states that CANA is no longer a Nigeria Mission. This is incorrect. Bishop Martyn Minns' Archdeacon, The Ven Julian Dobbs, writes:

CANA’s Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns (who is currently in Singapore en route to Nigeria for the Church of Nigeria’s House of Bishops’ meeting, which is to be followed by a meeting of the Church of Nigeria’s Standing Committee) has asked me to pass along this information to you:

Earlier this morning Bishop Minns heard from both Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Registrar Abraham Yisa who were surprised to see a recent statement in the media that suggests that CANA is no longer part of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

To read more, click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Book Puts Pennsylvania Minister in a New Light

In a recent addition of the Lancaster Intelligencer / New Era, local columnist and historian Jack Brubaker (also known as “The Scribbler”) wrote an interesting piece on a new book that is coming out this month by Gettysburg College English professor James P. Myers Jr. entitled The Ordeal of Thomas Barton: Anglican Missionary in the Pennsylvania Backcountry, 1755-1780. In the book, Myers explores the life, work, and psyche of a controversial religious leader here in the mid-state named Thomas Barton, who ministered both to European and Native American believers from his main rectory at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Lancaster County).

Barton was born in Ireland in 1730, the child of poor working class Irish parents. He received an education at Trinity College in Dublin before immigrating to American in 1751, eventually settling in Pennsylvania where he worked as a tutor and educator in Philadelphia. In 1755, he returned to Europe to study for the clergy, becoming an Anglican minister in the British Church of England. Upon returning to Pennsylvania, Barton became a traveling missionary in the service of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, an Anglican missionary organization that had existed since 1701 (and remains in existence today as USPG), Barton ministered to the scattered settlements of York and Cumberland Counties. He also served as a military chaplain during the French and Indian War, most notable during the 1758 expedition by British Brigadier-General John Forbes which successfully captured the French Fort Duquesne at present-day Pittsburgh. It was during this expedition that Barton made the acquaintance of young Virginia militia officer named George Washington.

To read more, click here.

CANA no longer a Nigeria mission, says Archbishop Okoh

The Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), says the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), is no longer under the jurisdiction of Nigeria.

Speaking during his recent visit to London , Okoh said: “CANA is now part of the Anglican Province of North America (ACNA).

ACNA is a breakaway province from the Episcopal Church headed by Archbishop Robert Duncan.

“We are not interested in territorial ambition; our main reason for going to America was to provide for those who were no longer finding it possible to worship in the Episcopal church.

“A new structure has been put up in the U.S. which is ACNA.

“CANA now belongs to ACNA even though they still relate to us;but essentially it now belongs to Anglican province of North America,” he said.

CANA was established in 2005 to provide a platform for Anglicans who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church in the U.S.

CANA was to enable them to practice their faith, without compromising their core convictions.

To read more, click here.

The Heritage Anglican Network: The Challenges of Networking

This past November Treading Grain David Wood published a brief article about plans to form an ACNA diocese in the Carolinas. More recently on Baby Blue Cafe Mary Aire published an article about proposals for the reorganization of the CANA District of Virginia into an ACNA diocese. These articles document a trend in the churches forming the Anglican Church in North America to organize in territory-based judicatories.

This trend does not surprise me as a number of voices on the Internet have called for the organization of all ACNA churches in a particular geographic area into a diocese. This form of organization is the one with which the former Anglicans and Episcopalians that form the nucleus of the ACNA are the most familiar. It is the way that the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church are organized. It is how the Church of England and a number of other Anglican provinces are organized....

This trend points to collective amnesia on the part of Anglicans and Episcopalians regarding the problems and disadvantages of this particular form of organization—the territory-based judicatory. It brings together congregations and clergy that have little in common beyond that they are located in the territorial bounds of the same judicatory. Anglo-Catholics, charismatics, evangelicals, and “mere Christians” are thrown together to make the best of a bad arrangement.

Conservative evangelicals historically have not benefited from such an arrangement. They have at times found themselves in a diocese in which the bishop is intent upon forcing the churches of the diocese into an Anglo-Catholic or liberal mold and to reshape them to his liking. This has led to serious theological disputes between the bishop and themselves. Conservative evangelical congregations have been forced to accept Anglo-Catholic or liberal clergy. Conservative evangelical ministerial candidates have been denied permission to attend conservative evangelical seminaries and theological colleges. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

To read the full article, click here.

