Reaffirming our vows and rekindling our first love: for the sanctification of the Anglican Communion

A response to my fellow Anglican presbyter Andrew Goddard

Michael Poon, Singapore


I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God , which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Sanctify then by the truth; your word is truth. . . . I have given hem the glory hat you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:17, 22)

The walls of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)

I thank Dr Andrew Goddard for his response to Anglican Mainstream on The Advent Letter 2008 of the Archbishop of Canterbury, not the least because AM’s convictions precipitated – astonishingly within two weeks of the issuing of the Letter – the calling for the Global Anglican Future Conference in June 2008.  Andrew Goddard’s considered response merits wide discussion by fellow Anglican presbyters and parishes in the Southern Hemisphere.

My aim in this brief response is to take up Goddard’s invitation at the end of his essay: to encourage “serious discussion” and “common discernment” together.  He observed:

A great deal of the language that is around in the Communion at present seems to presuppose that any change from our current deadlock is impossible, that division is unavoidable and that any such division represents so radical a difference in fundamental faith that no recognition and future co-operation can be imagined. I cannot accept these assumptions, and I do not believe that as Christians we should see them as beyond challenge, least of all as we think and pray our way through Advent.

The challenge in the months leading up to GAFCON and Lambeth is whether those who share AM’s concerns about the Advent letter will accept and act on the basis of these assumptions or whether there is room for serious discussion about the important issues AM raises and a common discernment together as to the way forward for the Communion as a whole.

In making this public support, I ask fellow presbyters across the Communion to join in to reaffirm the responsibilities we received at our ordination and rekindle the gift the Holy Spirit has endowed us, that we may find refreshed vision to labour for the sake of the Communion at this finest hour in our Communion’s history. We can be confident in this undertaking because our Lord Jesus Christ has sanctified us with his Word and has called us to communion with the triune God. This offers us the secure basis upon which we can engage in “serious discussion” and “common discernment” together. God’s Word sanctifies human speech, and makes truth-speaking possible. We thus believe, and so we boldly speak; and in so doing share in the divine calling to effect the sanctification of the Communion and of the wider world that God has redeemed in Christ.
Significant shifts from classical understanding of Anglican traditions in worship and theology are taking place in the Anglican Communion. I am not merely referring to the question on sexuality, important though it is; but to perhaps wider and deeper shifts that are changing the character of our fellowship within the Communion that mitigated against open discussion and discernment. Such calls for a renewed dedication among ourselves.

1. Reaffirming the parish as the heart of our vocation
Are we on the way of dispossessing a spiritual home for our congregations? The historic formularies – the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Ordinal – are foundational to the Communion because they cohere together to promote a godly order for England’s society.  The provision of the Bible in vernacular language and the compilation of the Homilies were the hallmark in the English Reformation. The doctrinal and liturgical reforms had in mind the revitalisation of the parish life – where ordinary people worship, live and build their homes, raise their families, and pass on their faith to their children’s generation.  The Second Collect in Advent underlines this spirituality: “Grant that we may in such wise hear [the Holy Scriptures], read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy Holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.” The central calling for presbyters is for parish ministry (cf. Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor).

We witness however in the present-day a growing reliance upon institutional and clerical powers to chart the future of the Communion. For the past sixty years, we see a series of rapid increase of ecclesiastical structures: be it the creation of dioceses, provinces, and national churches; the instruments of unity, the Anglican Communion Office, and new expressions by which bishops and primates exercise their ministries. All these have drained considerable energy from church leaders from devoting themselves to their central calling in their own churches and parishes. A whole new web of communication and authority-relationships emerge at the international level that have little bearing on the diocesan and parish life – the concrete realities of the Communion. 

The Communion map is astonishingly drawn and divided according to positions that top church leaders assume. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Bishop of New Westminster at least can appeal to synod decisions for their controversial decisions. The Communion reaches a new level of incomprehensibility when primates – one of which is even the Chair of the Communion’s theological education commission , a centerpiece of Canterbury’s policy – make plans for holding a Conference on the Communion’s future and ordaining bishops to regions outside their proper jurisdictional boundaries, without even consulting all their fellow primates. Such actions undermine their own authority and any appeal to Lambeth Resolutions and primatial communiqués, and leave the Communion in confused state. 

