or years I have visited different online forums to discuss theological topics and recently spent some time on a forum discussing Anglicanism with Anglicans. Although friendly, it was immediately clear that even a very general orthodox position was not tolerated by Anglicans on the forum. It was as if Christian doctrine was being re-assessed by current cultural trends! Sure, there are plenty of orthodox Anglicans out there in the world but I have to wonder how much longer they can hold out, how much longer will they last in Anglicanism before being driven out? We can find spin-off groups and churches, some Anglo-Catholic and others Evangelical, but as we’ve learned from “Joey,” a spin-off of “Friends,” spin-offs can be terrible. (For the older reader think “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Happy Days”) We get a lot of the same “stuff” but it’s just not the same.
majority of Anglican theologians tend to be less than orthodox and their theological views are out of sync with the often conservative worship offered on Sunday mornings. For example, did you know that two percent of Anglican Priests in the UK do not believe in God? Instead of growing in faith Anglican Ministers seem to fall into unbelief with age:
“Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.” (Source)
n the Apostles Creed we confess, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…” It was reported back in 2002, that 500 English clergyman took part in a poll and found that 27 percent denied the Virgin Birth! This is astounding. One Priest was quoted, “We will be having a traditional service because that is what people expect and enjoy.” (Source) Not because it was a matter of worship but because “that is what people expect!” In another survey 1 in 50 Anglican Priests in the UK believe God is nothing more than a human construct used to deal with the stresses of day to day life. (Source) The Anglican Church in the West has been declining for decades and is there any wonder, when they lack faith in the essentials?
t has been pointed out that, “For most of the past 50 years, a great deal of Christian wrangling has been about whether the church needs a doctrinal shift towards liberalism or conservatism to survive.” (Source) According to God & Politics “those calling themselves Christians, 40% defined it as ‘I try to be a good person’, 26% chose ‘It’s how I was brought up’ and only 16% selected the statement ‘I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’. 49% had not attended a church service in the previous 12 months. Also more worryingly, 49% did not think is Jesus the Son of God and bizarrely 6% did not believe in God at all.” The problem is obviously liberalism, which reinterprets orthodox doctrines in new and fanciful ways. When 60 percent of Church of England Christians never read their Bibles therein the problems lies. The article on God & Politics includes a breakdown of Anglicanism in the UK that can probably be extrapolated for other Anglican Churches in the West.
s you all know I’ve been attending an Anglican parish for a while now. It was all good at first, everything was new and exciting. It was a good experience getting into the rhythm of the church calendar, the seasons, such as Lent and Easter. If you have ever experienced Anglican worship you will likely agree that it’s beautiful with the candles, vestments, stained glass windows, etc. That all stated I feel my time with the Anglican church has come to an end. Next year the Anglican Church of Canada will vote to allow same sex marriage and will probably be suspended from taking part in the Anglican Communion shortly after. The polling data is clear, the vote to allow same sex marriage seems inevitable and with it, so does the departure of the remaining orthodox Anglicans. So how did we get here, how did this all happen?
t’s not as if the Church of England hadn’t been warned:
“As the Church is now internally constituted, her Calvinism is impregnable; while she lives, this is immortal. The legislature have it, indeed, in their power (God forbid they should ever have the inclination!) to melt down her Liturgy, Homilies, and Articles; and, when her component particles are severed by state chemistry, to cast her into the Arminian mould: but, until this is really done, all the artifice of man will never be able to fix the banner of Arminius in the citadel, how daringly soever some of his disciples (John Wesley) may display it on the walls. Our pulpits may declare for free-will; but the desk, our prayers, and the whole of our standard writings as a Church, breathe only the doctrines of grace.” Augustus Toplady, Historic Proof of the Doctrine Calvinism of the Church of England
oplady’s Church is no more. I have stated many times that the Book of Common Prayer is beautifully Reformed and Calvinistic, however, Arminianism (and with it Liberalism) slipped into the citadel. The enemy is within the Anglican Gates and has been for years. The more any church moves away from biblical Calvinism, the more it places man over all as sovereign.
“The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism
hat I have Learned
My sojourning with the Anglicans was not all for nothing and I walk away with a deeper understanding of my own failings, especially when it comes to my personal idealism and sectarianism. Some might say idealism is really “legalism” but I disagree. In my case I was placing such a high ideal on the local church it was bound to leave me wanting. I’ve been a Christian for just shy of 20 years and for most of that time I’ve been extremely sectarian and dogmatic, the Anglicans have taught me to loosen up on what “I” require as a confession from another believer and trust God to sort out the details.
I’ve also been reminded that orthodox Protestantism is in the minority.
Our voice online is often louder than our presence in the local congregation and even though we can download thousands of sermons by orthodox preachers a solid sermon can be difficult to find locally. Where does this leave me? Hopeful. I’m very hopeful and have enjoyed visiting different churches and denominations since leaving the Anglican parish. I’m not sure where I’ll end up or where I’ll plant roots but I know I will. Tomorrow I’m back at First Baptist and looking forward to it after all…it is the Lord’s Day, not mine.
Yours in the Lord,