Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thoughts on the Holy Spirit and Historic Anglicanism

I originally posted this article a little over five years ago. A number of the observations made in the article are even more relevant today than they were then. Since that time the Anglican Church in North America has released a number of doctrinal statements in the form of Ordination Rites, a Cathechism, Eucharistic, Baptismal, and Confirmation Rites, and a statement on the use of blessed oils. In these formularies the ACNA has officially laid out its position on a number of key issues. 

By Robin G. Jordan

Liberalism is much more prevalent in North American Anglicanism than we realize, even outside of the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church. Because liberalism has taken more radical forms in the last 30 years, we are apt to ignore its common garden varieties.

The evangelicals who remained in the Protestant Episcopal Church after 1873 like Philip Brooks defected to Broad Church liberalism. The Church of England evangelicals who adopted Anglo-Catholic doctrines and High Church practices in the late 1800s were also liberals. E. J. Bicknell whose A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England was first published in 1919 and which has been widely used in the United States was a liberal Catholic. Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang who brought about the acceptance of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England in the 1920s was a liberal Catholic. Major supporters of the ordination of women in the 1980s were liberal Catholics.

We are not likely to regard these groups as liberal today. The radicalism of contemporary liberalism in the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church in recent years has tended to make the liberalism of the past more acceptable. Only traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals like myself are likely to consider the supporters of women’s ordination in the global South Anglican provinces and the new Anglican Church in North America to be liberal.

The late William Barclay who once described himself as a "liberal evangelical" but was a theological modernist, wrote a very popular series of Bible commentaries, The Daily Study Bible. Barclay not only embraced Bible criticism but he also rejected the miracles in the Bible. In his Bible commentaries he offers naturalistic explanations for Jesus’ feeding the five thousand and walking on the Sea of Galilee and other miracles or he dismisses them as myth. For example, Barclay did not believe in the virgin birth. I am acquainted with at least one very conservative traditionalist Anglo-Catholic Continuing Anglican church that uses Barclay’s commentaries in its study of the Bible. The church’s priest, who firmly believes in the doctrines of the sacrifice of the Mass and Transubstantiation, has used in his homilies explanations of the miracles in Bible that sounded very much like Barclay’s. They downplay the supernatural. He and his congregation, which is very socially conservative, take a liberal position on the supernatural in the Bible. One might be prompted to ask how they can accept these two Catholic doctrines, which affirm the operation of the supernatural in the Eucharist and yet deny the operation of the supernatural in the Bible? However, they do, as do a number of Episcopalians do in the Episcopal Church. These Episcopalians are also liberal on social issues. They do not see any inconsistency between their acceptance of a supernatural explanation of the Eucharist and their rejection of a supernatural explanation of the miracles in the Bible.

The members of the new Anglican Church in North America are loath to admit the existence of liberalism in that body. However, it does exist in that body as it exists in other Anglican bodies in North America. North American Anglicans who may be social conservative on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality may be liberals on other issues. We cannot assume that since they are social conservative on these issues, they are conservative on all issues. This applies to North American Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America as well as to those outside that body. The Anglican Church in North America may be more conservative in certain areas than the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church but it is not the bastion of conservatism that its members would like to believe that it is.

A case in point is how loosely a substantial number of those who identify themselves as evangelicals in the Anglican Church in North America sit to the tenets of classical Anglican evangelicalism and to the Protestant faith of the reformed Church of England and her formularies. The arguments I hear supporting this looseness frequently are liberal arguments. They are also arguments that historically have often been made by the opponents of classical Anglican evangelicalism—Anglo-Catholic and liberal.

Self-identified evangelicals in the Anglican Church in North America are not the only group in that body that shows the influence of liberalism. So do Anglo-Catholics. They tolerate the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the ordination of women in that body. Indeed they use the 1979 Prayer Book themselves and at least one Anglo-Catholic bishop, Archbishop Robert Duncan, ordains women.

