Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sign the “The Movement for a Renewed Orthodox Anglicanism” Letter

British Anglicans have asked Christians around the world to endorse the movement for renewed orthodox Anglicanism, asking supporters to add their names to the letter published in the Daily Telegraph this week calling for the reform and renewal of the Church of England, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church.

I am glad that it has been made clear that overseas signers are welcome to join Bishop Nazir-Ali, Primus John Fenwick, Rev. Gavin Ashenden and hundreds of others. Let’s make it thousands!  I’ve signed and urge my good Anglican readers to sign, too.  The letter, the signers, and the opportunity to sign may be found here.  The text of the letter follows.

Recent actions in the General Synod in pursuit of a culture that denies biblical ethics, as they have been practised and understood “at all places and in all times”, have caused many Anglicans great concern.

There are times, particularly in the face of social disintegration, when it is the duty of the Church to be counter‑cultural. The failure of the House of Bishops to uphold the teaching of the Bible and of the Universal Church in this area is very disappointing, if not surprising.

Booing of traditionalists and the levels of personal abuse aimed at them during the Synod have only deepened mistrust between the different sides.

There are now effectively two opposed expressions of Anglicanism in this country. One has capitulated to secular values, and one continues to hold the faith “once delivered to the saints”.

We and others stand with the majority of faithful Anglicans across the globe, in prioritising Scripture and the unanimous teaching of the universal Church over secular fashion. We note the results of this same conflict in North America, even as we look for and pray for a similar renewal of orthodox Anglicanism and of Anglican structures in these islands. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Orthodox Anglican Laity Standing Up in Britain

A significant factor in the apostasy and decline of most mainline denominations in the West is that the laity, even orthodox laity, put up with apostasy instead of putting their foot down.  Or when they finally did speak up in numbers, it was too late.

So it gladdens my heart to see British Anglican laity taking action in the aftermath of the recent and already infamous General Synod of the Church of England.

The lay led Parochial Church Counsel (PCC) of St. John, Newland in Hull has publicly called on the Archbishop of York to repent of his role at Synod and has cut off parish donations to the Diocese of York in the indefinite/eternal meantime.  Good!  A necessary first step in combating apostasy and error is to stop funding it.

Laity are also playing a significant role in alternative synods already meeting.  These meetings include Anglican clergy and laity both inside and outside the Church of England.  How churches get involved in these synods is interesting and instructive [Emphasis mine]:

Churches have joined the synod by means of PCCs passing a motion: ‘As a PCC that is determined to uphold the Jerusalem Statement we commit to an Anglican synod of churches whose PCCs have likewise resolved to uphold the Jerusalem Statement. As an Anglican synod we will send representatives to confer, pray and assist PCCs in said synod as needful. We will seek to ensure our mutual support is in deed as well as word, and therefore enthusiastic, missional, financial and prayerful.’

By having churches join the synod via PCC resolutions, we ensure that lay people are fully involved in decisions and leadership. Bitter experience has shown that organisations almost exclusively led by Anglican clergy become talking-shops! Our churches see the Jerusalem Declaration as a valuable rallying point. Some churches have additional doctrinal commitments. In addition to the main synod meetings – attended by all our PCCs, there are occasional Clergy Chapters. These offer fellowship and training to clergy who are happy to sign a statement similar to the PCC motion.

Indeed, laity must make a stand and get involved if denominations and churches are to avoid apostasy and error.  One practical reason is it is easier to a lay person to disobey an errant bishop than it is for clergy.  The pressure on clergy to go along to get along can be great.  One example is a Church of England cleric under pressure from Justin Welby himself had his name withdrawn from a recent letter as reported on Anglican Unscripted #310 (about 2 minutes in).  It is far easier for a layperson than for clergy to tell Justin Welby and his ilk where to go.

So good on the lay leadership of St. John, Newland and on other Anglican laity taking a stand in Britain.  Their efforts aided by the power and grace of God are needed if orthodox Anglicanism is to survive and thrive in the UK.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Timely Letter from British Orthodox Anglicans UPDATED

Yesterday, I mentioned that John Fenwick, Primus of the Free Church of England, in his new book Anglican Ecclesiology and the Gospel urges orthodox Anglicans to work together in England.  The same evening this letter that demonstrates just that came to my attention, signed by Fenwick, Gavin Ashenden, and Andy Lines among others from various groups:

Many will share our dismay at the recent decisions of the General Synod of the Church of England and the pursuing principles, values and practices contrary to Holy Scripture and church Tradition.

Given the persistent failure of the majority of the House of Bishops to fulfil the God-given duties which they have sworn to discharge these tragic developments were, sadly, not wholly unexpected.

Accordingly, and in preparation for such eventualities we, as some of those committed to the renewal of biblical and orthodox Anglicanism have already started to meet, on behalf of our fellow Anglicans, to discuss how to ensure a faithful ecclesial future.

We now wish that we have done so to be more widely known.
Our number is drawn from bishops, clergy and laity, from across Great Britain and from a breadth of traditions. Much more importantly, however, we meet joyfully united by a shared endorsement of the terms of the Jerusalem Declaration.