So supposedly the decisions of top clerics dictate whether parishes and presbyters can relate in or out of communion with others in the same city, across the nation, and with churches in the wider world. This is fratricide. Some may be astonished that I seem to succumb to a liberal position. I am not. The freedom we defend here is that which is purchased by the blood of Christ. The communion that Lord Jesus Christ give us – in discerning and working together – has been replaced by a communion propped by ecclesiastical decisions. Truth has turned into ideology; theology into partisan positions.  Speech no longer sanctifies and has become rhetoric.  Sadly, top clerics then also see every honest but inconvenient question as a challenge to their authority.

2.  Rekindling the zeal for faithful teaching in our churches
Are we on the way of abandoning proper ministerial formation for our clergy?  Part of the difficulty in the present Communion crisis is that – as Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East observed – people across the divides may be speaking different (theological) languages. The difficulty does not lie in the multiethnic and sociopolitical contexts we are in.  (Missionaries in the past were among the best cross-cultural interpreters.) Perhaps the problem is more basic. Anglican clergy from a few generations ago would have undergone a more or less standard path of ministerial formation. Though they might be nurtured in different theological tradition, they would have covered a more or less same syllabus. In other words, they should all be familiar with the great themes in the Bible and in the Christian tradition. It is however unclear whether this is so in today’s world. Most clergy outside of the United Kingdom and America receive their initial ministerial formation in union/ecumenical colleges. More importantly, often no clear and agreed process in ministerial formation exist by which a person is ordained and advanced into higher offices. The process in initial formation may have little bearing on the canonical vows that clergy take upon their ordination. With the tendency in abandoning canonical examinations, congregations are left unclear what their vicars believe in and whether their priests are properly trained to carry out their teaching responsibilities. If churches in the Communion continues to ignore this problem, we are entrusting the Communion’s future to top clerics who themselves have little idea in what Anglican traditions are about, let alone to cherish and defend them. It would be better if the defence of biblical orthodoxy and sexual morality can be translated into intentional teaching programmes for parishes. Sadly, this is not the case. Ordinary Anglicans in the Southern Hemisphere are as ignorant of the Bible as perhaps of those in the North America.

The Roman Catholics since Vatican II have made great strides in quipping their priests in fulfilling their catechetical responsibilities. John Paul II’s two Pastoral Exhortations Catechesis in our Time and On Priestly Formation summarized the sustained reflections in synodical deliberations and culminated in the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and the revisions of Programme for Priestly Formation. Today when we meet a Roman Catholic and a catholic priest, we know what they stand for, and the training (human, spiritual, pastoral, and intellectual development) they have received. I am not sure we can make similar claims for Anglicans. Priests are made and Anglicans added to our fold without intentional programme of initiation and on-going formation. 
Here I warmly appreciate Canterbury’s focus in making theological education a top priority in his tenure. At the same time, without a clear understanding of what Anglicans stand for (that is, a catechesis), I am unclear what the Anglican Way leads to. I am also unclear whether the heart of the matter is not merely theological education, but ministerial formation. In today’s world, “theology” is often taken to be merely one discipline that stands alongside others in a liberal arts programme; “education” is similarly regarded as technical training for the sake of self-improvement. This is why I suggest ministerial formation (the forming of properly equipped lay and clergy for ministries in the parish) to be a central task for the Communion today. The resources that churches in the Communion urgently need are very basic:  the Book of Common Prayer, a Hymnal, a catechism, and perhaps thoughtful pastoral letters that bishops and priests today would find time to compose for their faithful. 

