Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Weekend Edition: August 30, 2014

In this weekend's edition of Anglicans Ablaze:
Drive safely this Labor Day Weekend. If you drink, don't drive. Have someone who has not been drinking drive you home.

Second Annual Anglican Connection Conference: Effective Ministry: Word-Centric Anglicanism

The Second Annual Anglican Connection Conference is being held at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, AL, in conjunction with the Beeson, 'Reformation Heritage Lectures' - Tuesday, October 28 to 12:30PM, Thursday, October 30.

The theme this year is ‘Word-Centric Anglicanism' with a special focus on effective ministry and expository preaching.

Speakers include: Dr. Peter Adam, former Principal, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia; Dr. Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity, History and Doctrine at Beeson Divinity School; Dr. Graham Cole, Anglican Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School; and Tim Sims, a highly respected and successful business leader whose recent research into the life of churches and the culture today has led to the development of ‘Effective Ministry’.

For the conference schedule and a brief introduction to the speakers, click here.

Plenary sessions include:
  • ‘God is a Speaking God – Speaking God’s Words Today’ Dr. Peter Adam
  • 'Effective Ministry: Church Health Matters' Tim Sims
  • 'Word-Centric Ministry in the 16th Century' Dr. Gerald Bray
  • 'The Power of the Word – a critical comparison between liberal Anglo-Catholic evangelism and gospel-centric Anglican evangelism' Dr. Graham Cole

The Anglican Connection is a network of Anglican and other Gospel-centered churches in North America. The Anglican Connection is committed to the priority of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It aims to bring together Bible-based, reformational churches (not just Anglican) in cities and regions across the country.

The Anglican Connection invites you to find out more and to participate in working with other like-minded ministers and lay-leaders to build effective ministries that promote God’s good news to a world that has lost its way. Rather than returning to the past we want the best of the past to speak into our life and gospel ministry today.

To contact the Anglican Connection for further details and registration, click here.

Hotel accomodations include: The Drury Inn, 160 State Farm Parkway, Birmingham, AL. and the Marriott Courtyard Birmingham Homewood, 500 Shades Creek Parkway, Homewood, AL.

Chuck Warnock: Successful Small Churches Have Spiritual Vitality

Explain the difference between small churches that are thriving as small churches, that are doing great ministry, that are really spiritually enriching their attendees and the community, and those that are flailing. Is the difference in programming, mindset, an understanding of the community, or something else?

Small churches that are successful, in my opinion, are churches that have spiritual vitality. These are the churches that seem alive in worship, exhibit a contagious enthusiasm for whatever it is they are doing, and know what they are cut out to do. Now all that sounds very general, and it is, but it's also true. Regardless of programs, regardless of community setting, regardless of size, the small churches that succeed do so because they know why they exist and are committed to expressing their purpose with spiritual enthusiasm. This kind of spiritual vitality is more than attitude or mindset, although that's part of it. These churches are like the small Christian communities of the book of Acts—they exist as the Spirit of God permeates their fellowship. This spiritual confidence comes from the congregation's sense of God's presence in their midst, calling, guiding, equipping, and empowering them for ministry. Read more

Do we dare pray for ISIS?

Our newspapers, TV screens and social media timelines are filled with horrific images of the Iraqi crisis. From Christian families shot through the head for their faith, to Yazidi parents being forced to leave their dead children on a mountainside, the sheer weight of evil has become overwhelming.

The Islamic State (IS) is continuing its reign of terror across Iraq and Syria – tightening its grip on an ever fractured nation and our natural response is one of hatred. We rile at the hideous persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters along with other religious minorities, and rightly so. We must undoubtedly stand against the militants, fight for the rights of marginalised communities and condemn the atrocities so regularly committed against them.Our newspapers, TV screens and social media timelines are filled with horrific images of the Iraqi crisis. From Christian families shot through the head for their faith, to Yazidi parents being forced to leave their dead children on a mountainside, the sheer weight of evil has become overwhelming.

The Islamic State (IS) is continuing its reign of terror across Iraq and Syria – tightening its grip on an ever fractured nation and our natural response is one of hatred. We rile at the hideous persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters along with other religious minorities, and rightly so. We must undoubtedly stand against the militants, fight for the rights of marginalised communities and condemn the atrocities so regularly committed against them.

And yet, if we do so out of hatred, are we not guilty of directly contradicting Jesus' command to love our enemies, and bless those who persecute us?

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount. But he later also added:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven."

But how do we respond to Jesus' radical call to love our enemies in the midst of a broken world, during a time when our 'enemies' have never been quite as visible as they are now?

And yet, if we do so out of hatred, are we not guilty of directly contradicting Jesus' command to love our enemies, and bless those who persecute us?

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount. But he later also added:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven."

But how do we respond to Jesus' radical call to love our enemies in the midst of a broken world, during a time when our 'enemies' have never been quite as visible as they are now? Read more

See also
Prayer List: Five Leaders of Terrorist Group ISIS

7 Ways to Make Yourself Invaluable to a Team

Here are 7 ways to make yourself invaluable to a team.... Read more

How Pastors Get Hired Today

Applying for full-time vocational ministry positions does not mean what you probably think it means. The days of dropping a hundred resumes in the mail (or e-mail) are gone. Most large churches have completely eliminated that option by keeping job openings out of public view. Mostly smaller, less-networked churches still post jobs publicly and depend heavily on paperwork.

In my role I've found that ministerial candidates who believe it is enough to have an MDiv, a resume, and a few sermon MP3s will continue to be frustrated and disappointed by the job application process. That process wasn’t all that effective 20 years ago, either, when it was more common before technological advances. A good resume and a nice sermon are helpful, but they fail to capture the deeper relational, emotional, and spiritual conditions of pastoral candidates. Consider the outcomes of traditional hiring practices: One recent analysis of 186 pastors and their ministerial history from the past 47 years showed a 54 percent turnover rate after four years or less. Of these, 65 percent turned over again after the same length of time. Read more

3 Reasons NOT to Accept that New Leadership Role

Before you jump at that new leadership position you’ve been offered, consider three reasons you should consider staying right where you are.

I once interviewed a leader in his mid-30’s for a position in the large church where I served as executive pastor.

He was bright. He was professional. He was educated. He was personable.

But something on his resume concerned me. “Tell me about your leadership experience,” I said to him. Read more

Be careful about the little things

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Galatians 5:9).

Take care of the little things.

In art, the difference between mediocre and masterful is often attention to details.

In wartime, attention to the little things can mean surviving.

I wonder if Goliath thought something like this in that millisecond before he expired: “This cannot be happening. A giant like me, a champion of warriors, massive and mighty, undaunted and undefeated–taken down by a kid with a rock in a sling.” He must have thought, “I hope my brothers never hear about this.”

Up in your state penitentiary you will find quite a number of good guys, people with impressive credentials and strong convictions and good records of achievement. But mixed in with their outstanding accomplishments was the leaven: a single habit they could not control, a friendship out of bounds, a secret vice, a weakness.

At this moment, the Christian community is discussing a prominent pastor for whom the world was his oyster, as the saying goes. He was a star among the ministerial heavens. He built a great church, wrote popular books, was in demand for every program and conference. And now, look at him. Felled by such a little thing. No one is more shocked than he. “How could this be?” he’s wondering at this moment.

Who am I talking about? Which preacher with what problem? Take your pick. There are so many to choose from. Read more

Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style

You could not help but notice the trend of the past two decades. Numerous churches began offering worship services with different worship styles. It is not unusual to see a church post its times of worship for a contemporary worship service, a traditional worship service, and an occasional blended worship service.

