Michael Lawson’s address to the Evangelical Episcopal Assembly

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But you, or at least I imagine most of you have actually stayed in the Episcopal Church. I think that’s brave, and I am glad you have been able to. It doesn’t mean it’s any easier for you. But I do believe from what we have seen together, that staying must mean a call to greater discipleship 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, and preaching a scaled down gospel for our very sick and resistant cultures.

How have we got to where are? I suppose it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to call the period from 7 June 2003, the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire as the beginning of Wilderness years of the Episcopal Church.

But it’s not the only wilderness, and Christian history has seen many such periods. So how does the Scripture address us in such situations?

There are many choices, But what about Hebrews 3:12-14, where the context is exactly that. A desert like experience where God’s word is thwarted and rejected. Listen to this. It’s a call to a greater discipleship.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

4 Comments
Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Many thanks for posting this excellent piece by the Chairman of the CEEC, Canon Harmon.  It is well worth reading in full and has practical application of the lessons of his lecture on pages 16 and 17 to the current situation. 

It really is an excellent tracing of Evangelicalism’s development, the meta narrative of Scripture, the Reformation history, the experience of UK Evangelicals and lessons which US Evangelicals may be able to draw from that and the current crisis in TEC.  He does not mince his words:

Speaking of ACNA he says:
“Given the circumstances I believe these new arrangements must be from God, and I seriously hope the Archbishop of Canterbury before long will be able to find a way to recognise ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion.”
I heartily agree with that.

and on TEC:
“From your denomination has emerged possibly the greatest spiritual catastrophe since the need for the Reformation.  We don’t know where it will end up.  We just know that there is a tear in the fabric of the communion which is near to terminal”

And Archdeacon Michael gives practical advice to Evangelicals staying in TEC which you highlight above.  He also considers the lessons to be drawn from Scripture for those in the ‘Wilderness’, as he puts it and ways for them to be a vital and renewing force for TEC and perhaps for the rest of us.

September 23, 8:58 am | [comment link]
2. Billy wrote:

Wow!  What a speech and what an ending!  I cannot say it any better.  Our church needs us now more than ever.

September 23, 1:25 pm | [comment link]
3. azusa wrote:

Michael Lawson is a Jewish Christian who was a colleague of John Stott’s at All Souls, London, and is now an archdeacon in that city.
Also an outstanding musician. This speech refers to the role that C S Lewis’s famous sermon ‘The Weight of Glory’ had on Lawson’s conversion. If you’ve never read it - find it on the web and read it now- it’s an utterly brilliant evocation of Platonic-Augustinian Christianity.

September 23, 2:32 pm | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Yes, thanks to Kendall for posting this address, and thanks also for the glowing, appreciative comments made by others above (#1-3).

But need I remind us all of the obvious?  The eloquent, thematic quote of Martin Luther’s that Michael Lawson returns to as his final word can’t be taken as absolute, or binding in all circumstances.  For Luther himself soon did the very thing he ruled out in 1519, heaping contempt on the Pope as “AntiChrist” by 1520, and burning the papal bull of excommunication (and the Book of Canon Law to boot) to show his disdain for them in 1522.

“For by schism and contempt nothing can be mended,” he said in 1519.  But as we all know, he soon changed his mind.  And many of us who invested lots of years in faithfully serving the Lord through TEC (in my case 23 years of ordained ministry), have reluctantly concluded that the time had finally come for us to leave.

I’m just saying that the Luther quote is highly ironic, and shouldn’t be taken as timeless truth that applies in all situations and contexts.  And I certainly don’t mean that as a criticism of those who’ve chosen to stay in TEC, much less in the CoE.

David Handy+

September 23, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
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