Tackling Nominal Christianity with 'Radical' Small Groups

A serious disease is afflicting churches everywhere today. It’s called nominal Christianity, more accurately described as Christians who are in name only.

While thousands of attendees are regularly keeping the Sabbath, why are so many devoid of a proper spiritual life?

Southern California Pastors Steve Gladen and Todd Olthoff tackled the issues plaguing many churches today, and offered their solution towards maintaining a healthy church filled with healthy believers in the context of small group ministry.

“If you look at people in general, they’re either moving forward or moving back. There’s no middle ground,” said Gladen, pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church, to The Christian Post. “Unless [churches] have a plan to keep moving people forward, then they’re always going to be retreating.”

According to Gladen, people need a vision when it comes to spiritual health. They need a target to shoot at and need to know where they are going and where you are taking them in order to grow.

“Unless they know what they’re going after, they’re never going to get to the intended destination,” he expressed.

Many times, churches and leaders tend to give their members tools without giving them the bigger picture or tactical ways to take the steps necessary to become healthier.

Only when people know what they’re after will they begin to walk in that direction. And it’s got to start from the top, shared Gladen.

“If the lead pastor is not pressing it in his or her own life first, then it’s going to have a trickle down effect. Part of leadership’s responsibility is to say what is the end in mind?”

To read more, click here.

West Kentucky Anglicans: Cross Fellowship at the University of Kentucky, Lexington

Anglicans seeking to love Jesus and to love others
Cross Fellowship Anglican Student Association was started as a campus mission initiative of St. Patrick's Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky, under the Rev. Canon Peter Matthews and under the episcopal care of the Rt. Rev. David ("Doc") Loomis. Matt Purmort became the campus minister for Cross Fellowship in 2007 and works alongside students from the university in this vital ministry.

Cross Fellowship primarily seeks to minister to students at the University of Kentucky both undergraduate and graduate. Students from other universities are also welcome.

The goal of Cross Fellowship is simple, "We are a community who seek to love Jesus Christ and to love one another."

To read more, click here.

Steven Furtick Tackles 'Why Bother' Syndrome Among Pastors

Author and pastor Steven Furtick tackled the "why bother" syndrome that can plague the faith of many pastors during his address Wednesday morning at the Radicalis conference.

Furtick, who leads Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., spoke from Mark 5 on Jairus, the synagogue leader who asks Jesus to come to his house and heal his sick daughter. But along the way, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years "cuts in line" and gets healed by touching Jesus' cloak. Meanwhile, Jairus learns that his daughter has died at home.

He said pastors attending the event at Saddleback Church can become inspired by the conference but then can fall into depression and despair as they compare the size of their ministry and church to the magnitude of what they see at Saddleback.

"At the same time you are hearing God's word and faith is growing and rising up inside of you, your situation may be actually deteriorating and may not be improving at all," said Furtick.

Pastors could hear a similar voice of doubt to what Jairus heard when he learns his daughter is dead, "Why bother the teacher anymore?"

"See, every time, God's voice speaks into your life, speaking to you about the realities that this is possible through the glory of God. At the same time, God is telling you it is possible, the enemy is telling you why bother?" said the North Carolina pastor to the more than 2,000 people at the conference and those watching the live webcast from at least 146 nations.

He candidly pointed out, "Some of you are hearing the devil saying it to you loud and clear - every time God is saying it is possible through him who believes - why bother? You are 47 years old. This may have been possible when you were 30 but you have teenagers now."

Other pastors may be so successful in their ministry that they will want to live off the compound interest of what they've worked so hard for, he said. They may also think, "Why bother? Why get out of the boat?"

To read more, click here.

Theological Theology: Mike Horton's Systematic Theology

Mike Horton, of Westminster Theological Seminary in California, has produced a one volume systematic theology which is already highly acclaimed (endorsements include those by Hunsinger, Webster, Vanhoozer, Wells, and Sproul). Horton has been genuinely prolific over the past fifteen years. He has been a key figure in the White Horse Inn, written four volumes of theology in conversation with the Reformed Orthodoxy of the seventeenth century, and many other books besides, edited Modern Reformation, and featured in major conferences all over America and elsewhere. How he has done all this, and much more, while remaining a devoted family man, is beyond most of us. He is undoubtedly a major voice in the theological conversation taking place in the English speaking world at the moment.

