Monday, May 23, 2011

Continuing Anglican Contentions...

My, my... such a confused situation in this rearranging of church jurisdictions in the U.S.   As regards the recently organized ACNA, I fear that it too will prove itself significantly wedded to non-reformed Anglican traditions thus ensuring the same latitudinarian drift that was at the root of the ECUSA's liberal and apostate trek (not to mention the relics of Romish tendencies).  It seems that as long as the reformed doctrines of the English Reformation are minimized or obscured, then any particular Anglican denomination eventually trends towards liberalism or towards Rome.  And this is why it so important to stress again the necessity of the Anglican Church returning to, and once again holding firmly, its doctrinal confession of the Reformation:  the Thirty-Nine Articles; which confession falls well within the consensus of both the English and Continental reformed churches.  

As I've previously lamented, there is unfortunately no current Anglican church body today that faithfully stands in that reformed tradition.  It is her heritage and yet it has been largely abandoned.  Personally, I hold out little hope for the various incarnations coming forth or the ones now in existence.  Too many little fiefdoms holding their particular "sacred ground" of true Anglicanism with no inclination to reconsider or examine their claims historically and theologically in the context of the English reformation.  What is needed?  What is to be done?  Truly what is needed in these various jurisdictions is an Anglican reformation that once again exalts the Gospel instead of traditions, one that would hopefully be embraced and promoted by existing clergy (where are the Cranmers, Hoopers, Ridleys and Jewells of today?).  The likelihood of that?  Nil it seems to me.  Sadly, the Church of England and Anglicanism-at-large has been in one long drift and "rewrite of theological history" since the early 17th century.  And each group, be it liberal, apostate, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical-Charismatic - each with their own disparate neo-Anglican or revisonist-Reformation interpretation - is convinced of their position.  

For myself, this is why I decided to set sail for a safe harbor in the reformed church tradition about eight months ago.  I can get along without the Book of Common Prayer in the church service (although barely sometimes).  What I can't do is get along without the doctrines of the BCP, doctrines which embody the 16th century reformed-catholic recovery of and contention for the faith once delivered.

There are many Anglicans who are longing (and some laboring) for a return to a direction that reflects the piety and practice of a reformed-catholic church.  Many throughout the last 475 years labored to keep that testimony alive - Christians contending for the faith once delivered.  The New Testament epistles are replete with that storyline and exhortation.  But in actuality it is not an extraordinary calling born of an emergency, but rather the normal Christian church life encapsulated in the descriptor "the Church Militant."  This contention is in fact the earnest faithful fight for and proclamation of the Gospel, a fight to which believers are called and that for which the Church on the earth exists.  Lose sight of the Gospel and the Church loses her way... because everything regarding true faith and practice flows from that Gospel, the good news of the crucified and risen Christ.  And that is why the 16th and 17th century Reformers emphasized and spoke of the five solas:  sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), soli Deo gloria (the glory of God alone); as well as the three marks of a true church:  sound doctrine (gospel), right administration of the sacraments (visible gospel), right use of ecclesiastical discipline (shepherding, correcting and restoring in light of the gospel).  These are sure marks and sign posts by which the Church is to contend for the faith once delivered while navigating her voyage, be it in calm or trouble waters.

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