3.  Reclaiming our common heritage
Are we removing landmarks from our apostolic heritage? St John unfolded the vision that in the glorious coming of Jesus Christ, the names of the twelve apostles (even those who are not well known—would all be engraved on the walls of the new Jerusalem. Earlier in the Book of Revelation he recounted the twelve tribes of Israel as among those who received the seal of the living God (Revelation 7:1-8). The lots of the twelve tribes – and of the twelve apostles as they are sent out to the four corners of the world – worked out differently in God’s redemptive purposes in history.  But no one is forgotten; all will be remembered. All find their vocations cohere together at the end.

Isaiah also pointed to the remnant of God – written off by earthly powers – to be the carriers of God’s promise. The righteous will live by faith! (Habakkuk 2:4). It is remarkable that numerical strength between churches in the Communion suddenly takes on such importance in recent discussions on the Communion’s future (e.g. the rationale that underlies the calling for GAFCON by numerically-strong churches). To determine the Communion’s future without regard for vulnerable churches is to deny the apostolic origin of such churches. St Paul – the apostle to the Gentiles – could have all the reasons to abandon the Jewish Christians and turn his attention to the Gentile world. He never did. The material offering to the saints in Jerusalem was a tangible way to recognise the oneness in Christ. Looking back to our Communion’s mission history, were not missionaries sent to far-flung places for the sake of Christ? Are not fellow Anglicans still standing up for the faith in challenging situations in remote places?  Do we not have a vision of common possession in the Lord? Yet sadly, churches in struggling situations are forced to make immediate choices and take stance on Communion issues. Their own integrity and identity are threatened and swept away in the new Cold War waged by power-brokers in the Communion. 

What does it mean for us to be fellow Anglican presbyters today? To take up our vows and to rekindle the charism God has given us, we need to enter into “serious discussion” and “common discernment” that Dr Goddard reminded us. Such take place not only in the safe havens of blogspheres, but in our own parishes, in the pulpit, in clergy meetings, in synods, in our classrooms – in short, where discipleship is set in concrete and costly terms. In all circumstances we need to continue to engage and support one another to speak the truth with love in our own churches, refusing to let ourselves become isolated by the ideological divides. The Word of God assumes concrete form and sanctifies the world. Truth alone can bring about the sanctification of our Communion.

I end with the Biblical passage John Paul II cited at the beginning of his Exhortation on Priestly Formation:  “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). 

May every congregation find this promise answered in the parish priests the Great Shepherd has entrusted to their care.

22 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Steven Berry Says:

    Nice speech, framing the serious problems that the Anglican Communion faces as “Reaffirming our vows and rekindling our first love” is priceless.

    Oooo! I’m all warm and fuzzy now.

    Please forgive me, I really don’t mean to be sarcastic about this, really… let’s get back to reality.

    When it is said that there needs to be “serious discussion” and “common discernment” two thoughts come to mind.

    First: For at least the last thirty years there has been nothing but “serious discussion”, endless “serious discussion”, working groups, fact finding missions, panels, advisory groups, and the result has been a continuous degradation of the Church. All this “talk”, polite, sensitive, and caring as it might be, has simply not solved anything.

    When will the leadership of the Anglican Communion see that the issues dividing the Church are not about finding the right words in which to formulate an instrument of unity. Rather, the issues are about the authority of and obedience to the Word of God. 

    It is that one party has gone into rebellion against the clear teaching of the Word of God and not only refuses to repent, but demands that everyone else accept their revisionist theology as “true and enlightened” Christianity.

    All this talk had put the Church to sleep until several true men of God like, Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishop Don Harvey (Canada), Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone) , Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America ), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England), and Bishop John –David Schofield (Diocese of the San Joaquin) to name a few, stood up and said “Enough is enough!”

    The Church needs to wake from its slumbers as the Apostle Paul instructs:

    Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. [12]  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

    Romans 16:17 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18]  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”


    Secondly: When statements like “We need to have a common discernment” are made, it angers me. There can be no “common discernment” if one of the two parties in this dialog doesn’t think that thay are in error. And, even should 99% of the Communion think that the 1% is in error, they repeatedly and willingly choose to do nothing about it. Does the name “Spong” bring anything to mind? So, really… WHAT IS THE POINT OF TALKING! I guess it makes them feel better for having tried just one more time.

