Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Anglican Watch: Virtue Analyzes Rowan Williams

VirtueOnline - News

AUCKLAND, NZ: Analyzing Rowan
By David W. Virtue in Auckland
November 7, 2012

In his final presidential address Sunday evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the Anglican Communion not to accept second best, but to seek a balance between "corrective authority" and "enabling authority" while still doing God's work.

VOL: That's a bit like driving the family limo into a lake and then denying you did it. The NT makes no such distinction. If Jesus had told the woman caught in adultery "go and sin no more" (corrective authority) without the first part "neither do I condemn thee" (enabling authority), He would have only gotten it half right. He didn't. Williams did.

Speaking in St Mary's Church, Auckland, Williams opined that the fellowship of Anglican churches worldwide needs to "be aware of the danger of becoming less than we aspire to be as a Communion. I think that we do aspire to be a consensual catholic and orthodox family."

VOL: About the only thing consensual in Anglicanism is the western half of the communion approving of consensual sex between people of the same sex. We are not remotely catholic except in the generic sense of being universal, but certainly not in theology and we are not (laughably) orthodox. About 90% of the folk here at ACC-15 are liberals and revisionists with at least two homosexuals (one male the other female). Only a small handful is orthodox. They put out a statement condemning this whole event. You can read it here: What "orthodox family" is he talking about? It is laughable to think that Katharine Jefferts Schori is orthodox in ANY sense of the word.

RW: I believe we do aspire to be a family that lives in mutual respect and recognition. And to step back from that simply into a federal model ... doesn't seem to me to be the best and the greatest that God is asking from us as an Anglican family.

VOL: Mutual respect... How much respect does he think Katharine Jefferts Schori has for the dwindling orthodox in The Episcopal Church? Is he being serious? She has just inhibited South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence, (with deposition to follow). She has issued summons, notices, and what amounts to cease and desist orders to nine other orthodox bishops in TEC demanding conciliation, whatever that means? This is "mutual respect and recognition". What world is Rowan living in?

Archbishop Williams said he believed Anglicans have a message to give the Christian world about how they can be "both catholic and orthodox and consensual, working in freedom, mutual respect and mutual restraint, without jeopardizing the important local autonomy of our churches."

VOL: That all depends on who is delivering the message. The message from the Global South who make up 75% to 80% of the communion is solidly evangelical - a message of sin and grace. The Western (read northern) Liberal Anglican part of the communion has no discernible gospel. It is about inclusion, diversity, interfaith, social action and much more. It has nothing to do with the Great Commission and fighting for lost souls. There are TWO very distinct and different messages coming forth from the Anglican Communion: one comes from the Bible and the other comes a combination of the New York Times, The Advocate (world's leading gay magazine), and National Public Radio. The two are not remotely connected.

Williams stressed that the Anglican Communion needs to work on the convergence of the different schemes and systems across member churches and find "a legal spirit, an ethos that they share by consent and exploration and discovery rather than by kicking the whole issue upstairs to some higher legal authority."

VOL: What the blazes does that mean? If Scripture is not the church's final authority in all matters of faith and life, "kicking the whole issue upstairs" sounds like a transcendent answer, but it is not what Rowan is looking for. He wants a humanist one where we muddle around and stir the pot in community of course, till something emerges out of the Communion cauldron that looks vaguely like the answer. If that is true, where does that leave his Covenant?

Rowan Williams returned to the theme of authority time and again. He suggested that the Instruments of Communion should not only have reactive or corrective authority, but also enabling authority. "When people say of Jesus he speaks with authority ... I don't think they mean he's just a good problem-solver; those words occur when Jesus has performed spectacular acts of liberation. The authority in question is an authority to act and an authority to make a difference, an authority that enables and empowers."

VOL: What authority does the fourth Instrument of Unity really have or the arechbishop for that matter? There were less than 80 people here. The handful of orthodox in attendance did not believe much of what came out of here. Witness their statement here: They said the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council avoids the real crisis in the Anglican Communion. "Since Lambeth Conference 1998, the ongoing conflict in our beloved Communion continues to be a crisis of Gospel truth, not only regarding matters of human sexuality but the authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written and the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ the Son of God."

