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),  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 and bypasses theology.

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 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 every one 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.


The Cushion for the Cross


What has gripped me more and more is the reality that to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, to be a learner of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is that these realities can only happen on His terms. The moment we think to follow the Lord Jesus on our terms, we are no longer following him.

The Lord Jesus is so clear about the cost that is involved on part when it comes to following him. Take Luke 9:23

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 23For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Also in Luke 14:27, the Lord Jesus says something very confronting:

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

To understand the Lord Jesus words here, it is helpful to place our minds into the time and place of where he lived.  The Lord Jesus lived in a world that was ruled by the Caesars – by Rome. Crucifixion was a common occurrence, it was the worst form of execution carried out on the worst criminals. To 1st century people of Jesus time and place, the cross was not a symbol of mercy, of grace, of God’s love for us, which is the message it conveys to us. Rather the cross was the symbol of degradation, of excruciating agony, of suffering, of humiliation and death.

The cost of following Jesus is cross carrying – the cost is our death. We are to die to the right we think we have by instinct, choice and desire to live our lives outside of the authority of God; it means dying to living our lives as if we are in charge.

One of the biggest temptations I have seen Christians fall into is to try and minimise what the Lord Jesus is saying and think that the cost is not as great as He says it is. It is adopt the attitude that says to the Lord Jesus, “I will give him my spare change, not just with our money, but give him the spare change of my life”. Where our lifestyles, our priorities, our thinking, our goals, and our timetable are identical to those who are not Christians, except that faith in the Lord Jesus is the add-on to our worldly lifestyles.

This is I believe this is an attempt to carry a cross that is made out of a cushion. Nice and comfy, no sacrifices, no pain, no suffering. It is a middle-class caricature of the cross of the cost of discipleship.

One of my old friends whom I went to Bible college (Seminary) with asked this question on his FB page:

Do you think duty is still considered honourable in the 21st century?

It was a great question and it is one I suspect has arisen from the fact that in Australia anyway, society is shifting more away from duty, honour, obligation and service and more towards individualism, personal rights, consumerism and the desire for community on individual terms (which of course is a paradox). The reason I mention this is that I suspect that sadly these social factors I believe are diluting the call and cost of discipleship. So when churches buy into the values of our culture, they will preach a diluted gospel, with a diluted Jesus, with a cost that is so diluted that the cross we are to carry may as well be a cushion.

We are to swap the cushion for the cross!

And just in case we think the cost is so great. Think about this…the cost that Jesus paid at the cross, so that we could be his disciples. Christ died for us, at the cross he took the punishment we deserve for ignoring God, he became unrighteous so that by grace through faith, we could become righteous. So how can we give The Lord Jesus Christ anything less, than our souls, our lives and our all? How can we not deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him?


A Plea For Real Masculinity

Today I read an article  written by fellow Anglican Priest, Rev Michael Jensen, and I found it very moving and so true. In the West we have masculinity problem – actually not a masculinity problem, but a masculinity crisis. In short: authentic masculinity has become distorted and warped by an ugly evil doppelgänger of sexualised machismo that is fed on a diet of pornography and false entitlement with the assumption that men are God’s gift to women that they must receive. This can be seen more and more in how men are treating women. No doubt we have all seen the news of an American Movie mogul who has been exposed for harassing women. And now we have an Australian former TV presenter being exposed for the same.

I have four children: a son who is almost a man, and three daughters, two of whom are becoming beautiful young women and the youngest who misses nothing. So this issue is close to the bone for me. I want my son to treat women rightly, to treat them with dignity and respect, as equals. I want him to have the sort of masculine traits that if he were to marry, his wife not only know she is loved and safe and cherished, but that she will feel loved, safe, cherished and think she can fly! If my daughters are to marry, I want them to marry men who will do the same for them.

I know this beautiful quote, but sadly, I think has been forgotten in our culture. In fact I don’t know if it was ever remembered:

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as true strength.” – Saint Francis de Sales

Our culture must own this quote! Real strength is not found in how many beers one can sink, how many hours one spends watching and talking about sport, how many kilos you can bench, nor how many abdominal muscles you can see in the mirror. It is not found in treating women as conduits for your own sexual gratification, it is not found in assuming that you are God’s gift to women, nor it is found in driving around in a car yelling out crude comments to girls.

Men, as a gender, we need to repent. We need to repent of replacing masculinity with machismo, repent of oscillating between being whiny tyrants who harass women when they don’t show interest in us we think they should. We as a gender need to repent of oscillating between being passive boofheads who won’t stand to give up their seat for a woman, who don’t protect women when they are in trouble, who don’t show women the respect, dignity and manners that they are entitled to; and being tyrants who intimidate women by our misuse of distorted strength (be it of muscle, voice or personality).

Men – we need to show strength in our gentleness and gentleness in our strength. Our strength has been given to us by God, and when it comes to the women in our lives, cherish them, love them, and show the wings that they have.

And finally, men, as a gender, we need to humble ourselves before the ultimate real man, the only man in history who is perfect, the only man in history who treated all people perfectly, the only man who loved God perfectly, the only man in history who offers and can actually give us the masculinity that our sin has abandoned, that our culture has warped, and ironically, the masculinity that all men long to have. And that man is none other than Jesus Christ. For he is the one who at the cross died not only to remove the guilt of sin, but also to remove the effects of sin. He is the only one who can give us the identity that us men have lost, the masculinity us have distorted, the self-control that we have forgotten. He is the one who will complete us as men. He is the one who can restore our manhood again.

So, men – please… please… ditch the machismo. Ditch the false entitlement, the false bravado that tries to convince ourselves and other men that we are ok. We are not ok. God wants us to be real men, strong yet gentle men, gentle yet strong men. So men, be real men, be God’s men, be Jesus’ men. For he is the ultimate source of real masculinity, of gentleness in strength and strength in gentleness.