In the latitude that the Anglican Church in North America permits in certain areas, it is more liberal than its members are willing to admit. Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic tolerance and even acceptance of charismatic practices and Pentecostal theology is itself a form of liberalism. From a historical perspective the shift in attitude toward charismatic practices and Pentecostal theology represents a far-reaching and even radical change for Anglicans. Due to the excesses of sixteenth century Anabaptism and seventeenth century Separatism historic Anglicanism has tended to shy away from what historically been referred to as “enthusiasm.”

Historic Anglicanism does not altogether reject the charismas, or manifestations of the Holy Spirit:
The holy Ghost doeth alwayes declare himselfe by his fruitfull and gracious giftes, namely, by the worde of wisedome, by the worde of knowledge, which is the vnderstanding of the Scriptures, by faith, in doing of miracles, by healing them that are diseased, by prophesie, which is the declaration of GODS mysteries, by discerning of spirits, diuersities of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and so foorth. All which giftes, as they proceede from one spirit, and are seuerally giuen to man according to the measurable distribution of the holy Ghost: Euen so doe they bring men, and not without good cause, into a wonderfull admiration of GODS diuine power (1 Corinthians 12.7-11).[1]
Historic Anglicanism takes the position that the Holy Spirit was not promised and given “onely to the Apostles, but also to the vniuersall Church of Christ, dispersed through the whole world.”
For vnlesse the holy Ghost had beene alwayes present, gouerning and preseruing the Church from the beginning, it could neuer haue sustayned so many and great brunts of affliction and persecution, with so little damage & harme as it hath. And the words of Christ are most plaine in this behalfe, saying, that the spirit of truth should abide with them for euer, that he would be with them alwayes (he meaneth by grace, vertue, and power) euen to the worlds end (John 14.17, Matthew 28.20).
Also in the prayer that he made to his Father a little before his death, he maketh intercession, not onely for himselfe and his Apostles, but indifferently for all them that should beleeue in him through their words, that is to wit, for his whole Church (John 17.20-21). Againe, Saint Paul sayth: If any man haue not the spirit of Christ, the same is not his (Romans 8.9). Also in the words following, we haue receiued the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father (Romans 8.15). Heereby then it is euident and plaine to all men, that the holy Ghost was giuen, not only to the Apostles, but also to the whole body of Christs congregation, although not in like forme and maiestie as hee came downe at the feast of Pentecost.[2]
Please take note of this last sentence, which I have italicized to emphasize it. “Heereby then it is euident and plaine to all men, that the holy Ghost was giuen, not only to the Apostles, but also to the whole body of Christs congregation, although not in like forme and maiestie as hee came downe at the feast of Pentecost.” The Holy Spirit is given to the entire Church but not “in like form and maieste” as the Spirit came down at the feast of Pentecost. The Spirit is not given to us in the same mode and stateliness of manner as the Spirit was given to the disciples gathered in the upper room. We cannot expect to hear from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and divided tongues as of fire are not going to appear to us and rest on us. We cannot expect to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gives us utterance (Acts 2:3-4).

This view conflicts with classical Pentecostal theology that posits a baptism with the Holy Spirit apart from water baptism and insists speaking in tongues to be sure evidence of that baptism. Classical Pentecostal theology bases its position upon several descriptive passages in the Acts of the Apostles. The problem with basing a doctrine upon descriptive passages is that it seeks to draw universal norms from particular events. It presumes that the author of the descriptive passages was establishing a precedent, which may not actually be the case. There must be clear evidence that it was the author’s intent to establish a precedent with these passages.

Historic Anglicanism sees Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him as a dove (Matthew 3:16 and parallels) as the norm for Christians. At the same time it recognizes that the Holy Spirit may be given apart from baptism, either before or after baptism, or the Spirit may not be given at all. To insist that the Holy Spirit is always and exclusively given at baptism would be to “so expound one place of Scripture, that it may be repugnant to another” (Article 20). The coming down of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and Cornelius and his household are Scriptural examples of the giving of the Holy Spirit apart from baptism, and Simon Magus and the Samaritans are Scriptural examples of baptism without the giving of the Holy Spirit. The thief on the cross is a Scriptural example of a person who is regenerate but has never been baptized. For this reason, historical Anglicanism rejects the ex operato opere view of the operation of the sacraments and the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It finds no basis in Scripture for Anglo-Catholic-Roman Catholic sacramental theology.

In his magnum opus, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Richard Hooker articulates the historic Anglican position on the manner of the efficacy of the sacraments as the means of grace. Whatever benefit is received through them is received “from God himself—the Author of the sacraments—and not from any other natural or supernatural quality in them.” He is very pointed in emphasizing that their operation is not automatic or unconditional.
…they contain in themselves no vital force or efficacy; they are not physical but moral instruments of salvation, duties of service and worship; which unless we perform as the Author of grace requireth, they are unprofitable. For all receive not the grace of God who receive the sacraments of his grace.[3]
Historic Anglicanism lays particular stress upon the work of the Holy Spirit in “the inward regeneration and sanctification of mankind.”
The Father to create, the Sonne to redeeme, the holy Ghost to sanctifie and regenerate. Whereof the last, the more it is hidde from our vnderstanding, the more it ought to mooue all men to wonder at the secret and mightie working of GODS holy Spirit which is within vs. For it is the holy Ghost, and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring vp good and godly motions in their hearts, which are agreeable to the will and commandement of GOD, such as otherwise of their owne crooked and peruerse nature they should neuer haue. That which is borne of the Spirit, is Spirit (John 3.6). As who should say: Man of his owne nature is fleshly and carnall, corrupt and naught, sinfull and disobedient to GOD, without any sparke of goodnesse in him, without any vertuous or godly motion, onely giuen to euill thoughts and wicked deedes. As for the workes of the Spirit, the fruits of Faith, charitable and godly motions, if he haue any at all in him, they proceed onely of the holy Ghost, who is the onely worker of our Sanctification, and maketh vs new men in Christ Iesus. [4]
Historic Anglicanism rejects the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope has a particular gift of the Holy Spirit and that whatever the Pope decrees is an undoubted truth and an oracle, or divine revelation, of the Holy Spirit.
But here they will alledge for themselues, that there are diuers necessary points not expressed in holy Scripture, which were left to the reuelation of the holy Ghost. Who being giuen to the Church, according to Christs promise, hath taught many things from time to time, which the Apostles could not then beare (John 16.7). To this wee may easily answere by the plaine wordes of Christ, teaching vs that the proper office of the holy Ghost is, not to institute and bring in new ordinances, contrary to his doctrine before taught: but shall come and declare those things which he had before taught: so that it might be well and truely vnderstood. When the holy Ghost (saith he) shal come, he shall leade you into all trueth (John 16.13). What trueth doth he meane? Any other then hee himselfe had before expressed in his word? No. For he saith, He shall take of mine, and shew vnto you. Againe, he shall bring you in remembrance of all things that I haue tolde you (John 16.15). It is not then the duetie and part of any Christian, vnder pretence of the holy Ghost, to bring in his owne dreames and phantasies into the Church: but hee must diligently prouide that his doctrine and decrees bee agreeable to Christes holy Testament. Otherwise in making the holy Ghost the authour thereof, hee doeth blaspheme and belye the holy Ghost, to his owne condemnation.[5]
Any claimed revelation from the Holy Spirit must be tried by the test of the Holy Scriptures. This applies to the claims of various groups that they represent a new movement of the Holy Spirit in the twenty-first century. Article XIX of the Forty-Two Articles of 1553 ringingly condemns those who claim their personal revelations from the Holy Spirit supplement or supplant the Holy Scriptures.
“Wherfore thei are not to be harkened vnto, who affirme that holie Scripture is geuen onlie to th weake, and do boaste theimselues continually of the spirit, of whom (thei sai) thei haue learned soche things as thei teache, although the same be most euidently repugnaunt to the holie Scripture.[6]
In the rhema-logos controversy of the twentieth century the late David Watson, a Church of England minister and a charismatic Christian leader, urged charismatic Christians in the Church of England to hold and maintain the historic Anglican position that all personal revelations from the Holy Spirit, like all human thoughts, should be submitted to Scripture. Historic Anglicanism takes Scripture with full seriousness as a functioning rule for faith and life, and fully accepts its authority. It recognizes that, while the Bible had human writers, the author of the Holy Scriptures is the Holy Spirit. God is not going to reveal through the Holy Spirit to a latter-day prophet something different from what He has already revealed through the Holy Spirit in the Bible. God does not change His mind or contradict Himself.

For historic Anglicanism the surest evidence that a Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating and sanctifying work in his life.
O but how shal I know that the holy Ghost is within me! Some man perchance will say, forsooth, as the tree is knowen by his fruit, so is also the holy Ghost. The fruits of the holy Ghost (according to the mind of S. Paul) are these: Loue, ioy, peace, long suffring, gentlenes, goodnes, faithfulnes, meekenes, temperance, &c. Contrariwise, the deeds of the flesh are these: Adultery, fornication, vncleannesse, wantonnes, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, debate, emulation, wrath, contention, sedition, heresie, enuy, murder, drunkennes, gluttonie, and such like (Galatians 5.19-23).
Heere is now that glasse, wherein thou must behold thy selfe, and discerne whether thou haue the holy Ghost within thee, or the spirit of the flesh. If thou see that thy workes bee vertuous and good, consonant to the prescript rule of GODS word, sauouring and tasting not of the flesh, but of the spirit, then assure thy selfe that thou art endued with the holy Ghost: Otherwise in thinking well of thy selfe, thou doest nothing els but deceiue thy selfe. [7]
Historic Anglicanism takes to heart our Lord’s words that a tree is known by the fruit it bears.
For as the Gospel teacheth vs, the spirit of Iesus is a good spirit, an holy spirit, a sweete spirit, a lowly spirit, a mercifull spirit, full of charitie and loue, full of forgiuenesse and pitie, not rendring euill for euill, extremitie for extremitie, but ouercomming euill with good, and remitting all offence euen from the heart. According to which rule, if any man liue vprightly, of him it may be safely pronounced, that hee hath the holy Ghost within him: If not, then it is a plaine token that hee doeth vsurpe the name of the holy Ghost in vaine. Therefore (dearely beloued) according to the good counsell of Saint Iohn, beleeue not euery spirit, but first try them whether they bee of GOD, or no (1 John 4.1). Many shall come in my Name (sayth Christ) and shall transforme themselues into Angels of light, deceiuing (if it bee possible) the very elect. They shall come vnto you in sheepes clothing, being inwardly cruell and rauening Wolues (Matthew 24.5, 24). They shall haue an outward shew of great holinesse and innocencie of life, so that ye shall hardly or not at all discerne them. But the rule that yee must follow, is this, to iudge them by their fruits (Matthew 7.20). Which if they be wicked and naught, then is it vnpossible that the tree of whom they proceede should bee good.[8]
Historic Anglicanism rejects the Roman Catholic view that confirmation is a sacrament that adds to, supplements or completes baptism. Historic Anglicanism’s view of confirmation is found in Alexander Nowell’s Catechism which Nowell prepared at the request of Convocation in 1563. Convocation subsequently gave official sanction to his Catechism in 1570. The exclusive use of Nowell’s Catechism was enjoined in the proposed Canons of 1570. The Canons of 1604, adopted during the reign of James I require its use in grammar schools and universities.
M. It is so. But whereas thou didst say before, that children, after they were grown more in years, ought to acknowledge the truth of their baptism, I would thou shouldest now speak somewhat more plainly thereof.
S. Parents and schoolmasters did in old time diligently instruct their children, as soon as by age they were able to perceive and understand, in the first principles of Christian religion, that they might suck in godliness almost together with the nurse’s milk, and straightways after their cradle might be nourished with the tender food of virtue towards that blessed life. For the which purpose also little short books, which we name Catechisms, were written, wherein the same, or very like matters as we now are in hand with, were entreated upon. And after that the children seemed to be sufficiently trained in the principles of our religion, they brought and offered them unto the bishop.

M. For what purpose did they so?
S. That children might after baptism do the same which such as were older, who were also called catechumeni, that is, scholars of religion, did in old time before, or rather, at baptism itself. For the bishop did require and the children did render reason and account of their religion and faith: and such children as the bishop judged to have sufficiently profited in the understanding of religion he allowed, and laying his hands upon them, and blessing them, let them depart. This allowance and blessing of the bishop our men do call Confirmation.

M. But there was another confirmation used of late?
S. Instead of this most profitable and ancient confirmation, they conveyed a device of their own, that is, that the bishop should not examine children, whether they were skilled in the precepts of religion or no, but that they should anoint young infants unable yet to speak, much less to give any account of their faith; adjoining also other ceremonies unknown unto the Holy Scripture and the primitive church. This invention of theirs they would needs have to be a sacrament, and accounted it in manner equal in dignity with baptism; yea, some of them preferred it also before baptism. By all means they would that this their confirmation should be taken for a certain supplying of baptism, that it should thereby be finished and brought to perfection, as though baptism else were unperfect, and as though children who in baptism had put upon them Christ with his benefits, without their confirmation were but half Christians; than which injury no greater could be done against the divine sacrament, and against God himself, and Christ our Saviour, the author and founder of the holy sacrament of baptism.

M. It were to be wished therefore that the ancient manner and usage of examining children were restored again?
S. Very much to be wished, surely. For so should parents be brought to the satisfying of their duty in the godly bringing up of their children, which they now for the most part do leave undone, and quite reject from them; which part of their duty if parents or schoolmasters would at this time take in hand, do, and thoroughly perform, there would be a marvelous consent and agreement in religion and faith, which is now in miserable sort torn asunder; surely all should not either lie so shadowed and overwhelmed with the darkness of ignorance, or with dissensions of divers and contrary opinions be so disturbed, dissolved and dissipated, as it is at this day: the more pity it is, and most to be sorrowed of all good men for so miserable a case.

M. It is very true that thou sayest….[9]
Historic Anglicanism recognizes the laying on of hands as an apostolic practice but not as an apostolic ordinance.
ALMIGHTIE everlyvyng God, whiche makest us bothe to will, and to do those thynges that be good, and acceptable unto thy Majestie, we make our humble supplications unto the for these children, upon whome (after the example of thy holy Apostles) we have laied our handes, to certifie theim (by thys signe) of thy favour, and gracious goodnes toward them, let thy fatherly hande we beseche the ever be over them, let thy holy spirite ever be with them, and so leade them in the knowledge and obedience of thy worde that in the ende they may obtaine the everlasting lyfe: through our Lorde Jesus Christe, who with the and the holy Ghost liveth and reigneth one God, worlde without ende. Amen. [10]
We do not come across the idea of confirmation as “a special means to convey the graces of God’s Holy Spirit” until the Catholic Reaction in the reign of Charles I. Bishop John Cosin, while rejecting the Roman Catholic view that confirmation is a sacrament describes confirmation in sacramental terms.
We pray for others, (as now in this action we shall do for you that come to be confirmed) we implore God’s blessing upon them who pray, and thereby we do actually bless them, because our prayers and the imposition of hands in those prayers, are an especial means ordained by God to procure the that blessing from Him upon whom by this solemn rite we present unto Him for this purpose. [11]
Cosin goes on to claim the support of the Patristic writers for his view of confirmation.
And therefore the ancient bishops and fathers of the Church everywhere in their learned, godly, and Christian writings impute unto it those gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, which doth make men and women Christians, as they were at first in their baptism, but when they were made such there, assisteth them in all virtue and armeth them the better against all the several temptations of the world and the devil, to resist the vices of the flesh. [12]
Bishop Jeremy Taylor describes conformation in similar terms, implying that confirmation is a sacrament in all but name.

In his third series of notes on the Book of Common Prayer Cosin appears to take a different view of confirmation.
Confirmation (thought it be very behoveful) is not absolutely necessary to salvation, being not Christ’s own institution, as the Sacrament of Baptism is; for it was instituted only by the Church, in imitation of the apostles….[13]]
After citing his sources, Cosin writes:
…confirmation in the Church was appointed in imitation or instead of the imposition of the hands used by the apostles, Acts viii, which abundantly proves it not to have been of divine right…..[14]
Cosin further writes:
That confirmation of children after baptism was not accounted to be of absolute necessity, it is plain from the use of old, in receiving some such to Communion, and to sacred orders also, who had never been confirmed….[15]
He concludes:
When the children of Christians had learned Christ’s religion, they were brought to the church, and were presented to the bishop, and professed openly their faith, and said they would live and die in it. Then the bishop and all the people prayed for them; and the bishop laying his hands upon them, commended them to God. This was the ratifying of their profession, made by others in their name at their baptism; and for that cause was it called confirmation; for they promised, that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor fire, nor sword, nor life, nor death, should ever make them deny their faith.[16]
The idea that confirmation is a special means by which the graces and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are conveyed can be traced to an early misinterpretation of the New Testament and a subsequent misunderstanding of the teaching of the Prayer Book. For a discussion of how this idea developed and what the Prayer Book actually teaches, please see the accompanying article, “An Anglican Prayer Book (2008): The Catechism and the Order of Confirmation,” which was originally posted on Virtue Online.

A careful examination of the writings of Cosin and Taylor shows that, while they make frequent references to the Holy Scriptures, they rely too heavily upon the Patristic writers in interpreting the text. Where the Patristic writers erred, they erred. For them the rule of antiquity outweighs the rule of Scripture. Instead of submitting the opinions of the Patristic writers to Scripture, they submitted Scripture to the opinions of the Patristic writers. While we can benefit from reading their writings, we need to be cognizant of their peculiarities and read their writings critically.

Interestingly in his monumental A Body of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion, Archbishop James Ussher, who was widely respected in the reign of Charles I for his scholarship, makes no reference to confirmation, except to describe it as “superfluous.” [17]

As J. I. Packer draws to our attention in Keeping in Step with the Spirit, we may account for the experiences that charismatic Christians attribute to baptism in the Spirit without positing “a distinct post-conversion, post-water baptism experience, universally needed and universally available to those who seek it”, as does classical Pentecostal theology. [18] God may make himself know in new ways in the life of a Christian at different phases in his faith journey. A second experience is not essential to explaining such manifestations. For a helpful, friendly Evangelical assessment of the charismatic movement, see Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Keeping in Step with the Spirit. [19]

One of the sins that beset charismatic Christians is the sin that beset the Corinthian pneumatics. They came to see themselves as superior to other believers and see those who had not had a second experience like theirs as incomplete or weak Christians. Their sin was the sin of hubris, or pride, they became puffed up with themselves, and indulged in all kinds of behavior that by the measure of being known by one’s fruits revealed that they at best were immature, carnal Christians and might not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them at all. In fairness to charismatic Christians it must be noted that other Christians are also prone to this sin. The belief that they have received “a second blessing,” and therefore are more evidently God’s elect than those who have not received this blessing, however, does make charismatic Christians particularly susceptible to this sin.