    Frequently it is stated by the revisionists or their allies, that “unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion” as though there isn’t a consensus, but there is and has been consensus!

    Remember these?

    Primates Communique (Dar es Salaam, 2007)
    Kigali Communique (2006)
    Dromantine (2005)
    Lambent (1998)

    This isn’t about nor has it ever been about forming consensus, it is about winning. These are but mere ploys to gain time. The revisionists and liberals believe, and apparently it has been working, that if they can just ball everything up long enough talking about things, they will get their way.

    Enough already.


    Steve

  2. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    I’m sorry Steve,  but it’s not about winning,  it’s about Jesus Christ and the fact that His church IS unified ..  albeit unified at the bottom rather than at the top.  I see this call from Michael Poon ..  thank you so much sir ..  as being NOT to those in power,  but to those like us,  a tiny minority in our provinces leadership ..  but NOT a minority in terms of fellowships,  parishes.  He writes to strengthen us,  to ask us to CONTINUE to Stand Firm even though we feel weak and unable to do so.

  3. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    If I may I’d like to add an addendum to my last post.  I DO understand the sheer frustration you and many others feel ..  I feel it myself.  But it’s when I allow myself to get depressed because we’re not as you put it ..  winning.  But I’ve come to feel that God is ‘judging’ His church.  We have not ..  as Michael has pointed out ..  been the faithful people we should have been.  Now he is calling us to SPEAK ..  and I think this is what Michael is saying.  Not to our leaders,  but to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are sitting under less than admirable teaching and leadership.  God wants those people reached ..  and it’s surely up to us to work harder to do so.  Not sit back and let our leaders try and sort this out ..  but get out there and do something about the lost within our community.  Just a thought,  maybe I am mistaken.

  4. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    I am in the knowledge of some bishops who are besides the known CCP bishops who have decided that they will not go the Lambeth and would openly regret the conduct of AC in dealing with the issue.
    Yet the dialogue must continue and reaching a Bible based understanding should not be ruled out for future.

  5. teddymak Says:

    It appears the learned gentleman cannot understand what has happened to precipitate the extraordinary event of GAFCON.

    Sir: While you have been busy elsewhere clearly demonic men and women, whose soul searing heresies and apostate actions are evident to all, have siezed the levers of secular power over Provinces, Dioceses and parishes and the unfortunate laity in North America. A generation of ecclesiatic gibble gabble, expressions of mild disapproval, and studied Other Way Looking have done absolutely nothing to remedy the effects of the monstrous conspiracy unleashed upon those parishes and presbyters for which you evince such concern.

    We are all apalled that there is a necessity for GAFCON. Regretably, the time for gentlemanly discourse is over. The wolves are in the sheepfold. Do not count on geographic seperation or purity of intention to protect you from them. When they have finished with the Christians in North America, their balefull eyes will slowly turn to the rest of the world and they will come for you. To keep your pension, you will have to deny the virgin birth, that Jesus is the only way to the Father, that Holy Writ is not holy at all and subject to review, that laying with men as with women is no longer unspeakable, that pagan rites are equal to Christian liturgy. That just for starters.

    “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls.”

  6. Steven Berry Says:

    Dear Rosemary,

    I am in 100% agreement with you that it isn’t about winning, perhaps a poor choice of words on my part, as I think that it was misunderstood. Those, to whom the “winner” comment was made, referred to the TEC winning by simply outlasting those that would bring them to repentance. That being said, I am afraid that we are not in agreement with your comment that the Anglican Communion, should be “unified”, if by that, you mean to be unconditionally “unified” with heretics solely for the sake of unity.

    When you say: “… I’ve come to feel that God is ‘judging’ His church.” I am with you. But, when you say:  “We have not ..  as Michael has pointed out ..  been the faithful people we should have been.” I agree on one level, for we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, but disagree, if by that, Dr. Poon means the problems that the Communion face is due to failures on the parish level. This is simply to redirect where the blame should go. It is a shell game.

