Category : – Anglican: Commentary

(AAC) Phil Ashey–“To banish all strange and erroneous doctrine”

“To banish all strange and erroneous doctrine” is a phrase that comes directly from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and its ordinal service for ordaining deacons and priests and consecrating Bishops. It is part of the charge given one who is consecrated to serve as a bishop in those Churches in the Anglican Communion who subscribe to the 1662 BCP and its ordinal (among other doctrinal statements) as “fundamental declarations.” The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) also uses this language when it consecrates a Bishop. The weighty phrase reminds us of the universal and ancient responsibility of Bishops to guard the faith, worship, order and discipline of Christ’s Church.

For the last two days I have been in Kenya as part of a teaching team for the third GAFCON Bishops Training Institute. One of the first talks I heard here was a brilliant exposition of Galatians 1:1-9 by the new Bishop of Lango Diocese (Church of Uganda), the Right Rev. Dr. Alfred Olwa. I have known +Alfred as a friend and brother in Christ, a gifted preacher and Biblical theologian—and I was not disappointed by his sermon!  In this wonderful passage that many believe Paul penned on his way to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, Paul makes an unequivocal defense of the Gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone.  As +Alfred noted:

  1. The good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone needs no addition;
  2. The good news must NOT be distorted (Gal. 1:7);
  3. Only this gospel of salvation by faith in Christ alone saves people from eternal separation from God (Hell); and
  4. Any distortion of this Gospel is, in reality, dangerous, leads people away from God and therefore stands under God’s curse (Gal. 1:9)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Kenya, Theology

(AAC) Phil Ashey–On lawsuits and losses: a Meditation from Psalm 37

The decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the matter of the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina vs. the TEC Diocese of South Carolina (Heard September 23, 2015 and filed August 2, 2017) appears to be such a case. The net effect of this case seems to be the transfer of the property of 29 congregations from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina to TEC. Ultimately this could mean the displacement of thousands of families from the place where they have worshiped for generations. It could mean the loss of all the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina offices, the bishops residence and more.

The legal effect is to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court decision in All Saints Parish, Waccamaw v Diocese 385 S.C. 428 (2009) that neither the then Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina nor the national church (by the Dennis Canon) can create a trust in favor of themselves in any church in South Carolina unless they already have an express property interest in that church. This 2009 decision was based on long settled common law principles of trusts in South Carolina law. The legal effect of the Court’s August 2 decision is to reinterpret the facts of this case de novo, and by bare majority of 3-2 to reinstate the validity of the Dennis Canon by turning the “neutral principles” approach to church property disputes (see Jones v. Wolf , 443 U.S. 595 (1979)) into a “deference to internal hierarchical church law,” approach—turning “neutral principles on its head.” As Justice Kittredge concluded in his opinion (dissenting in part and concurring in part): “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property—if you think your property ownership is secure, think again….”

I am reminded constantly of the example of The Falls Church Anglican in Virginia. Under years of costly litigation and appeals, they planted three churches in the DC Beltway (Arlington, Alexandria and Vienna) and one on the outskirts of Northern VA, in Winchester. All are thriving. TFC lost their buildings, but their congregation grew even as they gave away hundreds to these church plants! Now they have a location and a building that exceeds what they had before, as they are growing in mission and evangelism where God has planted them.

How tragic it would be if litigation and appeals took our eyes off God and the things that delight him—especially reaching those who do not yet know the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology: Scripture

(GAFCON) Archbp Peter Jensen: Reflections on Truth, Division and Fellowship

At the heart of the divisions which have beset the Anglican Communion since 2002 is a profound disagreement over sexual ethics, in particular whether same sex unions can be blessed by God in the light of the teaching of the Bible. The teaching of GAFCON is that the Bible is clear on three vital points.

First, that sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage is forbidden by God and not in the best interests of humans.

Second, that persistent behaviour of this sort puts those who engage in it outside the kingdom of God and therefore at risk of losing salvation.

Third, acceptance of this behaviour in the church means that the full gospel cannot be preached, since the full gospel requires repentance from sexual sin.

But there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that in a society in which the truth about God is supressed, the consequence is godless sexual licence. This is a sign of an unhealthy community in deep trouble.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Chik Kaw Tan–Fundamental shifts in the General Synod

Within the next 3-7 years I anticipate three tumultuous and tragic events:

1-There will be a major split in the Church of England over sexuality issues. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is, apparently, willing and ready to accept that.
2-There will be deep division between the orthodox who choose to remain in the Church of England and those who choose to leave (whilst remaining Anglican within the Anglican Communion or leaving the denomination entirely)
3-There will be a more formalised split in the global Anglican Communion, along with the continuing re-alignment between the orthodox across all Christian denominations.
It is time for deep reflection and prayer and we need to prepare for the evil days ahead. But for the faithful, whatever the tribulations, we can confidently trust in the God who is ‘from everlasting to everlasting.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology: Scripture

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform UK, on the C of E General Synod–6 steps away from Biblical Christianity

In the space of four days, the General Synod of the Church of England have, in effect, rejected the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation, and our need for conversion and sanctification Instead we have said that we are ‘perfect’ as we are, or as we see ourselves, and that the Church should affirm us and call on God to validate our choices. No wonder we do not want to proclaim Christ’s unique identity and significance for all people.

We have chosen to understand the world through secular reports, unconscious bias training, the teaching of other religions and the results of polls and media headlines, rather than the unchanging word of God.

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Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE)

Anglican Unscripted #303 – Six Anglican Bishops named in cover ups

Take the time to watch and listen to it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

Phil Ashey–Lessons from Dunkirk for Anglicans

Last July my wife and I went to the UK for my graduation from Cardiff. While we were there I couldn’t resist visiting the Imperial War Museum (Julie graciously came along and humored me!) I have always been fascinated by the history of World War II, the great moral and political issues that were at stake, and the incredible valor of “the great generation” in saving democracy in the west from totalitarian regimes in Germany, Italy and Japan. The Imperial War Museum did not disappoint me. But there was one exhibit in particular that caught my eye—the smallest boat that evacuated beleaguered troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, the Tamzine.

The boat is not much for the eye. It’s hard to imagine how it survived the constant strafing of British troops from the Luftwaffe as they faced almost certain annihilation on the beaches of Dunkirk. Bravely it forged through the surf, this little boat, carrying not many troops back to the bigger warships that lay offshore. But with every life it saved it gathered another soldier to fight on. Again and again it returned to those beaches and, miraculously, it survived. I can only imagine that its pilot drew courage from the flotilla of other ships, small and large, that braved those same beaches.

Dunkirk has been an enduring metaphor for our own formation as the Anglican Church in North America…

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton on the Jesmond Mess–‘If a schism be schismatic against itself, that schism cannot stand’

On 31st October 1517, an obscure Catholic monk called Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’, the Castle Church in Wittenberg, protesting at the sale of indulgences and other abuses – an event taken as marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On 2nd May 2017, an obscure Anglican curate called Jonathan Pryke was consecrated bishop under the aegis of Jesmond Parish Church in Newcastle, by the extra-juridicial authority of the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa), protesting at the wishy-washy approach to issues of sex, gender, sexuality and marriage – an event taken as marking the beginning of the Great Anglican Schism in England.

Whether this is indeed the beginning of “a new timely reformation” or just an embarrassing ecclesial damp squib remains to be seen. It is worth surveying some useful background analysis (see Ian Paul here and Peter Carrell here), but it seems to this Anglican mind that a rebellious schismatic consecration in the Church of England which isn’t even contiguous with the rebellious schismatic movement in the Church of England is doomed to failure. It isn’t so much that Jonathan Pryke didn’t have the courtesy to inform the Bishop of Newcastle or the Archbishop of York of his intentions; he didn’t even inform GAFCON UK or the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE – on whose executive he sits). If a schism be schismatic against itself, that schism cannot stand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

Ian Paul and Peter Carrell–Should evangelicals be embarrassed by Newcastle?

Peter Carrell’s comments [which are excerpted and which are posted at the start of Ian Paul’s blog post]…say almost everything that I would want to about the event itself. But there are some wider issues that it is also worth reflecting on.

First, I get the impression that those supportive of a GAFCON move to consecrate a bishop in England from within the Anglican Communion look on the events with a mixture of disdain, frustration and probably some anger. Whereas they had a considered plan which operated within the Communion as a whole, this move has jumped the gun without proper consideration or consultation. And I suspect that GAFCON supporters hope that everyone can see the difference between the two initiatives. But they won’t. Most of those within the Church of England will not be able to tell the difference, and the same will be true of all of those outside the Church. Both initiatives will appear to all but the best informed (and most highly motivated) to be petty, fracturing and unhelpful interference from people outside the Church of England. (I am not claiming that this view is correct—just that this will be the widespread perception.)

