No Plan B

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.


Michael Lawson, Chairman of the Church England Evangelical Council, Church of England Evangelical Counciladdressing Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church at the Episcopal Evangelical Assembly at Virginia Theological Seminary on September 11th 2009:

‘You have stayed in the Episcopal Church. Staying must mean a call to a greater discipleship and a call for a greater and uncompromising mission… you have no mandate to remain in the Episcopal Church and simply fade into the background, keeping your head down, avoiding controversy. The Episcopal Church is in the wilderness, but it’s not the only wilderness Christian history has witnessed, there have been many such periods. How does the scripture address us in such situations? In Hebrews 3.12–13, the context is exactly that desert-like experience where God’s word is thwarted and rejected… and it is a call to a greater discipleship: See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Episcopal evangelicals are some of the most strategic people in the world… [able to] bring transformation back into the gospel message… Remember Luther, “there is not and cannot be any reason for tearing oneself away from the church in schism; rather the worse things become, the more one should help her and stay by her, for by schism and contempt, nothing can be mended.”’

The complete talk can be heard or downloaded here, and the text can be read or downloaded here.

A report of the discussion at the Assembly, and Chuck Alley’s address to the Assembly, will be posted shortly.

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The Revd Robert Prichard

Here’s the third talk given at the “Calling All Evangelicals”conference at Virginia Theological Seminary, May 23: The Rev. Robert W. Prichard, Virginia Theological Seminary’s Arthur Lee Kinsolving Professor of Christianity in America and Instructor in Liturgics, calls evangelicals to faithfulness within the Episcopal Church.

Click here for audio

Post header 2 (No Plan B)

Here’s the second talk given at the “Calling All Evangelicals” conference at Virginia Theological Seminary, May 23: The Revd Philip Wainwright, Rector of St Peter’s Brentwood in Pittsburgh, argues that staying in the EpisThe Revd Philip Wainwrightcopal Church is the right thing to do for its members who are Evangelicals, and that our witness won’t be taken seriously unless we mean to stay.

Click here for the audio. Click here for a pdf.

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