Gospel-Driven Anglicanism

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child… and a Church to Raise an Ordinand 

By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles

This book was written as a plea to those who might be considering full-time gospel ministry, to encourage them to pursue that ministry within the Church of England. That is its narrower focus and context. However, that will only be truly effective if it is placed within a wider perspective with a wider focus. There is a proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. For our purposes today we might say, “It takes a church to raise an ordinand”. Therefore this final chapter has been written specifically for members of local Anglican churches, incumbents, PCCs and Church Wardens. 

However, its purpose is not just to encourage local churches to be intentional in praying for and seeking to raise up more full-time gospel ministers. More importantly and foundationally, its purpose is to encourage local Anglican churches to be more wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and convictionally Anglican and to be actively involved in pursuing the renewal and reform of the Church of England. 

Some evangelical Anglican churches, rightly committed to the proclamation of the gospel and the faithful exposition of the Word of God, sit lightly to their Anglicanism and simply get on with the work of evangelism, discipleship and pastoral care. Others, perhaps, as they view the national scene, listen to some of the debates of General Synod or the occasional pronouncements of some Anglican leaders, feel dispirited and discouraged about the Church of England, and so direct their energies towards the life and ministry of the local church, ignoring and being indifferent to the denomination as a whole. This can be further fuelled by an ecclesiology that is ‘congregational’ rather than Anglican, believing that there is little, if any biblical significance in the inter-dependence of churches, or a denomination. 

It is also the case, of course, that many evangelical Anglican churches have congregation members who have joined a particular local Anglican church not out of Anglican convictions but because it just happens to be the nearest local church where the Bible is faithfully taught and the gospel clearly preached. Our unity in the gospel is paramount; we do not and must not claim that Anglicanism is the only expression of biblical Christianity. It is entirely right and appropriate that they are welcomed in the church fellowship, but this also provides an opportunity to explain the historic basis of faith of the Church of England and how that is rooted in Scripture. There are many evangelicals who quite simply have never heard of a biblical rationale for the doctrine and practices of the Church of England. 

Whilst an evangelical Anglican congregation might be quite mixed, there is, however, a great need for Anglican incumbents to be passionately and convictionally Anglican. We need incumbents who warmly embrace our theological and historical heritage and are confident about its biblical basis. We need incumbents who are not defensive or hesitant about Anglicanism but rather will encourage congregational members that we can be rightly ‘proud’ of our heritage and confident about its biblical basis. A weakness within evangelical Anglicanism is a lack of awareness of, or understanding of, the biblical and theological nature of historic Anglicanism. If we do not know and cherish this, it will foster an indifference to the denomination and undermine any motivation for praying and working towards the renewal and revival of the denomination. 

There is a world of difference between being an ‘accidental Anglican’ and a ‘convictional Anglican’. There is a difference between being an Anglican for pragmatic reasons -– because for the most part you are able to get on with gospel ministry with doors of opportunity being open for you -– and being an Anglican because you have a deep conviction that at its best “historic Anglicanism offers, the richest, fullest expression of biblical Christianity that the world has ever seen”

One of the main emphases of this book is not only to argue that historic Anglicanism is thoroughly biblical, but more than that, to encourage a love for and enthusiasm for a full-orbed historic Anglicanism. Anglican ministers who are deeply and passionately persuaded of that will have an extra dimension –- even depth -– to their ministry. 

From Gospel-Driven Anglicanism, pages 106-107, Revd Dr Mark Pickles, 2017.