    As one example,  it is true that it is on the parish level, in most cases, that same sex blessings have taken place, but really, that misses the point. How did things get to the point where, first, Biblical teaching is ignored, and then, the Canons and Church Order were violated?

    It goes back to the fact that the Bishops have failed their duties to maintain the faith, discipline and order of the Church. To lay the blame entirely at the feet of the priesthood or laity is just nonsense.

    The problems of the Communion lay squarely at the feet of the episcopate. Forgive the expression, but, you should not have the inmates running the hospital. Bishops are called to be shepherds of the flock in matters of faith and discipline. When errant laity, clergy, or National Churches are discovered, they need to be dealt with quickly and authoritatively, not based on the subjective whims of “new light, new revelation” revisionist leadership, but based on the objective standards of:

    The Bible
    The Ordinal within the Book of Common Prayer
    39 Articles
    The Catechism
    The Creeds
    Historic Biblical Tradition (i.e. the early Church fathers)

    When you say: “Now he is calling us to SPEAK ..  and I think this is what Michael is saying.  Not to our leaders, but to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are sitting under less than admirable teaching and leadership.  God wants those people reached ..  and it’s surely up to us to work harder to do so.” I understand, but can anyone honestly say that there has been a lack of discussion of these matters? Hundreds of thousands of people have left the TEC and ACC over the years because of these very issues.

    Monday afternoon I sat in Bishop Schofield’s office and prayed with him about his Diocese, the flock that God has entrusted to him for protection, instruction, and care, and a score of other issues. We prayed, we cried, and asked God that He would restore unity to the Church, but reconciliation cannot happen without repentance.

    Bishop Schofield shared how for twenty years he has been fighting the fight and “dialogging” with the leadership of the TEC and sadly, how it came to nothing, but trust me, his fight was not as just one Bishop. Due to his leadership and teaching, when these ongoing concerns came to a head and the Diocese was asked to address these issues, the clergy in California’s Diocese of San Joaquin voted 70-12 to withdraw, and laity voted 103-10. So, you see Barbara, there had been much talk already on the local level. Years of talk.

    Thank God that men of God, with insight and fortitude, like Archbishop Greg Venables came forward to offer Bishop Schofield assistance.

    Steve

  7. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    Hello Steve,  I’m not sure we disagree much, if at all.  I think the main point of difference,  and I should have realized it earlier ..  is that we speak different kinds of English.  Of course, Michael probably speaks a different one again.

    Vis-à-vis the points you raised.  I hope I said that Jesus’ church IS unified.  How could it not be?  Of course not all members are Anglicans,  but it IS unified ..  trouble is,  only He knows who all the members are.  In my own country,  most of those members are NOT amongst our leaders.

    There IS failure at the parish level,  at least in my own country.  We have a poster here at Global South who made that quite plain.  Of course in my pride I tend to think our own parish is not a failure ..  but as God’s Judgement continues,  I come to realise more and more just how complacent we have been.  Now I’m not saying that ‘the blame should be shifted’  ..  in this country I believe not only that our leaders have let us down,  but I would go further,  they have plotted our downfall,  that’s how the canons and church order were violated.  Trouble,  it is HIS church,  and it IS unified,  so that plotting is wasted.  I think Michael was saying this as well.  We must persevere,  continue the work we have begun.  However I feel the weight of all those people who are unable to get to a church where the Word of God is preached,  for their sake,  I believe we should work harder.

    You are of course quite correct when you speak about repentance being the first essential.  We must make sure however,  that we don’t point fingers at others,  without examining ourselves.

  8. Steven Berry Says:

    Rosemary, my sister and co-labor in Christ,

    Thank you for your patience with me. Language can be such a fickle thing… so I want you to change from using your English and use mine instead, as it will lessen any future misconceptions. (Smile) Only kidding.  We are in perfect agreement. His Church was, is, and shall ever be one.

    Your points are well taken with one caveat. When you say with respect to the makeup of the Church that the “…trouble is, only He knows who all the members are…”, I agree, but we can certainly tell who are not members.

