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.


Why We Don’t Pray For The Dead

Recently I came across an article written on Anglican Pastor by a fellow Anglican Priest entitled Why We Pray for the Dead.

What surprised me was not only his endorsement of the practice, but the implication behind the title that it is normal Anglican practice to do pray either for the dead or to the dead. Also there is no evidence that it was practiced by the early church, not until the middle of the second century.

Here are 10 reasons why we are not to pray for the dead:

1. There is no Scriptural support for praying to anyone other than God. None.
2.There is no Scripture support when it comes to praying to Christians who have died. None!
3. To pray to dead Christians, (asking them to intercede for us) is to give them attributes that only God has. (If every Christian prayed to dead Saints, then those dead saints must have the ability to hear all the prayers of Christians at once – this is a quality only our Triune God has).
4. Praying to dead Christians may be an ancient practice, but this does not authenticate the practice. An old error whilst old, is still an error.
5. The practice is inconsistent with the Anglican formularies.The practice was bound up with particular medieval Catholic doctrines and practices which the Reformers strongly rejected and Cranmer, having kept such prayers in the 1549 Prayer Book, removed them totally from the 1552 revision.The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is, of course, largely the text of 1552, but in one definite difference is in this prayer. Thus today, unlike in 1552, we pray:

“And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of they heavenly kingdom”.

The phrase ‘that with them’ is seized upon and taken by some to mean that we are praying for both us and the ‘departed’. But this is to distort the plain meaning of the English language and the prayer.
6. Whilst I agree that those who have died in Christ are not in Heaven,(Heaven being the place where soul and body is reunited again) but are in Hades (the place of interval), there is no need to pray for them.Those who are in paradise are walking with the King – enjoying the Lord Jesus, in his paradise with the wonderful joyous indescribable expectation of at a future point in time (when the Lord Jesus returns) of being inside the Father’s house, the place that has been reserved and prepared for them personally by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who have died outside of Christ will be in the King’s prison segregated and separated from the Lord Jesus Christ and from his people and will suffer remorse and regret of knowing that the life that had on earth is over, and that there is no altering of their choice in life to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, and with that the horrifying, agonisingly indescribable expectation of a future point in time (when the Lord Jesus returns ) of being cast into the Father’s garbage tip, the place that has been reserved and prepared for the Devil and his angels.
Thus praying for those whom have died does nothing to alter their destination. It is fixed at death. This is why Scripture is clear that we are to pray to God for the living.
7. Whilst all Anglicans state their belief in the Communion of Saints, what we are saying is that we believe that the catholic (World-wide, universal) church is made up of a spiritual communion or fellowship of Christians, including those who are alive (sometimes referred to as “the church militant,” cf. 1 Cor. 12:1ff) and those who have died (sometimes referred to as “the church triumphant,” cf. Heb. 12:1).
Those who have died in Christ are now with Christ ,whereas those who are alive in Christ on earth worship Christ by faith. What unites us is that both are in Christ and are part of His Church. This does not give us warrant to pray for them.
8. How can such prayers be faithful to justification by grace through faith in Christ alone and the reality that “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9.27-28)?
9. The practice of praying to the dead and/or for the dead is inconsistent with not only the Scriptures, the BCP but also with the 39 Articles. (see Article XXII)

Article XXII
Of Purgatory
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping, and Adoration as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

10. The Homily on Prayer also roundly condemns the practice of prayer for the dead

So in essence, praying to the dead and/or for the dead, may be an ancient practice, but it has no Scriptural support, it is inconsistent with the Scriptures, the theology of the BCP, and the 39 Articles. In fact Scripture, the theology of the BCP and the 39 Articles make it abundantly clear that we are to not pray for the dead.

Email From The Global Anglican Integrity Commission


Today I received an email today from some group calling itself GAIC, which apparently stands for the Global Anglican Integrity Commission.




Subject: 2016 encouragement

Dear Anglican clergy,

Here is the 2016 encouragement to all Anglican clergy. Sorry it has taken so long to send out this year’s email. We have been so snowed under here of late.


GAIC (Global Anglican Integrity Commission)

Beloved Bishops,  

Well another year! Another year given to us by Our Great God! Another year of opportunity for you to be faithful in prayer, diligent in the study of the Holy Scriptures so that you may be equipped to teach and encourage, and another year to proclaim to the gospel to all. Sadly it is also another year where you will have correct and set aside teaching that is contrary to the mind of Christ, both privately and publicly, urging all to live according to God’s Word.

Another year…where each day you will put aside all ungodly and worldly behaviour, and live modestly, in justice and godliness, so that by your life and example you may commend Christ’s truth. We want you to be encouraged! You have God’s Word. You know that you are not unequipped for this task. Remember at your ordination Bishops, you said you are convinced:

that the Holy Scriptures contain all doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and that with God’s help you will instruct from them the people committed to your care, teaching nothing as essential to salvation which cannot be demonstrated from the Scriptures.

Here at GAIC, we know full well the gravity of this responsibility that is placed in your care, but be encouraged! Remember God has revealed his truth to you, which you firmly and sincerely believe. Remember you said:

I firmly and sincerely believe the Catholic Faith and I give my assent to the doctrine of the Anglican Church (insert province) as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons: I believe that doctrine to be agreeable to the Word of God;

Another year…

Beloved Priests,

Well another year…to live and work as a priest, pastor and teacher for God’s glory and the strengthening of God’s people, of taking up your calling with dedication and joy, of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, seeking the lost, announcing God’s justice.

Sadly as you know, Scripture tells us that in these last days many will set aside healthy doctrine and will turn to myths, so it will be another year of warning and correcting those in error. But we know that you are ready to do this because at your ordination you said you will by God’s grace:

both in your public and private ministry oppose and set aside teaching that is contrary to God’s Word.

But keep on encouraged and building up the body of Christ, preach the Word of God, lead God’s people in prayer, declare God’s forgiveness and blessing.

Another year of pastoring after the pattern of Christ the great Shepherd. So be a teacher by the Lord in wisdom and holiness. Lead the people of God as a servant of Christ. Love and serve the people with whom you work, caring alike for young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong.

Another year of studying the Scriptures wholeheartedly, reflecting with God’s people upon their meaning, so that your ministry and life may be shaped by Christ.

We understand how great a treasure has been placed in your care and we both know that you will be called to give account before Jesus Christ. But be encouraged! You have openly declared your conviction that the holy Scriptures contain all doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and you have also declared your determination to instruct from these Scriptures the people committed to your care, teaching nothing as essential to salvation which cannot be demonstrated from the Scriptures.

Another year…unknown

Beloved Deacons,

Well another year…to live and work as a deacon, to serve as an ambassador for Christ, serving God and others, proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ love., to encourage the members of Christ’s body by word and example, to preach the Word of God in the place to which you are licensed.

We understand the responsibility placed on you dear deacons. After all, you are to model your life according to the Word of God, study the Scriptures, reflecting with God’s people upon their meaning., that all may be equipped to live out GOd’s truth in the world. But be encouraged! You have God’s Word, which you have stated publicly at your ordination that you:

accept the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as give by the Spirit to convey in many and varied ways the revelation of God which is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another year…another year to live out the convictions, oaths and promises that you made at your ordination.


GAIC (Global Anglican Integrity Commission)