I bumped into an interesting post from a UK blogger that has a generally negative take on the prospects of reforming the Church of England (but he seems to be in Wales, but I digress).  He goes back to the Stott v. Lloyd-Jones debate, and comes to the conclusion that the crux of the issue is ecclesiological (and perhaps, more importantly, soteriological), asking “What is the Church?” and further, “What is a Christian?”  He points to the strong conversion language of the confession of sin at non-comforming church versus the more sacramental baptismal language at an evangelical Anglican parish as a case in point.  However, one interprets his cognitive dissonance between the two liturgical settings, his diagnosis of where we need to start when considering the question of unity, reform, and faithfulness is valid–What is the Church?

To help answer that we must also ask if the Church a holy club or a mixed mutlitude.  And since sin is a battle we face no matter how holy we think we are, we must embrace the truth that we are considered holy in Christ, but we each fight the inner battle of the sinful nature versus the Spirit-regenerated nature in Christ.  This means we also need to make a distinction between the visible and the invisible Church, because we can all too easily fall, and not every promising shoot that springs up from the ground outlasts the noonday sun or the thorns of life’s daily concerns.

So to shake the dust off our feet from the C of E, or TEC, or any other denomination, is a vain search for the holy club–where the full revelation of the sons of God for which creation still yearns is realized preemptively, leaving no room for the wheat and tares to grow up together.  No we are a mixed multitude; just as Egyptians who joined the throng of Israel when they crossed Red Sea, so will we never realize a completely holy Church this side of Christ’s return.  Thus, we remain.  We do not withdraw as though we had the right to declare a body of people “Ichabod.”  We stay, we preach the Gospel, and we rejoice in whatever fruit that grows.