No Plan B


The recent statement by the Anglican Primates is slightly more than I hoped for, and if the statements by Episcopal dignitaries and the comments on Episcopal blogs are worse than I feared, more fool me, I suppose. The Primates confirmed that ‘the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture’ (is it my imagination or there a faint tinge of regret discernible in the wording there?) ‘upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union.’ Since that is the teaching of Scripture, albeit not in those words, Evangelicals will be pleased that these leading churchmen are willing to say so, and would apologise on behalf of the Episcopal Church for all the vitriolic comments being directed their way.

The statement also asks the Episcopal Church to limit its participation in some aspects of the Anglican Communion, and hopes for the appointment of a Task Group ‘to maintain conversation among ourselves [the Primates, presumably] with the intention of restoration of relationship’ etc. Restoration of relationships with the rest of the Communion presumably depends on a return to the Biblical view of marriage, and unlikely as that it is to happen, Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church must assume that God expects us to lift up our voices in support of that return.

Perhaps this is the place to begin discussing how we might do that, and how to be faithful in a church that seems less tolerant of us than ever. Perhaps there will be some time at the Evangelion II conference scheduled for May 28–30 in Ambridge, PA for further discussion.

I could certainly use a little encouragement…

 

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Evangelion 2015The recent gathering of Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church, known as Evangelion, was seen by many around the church, as well as those present, as the best thing that has happened in PECUSA for quite some time. Bruce Robison has invited the Evangelicals in Pittsburgh who were unable to be present to attend anyway, hosting a video replay of the entire event on June 19th at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Highland Park. Nine people have signed up to attend, and no doubt there will be some walk-ins. This made possible, of course, by the video recordings made by Kevin Kallson of Anglican TV, to which there are links in the posts below.

If you’re not on Bruce’s mailing list, but would like to attend, the address of St Andrew’s is 5801 Hampton St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (412-661-1245). Let him know you’re coming via the ‘comment’ link to this post and he’ll make sure there’s a chair for you.

Seems like an easy way to spread the encouragement around, and I suspect that other readers of this blog might be able to get a similar group together. Let’s pray that Evangelion I keeps rolling round the country till it’s time to register for Evangelion II, the dates and location of which should be confirmed shortly.

Lee Gatiss, in his second address to the recent conference of Evangelicals, described a recent survey of Evangelicals in the Church of England which discovered that not only is the evangelical community divided over whether evangelicalism is having an effect on the church, but that the same division is found in individual Evangelicals—that Evangelicals are suffering from a spiritual bi-polar disorder. We can go from fervent optimism to utter despair in a matter of hours. The cure, of course, is the gospel itself…

This talk (click here) was given to younger Evangelicals in the Church of England, but it doesn’t take much thinking to see the application for those in the Episcopal Church. The speaker, Lee Gatiss, draws on the great military strategists of history, quoting Homer, Sun Tzu, Plutarch, Field-Marshal Montgomery, and Cortes (as well as the Bible, in case you need reassuring) before concluding, ‘If we are to avoid the slow death of a softening evangelicalism or the catastrophe of having to start again from scratch, the brightest course ahead for those who want to see a renewed Church of England, is to stick with it and keep contending – not just on the “big issues” of the day, but on the gospel issues. There is no point winning all the battles on human sexuality, if we lose the war for human salvation.’ I found Sun Tzu’s point about foraging from the enemy particularly apt!

St Mary and All Saints, ChesterfieldBruce Robison put a note on our ‘Upcoming Events’ page that deserves wider circulation:

2012 is of course in the rear view mirror now, but I wonder if it’s too late to talk about some kind of gathering in the Fall of 2013. VTS would be fine, though there’s an Evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition just a little downriver from Pittsburgh. Might be an interesting location for Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church to gather.

I second Bruce’s suggestion, and would like to hear what other Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church think. Is there a theme or speaker who would be particularly helpful? Our last gathering was at VTS in 2010, so we are definitely overdue.

I don’t know if he would describe himself as an Evangelical—it’s not the sort of thing one puts in one’s candidate biography—but Greg Brewer, who says he ‘
stand
[s] strongly 
within 
a 
tradition 
that 
“God’s
 word 
written”
 is 
a 
“God‐breathed”
 and
 reliable 
guide 
for 
“instruction, 
reproof, 
correction
 and 
training 
in 
righteousness”
’, was elected bishop of Central Florida yesterday. We who do describe ourselves as Evangelicals rejoice, and pray that he rightly applies the guidance of God’s word in his new ministry.

Also very encouraging to read the following, in his answer to a question about the
 Diocese 
of 
Central 
Florida 
opting 
out 
of 
the 
Episcopal 
Church: ‘
We 
remain 
in 
the 
Episcopal 
Church 
because
 we 
believe
 that 
God 
has 
put 
us 
here. 


That 
is 
where 
we 
must 
begin. 


For 
if 
we 
know 
that 
we 
are 
where 
we 
are 
by 
Divine 
appointment, 
then 
we 
also 
can 
trust 
that 
God 
will 
guide 
us, provide 
for 
us,
 grant 
His 
wisdom 
and 
give 
us 
all 
we 
need 
to 
remain 
faithful 
to 
Him 
in
 the 
midst 
of 
a 
profoundly 
conflicted 
church.’

The proposed Anglican Covenant is being discussed in my diocese. There are several covenants in the history of our church; the best known must be the Solemn League and Covenant, but it contained too many things imposed on those who took it as the price of giving them military support in the English Civil War. What might be called the true Anglican version of it was the one taken by Members of Parliament before allies seemed available, expressing their determination to protect the reformed Church of England from those equally determined to undo its reformation, who included the Supreme Governor of the church.

It was called The Protestation rather than a covenant, but it was a true covenant all the same. A version for our times and circumstances might read as follows:

I, N. N., in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow, and protest, to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my life, power, and estate, the true Reformed Protestant Religion, expressed in the doctrine of the Episcopal Church, found in the Articles of Religion set forth by General Convention in 1802, and in the Prayer Books of 1789, 1892, 1928 and 1979, against all innovations contrary to that doctrine;  the authority of General Convention; and every person making this protestation, in whatsoever he shall do in the lawful pursuance of the same. And to my power, and as far as lawfully I may, I will oppose, and by all good ways and means endeavor to bring to ecclesiastical discipline, all such as shall do anything in opposition to this purpose. And neither for hope, fear, nor other respect, shall I relinquish this promise, vow, and protestation. So help me God.

That’s a covenant I could get behind. In fact, I may have just taken it.

Anglicans in other provinces can make the obvious substitutions.

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