Mike Horton's capacity for clear and engaging prose, his careful reading and evaluation of contributions from a wide range of theological perspectives, and his determined biblical stance, ensure that this volume, massive though it is (990 pages), will be of considerable benefit to all who read it. My skimming of this work (all I have been able to do to this point) has whet my appetite for a more sustained engagement with his presentation of the faith.

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Title IV Revisions: Unmasked

On July 1, 2011 complex, far reaching and polity changing revisions to the disciplinary canon (Title IV) of The Episcopal Church (“TEC”) become effective. The revisions are a product of a multi-year process begun in 2000 whose stated purpose is to change Title IV’s “overly militaristic and rigid application.” The revisions are intended to provide a speedier disciplinary process based on a “reconciliation model”. Commenting on the Task Force’s progress in February 2008, the Chairman stated the revisions place “an emphasis on pastoral resolution” while moving away from a criminal-justice model. “Title IV Resources” made available for Diocesan use on the General Convention website state that the changes “emphasize pastoral care for all” and “reflect more clearly our theology.”

The revisions certainly will change the character of the disciplinary process making the disciplinary landscape appear less formal, speedier and more pastoral. However, these goals mask other very unsettling realities of the new disciplinary process, more suggestive of another pastoral analogy: a wolf in sheep’s clothing....

To read the full article, click here.

Related article: Rushing to Judgment: a Spurious Defense of Title IV (Part I)

My Theory of Homiletics

Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and the experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearer.

My approach to homiletics is reflected in the presuppositions in this definition.

To read more, click here.

Learning Styles: Kinesthetic Learners

It's been a few weeks, but it's time to start finishing up our continuing series on Learning Styles and Small Groups.

So far we have covered Visual Learners, Auditory Learners, and Reading/Writing Learners. Now it's time to take a look at the final learning preference included in the VARK model: Kinesthetic Learners (also called "kinetic" or "hands-on" learners).

To read more, click here.

Living into the Absurdity

The latest canonical absurdity on the left has been captured and stuffed here in all its grisly green glory. Over at The Lead, an Episcopal priest manages to display, in just two short paragraphs, ignorance of (1) the Dennis Canon; (2) the "accession clause" required to be in diocesan constitutions as a condition of their joining; and (3) what South Carolina actually accomplished at its recent convention....

To read more, click here.

Reasonable Christian: A Response to Chuck Colson's "Doctrinal Boot Camp"

In this article Charlie Ray draws attention to the reason that Reformed Christians like himself reject the Manhattan Declaration has nothing to do with an aversion to doctrine. Rather it is a concern for doctrine.

I almost choked on my coffee when I read that line. Colson thinks that an "aversion" to doctrine caused folks like me not to sign the Manhattan Declaration? I thought to myself, "Chuck, you have GOT to be kidding me????" It is NOT an aversion to doctrine that caused many Reformed folks not to agree with the Manhattan Declaration. In fact it was a CONCERN FOR DOCTRINE that caused us not to sign on the dotted line. Why? Because the Manhattan Declaration, like the other ecumenical documents endorsed by Colson, says that Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthdox believe the same Gospel that Protestants believe. That could not be further from the truth. The fact is the anathemas of the 16th century canons of the Council of Trent and those canons still condemn Protestants. To assume that Roman Catholics and other churches which teach faith plus good works as the basis for justification and salvation are "Christian" is to set naive people up to be deceived.

One Presbyterian Church in America pastor recently told me that all that is necessary for salvation is that a church adheres to the three ecumenical creeds. (See, How Far Has the PCA Fallen?) I guess that means that you don't need to believe that Scripture is the final authority? Church tradition is an additional revelation alongside Scripture and you had better believe what the modern day apostles of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthdoxy tell you else you're violating God's Word revealed to them?

What exactly does the Manhattan Declaration say which is objectionable to born again and Reformed Christians? Let me show you....

To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Heritage Anglican Network: The Orthodoxy Problem

This article was prompted by a comment that a reader left in response to one of my articles that was posted on Virtue Online. The reader was not happy with several observations about the current state of the Anglican Church in North America that I made in the article. In my use of the term “the Anglican Church in North America” in this article I am not referring to the most recent Anglican body to adopt that name but the entire Anglican community in North America. In referring to that body in this article I will use the acronym “ACNA.” In his comment the reader made reference to “orthodoxy.” I often read comments and articles on the Internet, which make reference to “orthodoxy,” “orthodox” Anglican churches, and “orthodox” Anglicans. These comments and articles raise this question in my mind—“Orthodox—by what standard?”