The trend was fueled by two major factors. First, many churches were fighting worship wars. The great compromise was creating a worship service for each faction. Unfortunately, that created divisiveness in some churches as each faction fought for its preferred time slot. Second, some churches had a genuine outreach motivation. Their leaders saw the opportunity to reach people in the community more effectively with a more indigenous worship style.

Though I am not ready to declare a clear reversal of the trend, I do see signs of a major shift. It is most noticeable among those congregations that have moved from multiple worship styles back to one worship style.

So I spoke to a number of pastors whose churches had made the shift back to a singular worship style. I asked about their motivations for leading their congregations in such a direction. I heard six recurring themes, though no one leader mentioned more than three for a particular church. Read more

Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship

Worship leaders around the world are sadly changing their church’s worship (often unintentionally) into a spectator event, and people are not singing any more.

Before discussing our present situation, let’s look back into history. Prior to the Reformation, worship was largely done for the people. The music was performed by professional musicians and sung in an unfamiliar language (Latin). The Reformation gave worship back to the people, including congregational singing which employed simple, attainable tunes with solid, scriptural lyrics in the language of the people. Worship once again became participatory.

The evolution of the printed hymnal brought with it an explosion of congregational singing and the church’s love for singing increased.

With the advent of new video technologies, churches began to project the lyrics of their songs on a screen, and the number of songs at a churches disposal increased exponentially.

At first, this advance in technology led to more robust congregational singing, but soon, a shift in worship leadership began to move the congregation back to pre-Reformation pew potatoes (spectators).

What has occurred could be summed up as the re-professionalization of church music and the loss of a key goal of worship leading – enabling the people to sing their praises to God. Simply put, we are breeding a culture of spectators in our churches, changing what should be a participative worship environment to a concert event. Worship is moving to its pre-Reformation mess.

I see nine reasons congregations aren’t singing anymore.... Read more

The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines - Free Webcast

Groups matter, and it's important that churches effectively establish and assess them.

Back in February, Eric Geiger and I co-authored Transformational Groups, a book based on a large research project conducted by LifeWay Research with close to 3,000 protestant churches. Eric recently interviewed me about this on his blog, and with so many churches preparing to begin new study cycles, I thought it would be a good time to dig a little deeper into the data as it pertains to the group participants, themselves.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that groups play an important role in the spiritual lives of the people in our churches. What will surprise you is just how important that impact is. All of the methodology in the book, but let me share a few things here in this short blog post. Read more

How to Meet the Emotional Needs of Small Group Members

Small Groups can meet some of our basic emotional needs. Everyone needs to feel that they belong. This is a high value among Small Groups. The Bible teaches us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5). We all want to be included by others. Our Small Group is the place where we’re always included. We belong.

We also need to feel accepted. Regardless of where we’ve come from or what we’ve done, Small Group is a place where we can come as we are to learn, to connect and to encourage each other. That doesn’t mean that our group will allow us to stay where we are. If there are things going on in our lives that are harmful or damaging to our well-being and our spiritual growth, then it’s the group’s place to address these things in our lives. Sometimes we are blind to things about ourselves that are very obvious to others. The group should never approach anyone with a judgmental or self-righteous attitude. The rest of the group has their issues too. Read more

12 Ways to Connect With the Poor

The words in chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah have affected me for years. In that Scripture, God tells us the Father sees our relationship with the poor (or lack of it) as something serious. It is impossible to serve God with all our hearts and at the same time miss out on God’s call to care for the needy. The Scriptures say the way we care for the poor is tantamount to the way we see God. The prophet makes it clear that we must have a relationship with the poor if we hope to please God with our lives.

But in today’s church, most of us don’t know a single person who is needy. How can we obey God if we aren’t connecting with the poor on a regular basis? We can’t.

Something needs to change. We need to hear the call of God to those in need. Read more

Only Two Religions: A New Teaching Series from Peter Jones

If you survey the religious landscape of modern culture, you will encounter an astonishingly diverse range of views. But beneath the surface, these seemingly disparate spiritualities share a common worldview, one that is radically opposed to the Christian faith.

In this new 12-part teaching series, Only Two Religions, Dr. Peter Jones examines the worldview and fundamental religious convictions that drive modern culture. He demonstrates that in the final analysis, there can be only two religions - worship of the Creator or worship of creation. Learn more

Judge rules polygamy ban violates religious freedom

A US judge has ruled that a section of the law banning polygamy violates religious freedom, which could lead to the practice being decriminalised.

Kody Brown – a member of a fundamentalist Mormon group who, along with his family, features in reality TV show 'Sister Wives' – filed a lawsuit against the state in 2011 after he was forced to fee Utah under threat of being charged with bigamy.

Polygamous marriage is illegal in all 50 states in the US, and though formerly practised by the mainstream Mormon Church, it was outlawed in 1890. Read more

Dozens of Yazidi women 'sold into marriage' by jihadists: NGO

Several dozen Yazidi women kidnapped by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq have been taken to Syria, forced to convert and sold into marriage to militants, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO, said it had confirmed that at least 27 Yazidi women had been sold for around $1,000 each to IS fighters.

The group said it was aware that some 300 Yazidi women had been kidnapped and transported to Syria by the jihadists, but it had so far documented the sale into marriage of 27.

"In recent weeks, some 300 women and girls of the Yazidi faith who were abducted in Iraq have been distributed as spoils of war to fighters from the Islamic State," a statement said.

The group said it had documented several cases in which the fighters then sold the women as brides for $1,000 each to other IS members after forcing them to convert to Islam.

"The Observatory documented at least 27 cases of those being sold into marriage by Islamic State members in the northeast of Aleppo province, and parts of Raqa and Hassakeh province," the NGO said. Read more

See also
IS in Iraq: Yazidi women raped, murdered and sold as brides

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mean Christians and the Importance of Likability

The #1 factor that determines whether-or-not someone comes to faith in Jesus has nothing to do with the size of our church.

It has nothing to do with our denominational preference.

And it has less to do with our theology than I wish it did.

It’s this.

Do they like the Christians they know?

After all, no one wants to hang around people they don’t like. And becoming a follower of Jesus means hanging out with other followers of Jesus.

In his important book, unChristian, David Kinnaman cites an overwhelming number of stats and stories about this phenomenon. The primary reason young people are no longer going to church like they used to, has nothing to do with their commitment levels or their understanding of Jesus. It’s because the Christians they know are unlikable. 87% of young nonbelievers “said that the term judgmental accurately describes present-day Christianity.”

Sad, but not surprising. We don’t need studies to tell us what our eyes can plainly see.

We’ve all watched people start coming to church because they were invited by a Christian they like.

And we’ve all seen the opposite, too. People who leave the church, or never show up in the first place, because too many of the Christians they know – or know about – come across as mean, judgmental jerks.

No one wants to spend their time with mean, judgmental jerks. Read more

Predestination: What Does This Mean for the Non-Elect?

Decretum horribile. That’s what John Calvin called the doctrine of reprobation (Institutes 3.23.7). It means the “awe-full decree.” We’ve seen in the previous five parts of this series that our Triune God in His amazing grace has elected or predestined some of fallen humanity to salvation. In this final post, the question we are faced with is what of the rest of humanity? Reformed theology typically confesses what is known as double predestination. The Canons of Dort (CD) define this doctrine as “the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree” (CD 1.15).

This is a very serious confession. Let me focus our hearts on the biblical teaching before addressing two practical struggles this doctrine can bring up. Read more

8 Ways to Comfort the Suffering

I have officiated more than 40 funerals ranging from suicides to infants. I have buried the young and the old. I have sat in hospitals with the dying as well as in prisons with those who have taken life. For the last two years, I have walked with my Resplendent Bride as she has suffered through lymphoma, leukemia, and a bone marrow transplant.

With one addled brained banality, I hope to forever clinch my claim to the title of Captain Obvious by opening an article on how to disciple a member of the fellowship of the suffering with this astute observation: “People suffer differently.” So the process of discipling them through their pain will look different depending upon the person who walks next to you through the shadow-lands.

People suffer differently. People are soothed differently. The goal of discipleship in the midst of suffering must be comfort in Christ, for the closer we walk with the Lord Jesus the more we see of the massive burden he always carries on our behalf. Surely the Lord Jesus walks with us through the feasts and the famines (Ps. 23).

Here are some lessons I have learned since joining the fellowship of suffering. Read more

Photo: shadowlands -

2 Ways Churches Can Model Healthy Discipleship

Discipleship is a broad term that is often used to describe many things from Bible study to one-on-one spiritual mentorship. But the truth is, most of us overcomplicate discipleship. Jesus said the most important thing we can do is love Him and love people. God is love. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus’ life was defined by His love for us. So everything within the church should be focused on pointing people toward a healthy relationship with God and others. As we learn how to love God and people, we’ll more effectively foster discipleship.

Here are two ways churches can model healthy discipleship.... Read more

Why Church Members Don’t Invite Others to Church – Rainer on Leadership #069 [Podcast]

In this week’s podcast, we cover a recent post here at the blog written by Chuck Lawless on why church members don’t invite others to church. Some highlights from the podcast include:
  • We have to keep an awareness before our church members that they need to invite others to church.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection. Celebrate those who accept your invitation.
  • Don’t be reluctant to invite others because your church isn’t perfect. No church is.
  • Pastors: when is the last time you instructed your congregation to invite others to church?
  • Don’t discount the potential success you can have with a “Friend Day.”
  • God uses us as His instruments to invite.
  • We often use excuses and rationalizations to mask our disobedience to the Great Commission.
  • Redundantly remind church members to invite others.
Here are the ten reasons church members don’t invite others to church.... Read more

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:53 — 18.2MB)

August Online Only: The Sanctified Brain

This fascinating article will be online only through Sunday--the end of August.

As a pastor I have often urged people to "get closer to Christ," but I'm not so sure I've helped them know when they have. How can we help people know when they've gotten closer to Christ? Do external changes confirm that growth? What internal ones occur, and how can we recognize them?

To ask the question in theological terms: If glorification is the goal of God's work in our lives (Rom. 8:30) and grace is the means (Eph. 2:8) and sanctification is the process (1 Thess. 4:3) then what results are observable? How does intimacy with Christ change us? What impact does conformity to Christ have on our behavior and … our brains?

I've had long conversations with other pastors and leaders over the years about spiritual transformation. Who else would you talk with about such a subject?

Well, how about a couple of neuroscientists?

That's exactly what I did. The results were surprising and enlightening. Read more

Bolivian laws threaten religious liberty

Evangelical Christians in Bolivia have begun their battle against new measures that could result in the dissolution of Protestant denominations and other religious groups in the heavily Catholic Andean country.

Organizations that fail to comply with the new government measures will lose their legal standing. In response, the National Association of Evangelicals of Bolivia (ANDEB) on July 30 presented a Petition of Unconstitutionality to the country's Constitutional Tribunal seeking repeal of the measures.

"This law is totally unconstitutional, incongruent with religious liberty as enshrined in Article 4 of the constitution," Cochabamba attorney Ruth Montaño, who helped frame ANDEB's Petition of Unconstitutionality, said.

The battle over constitutional rights in Bolivia pits the country's religious minorities against the government of President Evo Morales. The outcome could determine whether Bolivia will continue to enjoy freedom of religion, particularly for the country's 1.6 million Protestant Christians. Read more

Boko Haram beheaded six-year-old Christian boy, group reports

The group has executed a deadly campaign across Nigeria.

t was revealed this week that Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram beheaded a six-year-old boy on June 1 because he was a Christian.

The attack occurred in Attagara, Gwoza district, Borno State – a predominately Christian community, according to Voice of the Martyrs.

Over 100 militants descended upon the village, slaughtering men, women, and children. Read more

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The “Dirty Baker’s Dozen”

I’ve been re-reading through Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson’s, Comeback Churches. Again, I’ve been alarmed by their descriptions of churches that get stuck in plateau and decline. Here’s a brief synopsis of what the authors refer to as the “Dirty Baker’s Dozen.” It’s a list of 13 different types of churches. Churches can exhibit one or any combination of these descriptions, but they do so to the detriment of their own mission to make disciples. Read more

See also
Producing a Comeback Church

The Absolute Most Common Reason Change is Resisted

After years of leading change I’ve discovered some things about the process. One of those discoveries is that change will face resistance. All change.

Surprised by that revelation? Not if you’ve ever led change.

If the change has any value at all, someone will not agree — at least initially.

There is something in all of us that initially resists change we didn’t initiate.

And, I’ve discovered the absolute most common reason change is resisted. I mean the biggest. Read more

13 Little Known Facts About Change Too Many Leaders Miss

You’re probably trying to change something right now.

And — if you’re honest — you’ve already thought about backing off.

Change seems too difficult.

You’ve watched friends get hurt trying to lead similar change.

You’ve heard the voices of opposition get a little louder.

You really don’t want to be afraid to open your inbox every morning.

But what if this is true?

Change is harder than it needs to be because it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

And it doesn’t need to be quite that mysterious. Read more

9 Ways Your Leadership Should be Social

It’s imperative that you are “social” in your leadership and influence today. A new reality exists, and as leaders we have to be not only aware of this, but also willing to jump in and embrace a new reality of Social engagement like never before.

Here are a few thoughts on Social Leadership.... Read more

Words of Advice for Young Church Leaders

Last week, a friend asked me what general advice I would give to young church leaders. I’m sure this list is not complete, but here’s a start. Read more

Losing your voice: 4 ways pastors lose pulpits

There are many ways to leave a church honorably. You could die in the pulpit. You might gracefully retire so a younger man can fill your shoes. Perhaps you feel called to another ministry, and your current elders support you in that endeavor. But there are some ways no pastor wants to be ejected from his ministry. Read more

The Essential Secret of Preaching

In John Stott’s classic work Between Two Worlds, he writes:
In a world which seems either unwilling or unable to listen, how can we be persuaded to go on preaching, and learn to do so effectively? The essential secret is not mastering certain techniques but being mastered by certain convictions. In other words, theology is more important than methodology. (92)
This quote captures what I’m trying to do as a pastor and preaching professor, equipping younger ministers of the word. Read more

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Anglicans Ablaze Midweek Specil Edition: August 27, 2014

In this midweek special edition of Anglicans Ablaze:

Is It Time to Revive Art In Church?

Over a decade ago, many churches embraced a toolbox full of options for designing worship services including music, video, drama, dance, visual art, poetry, spoken word, stories and testimonies, guided prayers, and interactive exercises. These days, it’s almost exclusively music and video. Certainly music and video are art forms, but what about the other tools?

There are many reasons to explain what happened. Developing arts teams in a variety of disciplines is expensive, complicated, messy, and inherently risky. I believe that several churches attempted to do more than their resources allowed them to do well. As I’ve often said, the only thing worse than no drama is bad drama! Sadly, any art form done poorly will be written off as a poor investment. So instead of recognizing that each of these art forms should only be used as often as they can be done with excellence, we write them off and stay safe. I also recognize that a church with solid Biblical teaching, engaging worship music, and a little video, can be a prevailing, healthy community. So why rock the boat? Read more
The use of "art" in the Anglican and Episcopal churches in North America is associated with a predilection for Baroque and Gothic kitsch. The proclivity for Baroque kitsch points to the influence of the nineteenth Roman Catholic Church; the penchant for Gothic kitsch to the influence of the Victorian Gothic Revival and the Anglo-Catholic Cambridge Camden Society. Their influence in the ornaments of the priest as well as the ornaments of the church have become enshrined by custom. Traditions tend to form quickly, particularly bad ones, and become entrenched just as quickly. Traditions that originated in fairly recent times such as in the nineteenth century are much more difficult to change than traditions that originated in the distant past. Anglican worship environments at their best like Anglican worship at its best reflects the application of the principles of simplicity, restraint, and functionality. This calls for a quite different use of "art" than that which typifies these churches. 

The Power of Prayer: Three Articles

What Is the Prayer of Faith?

Years ago, the editor of a publishing company asked me to write a book on prayer. The theme is a vitally important one. The publishing house was well known. To be honest, I felt flattered. But in a moment of heaven-sent honesty, I told him that the author of such a book would need to be an older and more seasoned author (not to mention, alas, more prayerful) than I was. I mentioned one name and then another. My reaction seemed to encourage him to a moment of honesty, as well. He smiled. He had already asked the well-seasoned Christian leaders whose names I had just mentioned! They, too, had declined in similar terms. Wise men, I thought. Who can write or speak at any length easily on the mystery of prayer?

Yet in the past century and a half, much has been written and said particularly about “the prayer of faith.” The focus has been on mountain-moving prayer by which we simply “claim” things from God with confidence that we will receive them because we believe that He will give them.

But what exactly is the prayer of faith? Read more

Persistent Prayer Gets the Attention of Heaven

One of the mysteries of biblical prayer is that the Lord is honored and pleased when His children persist in prayer and don't give up. And if you stop and think about it from heaven's perspective, it makes a lot of sense.

After all, consider the importance God places on faith. It is only through faith that man receives the forgiveness of his sins. And it is only through faith that God answers prayer. So I suppose it shouldn't surprise us that the Lord attaches special blessings to persistent prayer. Read more

The Prayer Life of a Pastor

One of the most powerful experiences of my life occurred when someone challenged me to prioritize prayer in my life. When I embraced prayer in my college years, not only did it change my life, it also became formative for everything in my life. Read more

How to Release Creative People for Effective Ministry

It’s impossible to have a healthy church that experiences multi-dimensional growth without trusting people enough to delegate leadership to them. Having said that, this remains one of the greatest bottlenecks to growth for thousands of churches. And delegation remains one of the hardest challenges for Pastors and church staff members.

One of the reasons we fail to delegate leadership is our fear of wildfire. We’re afraid things will get out of control – and indeed they will – but limiting control is actually what often fuels growth. We often encumber leaders with too much red tape. Policies and procedures have their place, but we can easily add so much structure that people don’t feel free to lead and make decisions. Read more

Character First

When the apostle Paul challenged Timothy to reproduce himself in others, to broaden the number of leaders, and to hand ministry over to more people, he emphasized character over competence. He didn’t diminish competence, but he started with character. Notice the order of the language of this often-quoted leadership development verse.... Read more

Four Features of a Healthy Mentoring Relationship

With youth comes a certain amount of arrogance and a certain amount of pride. As Pastor Matt Chandler has often said, sometimes life just had to beat that out of you. At the end of the day, there are a lot of young seminarians and young pastors—commonly lumped together as “millennials”—that will choose to find landmines by stepping on them.

Many of us, however, would prefer to skip a few explosions. And most older pastors recognize they would have had a healthier start in ministry if they only had a mentor.

Mentoring and apprenticeship programs are popping up all over the Evangelical ministry world. Not long ago, many pastors held to a series of unspoken rules of ministry promotions: start as a youth minister and work your way up. By the time you get to senior pastor, you’ve likely been humbled more than once. With the millennial generation pushing back against the idea that there are “promotions” in ministry, coupled with a serious dearth of veteran pastors to fill the pulpits at hundreds of thousands of churches, many are starting lead pastorates relatively young. Church plants, revitalizations, and a slew of young pastors at large churches has become commonplace.

Many veteran pastors have noticed and have seen the need to help those God is raising up. Most young ministers and seminarians I meet have spoken to me about the hunger to have a godly mentor. Often, however, the veterans go without mentees, and the young men can’t find help.

It seems to me that there is really one main reason for this lack of ministry mentoring: we have no idea what this would look like.

What does it look like for a pastor to mentor a seminarian that isn’t on his church staff? What kind of man should those early in their ministry look for? As one who has been fortunate to have great mentors, I’d like to suggest four features of a healthy mentoring relationship. Read more

Can You See Too Much Jesus in the Bible?

Why one seminary thinks so and is sending an Old Testament scholar into early retirement.

Throughout history, Christians have affirmed that Jesus is the focus of Scripture. But one Bible scholar is being forced to take early retirement by a conservative seminary for seeing too much Jesus in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament anticipates a Messiah—one who would fulfill the law and redeem Israel—and the New Testament presents Jesus as the fullness of God's revelation. Evangelical scholars agree on that much. But they debate the extent to which the Old Testament—and which of its passages—can be read Christologically.

For example, some believe Psalm 23 describes only the relationship between David and God, while others say the psalm also anticipates Christ's ministry as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–18). Douglas Green, professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) in Philadelphia, goes further. He argues that Christ is also the sheep. Read more
I have observed a dangerous tendency in charismatic Anglicans and Episcopalians to allegorize passages of Scripture, which are not Biblical allegories. Biblical allegories come with their own interpretation. There are not many of them in the Bible. What they are doing is reading into these passages of Scripture meanings that come from their own imaginations, not the passage itself and its context. Such context may include the passages preceding or following the passage, the particular writing in which the passage is found, the New Testament or the Old Testament, of which that writing is a part, and the entire canon of the Old and New Testaments. They blatantly disregard what is clearly the intent of the human writer of the passage. They appear to have bought into the post-modern view that a passage has as many meanings as interpreters.

Evangelism 101: Three Articles [Video]

The Doctrine of Election Is Our Only Hope in Evangelism

Then the Lord spoke to Paul during the night in a vision, "Don't be afraid. Continue to speak of Me, and don't go quiet; for I am with you, and no one will be able to stop you or harm you, for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10)

Paul is in Corinth, a magnificent Grecian city known for its wealth. The Corinthians loved their luxuries, and were renowned for their 'anything goes' lifestyles. Paul seems to have been the first person to tell the Corinthians about Jesus. The response to Paul's message seemed favorable at first, but it wasn't long before Paul became the target of violent opposition. He appears to have become greatly discouraged by the Jews hatred and the Gentiles' vice; both of which he was seemingly unable to effect. He was almost ready to give up his evangelism efforts and move to another city.

Then God, who brings comfort in times of discouragement, appeared to Paul in a vision, and promised that though the days were dark and discouraging, his evangelism in Corinth would be met with stunning success. God told him,
"I have many people in this city!"
Encouraged by these words, Paul continued in Corinth another year and six months, at the end of which a large and flourishing group of people called themselves followers of Jesus Christ. Read more

5 Steps To Creating A Culture of Evangelism In Your Church

It is a sad reality today that many churches are simply not reaching many people for Christ.

No, it’s not all about numbers. Yes, fellowship and discipleship are important. But if we are trying to follow the great commission, why are we not doing more to try to reach more people?

Put simply, I believe it is because we have not created a culture of evangelism in our churches. Somewhere along the way, many churches have lost their evangelistic fervor.

If we want to create a culture of evangelism in our churches, I believe there are at least 5 things that we must do. Read more

'3 Circles,' on a napkin or with an app, conveys the Gospel [Video]

As Derek Staples prepared for a mission trip to Honduras, he was on the lookout for a visual way to express the Gospel. The church mission team, in setting up a medical clinic at a local school, would be sharing the Gospel with people in a pre-literate environment.

Staples' outreach got a lift at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June when he heard a fellow pastor, Jimmy Scroggins, talk about the "3 Circles."

"I thought it [3 Circles] was an incredible visual representation of the Gospel," said Staples, lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Ala., who led a volunteer team to the Central American country in July. "Most of the people in Honduras," he noted, "can't read or write." Read more

The George Whitefield College Whitefield Symposium [Audio]

The audio of the talks given at the 3-day Whitefield Symposium at George Whitefield College in Cape Town is now on their website.

George Whitefield College (or GWC) is a reformed, evangelical Christian theological college located in Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa. It is named after the 18th-century English evangelist George Whitefield. It was founded in 1989 on the initiative of Bishop Joe Bell, then presiding bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (or REACH South Africa), formerly the Church of England in South Africa. Its founding Principal was David Broughton Knox who had previously been Principal of Moore Theological College, Sydney, for 27 years.

George White field was an English Anglican preacher who played a leading role in the spread of the Great Awakening, particularly in North America. Whitefield was an unabashed Calvinist. He would burn himself out in the service of the gospel. He is buried in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Speakers include David Seccombe and Melvin Tinkler.

To listen to these talks, click here and wait a moment for the window lower in the page to open. The last talk from The Whitefield Symposium Day 3 should appear in the middle of window. If not, you'll need to scroll down the open window until you reach it. The talks from all three days of the symposium are posted.

The Wrong Kind of Christian

I thought I was an acceptable kind of evangelical.

I'm not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement.

We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice.

Being a Christian made me somewhat weird in my urban, progressive context, but despite some clear differences, I held a lot in common with unbelieving friends. We could disagree about truth, spirituality, and morality, and remain on the best of terms. The failures of the church often made me more uncomfortable than those in the broader culture.

Then, two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being the wrong kind of Christians. Read more

Photo: Kevin Vandivier/Genesis

Muslim Women Joining ISIS to Offer Sexual Jihad to Comfort Fighters; Teenage Girl Describes Her Experience as Brutal Rape

Muslim women sympathetic to the cause of the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, are reportedly offering up their bodies for sex to comfort militant members of the group in a practice known as Jihad Al-Nikah, or sexual jihad. According to a 16-year-old girl who was repeatedly subjected to the practice, it is nothing more than rape that made her so sick, she passed out. Read more
This practice shows how little Islamic extremists and their sympathizers value women as human beings, using religion to exploit them to gratify their own lust or to satisfy the lust of others. They will demand that women conceal themselves under a burka and will stone a woman for alleged adultery but see no wrong in turning Muslim women into sex slaves to be raped repeatedly by so-called "holy warriors."

ISIS is not just evil incarnate but an servant of Satan. For who else would take men who already suffer from a deceitful heart and a depraved nature and encourage them to do such great wickedness. For Satan roams about like a lion, seeking those whom he can devour. He has been a murderer and a liar from the beginning. He seeks to create misery and suffering whenever and wherever he can.

What we see being played out is indeed a "holy war," but it is not a struggle of mujahideen against infidel, lesser jihad. It is a spiritual war of the forces of darkness against God in which men blinded by Satan resist the one true God, mistakenly believing themselves fighting in God's own cause. Unless they repent and turn away from their wickedness and trust in Jesus, God's Chosen One, for their salvation, what awaits them is not paradise but sheets of fire, an eternity of God's wrath without hope of any reprieve or respite.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Common Fallacies in Circulation in the Anglican Church in North America (Part 1)

By Robin G. Jordan

We find circulating in the Anglican Church in North America a number of fallacies that bishops and other clergy of that denomination are promoting. The sermon that Bishop Jack Iker preached at the Eucharist for the annual meeting of the Reformed Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Mid-America’s Synod on February 21, 2014 illustrates one way bishops are promoting these fallacies in that denomination.  

After acknowledging the existence of “a continuing tension between evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics Bishop Iker makes this comment:
This is true in the international GAFCON movement as well as here in the ACNA, where evangelicals seem to dominate. Evangelicals emphasize the 16th-century Reformation and the work of the reformers in the Church of England. Everything is referenced in terms of the 1662 Prayer Book and the 39 Articles. Anglo-Catholics reference the ancient Church of the patristic fathers and emphasize the historic faith and order of the undivided church, before the division of the Church in the West from the Eastern Church. We rather like the 1549 Prayer Book as the standard. We would contend that Anglicanism flourished in England for many years prior to the Reformation era and that we are a reformed catholic church rather than a Protestant denomination born in the 16th century. Henry VIII did not found the Anglican Church and neither did the reformers. Dr. Edward Pusey, the early Tractarian and the spiritual father of the Oxford Movement, said we understand "reference to the ancient Church, instead of the Reformers, as the ultimate expounder of the meaning of our Church." 
What Bishop Iker fails to mention is that evangelicals are not the only Anglicans who have valued the historic Anglican formularies. So did the High Churchmen and the Latitudinarians.

The English Reformers who produced the Thirty-Nine Articles believed that their doctrine was agreeable to the teaching of the primitive Church and the early Church fathers as well as that of the Scriptures. The Restoration bishops produced the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They were in the main High Churchmen.

The nineteenth century Tractarians held the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in high regard. They even promoted the 1662 Prayer Book as the doctrinal standard of the Church of England. In Tract 90 John Henry Newman reinterpreted the Thirty-Nine Articles in a Romeward direction. He did not reject the Articles entirely.

What Bishop Iker also does not mention is that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles are recognized as the longstanding doctrinal standard of historic Anglicanism throughout the Anglican Communion. The 1662 Prayer Book includes the 1661 Ordinal annexed to it.

When Anglo-Catholics refer to the undivided Church, they are not referring to one period in Church history but five periods—the New Testament Church, the Post-Apostolic Church, the Church of Late Antiquity, the Church of the Early Middle Ages, and  the Churches of the High Middle Ages. The Great Schism, or the East-West Schism did not occur until 1054.

The Anglo-Catholics like the last four periods in Church history because the errors and superstitions they espouse were more wide-spread and for a large part went unchallenged. They do not like the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement because the Edwardian and Elizabethan reformers challenged these errors and superstitions on solid biblical grounds and showed them for what they are—errors and superstitions.

As we shall see, the notion of an undivided Church existing before the Great Schism has no basis in fact. It is mythic. 

Anglo-Catholics would make the 1549 Book of Common Prayer the standard because it is only partially-reformed and does not reflect Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s mature thinking. Since the nineteenth century they have used the 1549 Prayer Book as a pretext for the introduction of pre-Reformation and post-Tridentian Roman Catholic beliefs and practices and more recently Eastern Orthodox practices and beliefs into the Anglican liturgy. The 1549 Communion Service may be combined with additional texts and rubrics from the Anglican Missal to produce a facsimile of the Roman Mass. The latest Anglo-Catholic venture in the use of the 1549 Prayer Book as a Trojan horse, or subterfuge, for the introduction of Roman Catholic doctrines and liturgical usages into the Anglican liturgy is Holy Communion I and II in Texts for Common Prayer.

Anglo-Catholics contend that “Anglicanism flourished in England for many years prior to the Reformation era” solely on the basis that the Latin name of the Church of England is the ecclesia Anglicana, literally “English Church.” While John Henry Newman was originally thought to have used the term “Anglican” to refer to English Churchmen, in particular High Churchmen, recent research has shown that a similar term “Anglian” was used as early as the seventeenth century.

“Reformed catholic” is a phrase whose meaning varies with whoever is using the phrase. For Anglo-Catholics it means one thing; for evangelicals another. When Anglo-Catholics use the phrase, they are as often as not referring to unreformed Catholicism, less what Anglo-Catholics describe as “medieval excesses,” and with a vernacular liturgy. Conservative evangelicals see the Anglican Church as reformed catholic church in the way that Roger Beckwith describes the Church in The Church of England, What It Is, And What It Stands For.
The Church of England is reformed in its emphasis on the Bible, in its 39 Articles, in its vernacular worship, and in its recognition of the royal supremacy in its government. But it is also catholic, in that it retains the ancient common heritage of Christendom, in a biblical form.
Rather than “starting everything afresh,” Beckwith points out, the Anglican Reformers “simply used the standard of Scripture, applied by reason, to correct whatever needed correcting in the church’s inherited forms.”

In The Way, the Truth, and the Life—Theological Resources for a Pilgrimage to a Global Anglican Future, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group makes this important point:
Anglican orthodoxy is catholic in that it values the catholic Creeds and the Ecumenical Councils of the early church, recognizing that these have provided a ‘rule of faith’ that is derived from Scripture.
Point 3 of the Jerusalem Declaration states:
We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
Conservative evangelicals tend to shy away from the use of the phrase “reformed catholic” due to the meaning that Anglo-Catholics give the phrase. They prefer the descriptor “Protestant” to the descriptor “reformed catholic.”

As Charles H. H. Wright and Charles Neil note in the Preface of The Protestant Dictionary (1904), the term “Protestant” is often misrepresented. "Protestant" and "Catholic" are terms which, when rightly understood, are not conflicting. 
True Protestantism holds firmly to the truths set forth in the Creeds of the Apostolic Church, and protests only against unscriptural additions made to the Primitive Faith. Protestantism is the re-affirmation of that Faith combined with a distinct protest against those errors of doctrine, ritual, and practice which were brought, as St. Peter says, " privily " into the Church of Christ (2 Pet. ii. 2), but which were accepted as " Church teaching " in mediaeval times, and are still too prevalent. The word Protestantism stands for the return to Primitive and Apostolic Christianity. It is the reassertion of " the faith once for all delivered unto the saints " (Jude 3). When Protestantism is negative in its declarations, it is only to preserve and accentuate some truth which is being perverted. Like the great " Ten Words," as the Jews were wont to term "the Ten Commandments," truths sometimes appear to be simply negations, when in reality they are very far from having that character, as our Lord s summary of that Law (Matt xxii. 36-40) abundantly proves.
With the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement the Anglican Church did become a Protestant denomination. Doctrinally the Anglican Church joined the ranks of the Continental Reformed Churches. The Anglican Church did become a via media, or middle way, but NOT between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. It became a via media between Geneva and Zurich. The Continental Reformer Henry Bullinger would have a profound influence upon the Anglican Church. The systematic study of Bullinger’s Decades along with the Bible was mandatory for clergy seeking a license to preach. Those without a preaching license were required to read portions of the Homilies in place of a sermon. The Anglican Homilies are clearly Protestant and Reformed in doctrine.

The Anglican Church would retain some pre-Reformation practices such as the appointment of bishops to oversee the Church, the wearing of the surplice and the cope during services of public worship, and the making of the sign of the cross upon the forehead of the newly-baptized because these practices were not prohibited by the Scriptures and it was thought to be expedient to keep them. The Anglican Church would adopt a liturgy that, while it retained some material from pre-Reformation service books, had all pre-Reformation error and superstition expunged from it, and in which its doctrine and liturgical usages were brought in line with the teaching of the Scriptures.

The English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement would give shape to authentic historic Anglicanism.

In 1688 in reaction to the birth of a Roman Catholic heir to the English throne, James II was driven from the English throne. James and his wife were both Roman Catholics. During his brief reign James had promoted greater lenity toward Roman Catholics and Roman Catholicism and relaxation of the laws prohibiting Roman Catholics from holding public office. James’ Secretary of State, at his bidding, had replaced office-holders at court with Roman Catholic favorites. William of Orange and his wife Mary, both Protestants, were invited to ascend the English throne.

The Coronation Oath Act was passed in Parliament in 1689. It would require the English monarch at his coronation to take an oath solemnly pledging to maintain “the true Profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion Established by Law" This oath left no question as to the character of the Anglican Church. It was not just Protestant. It was Reformed.

The nineteenth century Ritualists who are the real antecedents of Anglo-Catholics like Bishop Iker broke the law when they introduced post-Tridentian as well as pre-Reformation Roman Catholic doctrine and practices in their parish churches in England. They were deliberately seeking to Romanize the Anglican Church so that the Pope would recognize the Church as Catholic and readmit it to the Roman orbit. When the Pope declared Anglican orders null and void, they sought re-ordination from bishops with a different pedigree from those of Anglican Church. They would produce the so-called Anglican Missal that enables an Anglo-Catholic priest to turn an Anglican Communion Service into a facsimile of the Roman Mass. Among their heirs was the twenty-first century Anglo-Papists who used the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Roman Missal in their parishes and would join the Anglican Ordinariate.

Roman Catholic propagandists beginning in the sixteenth century have spread the pernicious lie that the Anglican Church is the creation of Henry VIII or the English Reformers. They have sought to discredit the catholicity of the Anglican Church. Bishop John Jewel were able to show in the sixteenth century and others have shown since then that the Anglican Church is more catholic in the sense of its adherence to the primitive and apostolic faith than the Roman Catholic Church with its innovations in doctrine and worship. Some Anglo-Catholics cannot resist the temptation to break the ninth commandment and to repeat this lie.

As J. I. Packer points out in The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, the Articles “were intended to fulfill four functions:”
First, they were meant to act as the Church of England’s theological identity-card, showing what she stood for in a split and warring Christendom. As such, the Articles were intended to be a title-deed to catholic status. Catholicity and apostolicity, to our Reformers, had nothing to do with an (unproveable) ministerial succession, but were matters entirely of doctrine. The third canon of 1604 claimed that the Church of England is ‘a true apostolic church, teaching and maintaining the doctrine of the apostles.’ The Articles were drawn up to make good this claim, (which, of course, antedates 1604; it goes back to the Reformers), and to show that the English Reformation, so far from being, as Rome supposed, a lapse from catholicity and apostolicity on the part of the ecclesia Anglicana, was actually a recovery of these qualities through recovery of the authentic apostolic faith. Not for nothing did Rogers entitle the final edition of his exposition of the Articles ‘The Catholic Doctrine of the Church of England’.
Bishop Iker quotes the words of Edward Bouvrie Pusey who maintained “the ancient Church,” not the English Reformers, was “the ultimate expounder of the meaning of our Church." “The ancient Church” to which Pusey was referring was not the New Testament Church but the post-apostolic Church and later. Pusey would replace John Henry Newman as the leader of the Tractarian Movement after Newman converted to Roman Catholicism.

Pusey, I must point out, upheld Newman’s Tract 90 “as giving a Catholic interpretation, i.e. the sanction of antiquity to the Thirty-Nine Articles.” With John Keble he would maintain “the pure and apostolic doctrines” of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as the Church of England’s rule of faith. Pusey would also champion Newman’s theory of the Church of England as a via media between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. He promoted the reunion of the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church. Rome, however, did not regard Pusey’s views as Catholic enough and rejected his overtures.

Bishop Iker goes on to say:
Here too Anglo-Catholics and the REC stand together. We affirm the four essential elements for church unity called the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God, containing all things necessary to salvation, and our ultimate standard and guide in matters of doctrine and morals.
2. The Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as sufficient statements of the Christian faith.
3. The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion as instituted by Christ himself.
4. The historic Episcopate, which preserves the apostolic succession of bishops, priests, and deacons.

All of these are pre-reformation realities, dating back to the first apostles. They are not confessional statements originating in English Reformation theology.
Bishop Iker confuses Resolution 11 of the 1888 Lambeth Conference of the bishops of the Anglican Communion with the resolution of 1886 Chicago meeting of the House of Bishops of the then Protestant Episcopal Church and misquotes both resolutions. The House of Bishops in its resolution stated:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed Word of God.
2. The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
3. The two Sacraments — Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
Note the differences between what the House of Bishops’ resolution says and what Bishop Iker says. The House of Bishops’ resolution says nothing about the Scriptures “containing all things necessary to salvation” or being “ our ultimate standard and guide in matters of doctrine and morals.” Nor does the resolution say anything about the Apostles’ Creed being a sufficient statement of the Christian faith. It only contains a reference to the Nicene Creed. Article 3 in the House of Bishops’ resolution refers to “the two Sacraments—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him,” not to “the two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion as instituted by Christ himself.” They are not the same thing. Article 4 in the House of Bishop’s makes no mention of the preservation of “the apostolic succession of bishops, priests, and deacons.” It does, however, contain a reference to the local adaptation of the methods of administration of the historic episcopate “to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.”

Now compare what Bishop Iker says and what Resolution 11 says:
That, in the opinion of this Conference, the following Articles supply a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion:
(a) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
(b) The Apostles' Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
(c) The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself — Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with unfailing use of Christ's Words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
(d) The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.
Article (a) in Resolution 11 does refer to the Scriptures “"containing all things necessary to salvation.” It, however, then refers the Scriptures “being the rule and ultimate standard of faith,” not to “our ultimate standard and guide in matters of doctrine and morals.”  Article (b) in Resolution 11 adds the phrase “the Apostles Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol” to Article 2 of the House of Bishops’ resolution. It makes no mention of the Apostles’ Creed being a sufficient standard of faith with the Nicene Creed. Article (c) of Resolution 11 adds the qualifying phrase “ordained by Christ Himself” to the wording of Article 3 in the House of Bishops’ resolution.  Article (d) in Resolution 11 reiterates Article 4 in the House of Bishops’ resolution.

Article (d) in Resolution 11 was the most criticized article in that resolution because it was open to interpretation as not supporting the Anglo-Catholic and Roman Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession.

What Bishop Iker does in his sermon is present his own reinterpretation of the two resolutions and invite his audience to affirm that particular reinterpretation as “the four essential elements for church unity.” He does not explain what he means by “church unity.” The rest of his sermon suggests that he is not referring to "the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom,” a Christendom which no longer exists, or to a basis of an approach to “Home Reunion,” the reunification of the Anglican Church with the Roman Catholic Church, to which Resolution 11 refers. He does appear to be promoting his reinterpretation of the two resolutions as a basis for unity within the Anglican Church in North America.

Note the similarity between Bishop Iker’s reinterpretation of the two resolutions and the ACNA College of Bishops’ reinterpretation of the same resolutions in the Letter of Commendation in the front of To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral – Resolution 11 of the Lambeth Conference (1888) affirmed four marks of Church identity required for genuine unity and fellowship. These are: the Holy Scriptures containing “all things necessary for salvation,” the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds as “the sufficient statement of the Christian faith,” two sacraments ordained by Christ –Baptism and the Eucharist – and “the historic Episcopate, locally adapted.” These serve as a basis of Anglican identity as well as instruments for ecumenical dialogue with other church traditions.
As I point out in my previous article, “The Anglican Church in North America: A Bus Heading for the Precipice,” the Lambeth Quadrilateral has been criticized as an inadequate basis for Anglican identity, prompting the development of the Anglican Communion Covenant and the Jerusalem Declaration.

In 1886 the then Protestant Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops was dominated by Anglo-Catholic bishops and the resolution reflects the churchmanship of these bishops. This is clearly evident in the two paragraphs preceding the four articles of the resolution:
But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian unity can be restored only by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.

As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore as essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit….
First, they call for “the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence.” Here they are making certain assumptions about the Church during the first ten centuries of existence before the Great Schism. One of these assumptions is that no divisions existed in the Church during this period. This is patently untrue. The Church has never been monolithic. Since New Testament times it has experienced all kinds of divisions. The Great Schism itself was the culmination of longstanding divisions between the Eastern Church and the Western Church.

Second, they assert that these principles of unity are “the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world….” The “sacred deposit” to which the resolution refers includes what Anglo-Catholics call “Holy Tradition,” as well as the decrees of the first seven General Councils of the so-called undivided Church and the writings of the early Church Fathers. This is evident from the four articles of the resolution themselves.

The Scriptures say a lot more about themselves than does the resolution’s four articles. While the doctrine of the Nicene Creed is gathered from the Scriptures and is agreeable to the teaching of the Scriptures, the Nicene Creed is not found in the Scriptures.  The terms “elder” and “overseer” are found in the New Testament where they are used to describe the same ministry, a fact which both Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and benchmark Anglican divine Richard Hooker recognized. However, the distinguishing of bishop from presbyter occurred after the New Testament period and we must look to the post-apostolic period for beginnings of the concept of a historic episcopate. The “sacred deposit” to which the resolution refers is clearly not the deposit of apostolic teaching found in the Scriptures.

Third, they assert for that reason the same principles of unity are from “incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.” In other words, they were principles upon which they themselves were unwilling to compromise or give in.

They go on to state what they account to be “inherent parts of this sacred deposit” and to be “therefore…essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom.”

Article 1 of the House of Bishops’ resolution does not exclude a central place for “Holy Tradition,” decrees of the first seven General Councils of the so-called undivided Church, and the writings of the early Church Fathers in the teaching of the Church. It simply recognizes the canonical Scriptures as “the revealed Word of God.” It says nothing about the sufficiency or the supremacy of the Scriptures.

Article 2 does not explain what it means in referring to the Nicene Creed as “the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.” As Richard Begbie points to our attention in The Anglican Faith: A Layman’s Guide (1993), the Creeds are not a complete statement of the truth. They “are not so much a statement of what we are to believe as what to believe on such doctrines as are included in them.”

Article 8 of the Thirty-Nine Articles states:
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius's Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.
Article 8 does not suggest that individually or collectively the Creeds represent a sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

Among the reasons that the Thirty-Nine Articles were adopted was that the Creeds were not a sufficient statement of the Christian faith. They did not address three critical areas—salvation, revelation, and the sacraments.

While the four articles in Bishop Iker’s reinterpretation of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral are arguably “pre-reformation realities,” existing before the English Reformation, he is stretching the truth in claiming that they date back to the first apostles. While a case can be made for the apostles’ recognition of a number of New Testament writing along with the Hebrew Bible as Scripture and as the final authority in matters of faith and practice, the canon of the Christian Bible was not formalized until the post-apostolic era.

An earlier Roman Creed upon which the Apostles Creed is based is found in a letter attributed to Ambrose, from a Council in Milan to Pope Siricius in about 390. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, draws to our attention:
While the individual statements of belief that are included in the Apostles' Creed – even those not found in the Old Roman Symbol–are found in various writings by Irenaeus,  Tertullian,  Novatian,  Marcellus,  Rufinus,  Ambrose,  Augustine,  Nicetus, and  Eusebius Gallus, the earliest appearance of what we know as the Apostles' Creed was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus ("Excerpt from Individual Canonical Books") of St. Pirminius (Migne, Patrologi Latina 89, 1029 ff.), written between 710 and 714. Bettenson and Maunder state that it is first from Dicta Abbatis Pirminii de singulis libris canonicis scarapsus (idem quod excarpsus, excerpt), c.750. This longer Creed seems to have arisen in what is now France and Spain. Charlemagne imposed it throughout his dominions, and it was finally accepted in Rome, where the old Roman Creed or similar formulas had survived for centuries. It has been argued nonetheless that it dates from the second half of the 5th century, though no earlier. 
The Anglican Church accepts the Apostles Creed as an authoritative statement of what Christians should believe in relation to the doctrines included in that Creed, not because of a legend attributing the authorship of the Creed to the apostles, but due to the agreement of the Creed with the Scriptures.

The First Council of Nicaea is believed to have adopted the original Nicene Creed in 325. The Nicene Creed would undergo a number of developments. For a discussion of these changes, see the Wikipedia article, “The Nicene Creed.” The Nicene Creed used in the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church differs from the Nicene Creed used in the Eastern Orthodox Churches in that the words “and from the Son,” also known as the Filoque clause, are added to the description of the procession of the Holy Spirit. In The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles W. H. Griffith Thomas offers this explanation of how the Filoque clause came to be added to the Western version of the Nicene Creed.
Chalcedon to the Reformation. The doctrine of the Deity of the Spirit being fully established, there still remained the question of His relation to the Father and the Son. The term “Generation” was used to describe the relation of the Son to the Father, and the term “Procession” was employed to denote that of the Spirit. But the question was whether this eternal “Procession” or “Forthcoming” was from the Son as well as from the Father. The problem was Western, not Eastern, and the attitude indicates a difference which is explained by the conditions of the two Churches. The Eastern was confronted with those who tended to regard the Spirit as inferior to the Son, and in order to protect the full Deity of the Spirit it was regarded as essential to represent Him as proceeding solely from the Father as the Fountain (πηγή) of the Godhead. The Western Church, on the other hand, starting with the essential unity of the Son and the Father, desired to protect the truth that the Spirit is as much the Spirit of the Son as He is of the Father. Otherwise there could be no equality. It was this that led the West to express its truth by saying that the Spirit “proceeded” from the Father and the Son. It was the great influence of St. Augustine that led the West to endorse this twofold “Procession,” and it became part of Western doctrine by incorporation into the Creed at the Council of Toledo in Spain, 589. At Toledo the authority of the first Four Councils was acknowledged, and the Creeds of Nicæa and Constantinople rehearsed, and it is curious that in this rehearsal the Synod imagined that the Latin Creed represented the Greek original. It is thus a matter of discussion how the words “And the Son” came into the Creed. Some have thought this was due to a marginal gloss. Dr. Burn adduces evidence to prove that the Council never added the words at all, that they are due to a blunder of a copyist of the Toledo text of the Constantinopolitan Creed.[4] The interpolation did not cause suspicion, but was repeated in several Synods as the orthodox doctrine, so that we have the remarkable fact of the Council professing to keep the text of the Creed pure, and yet laying stress on the Spirit’s “Procession” from the Son. It is probable that increasing error was rendering further dogmatic definition necessary. “The Toledan Fathers were only drawing out what seemed to them latent in the Creed.”[5] It is essential to distinguish between the doctrine itself and its insertion in the Creed. However and whenever it was inserted, the addition was unwarranted, because it was without proper ecumenical authority, and it was some time before the addition became part of the Roman version of the Constantinopolitan Creed. The Western doctrine is thought to have come to England from Augustine of Canterbury, and during the Middle Ages little or nothing occurred of importance in connection with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Griffith Thomas further elucidates:
We have already seen something of the history of the doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son, and it is important to obtain a true idea of the meaning of the Western Church in expressing and insisting on this doctrine. On the one side the Spirit is associated with the Father as sent, given, and proceeding (Matt. 10:20; John 14:16, 26; 15:26). On the other hand, He is associated with the Son, being called the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9); described as sent by the Son from the Father (John 15:26); bestowed by the Son on the Apostles (John 20:22; Acts 2:33); and called the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7, R.V.). (See also Gal. 4:6; Phil. 1:19; 1 Pet. 1:11.) So that, in the statement of the Creed, the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, there was no intention of denying the one principium in the Father, but only a general assertion that the essence which the Father eternally communicates to the Spirit is also the essence of the Son, and that the Son shares, and is involved in the act and process of communication. The Eastern Church regards the Procession from the Son as temporal only through the Mission, and suspects our Western view of a tendency towards Sabellianism. It would seem as though no reunion were possible without some change of doctrine; at any rate the Eastern Church does not regard the difference as merely verbal. On the other hand, if the West dropped the Filioque, it might be thought to deny or question the Consubstantiality of the Son with the Father.[7]

One question of supreme importance has been raised during recent years: Is the doctrine of the Procession from the Son really justified, and does it represent a vital difference? Several authorities are of opinion that it is this addition which has given to the West its admitted spiritual superiority over the East.[8]One writer goes so far as to say that the denial of the Procession from the Son has done much to fossilise the Greek Church. It is undoubtedly true that no Western theologian ever wished to do anything more than to associate in the closest possible way the Holy Spirit with the Son of God, and in so doing it would seem as though this was keeping quite close to the characteristic New Testament conception of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Jesus. And so we may say that “without the Holy Spirit we have practically no Christ,” and without Christ we have practically no Holy Spirit.
The Anglican Church, as in the case of the Apostles Creed, accepts the Nicene Creed as an authoritative statement of what Christians should believe in relation to the doctrines included in that Creed due to its agreement with the Scriptures. While the ACNA College of Bishops has gone on recording as permitting the omission of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed, largely out of a desire to foster closer ties with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the 2008 GAFCON Conference with the Jerusalem Declaration affirmed the retention of the Filoque clause in its upholding of “the Thirty-Nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.”

The New Testament tells us that Jesus’ disciples baptized and Jesus by his own baptism sanctioned the practice. In Matthew 28:16-20 he instructs the disciples to baptize new disciples. However, we do not find any passages of Scripture in which Jesus is described as actually instituting the practice. We do, on the other hand, find four accounts of how Jesus on the night before his passion and death instituted the Lord's Supper and instructed his disciples to give thanks over bread and wine and to share them “in remembrance of me.”  The ordinance or sacrament of the Lord’s Supper can be described as having been both instituted and ordained by Jesus. The ordinance or sacrament of Baptism may be described as being ordained by Jesus but not instituted by him. In any event the two rites may be regarded as having been officially made ordinances or sacraments of the Church by Jesus.

As previously noted, the distinguishing of bishops from presbyters occurred after New Testament times. During New Testament times they were one office. The affirmation of the Anglo-Catholic and Roman Catholic view of apostolic succession that Bishop Iker infers to be a part of the Chicago-Lambeth Equilateral  is predicated upon the belief that the apostles consecrated the first bishops, setting them apart to be their successors.  This cannot be proven and is purely conjecture.

Sadly Bishop Iker’s audience in all likelihood did not know any better and lacked the discernment to recognize truth from falsehood. The REC bishops whom Bishop Iker recognized as kindred spirits have been leading the Reformed Episcopal Church away from the evangelical principles of the REC founders in the direction of Anglo-Catholicism for at least two decades. In the case of former REC Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches it has been more than four decades.

In the second article in this series, “Common Fallacies in Circulation in the Anglican Church in North America (Part 2)”, we will examine eight common fallacies that are circulating in the Anglican Church in North America.