RW: When I look back over ten years in this office, it does seem to me that every attempt we've made to pin down exactly how reactive or corrective authority works in our Anglican family has run into the sand in one way or another. We've tried to pin it down clearly here or there ... but that frustration, that discovery that it's actually very hard to find absolutely clear sources of authority, has to do of course with the fact that we are a family of churches, each one of which has its own ways of reacting, correcting and setting boundaries."

VOL: The Global South thinks the church has a clear source of authority: HOLY SCRIPTURE. The Global South did set boundaries with Lambeth 1:10 and a number of books on the state of the Anglican Communion, including To Mend the Net, all of which were ignored. The "family of churches" argument is disingenuous. The "family" in Nigeria under Archbishop Okoh has the same authority as the "family" in Pittsburgh under Bishop Duncan. It's the other families who are out of step with them as they have no authority but themselves, their feelings and "my pain" of exclusion. The liberals have no objective authority and neither does Rowan Williams.

Admitting that the Instruments of Communion are "less than they might be," Archbishop Williams said examples of their desire to enable included such proactive projects as the Anglican Alliance, the Bible in the Life of the Church Project, Continuing Indaba, and promoting theological education. These are, he said, attempts by the Instruments to change a situation by being creative. Archbishop Williams also suggested that younger Anglicans seemed more interested in one kind of authority over another.

VOL: This is all smoke and mirrors. None of the above will ever hold the communion together. Continuing Indaba is all about "relationships", "process" and "context" but never about conclusion because that would mean someone was right and someone was wrong and Indaba won't allow that, according to Philip Groves who heads The Listening Process. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, "...ever seeking but never coming to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:7) Theological education is being done by and for liberals, there are virtually no orthodox voices doing the kind of theological education the orthodox west or Global South will accept or buy into. The very fact that most TEC dioceses will not permit graduates from Trinity School for Ministry (TSM) into their dioceses says it all. Some liberal TEC bishops openly despise evangelicals even though they are the only priests capable of making churches grow. Witness the birth and growth of the Anglican Church in North America.

RW: So we stand at a very interesting and, I would dare to say, in spite of everything a very promising moment in our Communion, when we are thinking again about how our Instruments of Communion assist us to be the Church ... how to be the Body of Christ. That's what the Instruments have to serve. "In other words, the Instruments of Communion are there so that our Anglican family and Anglican faithful will show to the world that the new creation truly is new, that the Church truly is different."

Archbishop Williams gave thanks to God for the flourishing of Anglican Communion Networks, which were represented at this 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

VOL: That's a fiction. The Global South is not buying any of this. They smell a skunk in the room. They are totally fed up with the Instruments of Unity they are now baying at the gates of Lambeth palace and the Houses of Parliament saying they want an orthodox Primate to run the Communion. They don't want another archbishop handpicked by liberals from the Crown Nomination Commission and the PM to decide who should be their next leader. The Truth is the Anglican Communion is standing on the cliff edge and unless a solid evangelical takes the helm of the Church it will tumble right over the edge.

RW: I believe that the creativity of those networks at the moment is a sign that God is stirring up in our Communion deeply different ways of working which will not, of course, immediately solve the problems I began with, the problems that require the reactive or the corrective, but which at least tell us that God does not necessarily wait until we've solved our problems to enable us to be effective disciples.

VOL: Yes. The Communion is being stirred up and it is God working through men like Archbishop Okoh, Orombi, Zavala, Anis and others like Bishop Nazir Ali and Lord George Carey who are doing it. The latter two are on the front edge of the Culture Wars in England. Yes, God is working through his disciples however weak they might be, but even the weakest disciple who loves Jesus has the gospel in his or her bones while the liberals have no message at all to proclaim.

RW: When we stand before the throne of God, it will be a very poor answer if when God says 'Why did you not preach the gospel and serve the poor?' we say, 'We had too many internal problems to resolve, we couldn't quite decide who had the authority to pronounce things.' God expects us to be disciples today, not the day after tomorrow.

VOL: Good question Rowan. Your best. The truth is the mostly pro pansexual West is not preaching the gospel and that's the problem. And yes we do have scriptural authority to say, "thus saith the Lord". We have an obligation to preach the gospel, to announce Good News and judgment when that news is rejected. Thus it ever was.


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