The reader who left the comment did not explain what he meant by “orthodoxy” except make further reference to “right belief.” Here again a question is raised in my mind—“Right belief—by what standard?”

The reader who left the comment apparently assumed that those who read his comment would know what he meant by “orthodoxy” and “right belief.” Once more a question is raised in my mind—“Can we assume others know what we mean when we make reference to ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘right belief’?”

One of the problems that affect the Anglican Church in North America is that North American Anglicans, even conservative Anglicans, do not agree on what constitutes “orthodoxy,” in particular Anglican “orthodoxy.” Historically the standard of orthodoxy for Anglicans has been the Articles of Religion of 1571, also known as the Thirty-Nine Articles. However, a number of liberal and conservative Anglicans have rejected this standard and substituted for it a different standard. For Episcopalians it is officially the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics follow in John Henry Newman’s footsteps and refer to a vague body of lore known as Catholic tradition. The Common Cause Partnership drew up a standard for the Common Cause Partners and incorporated that standard into the ACNA constitution. The Global Anglican Future Conference recognized that this problem does not affect only the Anglican Church in North America. GAFCON wrestled with the question of what constitutes Anglican “orthodoxy” and produced the Jerusalem Declaration as a supplemental confession of faith to the Thirty-Nine Articles.

To read the full article, click here.

The 'Cover-Up': What It Really Means to Be a Christian

The truth is, to be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ, according to an evangelical author.

That may not sit well with a lot of people, especially in America where the image of slavery is undoubtedly ugly and regrettable. But John MacArthur suggests in his new book Slave that it's the most accurate way of truly understanding what it means to be a Christ follower.

The image of a slave, however, has escaped many Christians today, likely because of what MacArthur argues are mistranslations of the New Testament.

The Greek word for slave is doulos and it appears 124 times in the original text, he said, citing Murray J. Harris' Slave of Christ. But almost every modern English translation has substituted the term with the softer "servant."

"Ironically, the Greek language has at least half a dozen words that can mean servant. The word doulos is not one of them," he said, again quoting Harris.

MacArthur, considered one of the most influential evangelicals in the country, came upon this discovery just a few years ago, though he has been studying Scripture for more than half a century.

To read more, click here.

Somali Pirates Kill Bible Distributors

Bible distributors who were taken hostage by Somali pirates were killed while negotiations between the pirates and U.S. military forces were underway Tuesday morning.

U.S. forces boarded the yacht in response to gunfire, and discovered that four hostages had been shot. Two of the pirates were killed, and 13 captured in a confrontation, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. Scott and Jean Adam's vessel Quest was taken hostage last week; 19 pirates were believed to be involved in the hijacking.

"As (U.S. forces) responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors," the U.S. Central Command statement said. "Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds."

To read more, click here.

Theological Theology: An Exposition of the Theses -2

Here is an exposition of second of the twelve theses I posted to help people think through the basis for a new reformation of the Anglican Communion. Once again it is important to remember these theses are not presented as definitive. There is most certainly room for improvement and development. However, as Luther found out in the sixteenth century, stirring people to think about the gospel, to return to the Scriptures to see what really has been written for our benefit, was not only appropriate in the wake of widespread defection from the truth, but also encouraged others to agitate for reform.

If the Anglican Communion is to be reformed again it needs to hear and heed these crucial truths:

2. The Spirit of God never leads people in ways contrary to the teaching of Scripture, which he has been instrumental in producing. Jesus' promise of the Spirit to his disciples was not that the Spirit will lead the churches on from Scripture into truth which somehow supersedes it, but that he will ensure that Jesus' words are heard until the end of the age (Jn 16:13–14). To pit the Spirit against the Scriptures is to fail to understand either.

To read more, click here.

Ordinariate Watch: Anglican Catholics out to evangelise

The Anglican Ordinariate which aims to be established in Australia by Pentecost is about evangelising, not preserving some pure form of Anglicanism, one of its leading figures said, reports the Record.