    St. Paul stated that we are to have discernment, and then based on that discernment to act.

    Eph 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…”

    1 Tim 6:3 “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4]  He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5]  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.“

    Know that I will be praying for you and your Church, even as I know that you will continue to keep us in your prayers.

    Steve

  9. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Struggle for survival

    The movement of CCP and GAFCON are for sure a struggle for survival and in this case “Spiritual survival”. Though the action and stand by the faithful (all of us) seems late in its visible form to some of us, but the Lord has His own timings and leads through His Holy Spirit and we believe our leadership (Defenders of faith) are in communion with the Lord of the Church. The present visible Church always had all sorts of people in it, which were always tolerated due to love, yet the Church was always clear about the proclamation of its faith. Presently the Church word wide is truing to do the same and rightly saying what we do not agree according to the word of God. This is our testimony about our relationship with God, Jesus and His Word as the Holy Spirit has taught us. All we are trying to do is to give the Church back to the Lord of the Church.

    The names of known supporters may not be known to everybody, yet we know that believers all over the world were praying and are still in prayers.
    This “Association of ideas” around the Word of God is the binding force, which shall lead many more to join in because those with agendas and personal benefits cannot overcome the power of faith.

  10. Steven Berry Says:

    Dear Bishop,

    I’m sorry, but your posts continue to confuse me.  Surely you must realize that making statements like: “The present visible Church always had all sorts of people in it, which were always tolerated due to love…”, not only promotes a fraudulent view of what Church “unity” means, but shows a total lack of knowledge of Apostolic Church, early Church, General Council,  and English reformation histories.

    The Apostolic Church refused to countenance aberrant theology and heresy. My dear Bishop, no where do we read in Scripture that we are to “tolerate” doctrinal error and heresy. As you should know, there are countless verses of Scripture that disprove your thesis, many of which have been posted on this site by myself and others.

    The Apostles continually fought against error. While the Scriptures do indeed provide needed instruction and encouragement leading to a deeper walk with our Lord, they also show us how to identify those that proclaim aberrant theology, how to correct them, and should they refuse counsel and fail to repent, how to reject them as aliens from Christ and enemies of the Church.

    The early Church followed Apostolic teaching and fought vigorously against a variety of heresies. A simple reading of the Apostolic Fathers and a review of the Councils of the Church reveal a Church far different than the one you describe.

    The Church has never “… tolerated due to love …” error. The Patristic Church dealt authoritatively with Gnosticism, Simon Magus, Valentinian Gnosticism, Marcion, Montanist Heresy, Modalism, Manichaeism, Donatists, Arianism, Appollinarianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and a plethora of other heresies.

    One needs only read the Councils of the Church to see that they took error seriously. They did a lot of things, but toleration of doctrinal error was not one of them.

    Even looking back at the founding of the Anglican Church, during what was called the English reformation, shows that the Church did not
    “tolerate” error, but took steps to correct the existing problems by rejecting the usurpation of authority, abuses of power, and doctrinal errors of Rome.

    If the Church has always tolerated a variety of theological error, then there wouldn’t even be an Anglican Communion.

    Please, I beg you, while you may disagree with Scripture and history, don’t dismiss them by stating false views of either.

    If I have misidentified or misstated your position, please advise me and I will publically apologize immediately.

    Steve

  11. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Dear Steve,

    I do not need an apology from you for misunderstanding me, as I may not have elaborated my point better to be understood clearly.
    I am speaking from experience of my pastoral ministry where I saw persons of all sorts sitting in the pews with different understandings of the Kingdom. Some of them never read their Bible and so on and still were considered members of the Church (institutional) as they came from Christian families.
    We were praying for them and along with God waiting for them to turn to Him through understanding of the Word of God and the purpose of the incarnation. Some came earlier than the others. This waiting in expectation is what I call love as I understand that the Lord is never exhausted in His waiting.
    In the present situation we do have a clear understanding about the Word of God and its application. Those who do not agree with it condemn themselves if they do not repent and surrender to the Lord.
    As we cannot be personal enemies of anyone of them we do need to keep asking the Lord to open their inner eyes (Ep. 1:17) so that they would see death coming through the windows (Jeremiah 9:21). I would rather pity on them without stopping to pray for them due to the following reasons.

