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.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pray for the Anglican Church in North America

I invite readers to join me in prayer and fasting (as feasible) for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) through next week as the College of Bishops meets Monday and then the Provincial Assembly through Friday.

Readers know that I have concerns about the direction of ACNA or at least parts of it.  But I every bit as much want ACNA to succeed in faithfulness as I did when I joyfully attended the Inaugural Provincial Assembly.  So I am praying and encourage you to do likewise.

And may God guide and bless those of you who will be at the Assembly and protect you in your travels as well.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Andy Lines Consecration a Gift to ACNA

There is one aspect of the Andy Lines consecration that has not been given much attention – that it should greatly benefit the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Allow me to back up a bit.  The consecration is scheduled for June 30th, the last day of ACNA’s Provincial Assembly.  It’s safe to assume this will occur during the concluding service of the Assembly.

So let’s say the Provincial Assembly has its difficulties.  I’m not predicting it will.  But the divisions over Women’s Ordination will not magically disappear for the Assembly.  Nor is it likely that those (few I hope) in ACNA prone to cross lines into divisive political activism will suddenly exercise restraint and humble wisdom for the Assembly.  And some parts of ACNA in seem to be The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now, and aspects of the Assembly program seem to reflect that.  Meanwhile others (like myself) prefer the Church of What Happened 500 or More Years Ago, Thank You Very Much. That, too, will likely also be the case at the Assembly as well.

But at the conclusion of the Assembly, with several Anglican Primates of GAFCON gathered around, ACNA will be a leader in the reevangelization of Britain and consecrate Andy Lines as a bishop for Scotland.  However trying the Assembly up to then may be, it will be a momentous finish that will make the overwhelming majority of the Assembly and of ACNA proud and glad to be in ACNA.  Heck, as concerned as I am about the direction of ACNA, I am among those thankful and proud that my church is stepping out for orthodoxy and the orthodox and leading in this way.

ACNA could use a unifying moment.  It will get it on June 30th.

Now that was surely not the reason Archbishop Foley Beach and ACNA are taking this step.  And they are to be commended for taking this step.  But bold obedience to God usually does have additional benefits, does it not?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Athanasius, err, GAFCON Responds to Justin Welby

There is some excellent analysis out there on the current disagreement surrounding the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC).  Lee Gattis’ piece particularly stands out.  Kevin and Gavin are excellent as well.

But perhaps the most brilliant and succinct response comes from the Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, Chairman of GAFCON.  As most readers know, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said and did virtually nothing to discourage the SEC from solemnizing same sex “marriage.”  Instead he let them know they would be welcome at Lambeth 2020 regardless.  Nor did he lift a finger to assist the orthodox remaining in the SEC in spite of their repeated pleas.  But then, when GAFCON did respond to their pleas, Justin got huffy about boundary crossing.

Well, Archbishop Okoh just blew Justin Welby out of the water ever so nicely:

As I write, we are preparing for Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is vital. Without it, we cannot speak truly of God in a way that is faithful to the bible. However, in the fourth century the Church was nearly overwhelmed by the Arians. They were the followers of Arius, who claimed that the Son was a created being, not really God.

If the Church had continued to follow Arius, the Christian faith would have been lost. To deny the full divinity of Jesus strikes at the heart of the Christian message that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.  St Athanasius is still remembered as the man who was willing to make a costly stand against this heresy.

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women.  It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

Read the rest for yourself and do so at Why? A very nice touch was a prominent depiction of Athanasius that accompanied the letter on the GAFCON site.  Really that image alone rebuts Welby’s whinging about boundary crossing very well.  Okoh’s letter, excellent as it is, merely spells out the good example of Athanasius and its application today. I also like the gentle reminder that ACNA itself is the product of boundary crossing.

Speaking of which, I am very pleased that ACNA is taking a prominent role in the Lines consecration.  But more on that at a later time.  I need to get ready for the Reformed Episcopal Church’s General Council.