Bishop Harry Entwistle of Perth (pictured), one of 50 disaffected Anglicans who met on the Gold Coast earlier this month to gauge “how many and who” will join the Ordinariate, said the Ordinariate’s aim will be that of the universal Church – to bring people into relationship with God.

To read more, click here.

Related article: ‘We want to be outward-looking’

Who will the Personal Ordinariates be "evangelizing?" And what gospel will they be proclaiming?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Heritage Anglican Network: A Clear Flowing Stream

Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit and from their study of God’s Word the sixteenth century English Reformers discerned that the once pristine stream of the primitive and apostolic Christian faith had in fifteen centuries become polluted. They sought to remove the causes of the pollution so that the stream might flow clear again. They established a set of standards to ensure that the stream was kept unpolluted for future generations. They were not able to remove one major cause of pollution—human nature’s inclination toward evil. Consequently that clear flowing stream has once more become polluted again. The set of standards they left to posterity have been ignored or misinterpreted. They have not been enforced. All kinds of pollutants have been allowed to befoul the stream and in some cases have been deliberately introduced.

The condition of the stream in some places is as bad as it was before the English Reformation. In other places it is even worse. A babble of voices is heard claiming that there is nothing wrong with the water in their part of the stream. The quality of the water in their part of the stream is the way the quality of the water in the entire stream should be. Yet when the quality of the water in their part of the stream is tested against the standards of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies, its befouled state does not justify their claim.

A number of these voices attack the standards that the English Reformers left us. “They are outdated,” they maintain. “What they believed is impure water is not.” They further argue that the water in their part of the stream is safe to drink and even has health-giving properties. Yet when we examine their claims closely, it becomes quickly evident that they are made to justify certain beliefs and practices that they favor. These beliefs and practices the English Reformers had identified as pollutants and causes of pollution in the stream and had removed them for that reason.

To read the full article, click here.

Half of Brazil's Population to be Evangelical Christian by 2020

An international missions organization reports that evangelicals are expected to reach 57.4 million in Brazil this year in accordance with the evangelical annual growth rate of 7.42 percent.

Researchers at "Servindo aos Pastores e Líderes" (SEPAL) announced this 2011 figure last Monday based on findings from its groundbreaking study last year that predicted Brazil's evangelical growth rate over the next decade.

SEPAL had conducted this study utilizing results from Brazil's Census 2000 survey by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) and other information from a March 2007 study conducted by Datafolha, a major domestic information firm.

Based on figures obtained from both sources, SEPAL concluded that over half of the nation's population will be evangelical in less than a decade.

"We believe 52 per cent of the population will be evangelical by 2020, or about 109.3 million evangelicals within a total population of 209.3 million," said SEPAL researcher Luis André Brunet, in an interview with The Christian Post this week.

Brunet said that the findings were 95 percent accurate provided that the evangelical growth rate from 1990 to 2000 remains consistent in the next 40 years.

To read more, click here.

Doctrinal Boot Camp

If you have survived a Marine Corps boot camp, read no further. If not, this article is for you.

Over the years I've grown concerned about Christians—especially younger ones—who express little interest in the basic doctrines of the faith. They don't want to appear to be dogmatic or judgmental. I can understand why; after all, as Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman pointed out in unChristian, we older evangelicals have often come across that way. But our failures do not alter the fact that understanding and living by these doctrines are essential to, well, being Christians.

An aversion to doctrine caused some thoroughly orthodox young evangelicals to decline to sign the Manhattan Declaration (which defends human life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty), even though the document is rooted in Scripture. As one young evangelical explained to me, "We don't like dogmatic statements that a lot of people have to sign." What about the Nicene Creed or the Westminster Confession of Faith?

To read the full article, click here.

Alea Iacta Est

"The die has been cast." Today the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina ratified on final passage the amendments to its diocesan Constitution which spell out that the Canons of the national Church are no longer recognized as binding in the Diocese, to the extent that they are inconsistent with the diocesan Constitution and Canons. The passage was by more than the two-thirds majority required in each of the lay and clergy orders.

South Carolina is thus far the only diocese in the Church to take measures to prevent the changes to the national Canons, which are scheduled to go into effect this July 1, from taking effect within its boundaries. I have explained some of the reasons why those changes are contrary to ECUSA's Constitution in this earlier post: essentially, they extend unprecedented metropolitical powers to the Presiding Bishop, which that office has never been authorized to exercise, and they radically add to the authority of local bishops over their own diocese's disciplinary proceedings.