Secondly, it is becoming abundantly clear that this sort of approach to dealing with the perceived drift in the doctrine and teaching in the Church is singularly unhelpful.

Read it all and note carefully the links provided in the piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, South Africa

Peter Jensen–Is Gafcon the problem? A Response to Josiah Idowu-Fearon

As we evaluate and critique the Secretary-General’s position on these matters it’s important to focus on the views themselves, representing those of the senior leadership of the Anglican Communion, rather than the person himself. In reverse order:

a) ”˜African antagonism to homosexuality has been taught by American conservatives’. This is simply endorsing the narrative of Western LGBT activists who themselves have been campaigning to introduce their views into Africa with the powerful support of Western governments and even the UN. When they find resistance they assume it to come from the other side in their home culture war, as they cannot conceive of African leaders being able to think for themselves.

b) The harsh, blanket criticism of African church leaders (“unChristlike, despotic, corrupt”) is generalizing and inaccurate.
While of course some Church leaders are like this in Africa as in other parts of the world, there are many godly men and women who lead sacrificially and wisely. To suggest that they focus on sexuality while neglecting issues of deprivation and suffering is, again, simply not true, and again appears to be repeating the views of liberal Westerners who have never seen the heroic work going on all over the continent by churches.

c) The comment that “GAFCON is not a movement of the Holy Spirit” needs to be measured against the gracious forbearance shown by GAFCON leaders towards those with whom they disagreed at Canterbury in January 2016, and the wonderful unity displayed in the Cairo meeting of early October. Such an erroneous and harsh judgement of GAFCON sadly shows a determination not to reconcile with the movement, but to discredit it completely in the eyes of a Western audience. But GAFCON is a movement to hold the Anglican Communion together around the word of God, in line with the classical position of Anglicanism. It has not created schism, but has actually enabled loyal Anglicans to stay in the Communion. Following the teaching of God’s word, it refuses to have fellowship with those who have compromised the faith on matters of salvation. They have abandoned Communion, not GAFCON. This is the true logic of being a ”˜conservative’.

d) The emphasis on reconciliation between people holding different views, so that institutional unity must be preserved at all costs is at odds with the New Testament. According to Ephesians 2 and 3, people from warring human religious and cultural backgrounds, alike estranged from God, are brought together by repentance, faith in Christ and obedience to God’s word. There is then one church and one faith. Serious disagreement over core doctrines is not good diversity which can be managed by institutional control and re-organization, but a sign of serious sickness in the body.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Global South Churches & Primates

Ruth Gledhill's Christian Today article on the Archbp Josiah Fearon interview in the Previous post

Josiah Idowu-Fearon, appointed secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council last year, said his commitment to reconciliation remained firm.

But on the issue at the root of the disagreements, human sexuality, he admitted there was “no way” of finding agreement. “It’s not possible,” he said. The alternative to finding a way to live together was to allow separate “splinter groups”.

Idowu-Fearon also criticised the leadership of Anglican churches in Africa as ineffective.

He said he was speaking from experience, and described them as “despotic”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AM) C of E reassessors use the BBC and the South African church to continue campaign

Many churches have been involved in wonderful work in ministering in fearful communities, caring for the suffering and the families of those killed by disease or violence, while at the same time (in the case of bible-based congregations), continuing to teach of the love of Christ, and following God’s design for celibate singleness and faithful marriage as the best way of avoiding HIV. Some churches have been brave enough to challenge, with the Gospel, the toxic culture of machismo which is partly responsible for the high levels of murder and sexual abuse. While of course there are church leaders and nominal Christians who live no differently to those in the communities around them, there are many thousands of godly, prayerful and compassionate men and women who understand that counter-cultural sexual purity and control of anger is not old fashioned prudishness but a literal lifesaver and a witness to God’s goodness.

This background, essential for understanding any discussion about sex in South Africa, did not feature in the BBC programme, which sought to give the impression that people with same sex attraction are uniquely vulnerable. While violence against gay people is appalling and unacceptable, it is sadly part of a culture where women are abused whether they are gay or not, and people are beaten up and murdered for being foreign, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, for having a phone, for looking at someone’s girlfriend, etc, etc. The Western concept of LGBT rights is simply inappropriate in such a context. The church should be speaking up publicly against all violence and abuse, and developing communities of peace, safety and tolerance (as is doing so in many places), not focusing on one particular minority.