We will meet again, as planned and with external facilitation, mediation and episcopal advice, in October. It is our intention to welcome on that occasion an even greater diversity of contributors.

I am glad to see this collaborative effort and will watch in October with interest.  I’ve heard proposed either by Fr. Ashenden or Bishop Fenwick (My memory is fuzzy.) a college of orthodox bishops.  Perhaps that will be on the agenda.


Primus John Fenwick has issued a follow-up letter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Anglican Ecclesiology and the Gospel by John Fenwick

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the fellowship of John Fenwick at church assemblies for about a decade now.  So when I saw he had a new book out in an area I’ve been studying, I was very interested.

The man is the Primus of the Free Church of England and the book is Anglican Ecclesiology and the Gospel.  And it is a thick book of about 500 pages, but easy reading and well written with Fenwick’s wit and erudition shining through.  I advise not reading it too fast, however.  For one thing, I often found many of the footnotes helpful.

The theme of Anglican Ecclesiology, as revealed in the chapter titles, is apostolic ecclesiology as upheld by classical Anglicanism.  Fenwick focuses on the authority of scripture and tradition derived from Christ and the apostles, apostolic ministry with focus on the nature of the threefold ministry, and the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.

In the process, he brings out of his knowledge things both old and new.  He frequently and well cites the church fathers, Anglican divines, and, of course, the scriptures.  At the same time, he is remarkably up to date, citing the Jerusalem Declaration and the International Anglican Congress of 2015.  He even anticipates the appointment of missionary bishops for England, which indeed occurred after the publication date.  Warning of possible problems of “well-intentioned, but perhaps not well-informed” consecration of bishops from overseas for England, he urges orthodox Anglican constituencies to work together in England.  (I will exercise an excess of caution and leave it to the reader to find out Fenwick’s current opinion after the Lines consecration.)  He also warns against “the planting of Churches that have little substantial Anglican identity, though claiming the name.”  Perhaps ACNA should take that admonition to heart. (pp. 452, 453.)

Fenwick at times focuses on his Free Church of England and on the closely aligned Reformed Episcopal Church.  But virtually all of his observations have applications for other orthodox Anglican jurisdictions and beyond.

Moreover, I think Anglican Ecclesiology would serve as a very readable introductory text on just that subject.  Those teaching or studying ecclesiology would do well to consider it.  I will go further and say it is a must read for those in ACNA, the Free Church of England, or the Reformed Episcopal Church.  And do not let the meaty subject scare you away.  Again, this is very readable.  I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed Bishop Fenwick’s work.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Should Have Happened at General Synod

The focus of the past Church of England General Synod, and of coverage of it, was sex and gender issues.  And as deplorable as the measures passed in those areas are, what is more deplorable is what General Synod did not do.  To me at least, the silence is deafening.

General Synod, to my knowledge*, spent not one minute addressing the Philip North affair.  The Synod, along with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, bent over backwards to make gays and transgenders welcomed and affirmed.  Sentamu was particularly loquacious in that regard.  But where was the welcome affirming inclusion for traditional Christians?

The North debacle sent the strong message that when it comes to diocesan bishoprics, traditionalists need not apply.  Oh, traditionalists are welcome . . . to stay in their ghettos.  But forget about moving on up.

There was perhaps not a more urgent matter for General Synod but to counteract that message, to make clear that what happened to North should not have happened and will not happen in the future.  A censure of the Dean of Christ Church Oxford would have been appropriate, too, but I am really dreaming there.

But instead, nothing.

People can put up with a lot if they know they are welcomed and appreciated.  But if given the opposite message, if treated like third class citizens, most people will eventually walk away.  The Church of England should not be surprised if traditionalists of both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical stripes soon walk away in greater numbers.  And the Church of England and General Synod will only have itself to blame.

*I’ve searched and searched for any mention of the North affair at General Synod and have found none.  If I missed something, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Canon Roseberry Promises to Address Concern About The Gathering

At a business meeting of the ACNA Provincial Assembly last week (about 1 hour 22 minutes into this video), Canon David Roseberry acknowledged online concern about “someone that we have in our lineup” for The Matthew 25 Gathering in September and promised to “get to that right after the first of next month [i.e. July].”  Likely, that someone is Dr. Rah.

I appreciate Canon Roseberry seeing the need to address concern about The Gathering lineup, and he should be given the space to do so.  I will say my main concern is not Dr. Rah himself.  It is hardly his fault he was invited to be the keynote speaker.

Most mainline denominations, including The Episcopal Church, have confused ministry and lib/left political advocacy.  That has greatly harmed those denominations (and was a factor in my leaving the mainline Presbyterians) and would harm the Anglican Church in North America if we repeat that error.  And it would harm the Matthew 25 Initiative as well.  I am not alone in withholding donations until I am confident funds will not go to lib/left advocacy I oppose. 

I pray God is using this episode to steer us and ACNA leaders away from that ministry error and will wait for Canon Roseberry’s statement with that hope.