To read more, click here.

Reasonable Christian: The Legacy of Bishop John Howe

Depending on who you ask the retiring bishop of the Central Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church, John Howe, is either greatly loved or he is seen as a compromiser of the Gospel and a collaborator with anti-christian forces at work in The Episcopal Church. While Mr. Howe had a great opportunity to turn at least one diocese of TEC in a more Evangelical and Reformed direction during his tenure as bishop, he failed to deliver. It has been widely proclaimed by even some Evangelical ministers in the Central Florida Diocese that the bishop is a “Christian man” and “means well”. But given the track record of his leadership and the theological positions he has advocated one has to question that assessment.

The announcement of Mr. Howe's retirement came at the annual convention of the Diocese on January 29, 2011. The bishop will retire in April of next year. The publishing organ of the diocese posted a grandiloquent picture of his “conservative” and “orthodox” stance against gay marriage and abortion in the church....

To read the full article, click here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Communion on the Verge of a Breakdown: What Then Shall We Do?

The Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion just concluded in Dublin might well mark the breakdown and consequent breakup of what has been the Anglican Communion. Up to a dozen Primates who come from the most populous areas of the Anglican Communion refused to attend. They did so because the Archbishop of Canterbury, ignoring his pledge that there would be “consequences” resulting from the actions of The Episcopal Church (TEC), insisted nonetheless on inviting its Presiding Bishop. From an ecclesiological perspective, the meeting itself proved vacuous, producing little more than points gathered on newsprint by a facilitor. If Dublin is linked with the obvious failure of both the last Lambeth Conference and the last meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, one is forced to conclude that none of the supposed “Instruments of Communion” have been able to address the divisions in the Communion in a satisfactory manner. This series of failures has left the Anglican Communion with no effective means to sustain unity among its autonomous provinces.

Sadly, as things now stand, the Archbishop of Canterbury has lost his ability to serve as an effective symbol and focus for the unity of Anglicans. In effect, he now presides over a vastly reduced grouping of Provinces dominated by native English speakers who represent the liberal edge of what is a dominantly conservative body of churches. It is simply the case that the Provinces that contain the majority of the world’s Anglicans do not feel that they are adequately represented and respected in the councils of the church. They have chosen not to participate until this situation is remedied.

o read the full article,click here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reasonable Christian: The True Profession of the Gospel: Augustus Toplady and Reclaiming Our Reformed Foundations

Anglo-Reformed Evangelicals will appreciate the work of Lee Gatiss in this concise survey of the Reformed theological tradition in the Church of England from the time of the English Reformation up to the eighteenth century Arminian and Calvinist controversies between John Wesley and George Whitefield and between Wesley and Augustus Toplady. The material comes from Gatiss' studies for a serious of lectures given for the Church Society's Fellowship of Word and Spirit Conference in 2009. The lectures then served to inspired Gatiss toward this focus in his thesis for a master of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He did his undergraduate work in the United Kingdom at Evangelical theological schools at New College, Oxford and Oak Hill, London.

What I particularly like about this book is Reverend Gatiss' irenic tone while at the same time making pointedly critical observations about the state of the Anglican church primarily in the United Kingdom; his observations apply with equal ultimacy to the Anglican Communion around the world. He begins with an assessment of the modern situation in the Evangelical and Anglican movement and how it relates to the more latitudinarian and liberal parties as well as the Anglo-Catholic and Tractarian parties within Anglicanism. In particular the controversies over the biblical, moral and ethical stances taken by the Global South against theological relativism and pan sexuality in the more “civilized” provinces in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada has heated things up considerably. Gatiss describes this conflict as a midlife crisis....

To read more, click here.

The Heritage Anglican Network: Historic Anglicanism and the Forgiveness of Sin

By Robin G. Jordan

The following articles on absolution, attrition, confession, contrition, and penance were taken from A Protestant Dictionary. A Protestant Dictionary was published in 1904 and contains articles on the history, doctrine, and practices of the Christian Church. The object was to provide a handy work on the Romish controversy for Protestants. A Protestant Dictionary was produced under the auspices of the Protestant Reformation Society and gave special treatment to questions concerning the Book of Common Prayer. Many of these questions were treated from the legal as well as the theological standpoint and contain many details that at that time would have been of particular interest to Evangelical members of the Church of England. A Protestant Dictionary is a useful reference even today because it clearly documents the position of the reformed Church of England and historic Anglicanism on a number of key issues. I urge readers to take the time to read and digest these articles and to compare what is identified as the doctrine of historic Anglicanism in these articles with what is taught in their own church. I believe that they show how far the Anglican Church in Canada and the United States has fallen away from that doctrine. They also point to the weaknesses of the theology that has come to replace that doctrine in a number of churches.