    1.It is the curse of the institutionalism that the ones abusing their offices against the Word of God feel it their right to do so.
    2.It is a spiritual warfare, which needs never ending prayers from all those who claim to have knowledge.
    3.As witnesses of the risen Lord and believers of the Word of God we continue to perform our duty to defend the Biblical faith, which we are trying to do and be prepared to pay any cost with out compromising.

    (Please continue to read on my previous comment from where you stopped.)

  12. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Dear Steve,
    PS. I am lerning while taking part in the discussions.

  13. Gerry OBrien Says:

    Goodness ~

    I started into reading the 10 posts previous and was becoming very concerned that Steven and Rosemary were coming to a point of different direction and could not understand why.

    I so pleased to find in the ending of the posts that you two wonderful Christians are in one accord since we are called to be in “One accord”.

    Steven, please pass on to Bishop Schofield on your next visit that prayers are being sent up for him and for his Diocese of San Jaochin that all will go according to God’s Will and not according to the will of the twisted and demented Presiding bishop of TEC.

    According to another post by Alice Linsley, we need to be lifting Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh up in prayer also. 

    “Dear Lord, we praise You and ask Your blessings on Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh as these brave men are doing their best to do Your work in leading their Dioceses out of the bondage of TEC.  We pray hedges of protection around all that strive to keep Your Word O Lord.  We also pray Father for your Faithful People in New Zealand who are under attack of the evil one; Father pour down Your Holy Spirit upon the faithful in New Zealand. These things we ask in the precious name of Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen”

    In Christ,
    Gerry

  14. Steven Berry Says:

    Bishop, thank you for your response. Trust me… you are not the only one “learning while taking part in the discussions.”

    Language plays such an important part in rightly communicating our ideas and thoughts. When people of different languages and cultures engage, we need to be exceptionally careful with the words we choose. Unfortunately, as an added problem, the heart of the writer is never adequately discerned as it should, unless one is very good at being a wordsmith, and alas I am not.

    Understand I have malice for no one and it breaks my heart to have to write many of my posts.

    Let me say that I am trying my best to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints and to battle the forces that are trying to destroy the authority of the Word of God and degrade the Faith into something far different that what has ever been identified as Historic Biblical Christianity.

    My sole desire is that Jesus be magnified and honored. If this too is your desire, then we are like minded brothers in Christ, and rest assured that I will support and encourage you in joint mission to the end.

    In Him

    Steve

  15. Bryden Black Says:

    May I enter this thread .. with due tentative care-fulness.

    While staunchly accepting Steve’s list of moves that the Church has made and had to make in principle, governed by its Word of Truth, there are a couple of mitigating passages in Matthew - of all Gospels, I say, on account of its powerful denials of any universalism - that warrant some attention and which give Bp Ijaz Inayat some room: Matt 13:24ff and Matt 18:15ff in context.

    True; both do speak of ultimate judgment, yet precisely in that case our provisional (and so pastoral, sometimes?) judgments need to be tempered ... if only for a while ...

    Just a thought that tries to combine good theology and good pastoral care - without denying the fullness of truth to which I/we do not (yet) have access!

    Peace be upon us all, as I try too to learn and follow the likes of Oliver O’Donovan’s The Ways of Judgment (2005).

  16. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Dear Steve and Bryden,

    Thank you for your interaction. I want to add three things:-

    1.According to the Gospel of John the Word of God shall condemn those who reject it and bless those who accept it.
    2.The forces of darkness have hijacked the offices and resources of the Church in most cases so that they are not used for the Lord and His Kingdom.
    3.The Holy Spirit convicts and leads the persons to the true understanding of the Word of God and right relationship with the Lord.
    Therefore we must keep on praying for the recovery of the Church from the hands of the forces of darkness. Some parts of the Church look like Adam who had the body structure at the time of his creation, but he came to life only when God blew His breath into him.
    The Church must have the Spirit of God to bring it to life, which is going to come in answer to the prayers of the believers.

