Planet Anglican

Mike Raiter – The Missing Jesus

I had to the pleasure to here Mike speak at our Diocesan Clergy Conference a few years ago. I also had him lead one of my post Grad subjects on preaching at Ridley College. This week in Jerusalem, Mike preached a terrific sermon at GAFCON.

“We need to proclaim Christ to the Churches!”


What’s the Go With Lent?


Once again Lent is upon us. I realise that many people in the Church today don’t observe Lent and perhaps don’t even know what it is about. So in this post I am answering the questions:
1. What is Lent and why observe it?
2. How does one observe Lent?
3. Should I observe Lent?

1. What is Lent and why observe it? – Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter that focuses on three things, (i) Self Examination; (ii) Prayer; (iii) Repentance.
Historically, Christians who have observed Lent view this 40 day period with the mindset that says “I am going to go into battle against sin in my life”. Now I realise that when many Christians who are from non-traditional Anglican churches (or non-liturgical church) hear this they understandably ask the question: “Why set aside 40 days for Self Examination; Prayer; and Repentance when these are things that Christians should be focusing on all year round?

The reason why I observe Lent and look forward to Lent is that although it is absolutely true that Self Examination; Prayer; and Repentance are things that Christians should be focusing on all year round, they are not always done consistently by me all year round, due to tiredness, laziness, and due to plain old fashioned pride.

I find Lent very helpful in that it provides me a platform and the opportunity to be more deliberate and intentional when it comes to self examination, prayer and repentance. And although Scripture is silent when it comes to Lent, it is certainly not silent when it comes to these three things.

2. How does one observe Lent? – Christians that I know whom observe Lent often give up things in order to be more focussed on repentance. I know one bloke who told me that he gave up Chocolate for Lent. My view is that it is only worth giving things up that serve to hinder your repentance and your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, thus giving up Chocolate is only worth giving up if it is causing you to sin! Lent is a good time to pray, asking God our Father to show us those sins that we are not dealing with, or those habitual sins that keep revisiting us and discourage us. Use Lent to give these up, during Lent a good move may be to acquire an accountability partner; a godly Christian whom you trust who can ask you how you are going during the next 40 days, someone who will pray for you specifically during those 40 days. And when Lent finishes continue to not sin in the area that God has convicted you about.

Lent is also a time to start something that you should be doing that you are not doing. For example in a previous parish where I served some years ago there was not a strong culture of mid week Bible Study groups, so I encourage the congregation to give up something for Lent that they are currently not doing – “give up not reading the Bible, give up not praying”. So I started a Lenten Bible Study Group. What was great about this is that people who normally didn’t study the Bible came to the group and when Lent finished at Easter, after Easter the Lenten Bible study group continued.

3. Should I observe Lent? I think that Lent is a one of those things that in itself is neither right nor wrong. As I said earlier, Scripture is silent in regards to Lent, so God’s people are free to observe it or not observe it. But I would only say this to you:
If you are struggling with a persistent sin in your life, a habitual sin, a sin that you think you have conquered that keeps returning, if you are struggling with praying and reading the Bible consistently, why not give Lent a crack? You just may find that Lent and the emphasis that it brings is just what you have been needing.

So it is my prayer that if you decide to observe Lent that it will be a wonderful special time of blessing for you, that God will use these 40 days to mould and shape you more and more into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ!
p.s Here is a great Lenten Study Book, ‘Shadows of the Cross’.

Fudging Anglican Unity

Today I encountered an article that was rather concerning. It was written by Dr. Winfield Bevins, and posted on Anglican Pastor entitled, “Whatever happened to the Anglican Via Media?”.  It is in essence it is a plea for Anglican unity.  The article I found to be concerning in that:

1. The definition of the Via Media offered in this piece is theologically inaccurate. The Anglican Church is Protestant and Reformed, as evidenced by the theology of the BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles. The definition of Via Media being between Rome and Canterbury was coined by the Tractarians (who were trying to justify their attempt reshaping Anglicanism into the image of Roman Catholicism.)

