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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Brief Response to Mr. Keith Ackerman: Anglo-Catholicism Is False Religion




Thanks to D. Phillip Veitch at Reformation Anglicanism for pointing out this post at Virtue Online.  The following is a quote from an interview between David Virtue of Virtue Online and Keith Ackerman in the article:  Former TEC Anglo-Catholic Bishop Explains Why Traditionalists are not Accepting Ordinariate :  No uniformity among Anglo-Catholics, says Keith Ackerman.


VOL: Wouldn't Anglo-Catholics be closer in heart and spirit to Rome than to a Protestant Anglican group like the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)?

ACKERMAN: In the present crisis in the Anglican Communion, a crisis of faith and a crisis in leadership, we know full well that many Evangelical Anglicans are also following their consciences and making decisions under the Word of God in Scripture in view of this crisis. There are, in fact, some "independent Anglican" churches that are not in Communion with any group. The division that many people suggest regarding the expression of catholic and "more protestant" expression is not due to a different understanding of the Word of God but may be due to the manner we include Tradition alongside Scripture as the way we frame the faith once delivered to the saints. I think all sides, honor fidelity to the Sacred Scriptures, as well as being faithful to the great dogmas of the Incarnation, Redemption and Resurrection. It is clear that in this struggle all sides have agreed about the Gospel truth and how they shape and inform the ethical life as revealed in Jesus Christ. In fact, I am aware that there are some Evangelicals who are being sources of encouragement to Anglo Catholics considering the Ordinariate, both in the UK and in the Americas. I can well imagine that some self described "Evangelicals" would note that there are different expressions within that broad term just as I have suggested there are within the Anglo Catholic tradition. To the casual non Evangelical observer there does not seem to be much difference between a Low Churchman and an Evangelical. This, however, would not be a well informed observation. Ironically the description of the ACNA as "a Protestant Anglican group" would undoubtedly be the description of an observer. That would probably not be how the ACNA would describe itself.

Ackerman wants to distinguish between different "brands" of Anglo-Catholicism while downplaying the extreme differences between Reformed and Evangelical Protestants and Anglo-Catholicism in general.  Ackerman claims that

. . . all sides, honor fidelity to the Sacred Scriptures, as well as being faithful to the great dogmas of the Incarnation, Redemption and Resurrection. It is clear that in this struggle all sides have agreed about the Gospel truth and how they shape and inform the ethical life as revealed in Jesus Christ.

What Ackerman does not say is revealing.  He says that Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals agree on the ethics and that both "honor fidelity to the Sacred Scriptures".  The trouble is that Anglo-Catholics as a group deny the five solas of the Protestant Reformation.  Scripture is not just one revelation among several.  For the Anglo-Catholic "sacred" tradition is an inspired revelation from God and is on equal par with Scripture.  Like the Roman Catholic the Anglo-Catholic claims that tradition interprets Scripture and that Scripture is insufficient of itself.  Scripture needs an infallible interpretation, according to the AC view.  Now this is true no matter which faction of the AC movement you examine.  One would be hard pressed to find any exceptions to this generalization.

Furthermore, Anglo-Catholics reject the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  For the AC, sanctification and justification become blurred into one.  That is, the AC sees righteousness not as a forensic and legal declaration of righteousness based on faith and faith alone.  The general view of the AC movement is that faith and works are both necessary for justification and for salvation.  The distinction between imputed righteousness and infused righteousness goes right out the window.  Since Martin Luther declared that justification by faith alone is the doctrine by which the true congregation stands or falls, then one can only conclude that Anglo-Catholics are not saved.  They, like Roman Catholics, are apostates in need of conversion.  True religion would accept those two basics of the "catholic" and Protestant faith:  Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide.  That is Scripture alone is the THE final authority in ALL doctrinal matters.  That would include soteriological matters.  Salvation is rooted and grounded in a proper understanding of God's revealed will in Holy Scripture.  It is indisputable that Scripture teaches that our right standing before God is grounded solely in the active and passive obedience of Christ, which is objective and outside of us.  Infused righteousness or sanctification, on the other hand, is imperfect and infused subjectively into our hearts.

