Church of England is ‘standing on the brink of a precipice’

“As the General Synod of the Church of England gathered once again in London on Friday, Rev Ian Paul, a member of the Archbishops’ Council challenged the agenda in forceful terms.

Suggesting that Synod had made ‘avoiding reality a bit of an art form,’ he claimed that the Church of England is ‘standing on the brink of a precipice’. A precipice which could leave the next generation with nothing but a ‘heap of ruins’ to fight over. …”

Susie Leafe writes at Christian Today.

See Ian Paul’s challenge last Friday (link should go to 01:31:28 in the video).

“The Church of England – a heap of ruins for the next generation.”

The Distorting Power of the Prosperity Gospel

“No one wants to suffer. In my culture, and in most African cultures, suffering is seen as a sign of bad luck; or proof that you did something wrong. Interestingly that was exactly the same thinking as Job’s friends. For example, Eliphaz says this about Job’s situation: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” (Job 4:7-8). His point? The innocent don’t suffer.

Everyone wants their best life now. And most would simply settle for a materially better life too.

This view of suffering explains the success of the prosperity gospel across Africa. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Africa, Thomas Endjala at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary, outlines how the “prosperity gospel” ruins faith.

(Link via Tim Challies.)

Never Again

“Friends in Christ, last Monday evening, together with Bishop Michael Stead and a number of other church leaders, I attended a meeting hosted at the Great Synagogue, but convened by a group of Christians called ‘Never Again is Now’. They are concerned about antisemitism in Australia.

Antisemitism is the expression of hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people. It’s a form of racism, one that is particularly abhorrent, when we remember the impact of the Holocaust under Nazism in Germany before and during World War Two. …”

– In a recent Cathedral newsletter (and published on the Cathedral website), Dean of Sydney Sandy Grant explains why will he attend the Never Again rally 3-4pm on Sunday 18th February.

He also provides a link to the Never Again is Now website.

He Gets (Some Of) Us

“Hello dear reader, been a while but here I am now all agitated about the recent ‘HeGetsUs’ advert that aired during this week’s SuperBowl. It’s already generated considerable discussion in evangelicaldom.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Well watch this…”

David Ould comments on a Super Bowl ad – and then shares an alternative.

The 39 Articles Are A Beautiful Guide To Orthodoxy — If Only The Bishops Agreed

“I’ve recently been in correspondence with a bishop who is quite influential in the process surrounding the Prayers of Love and Faith. It has led to a revealing conversation around Article 26 of the 39 Articles of Faith.

The 39 Articles are a brief and condensed statement of what Anglican Christians believe and teach. The English Reformers compiled these carefully summarised statements of biblical theology to guide and guard our identity in Christ.

Adopted by the Church of England in 1571, the 39 Articles assist believers in thinking, discussing, applying, and sharing “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). These theological principles remain relevant for our spiritual health and maturity as we follow Jesus Christ today.

The discussion arose because a parish passed a resolution …”

This opinion piece at Anglican Futures by “a member of the clergy in the Church of England” is a reminder of the importance of the Articles of Faith, and reading them in context.

See also:

The Thirty Nine Articles.

Living in Love, Faith and Reconciliation: an exercise in bait and switch

“Last week, the lead bishops for Living in Love and Faith process, Rt Revd Helen-Ann Hartley and Rt Revd Martyn Snow set out some of their thinking in a comment piece for the Church TimesLiving in Love, Faith and Reconciliation.

‘We are at a crossroads: either we have reached the point of separation, accepting that different views cannot co-exist within the same Church, or we must shift the debate to the question how we live well with difference. We believe firmly in the latter approach, and, therefore, we are issuing a call for reconciliation and bridge-building.’

Their attempt to ‘reset’ the debate will rest on a number of commitments, which will be brought to General Synod for discussion in February. They have yet to be published – but for once the devil will not be in the detail – but in their purpose and underlying premise …”

This opinion piece at Anglican Futures looks at where ‘reconciliation and bridge-building’ is likely to lead.