Also, given the prevalence of heterosexual promiscuity in society and even in the church, which combined with the sexual abuse has contributed to the devastating spread of AIDS and family breakdown, what effect would an acceptance and celebration of same sex relationships have in the townships and across Africa as a whole? It would surely send the message that the church is controlled by white Western liberalism (not good for mission?); that the Bible is not reliable; and that only ”˜love’, not sexual self-control, is the concern of the church. If a same sex relationship is OK, people will ask, then why is adultery wrong?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Africa, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Media, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, South Africa, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Lightbown–Renewal, Reform and the ”˜resource church’

So where can we start?

One of the success stories of recent times has been the resource church. Resource churches tend to be found in the cities and typically have been HTB style plants. As Ian Paul has pointed out in a recent thought piece resource churches have achieved rapid growth, through focusing predominately on a discrete group (the 18 to 30 age range). Their astonishing growth in numbers includes a significant number of returnees to church and new converts (around 34% of their congregations comprise these two groups). Resource churches tend to be well resourced in terms of staff numbers and, have demonstrated success in terms of planting, and resourcing, new congregations. They are in other words porous.

So far resource churches have tended to be characterized through a commitment to an evangelical and charismatic expression of faith. Resource churches of this sort are not for everyone but they have been successful; up to a point, or more precisely a geographic point. They have shown an ability to reach from the centre to the suburb, but perhaps no further. But, perhaps, we can learn from the existing model of resource church, amending and extending our understanding of the term? We could, and in my view should, consider extending it to include a wider range of ecclesiologies and geographic territories.

Maybe some real work needs to be done in identifying churches that are potentially and genuinely capable of serving rural England, less we stop at the suburbs? We must invest in potential for real growth, as every good investment manager knows. We must seek out and invest in churches which are currently undervalued and, through a prudent investment strategy seek to release value.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Economy, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Jeremy Pemberton loses hia employment appeal

One question which hovered over the initial ET judgment was in relation to the doctrine of the Church in relation to marriage. I was startled when, under cross-examination, Richard Inwood had agreed that the doctrine of the Church ”˜was a busted flush’. But both the ET and the EAT have ruled that, in the context of employment law, the Church’s doctrine of marriage is both clear and enforceable, and that clergy can reasonably be expected to conform to it.

As for the doctrines of the Church, this referred to the teachings and beliefs of the religion and the ET had been entitled to find these were as stated by Canon B30 (“marriage is ”¦ a union ”¦ of one man with one woman ”¦”), evidenced, in particular, by the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The Respondent had applied a requirement that the Claimant not be in a same sex marriage so as to comply with the doctrines of the Church; it was not fatal to the ET’s conclusion in that regard that a different Bishop might not have done the same.

That final comment seems to me to be highly significant. Even if the Church’s doctrine has been applied inconsistently in the past, and elsewhere in the Church, then that does not undermine the action of a bishop who acts on it. In other words, if the collegial support for this doctrine in the House of Bishops collapses, and some bishops decide to declare UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence] and ignore the doctrine, then other bishops are still secure in law in enacting discipline based on this doctrine.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

George Conger–The perversion of Lambeth 1.10

Contrary to Bishop Holtam’s assertion, Lambeth 1.10 did not contemplate the blessing of Gay Pride parades or other activities that promoted as a moral good same-sex carnal relations. As it was explained to me by my episcopal masters, paragraph c of resolution 1.10 was crafted to make the following points: There were faithful Christians who experienced same-sex attractions. The church was called to assist these individuals and pray for their transformation. The insertion of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit was suggested by Ugandan bishops who wanted the conference to go on record as stating the power of the Holy Spirit could help transform the disordered relations of Christians who experienced same-sex attractions.

The Bishop of Dallas, seconded by Prof. Stephen Noll, (who bears the distinction of having been one of the minds behind Lambeth 1.10 and the Jerusalem Declaration) asked the condemnation of “homophobia” be removed, as in the American context those who opposed the “gay” agenda were tarred with the brush of homophobia. In its place was substituted the awkward circumlocution “irrational fear of homosexuals”.

The paragraph concluded with a statement the church would listen to those who were struggling with their desires, noting that temptation was not the same as sin, and that all faithful Christians were loved.

Paragraph c stated: [The Conference] recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;”

Bishop Holtam’s interpretation of paragraph d in his letter to the Church Times as permitting the moral normalization of homosexual acts is disingenuous….

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, FCA Meeting in London April 2012, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture