Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mark Thompson: The Jesmond Consecration

In October 1517 Martin Luther began a revolution. He had not intended to do so. His concern was that the church he loved might see the danger it was in and make a stand with him on the teaching of Scripture. It was a rather innocuous act at first sight, the posting of notice of a university debate. Yet the reaction to Luther's 95 theses and the subsequent action of this faithful Christian leader in the church and university of Wittenberg demonstrated quite clearly the determination of the institution, the entire hierarchical structure extending to the Pope in Rome, to resist reformation and to continue on its path of false teaching and unfaithful practice. They would not stand with him but opposed him with every weapon in their armoury. Before long, Luther and those around him would need to train and authorise faithful leaders for the churches in Germany and elsewhere. When the institution had failed so badly and was so demonstrably committed to directions contrary to the word of God, something needed to be done. They could no longer wait for the institutional structures to embrace reform and sit again under the word of God come what may. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

500 years on there are places all over the world where a new reformation is sorely needed. The Church of England is a case in point. There are many faithful men and women within the Church of England who teach, believe, and live out the teaching of the Bible. There are many faithful vicars and church workers and at least one faithful theological college where men and women are trained for a biblical ministry in the Church of England. There are even a few biblically faithful, godly, evangelistically-minded bishops in the Church of England. The picture is certainly not uniformly black. Yet for decades the structures of the Church of England have proven resistant to reform in the light of the Scriptures. Unbelief and immorality are not challenged but excused and, more recently, embraced. When the faithful are attacked for seeking to live out the same quiet, biblical faith as the sovereign, they find little support from the hierarchy of the Church of England, and whatever support they do receive is heavily qualified. The leadership is powerless or unwilling to act. When the faithful have cried out for protection against the predatory liberalism within the Church of England, which masquerades as tolerance and sophisticated broad-mindedness, little or nothing is done. Quietly the stranglehold of unbelief on the structures of the Church of England gets tighter and tighter. The disdain with which evangelical churches and institutions are treated is obvious and the subtle and not so subtle attempts to pressure them into conformity have continued to increase. The nation needs to be re-evangelised and meanwhile the bishops seem entangled in endless debates about legalities and how they might baptise the cultural consensus. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Read More

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