David Virtue Interviews Chuck Collins
Regular readers of the English Churchman get to see the work of Chuck Collins in almost every edition. Here is a portion of an interview he did with the Anglican journalist, David Virtue. The full interview can be found on the (www.virtueonline.org) website.
VOL: Chuck, you are not a household Anglican name yet, but you have emerged as a serious theological player in the Anglican blogosphere. What prompted this?
COLLINS: Ha! I don’t care about being a household name at this stage of my life, and the thought of being a “serious theological player” is a completely undeserved compliment. Thank you! The truth is that Reformation Anglicanism has very serious scholarly proponents, here and around the world, but only a few popular voices. I love this tradition that is grounded in Holy Scripture, and that’s preserved in the Edwardian and Elizabethan Settlement, and Anglican’s historic formularies. I sometimes describe Anglicanism as a Protestant expression that is thoroughly biblical, theologically reformed, pastorally generous, and liturgically beautiful. I write and speak about these things because the expression that I hear from many Anglican pulpits and seminaries, and even from church leaders, has no real tie to traditional Anglicanism. And I fear that one of the casualties, perhaps the biggest casualty, in the confusion over our identity is the gospel itself: justification by grace through faith alone as God’s free gift for undeserving sinners. I simply want to encourage anyone who will listen to continue in a gospel-centered expression of our Anglican heritage.
VOL: By way of introduction, perhaps you could tell us about yourself. Your spiritual journey, your education, family history and some personal theological insights that have brought you to this point today.
COLLINS: Thanks for asking. I was raised in the Episcopal Church, but I came to faith in my early college days by watching a TV preacher one Sunday morning hit me over the head with “Do you know Jesus?” I was something of a hippy and an anti-war protester back then, living in a house trailer out in the desert, and as a philosophy major, a devout follower of Hermann Hesse and Sylvia Plath. But somehow God got through to me that day and changed my life forever. You talk about God being kind to the ungrateful and the wicked! I began to read the Bible and I went back to church to find all that all the old church stuff was suddenly very meaningful.
VOL: You have a blog on the website for the Center for Reformation Anglicanism (www.anglicanism.info/blog), when and why did you start this?
COLLINS: Because I wasn’t hearing anyone speaking for classical Anglicanism. Not on a popular level. I was mostly hearing a pick-n-choose buffet of Anglican novelties that have little connection to the touchstone of our formularies: the Thirty-nine Articles, the two books of Homilies, and the Book of Common Prayer (1662). I didn’t recognise Anglicanism as it is portrayed these days with the “three streams” vocabulary. I also feel that what is sadly lost in the confusion over Anglican identity is the gospel of God’s grace to undeserving sinners, justification by grace through faith alone. The Anglican expression that I am excited to subscribe to, the only one I believe that offers the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, has a low anthropology and very high christology, and clearly distinguishes law and gospel. I hope my blog and offerings contribute positively to the ongoing discussion about our Anglican identity.
VOL: I’ve seen you write on the “three streams” that is so popular in the ACNA these days. This is even pretty prominent on the ACNA website. What are your thoughts?
COLLINS: Yes, the idea that there are three equally weighted traditions (catholic, protestant, and charismatic) that merge to form Anglicanism is certainly well-intentioned, but it is a lie, and it contributes to the confusion about our Anglican identity. It may sound great, but it has no support in our history. I say this fully aware that it was the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church that helped me to Christ, and I have a deep love for the catholic tradition of our church fathers. The idea of “three streams” wasn’t even invented until the 1950s and it has, unfortunately, been used to divert our attention away from the real source of our Anglican identity: the primacy of Holy Scripture as God’s inspired word that contains all things necessary for salvation.