(Gospel Coalition Blog) Carl Laferton—The Rusty Anglican Auto: A Lesson for Every Denomination
What has caused the rust? The easy answer: the church lost the gospel. Waves of pragmatism, liberalism, and "Anglo-Catholicism" (a blend of Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism) have swept through the church, leaving wreckage in their wake.
But the actual cause is slightly more subtle. Anglicans still talk about the gospel, a lot. And mission. And even about being evangelical---the new archbishop self-identifies as an evangelical, though he certainly wouldn't recognize the definition of the term Don Carson and Tim Keller give in TGC's Gospel-Centered Ministry booklet.
The denomination never lost the words. But it lost the biblical content. In order to keep unity among people who differ over essentials, Anglicanism has increasingly emptied key concepts of their content. So you can sit in a room with 10 Anglican ministers and talk for half an hour about "the gospel" without ever defining the term and always knowing there are probably ten (or eleven!) different views.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal
- Anglican: Commentary
Church of England (CoE)
Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:01 am
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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/46755/
1. Fr. Gregory Crosthwait wrote:
One of the interesting exercises in remaining Anglican in this season is receiving analysis and comment from former Anglicans (Free Church, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox) with charity and humility. I’m far from an expert. I’m just a practitioner of the Christian faith in the Anglican way and a parish priest. From what I’ve read, I’m not convinced that Anglicanism has ever required the kind of specificity about “the gospel” that our Gospel Coalition friends regard as essential. And by that I mean the idea that the gospel is justification by faith and that justification by faith is penal substitution and double imputation.
American evangelicalism, as a movement, falls under the same critique offered by Mr. Lafterton. Ask a room full of self-identified evangelicals what the gospel is and you’ll get a range of answers. Dr. Scot McKnight’s Parchman Lectures offer an excellent analysis of evangelicalism and “the gospel.” His “King Jesus Gospel” also sounds similar themes (from what I’ve read so far). And chapter 2 of Dallas Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy” is worth a hearing as well.
December 23, 7:22 pm | [comment link]
2. MichaelA wrote:
“Sadly, it is unlikely that Archbishop Welby’s time will be spent renewing the vision of the church, or plotting the evangelization of a nation. It will be spent managing an institution in (probably terminal) decline.”
Too true, unfortunately.
And this well sums up the most pressing problem, in human terms:
“The key concern is financial. The Church of England owns more than 12,000 buildings—-many of them dating back over 500 years. Each has the capacity to seat hundreds, but now have congregations of a dozen, who can sustain neither the building nor a pastor. It is facing huge pension liabilities for retired clergy. It has an enormous, top-heavy bureaucracy.”
That is the fundamental issue. And despite a very small number of exceptions, the only groups capable of filling churches with parishioners are orthodox evangelicals and anglo-catholics. Yet the foolish liberal hierarchy keep trying to drive them out, and the even more foolish UK government permits this.
The signs are already there, the CofE is already starting to pay the piper, but it won’t face reality. If the CofE’s finances go under, the UK government will have no choice but to foot part of the bill from public funds.
The real issue is not what +Welby does when he becomes ABC. The real issue is what the orthodox evangelicals and anglo-catholics are going to do - are they prepared to continue to work within the Church of England, or are they going to work elsewhere. Whatever they do, they will have the support of huge sections of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and therefore an external source of legitimacy which past renewal groups such as the Methodists did not have.
December 23, 7:40 pm | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:
RE: “American evangelicalism, as a movement, falls under the same critique offered by Mr. Lafterton. Ask a room full of self-identified evangelicals what the gospel is and you’ll get a range of answers.”
For that matter, so do all the rest of the denominations. Ask a room full of self-identified RCs what the gospel is and you’ll also get a range of answers.
I think one key is that anybody can “self-identify” as pretty much anything. That does not actually *make them* that thing with which they are purporting to identify.
I might self-identify as a hard-core, ab-ripped fitness freak—and I would be wrong. But that doesn’t keep me from proudly claiming that, should I wish to.
December 23, 11:29 pm | [comment link]
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