Among the problems that have beset The Episcopal Church is the deep erosion of the biblical authority on a wide range of issues, the noticeable absence of clear-cut doctrine on these issues, and the general lack of faithfulness to the Bible and the Protestant Reformation in matters of doctrine and practice. In order to charge an Episcopal bishop with teaching doctrine contrary to the teaching of the Church the bishops of the Episcopal Church must first be polled to determine if they regard the particular doctrine in question as contrary to what the Church teaches. The likelihood that the bishop accused of teaching doctrine contrary to Church teaching will be charged and tried is very slim. The doctrine of The Episcopal Church is essential the doctrine of whoever are her bishops at a particular time.

Both the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Mission in the Americas manifest similar doctrinal fuzziness to The Episcopal Church. We see different churches taking different positions on essential doctrinal matters. A number of these positions are at odds with the doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal, the recognized doctrinal standard of historic Anglicanism. They raise questions regarding these churches’ understanding of the gospel, the place of the sacraments in the spiritual life of the Christian, and other matters that have a bearing upon salvation.

To read the full article, click here.

A Protestant Dictionary articles:
Confession, Auricular

Learning to Count to One

Evangelicals love to count, and the higher the numbers the better. After all, the more people we count in our pews, the more people are "coming to know the Lord." In our better moments we know that is not necessarily true—most church growth is transferred growth, people just changing churches. But in our best moments, higher numbers mean people are coming to know Christ.

We've taken church growth statistics to new levels in the last few decades, and have created all sorts of formulas to determine whether we're growing or not. I recall as a pastor having to figure out how to determine "decadal growth rates" and "conversion rates." The goal of any card-carrying evangelical leader is to learn to count as high as possible, and there is something invigorating about that. But I wonder if we'd be wiser if we learned also how to count to one.

To read more, click here.

The Stained Glass Curtain: Crossing the Evangelical-Catholic Divide to Find Our Common Heritage

Dimitri Sala is a soul-winner who quotes the Bible with abandon, uses the Four Spiritual Laws as a guide in evangelistic conversations, especially wants to see young people born again, offers a convincing personal testimony about his own communion with God in Christ, reports special moments when God spoke to him (not in place of Scripture but driving home scriptural realities), has a special burden for evangelizing Roman Catholics, and recommends Martin Luther as an inspiring guide to a deeper walk with Christ.

Did I mention that Sala is himself a Catholic priest, and that the initials after his name stand for Orders of Friars Minor (aka, Franciscan)?

To read more, click here.

Women priests for regional Anglican churches

The Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf will now be able to ordain women as priests, appointing them to serve in churches in the region, and one of the first could be in Cyprus.

The announcement was made at the annual Synod of the diocese in Larnaca last week, and was warmly welcomed by members. Rt Rev Michael Lewis, bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, reported that his request to have permission to ordain and appoint women had been granted by the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The other dioceses of the Province: Egypt, Iran and Jerusalem will not be affected by the change.

The first ordination of a woman priest is likely to take place in June, when the Rev Catherine Dawkins, currently serving as a deacon and assistant in the Yemen chaplaincy, will be ordained in Bahrain cathedral. The diocese has one woman training to be a priest.

To read more, click here.

The Rev. Jerry Kramer, formerly of Broadmoor, embraces Anglican church in Texas

The Rev. Jerry Kramer, the Episcopal priest who threw his church into the recovery of Broadmoor after Hurricane Katrina, has left the church for a more conservative Anglican community.

Kramer, the former rector of the Free Church of the Annunciation, said by e-mail he now is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

That community is composed of former Episcopalians who split with the U.S. church in 2008 over deep theological differences.

Kramer is now a member of an Anglican community in New Braunfels, Texas, with his wife and three children.

He said he is awaiting training before moving to Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in east Africa, to do missionary work in a predominantly Muslim region.

To read more, click here.