I am not an Anglican and while I have never been a member of an Anglican church I have had many associations with Anglicans with a wide range of outlooks on matters of faith over the years and still do, and many I knew / know give a good testimony to their faith.
My own Christian background was with the Plymouth Brethren and many of my early mentors looked on Anglicans with suspicion because of their supposed unbiblical beliefs and practices. Having been thus indoctrinated it came both as a revelation and as a pleasant surprise, when leaving school to university in London and joining the Christian Union, I discovered many of the active Christians were also Anglicans. I even got to attend churches like All Souls and St. Helens and found this to be a positive experience. The liberal gay activist University Chaplain, however, confirmed my worse fears regarding doctrinal error. But even then I saw good points (he encouraged me to read the Bible) and I learned later he worked among the homeless and Aids victims, teaching me actions must match words. I even began to appreciate things like the Anglican litany and Prayer Book. After leaving college, I found myself continually rubbing shoulders and working with Anglicans, mainly Evangelicals, but sometimes Liberals and Catholics, and this was usually a positive experience. One of my favourite services of the year is to attend Midnight Mass at my local high Anglican church.
While I feel I don’t have the right to tell Anglicans how they should act, I observe from a distance what is going on with genuine concern and a degree of amazement, as I watch the Anglican communion holding together (albeit by the skin of their teeth) managing with one fudge after another to do so, and this has gone on for years on all sorts of issues, some arguably minor and some to do with central doctrines. As one sees schism throughout the worldwide Anglican communion one wonders who much longer this will continue. I realize coming from my non-conformist background it would be easy to simply say to my doctrinally sound Anglican brethren: “leave” but recognize why some will only do so as a last resort and as of now they remain members of the Anglican communion, even if they do distance themselves from false teachings and often in private conversation express their concerns over what is happening that they see as wrong and are thus unable to endorse.
This brings me to the latest story to hit the headlines concerning Anglican schism: “Lorna Ashworth resigns from General Synod over ‘revisionism’”. The article begins: “A CONSERVATIVE Evangelical, Lorna Ashworth, resigned from the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod on Thursday in a letter that condemned “an agenda of revisionism . . . masked in the language of so-called ‘good disagreement’”. Mrs Ashworth, a member of Reform and the GAFCON UK Task Force, called in July for an alternative Anglican structure in Britain, similar to the Anglican Church in North America (News, 28 July). In her resignation letter, published on Friday, she described “an ongoing and rapid erosion of faithfulness” at the General Synod. “Instead, an agenda of revisionism is masked in the language of so-called ‘good disagreement’. In fact, ‘good disagreement’ and ‘unity’ have trumped the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.” The letter continues: “In light of this revisionist agenda and the heretical teaching that comes with it, I am no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission. I refuse to be mistaken as one participating in the fanciful notion of ‘good disagreement’. As such, I am standing down from the Archbishops’ Council with immediate effect and all subsequent bodies, including the General Synod. The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said that he was “sad” that she had decided to resign” I am sure many in the Anglican communion will share that sadness, but I cant help feeling she did the right thing.
An example of the Anglican fudge / apostasy is going on is a story carried in a number of newspapers. One is titled: “Church advises schools: Let kids choose their gender”. It begins: “CHILDREN should be allowed to decide what sex they are without judgment or derision from teachers, the Church of England has said. Nursery and primary school pupils in particular must be free to discover the ‘possibilities of who they might be’, says the organisation’s first guidance on transphobic bullying. ‘A child may choose the tutu, the princess’s tiara and heels and/or the fireman’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment,’ teachers at 4,700 schools have been advised. But some critics warned that the guidance — with a foreword by the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — would create a ‘climate of fear’. ‘Any expression of dissent in any way or a slip of the tongue you become labelled hateful, and that’s not Christian,’ said Andrea Williams, of the Christian Law Centre. ‘We’re all against bullying but, in framing the debate as they do, they are in danger of becoming the bullies.’” I agree with Andrea Williams and regret Archbishop Welby’s stance. I would rather his emphasis had been on encouraging children to accept the sexuality they were born with and while being sensitive to individual needs, carry on teaching biblical sexual / gender identity.
I don’t relish the disintegration of the Anglican church but neither can I accept false teaching or unnecessary compromise. What happens next is entirely out of my hands. My concern is for the Church – not the Anglican church nor the church I happen to belong to, but the Church that comprises all true believers in Christ, the Church Christ died for and he promised to build. I concur with the oft quoted adage to do with essentials and non essentials. I will associate with Anglicans of all persuasions when it comes to serving my community and opposing injustice. I will fellowship with and seek to encourage all Anglicans who truly love the Lord. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, however, I can only associate with those who adhere to the truth. After all we are told: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints“, Jude 1:3, which leaves little room for accommodating “revisionist” agendas, Anglican or otherwise.