2. The Promotion of a theologically ‘multi-streamed’ Anglicanism.  One would be at great pains to see how the BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles endorse the notion that one can be theologically Evangelical; or theologically Liberal, or theologically Anglo-Catholic or theologically Charismatic and all four can claim to be authentically Anglican

3. The Promotion of false unity – The unity promoted by Bevins is not true unity, it is organisational unity that stresses unity based on the least common denominator, the term ‘Anglican’ (whatever you hold that to be), i.e. the thing that we can all agree on, which is “We are all Anglicans”.

It reminds of how some years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury in a conversation with the Church Of Ireland Gazette, stated he saw the Anglican Church in North America as being (in his words):“a fellow member of the church of Christ in the world,” but added the “ACNA is a separate church. It is not part of the Anglican Communion.” His comments are indicative of the thinking that defines being an Anglican organisationally and institutionally rather than theologically.

This article has done the same thing. Instead of the basis of unity being the Scriptures, the BCP, the ordinal the 39 Articles and the creeds, the basis is now something else entirely, a new focal point of unity and what that something else is, is labelled ‘Anglican.

For example Bevins states:

Regardless of which camp you are in, Anglicans are united in the essential “catholic” doctrines of the Christian faith. 

I would stop him and there say, “Yes and the essential ‘catholic’ doctrines are those expressed in the BCP, the Ordinal, and the BCP, which are Protestant and Reformed”

However further on writes:

The Catholic, Evangelical, Broad, and Charismatic divide is just the beginning of the diversity within Anglicanism.

This leads me to ask the question, why would the ABC, Benfields or any Anglican define being Anglican in such a way that it leads to the Scriptures, the BCP, the 39 Articles and the creeds being bypassed?

Sadly I suspect the reason is one of avoidance.

Shifting the focal point of Anglican Unity from the BCP, the Ordinal, the 39 Articles and the Creeds will:

  • Avoid accountability. It will ensure that no-one within the Anglican Church will have their theology and praxis critiqued in light of Scripture, the BCP, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles. It means that those within the Anglican Communion whose theology and praxis is aberrant will not be accountable.
  • Avoid offending people; particularly Bishops, Priests, Deacons and to some extend laity within the Anglican Communion whose theology and praxis are dissonant from the Scriptures, the BCP and the 39 Articles.
  • Avoid having to actually deal with the white elephant in the room – that within the Anglican Communion we have very different belief systems in operation, with incompatible views of what the Gospel is; the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and regarding the authority of the Scriptures.

So if an Anglican church has a priest who believes that the Holy Spirit is a woman, whose Bishop that declares Jesus death was not propitiatory, an Archdeacon who believes Jesus resurrection was not physical, the Rector’s Warden who believes that there is no need for repentance, the Vestry who believe that all are saved and one can live how they like as long as they are faithful to their own spiritual journey (however they define their journey); the Assistant Curate who believes that the Scriptures are not the Word of God written; the postulant who thinks that the 39 Articles are really just the 39 Artifacts; none of this matters. ‘Anglicans’ can continue to thumb their nose at the Scriptures, the BCP, the Ordinal, the Creeds, and in good conscience say they are a true Anglicans and are all united as Anglicans because “this is just the beginning of the diversity within Anglicanism”.

This diversity is in reality one big fudge, for the only way it will be maintained is by no-one saying anything about anything or by saying that everyone is correct, which sadly is what this article is saying.

The Principal of Sydney’s Moore Theological College, the Rev Dr Mark Thompson wrote:

The Anglican Church has always been confessional in nature, as witnessed by the history of subscription to the Articles, which began in the time of Cranmer and continues around the world today.

Long may this continue!

As Andrew Brashier says in his very good response to Bevins entitled Holding the Centre, or Moving Goalposts:

As to teachings that go beyond the boundaries of our common center we must state in unison, thus far and no further.

Could not say it better myself.