In Baptism Michael Green shows that the passages of Scripture usually cited as justification for the Pentecostal doctrine of a baptism in the Holy Spirit are insufficient to bear the exegetical weight put upon them. Green, however, does not dismiss out of hand the experience that charismatic Christians call “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Rather he objects to the use of the term baptism. He stresses that baptism, repentance, and faith, and the gift of the Holy Spirit jointly belong together in Christian initiation.[20] Green suggests that “release in the Spirit” is the better term.
What happens, of course, is that we discover in actual experience what had been there potentially all the time in our baptism. It is a case of possessing our possessions…For years we may go on in our Christian life with little experience of his gifts and little expectancy of his power. And then, through God’s goodness, we suddenly wake up to what we have been missing, and we claim in experience that part of our baptismal heritage in Christ which had hither to lain largely unnoticed and unused. This may or may not be accompanied by the gift of tongues. [21]
Green notes that there is little support in the New Testament for the claim of the early Pentecostals that the gift of tongues is the primary evidence for baptism in the Spirit. He further notes that Paul himself does not claim that everyone has the same gifts (1 Corinthians 12:30). Rather he teaches that God apportions the spiritual gifts to each member of the Body of Christ as he wills, and God gives these gifts not to the individual member for his or her personal gratification but to the whole body of Christ for “the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). [22]

This arguably includes the gift of tongues. Without interpretation tongues is not edifying to Christ’s Body or to the outsider. Praying in tongues only serves to reinforce and strengthen the faith of the individual member of Christ’s Body. As one charismatic Episcopal priest of my acquaintance pointed to my attention, it is a gift given to those who are weak in faith so they may overcome their lack of faith. When the weaker members of the Body of Christ are strengthened in this way, the whole Body of Christ is better able to serve Christ and to fulfill his great commission. It is a crutch for the weak and not a mark of the spiritual elite. The priest in question spoke from own personal experience. For years he had struggled with alcoholism.


[1] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday: AN HOMILIE CONcerning the comming downe of the holy Ghost,and the manifold gifts of the same. For Whitsunday,” The First Part, The Elizabethan Homilies of 1623, Short-Title Catalogue 13675, Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1994). electronic edition on the Internet at: 
[2] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday,” The Second Part.
[3] Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity V, lvii, 4 (Volume II, pages 257f.) Cited in Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Theology of the English Reformers, (Abington, PA: Horseradish, 1997), page 171.
[4] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday,” The First Part
[5] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday,” The Second Part
[6] Edgar C. S. Gibson, The Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England, Volume I, (London: Methuen & Co., 1896) p. 78, electronic edition on the Internet at:
[7] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday,” The First Part.
[8] “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday,” The Second Part.
[9] Alexander Nowell, “The Fourth Part. Of Sacraments,” A Catechism Written in Latin by Alexander Nowell together with the Same Catechism Translated into English by Thomas Norton, (Cambridge: The University Press, 1853), pages 210-212, electronic edition on the Internet at:
[10] “Confirmation, or laying on of hands,” The Prayer Book of Queen Elizabeth 1559, electronic edition on the Internet at:
[11] John Cosin, “Appendix II. On Confirmation,” The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, John Cosin, Lord Bishop of Durham, Volume the Fifth, Notes and Collections on the Book of Common Prayer, (Oxford: John Henry and John Parker, 1860), page 526, electronic edition on the Internet at:
[12] Ibid., page 527.
[13] John Cosin, “Third Series in M.S. Book,” The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, John Cosin, Lord Bishop of Durham, Volume the Fifth, Notes and Collections on the Book of Common Prayer, page 484.
[14] Ibid., page 485.
[15] Ibid., p. 485.
[16] Ibid., page 487.
[17] James Ussher, A Body of Divinity: Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion,(Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007), page 371.
[18] J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), page 170.
[19] Ibid., pages 170-270.
[20] Michael Green, Baptism, (London: Hoddar and Stoughton, 1987), pages 129-136.
[21] Ibid., page 136.
[212] Ibid., pages 13

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