Anglican Futures: Anglican Alphabet Spaghetti

Anglican Futures Anglican Alphabetti Spaghetti A dummies guide to the plethora of organisations and acronyms linked to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe. I once spent some time around military personel.  Everything had its own TLA (Three Letter Acronym) right...

Canterbury Tales: Favourite Bible Stories Retold by Archbishop Justin Welby

Canterbury Tales Favourite Bible stories retold by Archbishop Justin Welby The Good Samaritan A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead, halfway...

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) met in Synod on 18 June.  While there, they elected two suffragan bishops to aid Bishop Andy Lines in providing episcopal oversight for the overall work.  Bishop Lines also...

Pride Flags Causing Conflict at Christian School

Pride Flags Cause Conflict at Christian School Conflict has broken out in a Christian school in Oxfordshire over the display of “Pride” flags. The institution in question is Kingham Hill School.  The same Trust (Kingham Hill Trust) oversees Oak Hill College, an...

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers The Prayer Book Society, which will soon celebrate its 50th Anniversary, is raising funds to put a special edition BCP into the hands of junior choristers around the nation.   The idea came to...

Book Review: Reimagining Britain by Justin Welby

Reimagining Britain Foundations for Hope Justin Welby Bloomsbury, 2018, new edn. 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-4729-8497-5, 322pp, £12.99) The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several notable political interventions recently, including over ‘partygate’ and the Rwanda deportation...

Birthday of Anglicanism in America

Birthday of Anglicanism in America By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins June 16, 1607 was the birthday of Anglicanism in America. On this day Captain John Smith and 104 others celebrated the Lord’s Supper when they arrived safely in Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was the...

Barnabas Fund Report: Two ChiBok Girls Found

Barnabas Fund Reports Two Chibok Girls Found After 8 Years 24 June 2022 Two women, who were among hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the Nigerian town of Chibok eight years ago, have been found. Hauwa Joseph was discovered among a group of other...

New Bishop-elect for the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory

Church of Ireland News New Bishop Elected for Cashel, Ferns & Ossory The Church of Ireland diocese of Cashel, Ferns, and Ossory now has a bishop-elect.  The Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross was elected to succeed the Rt Revd Michael...

Editorial: Lessons to be Learned from the American Pro-Life Movement

Editorial Lessons to be Learned from American Pro-Life Movement Friday, 24 June 2022, the Feast of St John the Baptist, will be a date which will live in infamy amongst the supporters of abortion.  On that date, the US Supreme Court, overturned the precedent set by...

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism: The Vital Importance of the Best Possible Training Part 2

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism

The Vital Importance of the Best Possible Training Part 2

By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles

The reality is that no one comes to look at a biblical text ‘neutrally’. We are finite creatures with finite minds that are not able to know all truth exhaustively, and we are sinners whose minds have been affected by sin. Furthermore, we have all been shaped and influenced by our culture, including our particular ‘theological culture’ and tradition, all of which affects us as we come to look at a text. We all have a theological framework, a theological ‘system’, even if we are not aware of it, in fact the less aware of it we are the more likely we may be to distort the text. 

An awareness of my own presuppositions and theological system ought to help me be more faithful in interpreting the text. If the plain reading of the text, when read in the light of Scripture as a whole, simply cannot be reconciled with my theological presuppositions, then it may well be that I have not understood the text properly; but it may be that my system needs to change in the light of Scripture, which always remains the ultimate authority. 

Proper theological training allows you the time and the resources to construct your systematic theology; it exposes you to other interpretations and other traditions within evangelicalism, as well as in the wider world. For good reasons, this may not be possible for all, but full-time training provides the best opportunity to equip future ministers for a life-time of faithful, enduring and resilient gospel-ministry: 

• We live and minister in an increasingly secular and diverse culture that is either hostile or indifferent to the Christian faith. 

• The Church of England’s role and influence in society and nation may be declining, but it still presents unique opportunities – albeit with challenges – to navigate that relationship well for the gospel. 

• Within the denomination, there is the on-going battle over competing ‘theologies’ and false teaching. 

• Not only is our culture becoming increasingly diverse and complex, but the speed at which it is changing is also accelerating. 

• The task of proclaiming the biblical gospel in this present day context requires more of a faithful gospel minister today than previously because of the complexity of the culture that we want to reach with the gospel. 

• To be effective and faithful ‘gospel-practitioners’ we need to know, understand, experience and appropriate the gospel of grace in our own daily lives, and we need to understand the propensity of the sinful human heart towards a default legalism, and its knee-jerk reaction towards antinomianism, and navigate through it. 

• Faithful biblical ministry over many years is a battle that sadly spews out its casualties from time to time. 

For these reasons alone, we need to be as well-equipped as we possibly can be. 

In Oak Hill College’s booklet “The Best Possible Gift”, Tim Keller writes: 

“Today preachers have to present truth to people from several diverse cultures all at once, and to those who are considerably more ignorant of the Bible and more hostile to its authority than a generation ago. Leadership of any institution, including churches requires more communication and organisational skill than in the past. People’s personal problems are more complex. Over my forty years of pastoral ministry, I’ve come to the conclusion that ministers need more comprehensive and exacting theological education today than when I came into the work”73 

The greater the task, the greater the reason for the best possible training. 

“Applying the words of Jesus’ parable, the culture we live in now is the soil where we are sowing the seeds of the gospel. What is the best way to plant those seeds so they produce the best possible harvest? Next year, the soil may be different. The challenges we face change all the time and it could be that other religions, aggressive secularism and the problems of social media will give way to a different set of problems. That’s why a good theological education not only trains you to think incisively about particular issues, it trains you to think, full stop. It enables you to apply your thinking flexibly and become, under God, a positive and dynamic resource for the church into the future”74 

Brain surgeons and heart surgeons will train for many years to be properly equipped to perform operations where people’s lives are at stake. In gospel ministry, people’s eternal lives are at stake. Our whole approach to training ought to be not ‘what is the minimum required so I can be adequately equipped for the task?’ but rather ‘what is the best possible training available to me so I can be as well-equipped as possible?’ 

Excerpted by permission from Gospel-Driven Anglicanism, the Revd Dr Mark Pickles, 2017; pages 104-106.