And it is yet another reminder to pray for wisdom for faithful believers in the Church of England.

Pray (Don’t Play) Politics

“For many today, politics takes up far too much of our spiritual hard drive. It’s become an obsession.

Praying to the King of kings (on behalf of our president, senators, and other government officials) helps to reorder our hearts.. …”

– You don’t need to be following the U.S. election cycle to benefit from this encouragement from Brandon Cooper at The Gospel Coalition.

See also:

“…the task of the Christian is not first to understand prayer, though may be a very good thing, and not first to solve prayer, which I suspect is an impossible thing. Rather, the Christian is to pray, knowing that part of the beauty of prayer is that even if we aren’t confident in how prayer works, we can have confidence in the one who tells us to pray. Even if we haven’t resolved the dilemmas and solved the mysteries, we can trust the one who issues the command and who insists that he hears and responds to our prayers. Our task, our calling, and our joyful duty is to pray.”

It’s Okay To Just Pray – Tim Challies.

The T. B. Joshua Story points to a problem in many churches

“The recent expose by the BBC on the late prophet T. B. Joshua is heart rending.

The reports and eyewitness accounts point to what is without a doubt a massive tragedy on many levels. To witness someone in authority in a church be able to perpetuate so much abuse for so long with complete impunity makes your blood boil. To see the lives of so many people scarred, perhaps for the rest of their lives, cuts to the heart. It puts on full display the ugliness of sin or evil and its power to hide and grow. It should make us all long ever more eagerly for the day of our Lord’s return to judge every lawbreaker and to make all things new.

However, to my mind, one of the greatest tragedies from this saga is that countless similar scandals have happened before in the African church. More so, they’re almost certainly going to happen again. Soon. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Africa, Oyewole Akande in Lagos (pictured) speaks of a problem which is not always confined to Africa.

The crisis of episcopal leadership in the Church of England

“We have a serious crisis in the episcopal leadership of the Church of England. It has more than one dimension to it, and, as with any crisis, it has been a long time coming. If your ceiling caves in because a water leak has weakened the structures, you can be sure that the water has been leaking for some while (as we found out in our kitchen a couple of years ago!). The dimensions of this crisis include questions of role, training and education, and selection and appointment—but also more fundamentally of theological vision.

These questions have been brought into sharp focus by the news, leaked to the BBC, that Paula Vennells, chief executive of the Post Office during the Horizon scandal when 700 postmasters were wrongly convicted of fraud, was shortlisted for the role of Bishop of London, historically the third most senior post after the two archbishops. …

She trained part-time on what was then the Oxford and St Albans course, and appears to have undertaken no further theological study. The idea that someone with so little theological understanding, and absolutely zero experience in stipendiary ministry, could be considered as a candidate for the third most senior position in the Church, is quite astonishing. It indicates a complete loss of faith in the importance of either ministerial experience or theological depth on the part of someone. And it does seem clear that she was put on the short list by Justin Welby…”

– Ian Paul pulls no punches at Psephizo.

Image: Ian Paul speaking at the Church of England’s General Synod in February 2023.

‘Alan Bates vs the Post Office’ contains hard lessons for the Church

Many Australians will be unaware of the huge miscarriage of justice involving the Post Office in the UK, but it’s worth learning what happened when the Post Office decided to protect its ‘good name’:

“More than 700 branch managers were given criminal convictions when faulty accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their sites.

It has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history, with dozens of convictions overturned and many more in line for compensation. …” – BBC Report, 22 March 2022.

Post Office Horizon scandal: ‘It’s broken people’s lives’ — Andrew Bridgen MP – GB News.

The Most Widespread Miscarriage Of Justice’ Mr Bates vs The Post Office – Good Morning Britain.

This article at Premier Christianity warns Churches against doing what the Post Office did.

Link via Anglican Mainstream.

