Sorry to anybody who reads me and is hoping for the promised strictures for modern Evangelism (which are proposed by a Christian worldview, and reinforced by Holy Scripture). I read something today, on which I felt a profound need to comment. First, though, some context.
I am a former Canadian Anglican. My decision to leave the Anglican Church of Canada was many years in the making, and has meant some painful consequences (and future difficulties) for a man originally training for ordained ministry. The issues were simple, I think the question of the ordination of women may have been wrongly decided a generation ago, I do not see a fidelity to Scripture as central to modern conversations within the Anglican Church in my own diocease, and finally, I could not in good conscience trust my Bishop to keep me accountable to the fellowship of believers. So now I’m a Baptist, with a very strong interest in the Anglican Church. I am one who sees a gross lack of evangelism (which, considering I believe in the need for faith in Jesus to be saved, amounts to negligence causing death on behalf of Western Christians), and prays fervently for a people who will again take Jesus seriously, and that God would make me one of them.
Now on to my rant…
So today I read an address by Bishop Duncan of the United States (a dissident Episcopal Bishop… or more correctly a Bishop loyal to Jesus). There I read a paragraph I found very interesting:
The reform will also not come from the top – as much as we might yearn for such a solution (for Reformations do not come from the top or begin at the center) – but from a thousand altars, like the one at the heart of this House, and from leaders brave enough to embrace unpopular and counter-cultural truths. The future of Anglicanism is most assuredly tied up in this.
That got me to thinking. I talked yesterday about the need for a reformation. A reformation in the sense of a mass turning back to Jesus culturally. I should add that such a mass metanoia (what we call “repentance”) can only be led by those who have already been justified (made to stand before God, now covered by the blood of Jesus, so that His righteousness counts to us, and our sin was paid by Him) by Christ and are being sanctified (perfected in the heart so that we are coming to obey God with joy). By definition, that means members of the Church (meaning those actually “called out”, the ekklesia).
Meanwhile, I see in some Churches an apparent movement from the truth of Jesus, even as they call themselves evangelical or emergent. In all cases it seems divisions are becoming apparent based on the one question that really matters to Christians: “but what think ye of Christ?”. The result is also a strange unity among those who confess him, even as they worship differently, and have community differently.
Might I submit that the reformation has already begun? In the death knells of a denomination that has gone astray (the ECUSA, and to a lesser extent, probably the Anglican Church of Canada), we can see the operations of God calling out His Church. We can see it in the growing networks of local churches, working to bring Glory to the saving King Jesus (inside and outside Anglicanism). We can see it in the ways that believers in the west are being forced to stand for Jesus, or stand with a rebellious culture. I pray, and I hope I am seeing the beginnings of, people who will say first and foremost that they are Christ’s (affirming the Scriptural Christ), that unity of institution, and unity of mutual affirmation are FAR less important than unity in Christ.
I believe that this will happen. Not because I believe in the morality of we Christians, but because I know that we are the bride of Christ, which He loved and gave Himself for (Eph 5:25). Because I know that at the end, from every tongue and tribe and nation will come white hot worshippers for him (Rev 7:9), because the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matt. 16:18), but most importantly, because this is for the most sure, powerful and sweet thing in the universe: the Glory of the Living God.
His Church is not named “Anglican” (though it has expression in faithful Anglicans) or “Baptist”, or “United”, but is quite simply Christ’s. Unified by the preaching from thousands of pulpits of preachers who love the Lord, affirmed by millions of Berean style believers with ears , minds, and Bibles open to what God says, and discerning the truth of a preachers words. In sacraments duly administered to congregations who eat and drink with contrite hearts.
Oh That the Lord would make my vision true! That He would bring a reformation in hearts and minds, not based on our idle (idol) philosophies or methodologies, but by hearts moved to faith, trust, and treasuring Him above all else! That the death penalty would be meted out against the usurper Bride that places itself above her sweet King Jesus, and the true Bride would be reformed, perfected and made Holy to serve, worship and love God! That I would be one so perfected for the Glory of God!
I pray that God would grant me such a heart, that He would grant me a voice to proclaim His truth! Oh that this prayer would be sure, from my poor feeble heart, with sighs too deep for understanding, brought by the Holy Spirit!
And this prayer will be sure insofar as it is for the Glory of God, and in the righteous name of Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray!