Letter to the Editor
Should I Stay, or Should I Go – Another View?
The Revd Dr Mark Pickles makes some pertinent points in the E.C. (Numbers: 8088 & 8089) Dr Pickles main argument is to stay on and fight in the CofE. Is he really saying the 2000 remarkable men of God, who left in 1662, were not fighters? Is he implying that any who have left, in living memory, were not as committed, as they should have been? He doesn’t need to answer. Scripture and Conscience answer for us.
Dr Pickles reasons, regardless of what others believe or practice, we should join a mixed denomination, and seek to win it to our own position. Really? Is this the best way to do evangelism? To build up churches? To introduce them to poison from spiritual infancy? Should godly pastors be encouraging godly lay-people to join anything that is ungodly As I discovered, numerous times, evangelism, and much else, felt flat when the Diocesan Bishop gave the popular answer, when all I was trying to do was give the biblical one.
Then again, how can you draw a parallel between a New Testament Church and the Church of England? There is not the slightest comparison between an apostate denomination and a local vibrant New Testament Church. Also, we under-shepherds are a faint reflection of Jesus. He alone knows how to care for the scattered lambs, or gather the straying sheep. We leave the sheep to Him when He calls us to another church. Are we telling the Lord that He does not know how to take care of His own? If they are His own, they will hear, they will know, they will follow the true Shepherd, the only Bishop and Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25)
Quoting John Piper is not really a very good argument. Is he placed to comment? I would love to see him in action in an average Church of England parish. I remember well when Dr John Stott came to preach in the large Nottingham Church, where I worshipped regularly, and from where I went to Oak Hill College (1964-68). John could not cope with the noisy, inarticulate, unresponsive, congregation he had to address, and humbly confessed so to the Vicar, in my presence. The Vicar himself, a very fine man, seceded later, suffering an immense breakdown in the process.
I am so grateful for the exposition of Dr Pickles on Jeremiah. The faithful prophet who put up with everything. But he was warned, (Jeremiah 1:17-19). So was I, when I offered for ministry in the Established Church. Yet, Jesus encourages us to move on, if rejected, (Matthew 10:14)… “whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house, or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
The Bishop who ordained me, perjured himself, on the day of my ordination by telling us to accept the Articles of Religion, whether we believed them or not. He gave me a Dutch Roman Catholic Catechism to guide me. When I prepared candidates for Confirmation, to my horror, he turned up worse for drink. Another Bishop, a successor to Bishop J C Ryle, with a decidedly evangelical background, when he discovered I was a conservative evangelical, asked me when I would be leaving his diocese. These were supposed to be my Fathers in God! Eventually, I left and thanked God, for His great grace, love, and provision for my wife and three children. Undeservedly, He mercifully gave to me a wider ministry.
Rt Rev Dr J Barry Shucksmith FRSA, Royal Navy (Rtd)