Things I wish I knew about Pastoring a Church when I was young

“I was 28 when I started in full-time ministry as associate pastor in a large Presbyterian church. I was thirty when I was called to pastor a small suburban church on my own.

I made loads of mistakes and learned a lot of things the hard way. I can’t turn back the clock but I can share these lessons. I hope they might help young men who are just starting out.

Most of these thoughts should be read in the category of wisdom or common sense, to be weighed accordingly. …”

– Campbell Markham, the minister of Scots’ Church Fremantle, Western Australia, shares a bunch of helpful reflections – providing food for thought at the end of the  year. It’s at AP, the national journal of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Photo: Moore College, 1956.

The Doctrine That Doesn’t Matter Remains Unchanged

“When the first rites of blessing for same-sex couples came out in the Anglican church, they were accompanied by a lot of bluster about how they were not to be equated with marriage rites and that they did not constitute a change in doctrine.

In 2003, the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in Canada published a form of blessing for same-sex couples. Then-Bishop Ingham made a point to distinguish these blessings from the sacrament of marriage. …”

– At Crisis Magazine, former Episcopalian priest – and now Catholic – James Merrick argues that changing Pastoral Practice might be more significant than changing Doctrine. It’s happened in the Anglican world, and is now happening in the Roman Catholic world.

Photo: Then-Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, in 2002.

What now for those Evangelicals who fled to Rome?

“Where to now for the young evangelicals who left the Reformed faith for the safety and security of Rome? A Rome whose walls would never be breached, we were led to believe, by the ravages of the post-Christian Sexular Age?

The announcement by the Pope that same sex relationships can be blessed by the church raises a serious question for the trickle leading to a flood of evangelicals (often young men, with growing families who wanted to be more crunchy in their faith) who crossed the Tiber.

And where to now for former Church of England bishop, Michael Nasir-Ali, who left for Rome , for similar reasons? What reasons did he give for leaving? Here he is in his own words …”

– Written a couple of days ago, Steve McAlpine asks some valid questions.

See also:

The Icing on the Cake of Pope Francis: the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions – Leonardo De Chirico.

“Don We Now Our Gay Apparel”

“Is the decline in Christianity among Anglican clergy moving pari passu with the decline in Western civilisation? Good question. Indubitably, is the answer. …

Mosques are crowded, churches are emptying. To have any chance of turning the tide, Christianity needs biblically-based priests. Priests like Glenn Davies; Bishop of the breakaway Diocese of the Southern Cross and former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney.”

– In an opinion-piece at Quadrant Online, contributor Peter Smith takes a hard look at what is happening in many parts of the Anglican Church. His article is supplemented by an excerpt from a well-known episode of “Yes, Prime Minister”.

Image from the website of the Anglican Church of Australia.

What is the Good News? A Response to Jayne Ozanne’s Reinterpretation

“I was astonished last week to see that Premier Christianity published what to be frank was just a heretical article from Jayne Ozanne…even more so after my own experience of being cancelled by them lest I upset some people (Why was I Cancelled and Repented for by Premier Christianity?)

They seem to have little difficulty in upsetting biblical Christians! I was not going to respond and then I came across a couple of other Christians who were influenced by Ozanne and did not see a major problem with what she said – so I wrote this piece  – which Christian Today have thankfully published. …

‘But what is this Good News? The Church of England, as the Church of Scotland and much of the rapidly declining mainstream denominations in the West, seem greatly confused. I recall a group of Scottish politicians who had asked a group of “representative” clergy to give advice and how confused they were. ‘You seem to believe in two different religions’ was their accurate observation. Indeed the trumpet has been giving an uncertain sound for many years.

Jayne Ozanne, the former evangelical, who once believed the Good News, has now come to agree with this view that there are two different versions of Christianity which are incompatible with one another. She wrote of this in a revealing article earlier this month. …’

David Robertson responds in his usual helpful way – by drawing us back to the word of God. At The Wee Flea.

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