  17. Steven Berry Says:

    Bishop Inayat… Amen!

    Although the following prayer has been used each Lord’s Day throughout the centuries within the Anglican Communion, perhaps through actions taken by the Global South, GAFCON, the CCP, and others, we are beginning to see God’s hand in answering it.

    A Prayer for the Clergy and People.

    “ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift; Send down upon our Bishops, and other Clergy, and upon the Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

    Order of Morning Prayer - BCP 1928

    Steve

  18. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Very dear and beloved Steve,

    God bless you. Yes, we are set on a path where we would confess and address the issues in unity and totality (through the oneness being created by GAFCON and CCP) the actions ought to be taken in thought, word and deed, praying together in agreement for the lost glory of the Church. Also setting our goals in terms of our MISSION as Christians and representatives of the Lord according to the GREAT COMMANDMENT. I do believe very firmly the prayers of the believers always remain before the Lord to be answered according to the Lords economy. The vivid example of the opening up of the communist world must boost up the prayer worriers for the deliverance of the entire Church.
    Just look at the availability of net in our days and the communication so easy. This is binding us together with the passing of each day. Thank you for your…Amen.
    Remain blessed.

  19. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Compared with many contributors to this site, I find the words of Bishop Inayat the most helpful and inspiring. His humility could well be emulated by those who want to push the legalistic viewpoint that the Church is here to free people from their sins. Only Christ can do that - and in fact has already done it.

    In the old Prayer Book, which I use on occasions to celebrate the Holy Communion, these words seem to stand out in the canon of the liturgy:

    “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there, (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute and in his holy gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death until his coming again…” 

    It should perhaps be noted that - regardless of what we may do - redemption has already been secured, not by any other means but that which is here mentioned in the eucharistic prayer:
    (That Jesus) made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) A FULL, PERFECT, AND SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE, OBLATION AND SATISFACTION, FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD”

    The task of Christ’s Church is to invite all who will accept the redemption that Christ has already secured (see above) by his sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension to the Father.

    No good works or holiness of ours can ever secure the redemption of anyone! Christ alone has that privilege. And we. his faithful ministers must make sure that his redemption is not withheld because of our perception of the unworthiness of those who would draw near. We cannot claim to be the ‘sinless’ - offering the fruits of our own holiness to others. The Gospel is like ‘A Beggar showing another Beggar where to find Bread’!

    Remember the cry of Paul? “My righteousness is like filthy rags!” And Jesus: “Who are you calling good? There is one alone who is good” - his heavenly Father! Righteousness belongs to God

  20. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Without compromising, defending or giving room to the portion of the Church with contradicting interpretations of the Bible I would give two examples from the New Testament about Gods Mission for the World so that the believers exercise their authority for the deliverance who are lost according to the Word of God.

    1.A paralyzed person was brought to the Lord and without seeking forgiveness of sin the Lord told Him your sins are forgiven.
    2.Jesus pleaded to the Father on the cross, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.

    Some times you have to break the bondage of sin and Satan before the person is delivered. We also need to break the power of Satan and principalities from the Provinces, Dioceses, men and women and all the clergy so that they may be able to see correctly.

    What I want to say is this that all those who are aware of the power of the Lord, His Word and the Holy Spirit must start exercising their power for the deliverance of the captive part of the Church. For the responsibility of the children of God is great and we need to do that. [Because] We know that the creation is in the control of deceit and looking for the manifestation of the “Children of God for their redemption.

    Our role is much more beyond GAFCON, CCP and the Global South. The entire Anglican Church rather the entire Universal Church is ours and we do not allow Satan to play with it. We shall keep praying for the lost souls without compromise.

  21. teddymak Says:

    An extraordinary discussion! It is a privilege to simply read the inspired words and follow the logic of the faithfull here represented.

    Well done.

  22. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Thank you Teddy.
    God bless you for all your efforts along with the team