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:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Modest Proposal for Justin Welby of Canterbury

An insipid recommendation on one point by an AMiA cleric.  While the point below is well-taken per se, western Anglicanism will need much more than the one modest recommendation by this western cleric. We are thinking more along the lines of Ezekiel's exhumation and resurrection of the dead and scattered bones. It's worse than bad.

A modest proposal for making Justin Welby a true shepherd of his flock

The newly installed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is off to a good start by most accounts. In one of his first interviews following his confirmation, he stated unequivocally, although in the typically measured tone of an English gentleman, his opposition to a bill currently before the British House of Commons, spearheaded by "Conservative" Prime Minister David Cameron, which seeks tor redefine marriage. He reiterated the position of the House of Bishops in support of the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

More significantly, however, the archbishop acknowledged the relatively miniscule role of the 1.25 million member Church of England within the worldwide 80 million member Anglican Communion. In the vast majority of provinces, the question of the definition of marriage is not an issue. Many of the provinces, particularly in the Global South, see the controversy in England, the United States, and other western provinces as not only unnecessary but embarrassing.

"I have to look at the whole Communion, not just this country," Welby said. "Realistically, there are 80 million Anglicans around the world and inevitably, and quite rightly, their voice has to be heard."
This sounds, on the surface, like a refreshing change from Welby's predecessor, Rowan Williams, who continued to maintain ties with the errant provinces in North America despite vocal protests from the Global South. On a deeper level, however, Welby's comments must be taken with caution. As the spiritual leader of 80 million Christians worldwide who identify with the Anglican tradition, he ought rightly be expected to address the issue at hand, the definition of marriage, from a biblical, historical, and sacramental perspective. Merely restating a position paper from the Church of England House of Bishops does not come close to fulfilling this expectation.

There would be, of course, political implications should the institution of marriage be redefined in Great Britain (not to mention the United States or any other western nation). However, the deeper issue for Welby is the spiritual consequences for a nation which willfully, and arrogantly, thumbs its nose at the law of God. If the new archbishop wishes to be a true shepherd to his flock, in fact and not just in name, he should use the spiritual prestige of his office to shift the conversation away from false notions of "equality" and "tolerance" and toward real notions of reverence for God and the social order which he has ordained.

To benighted politicians like David Cameron, Archbishop Welby should issue a gentle but firm admonition that a fallen world does not redeem itself by giving in to its very fallenness. Redemption comes only through surrendering to Christ and following him obediently, even to the cross. It may be asking too much of a politician to make such a sacrifice. It is not asking too much of the spiritual leader of 80 million Anglicans, however, to take up his cross and boldly proclaim the only message that will save England, America, and every nation, tribe, people, and tongue.

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