In fact, all Anglo-Catholics outright reject all five of the solas of the Protestant Reformation.  In brief summary, ACs reject Solus Christus or salvation through Christ alone since they pray to Mary and the saints and  adhere to other idolatrous practices.  ACs reject salvation by grace alone since condign merits, congruity, and penance are added to grace so that in some sense our good works merit forgiveness of sins committed after baptism.  The same applies to their view of justification by faith alone as noted above.  And since they worship or "venerate" Mary and the saints they would also violate the principle of Soli Deo Gloria.  All the glory goes to God alone.  To pray to or worship or venerate any created being, even departed "saints" is idolatry and takes away from God's uniqueness as our Creator and our Lord.  Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

The problem with Evangelicals is most do not know the history of the Protestant Reformation, including the English Reformation.  They fall easy victim to Anglo-Catholics, Anglo-Papists and various other high church idolaters.  Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the other English martyrs gave their lives defending the "catholic" faith.  The "catholic" or "universal" faith they died for is most certainly not related whatsoever to the faith of Anglo-Catholics of various kinds.   Anglo-Catholics in general have more in common with Rome than with Canterbury or Geneva or Wittenberg.  Ackerman's words in the above article are ample evidence of this.

If Evangelicals are to defend the doctrines of grace they need to be better informed.  They need to study the Scriptures in-depth and they need to study their own Reformed confessions.  For Anglo-Reformed Evangelicals the Anglican Formularies (i.e. The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal) serve as their doctrinal standards.  Those who do not subscribe to these Formularies in their historical context and as rightly understood from Scripture and the English and Protestant Reformation do not have any right to claim they are "Anglican" whatsoever.  The English Reformation reversed forever the idea that England is a "Catholic" country, whether that term means "Roman Catholic" or "Anglo-Catholic" or even "Eastern Orthdox".   Ackerman is certainly right that the Anglo-Catholic movement is a hodge podge of differing degrees of Tractarianism.  But at its root Tractarianism is still a false religion masquerading as "Anglicanism".  It is neither Anglican nor Protestant.  Tractarianism is not a via media between Rome and Canterbury or Rome and Geneva.  Rather, Tractarianism is simply "Roman Catholic-lite".  Tractarianism commits the same soteriological errors that Rome commits.   In fact, the Thirty-nine Articles are based on Cranmer's original Forty-two Articles of Religion, which he intended to be a response to the Council of Trent and the Roman Catholic position.  Yet we see Tractarians continue to twist the original meaning of the Articles around to fit their Anglo-Catholic presuppositions.  Both the Thirty-nine Articles and the Forty-two Articles clearly refute both the Anglo-Catholic and the Roman Catholic position.  For Anglo-Catholics to claim the Thirty-nine Articles support their position is like saying the Holy Scriptures support Satan's rebellion against God with a third of the angels.

Ackerman's explanation for why Anglo-Catholics in general do not wish to take up Rome's offer is puzzling.  If Anglo-Catholics are not just another schism as their apologetic for their position claims, then why not take up the Pope's offer?  The whole Anglican Church in North America should whole hog join up with Rome.  I would include the many continuing Anglo-Catholic denominations in that assessment.  Basically, Anglo-Catholics want to play church but they are not serious about their own apologetic.  If they were they would follow the example of the traditionalists in the UK and take the Pope's offer.  As it stands Anglo-Catholics and high church Arminians are simply rebels.  They are not a via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.  They are in fact neither.  They are as lost as any Roman Catholic yet they refuse to follow the logical implications of their position and simply reunite themselves with Rome.  John Henry Newman saw that clearly and went to Rome.

Fact is the Reformed and Evangelical faith is the "catholic" faith.  That faith is based in principle on the five solas of the Protestant Reformation:  Sola Gratia!  Sola Fide!  Solus Christus!  Sola Scriptura!  Soli Deo Gloria!  Since Anglo-Catholics deny all five of these solas they are not Christians nor are they saved.  They, like the other false religions of the world, are a mission field and in need of conversion to the one and only and true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).  While the five solas do not give all the points of doctrinal agreement and disagreement among Protestants, including Lutherans and Anglicans and Presbyterians, they do give the five main tenets of true religion.  Those five points need to be further particularized in detailed Reformed confessions of faith, catechisms and standards.  For Presbyterians that would be the 1647 Westminster Standards and for the Dutch it would be the Three forms of Unity from the Synod of Dort, 1618-19.  For Anglicans the standards are set in 1571 with the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

True Anglicans will be faithful to Scripture alone as the final arbiter of doctrinal disputes and moral and ethical issues.  They will be faithful to the Protestant faith for which Archbishop and the English martyrs gave their very lives.  They will not and cannot be in fellowship with Anglo-Catholics.  That would be like knowingly sitting down to supper with Satan himself.

May the peace of God be with you!

Charlie

See also:  David Virtue Interview:  The White Horse Inn   My disagreement with Mike Horton was the fact that he did not take Virtue to task on the Tractarian issue in this interview.

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Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

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