Thank you very much for the fine Editorial (Issue No. 8086). It is always good to be reminded of the true position of the Church of England, as received from the English Reformers. It was also refreshing to read Rev. John Dunn’s excellent letter and analysis of the weakness of contemporary Anglican Evangelicals, to say nothing of the appalling inability of General Synod, apparently to arrive at any resolution of a truly biblical nature.
When I commenced ordination training at Oak Hill College in 1964, evangelicals would have argued the case for their own position and all others being out of step. By the mid-60s, ‘Keele and all that followed’ destroyed the very platform on which evangelicals stood. The Church of England was now accepted, warts and all, for what it had become with the passage of time, a true home for Tractarians, Liberals and various shades of Evangelicalism. Some older Evangelicals, who had worked within the constraints of their own parishes and avoided the weaknesses of a more comprehensive, compromised approach, held firm. However, the younger fraternity sallied forth, with considerable sincerity, no doubt, but also with naïveté, to save the Anglican ship from sinking and to steer her home safely to Port. Now, with the ship’s funnels no longer visible, the vessel is totally compromised, and beyond saving. 1993-94, when women were ordained, was the watershed. So many evangelicals supported the world’s agenda, not the Lord’s.
To my mind, it seems we have also forgotten the very important principle of a reformed church. It must be both reformed and reforming. This involves, as the Reformers understood, using the instrument of godly discipline. This instrument is in the hands of the Bishops. Who is going to remove the present house of Bishops, some of whom are practising homosexuals, and most of whom do not perceive Holy Scripture to be the sole and final authority in all issues of faith and practise? Who is going to hand all the women priests, especially the women bishops, their redundancy notice? Tragically, not only did evangelicals go along with the new innovation of women priests, but promoted it for themselves and their churches.
Why is the Church of England dying? Why is it in such an appalling condition? Could it be just possible that the Lord God Almighty has withdrawn from it altogether, and the ordination of women priests was its watershed, when the church voted for a secular agenda, rather than one in accordance with His infallible Word? Rev. John Dunn is right. General Synod offers no way forward, just more confusion. More seriously, perhaps God has actually cursed the National Church, for its multiple unfaithfulness to Him, and to His infallible Word? After all, men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
Separation, however that is perceived, or enacted, may be the only answer, to retain a conscience void of offence toward God and men (Acts 24:16). One thing is absolutely certain, to obey God’s Word, above all else, cannot fail. Jesus said so (5:18ff, 24:25). “This book, which is the Word of God, the most precious jewel, the most holy relic that remaineth upon earth…” (Thomas Cranmer).
Rt Rev Dr J Barry Shucksmith, FRSA,