>

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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Truth Matters: Why the Church of England?, by Jonathan Fletcher

[The following is from Reform in the Church of England.]


Sadly this question is now being asked quite frequently by good Christian people as they witness the denials of basic doctrines, the departure from biblical ethics and the divisions that are all too obvious in the Church of England. So why should we bother? There are at least three great reasons for remaining committed to the Church of England.

First, because of the clear doctrinal basis on which it is founded. The theological foundation of the Church of England is legally expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Homilies. These have been justly described as the best expression of the Protestant Reformation. Here we find a clear statement as to the authority, supremacy and sufficiency of the Bible in all matters of faith and practice. The articles on the order for Holy Communion reveal that Christ's death on the cross is to be understood as propitiating God's wrath and so satisfying His holy justice. The articles explaining the doctrine of the Church (the gathering of faithful men and women) and its ministry and sacraments are truly evangelical. Yet at the same time there is a breadth in the articles so that there is provision both for adult baptism and infant baptism. There is a place for bishops but they are not essential. These are our title deeds. They are worth contending for. They belong to us, and we belong to them.

Secondly, we bother with the Church of England because of its glorious liturgy.  This may surprise some, but not only does the Book of Common Prayer (supremely in the order for the Lord's Supper) express Protestant truths, but it models the ingredients for a congregational gathering. Even if we do not use the Book of Common Prayer itself we should learn from the model it provides for that meeting. (And note that the word ‘worship' is never used to describe the gathering. It only occurs in the marriage service - ‘with my body I thee worship'.) The introduction to the order for morning and evening prayer spells out the five reasons why Christians gather to encourage one another. We are to confess our sins; give God our adoring praise; bring Him our gratitude and thanksgiving; listen to His holy Word as it is read and preached (the Prayer Book is full of Scripture); and pray for others as well as ourselves. There is a wonderful rhythm of Word and then response, Word and then response. The principles that lie behind each gathering are clear. Everything must be intelligible - therefore no strange language, whether Latin or anything else. The rubrics explain what is happening at every stage of the service. It must be congregational - so there are many opportunities for congregational participation in the Confession, the Response, the Creed, the Thanksgiving, and much singing. It must be biblical, hence the presence of so much of the Bible in every service. It must be edifying - we do not come to church primarily for God's sake but first that we might be reminded of what He has said (therefore a pulpit) and what He has done (therefore a Holy Table) and so be encouraged to keep going for another week. We are also an ‘open' church, so that our meetings should be accessible to outsiders - the meetings are not for ‘family only'.

Thirdly, historically the Church of England has proved to have great strategic significance. It is not just that the Book of Common Prayer is part of the law of this land, but in a very real way the Church of England is indeed the Church of this land - whether established or disestablished. In many places, especially in inner-city areas or country villages, where other denominations have had to close their churches, the Anglican parish church still stands. For varying reasons many still gather at their parish church, and we dare not leave them as sheep without a shepherd. Significant spiritual movements have occurred when the pulpits of our parishes have been occupied by faithful, biblical preachers.  In many, many places the Church of England is still the best boat to fish from.  We shall be mocked for this idea, it can be overstated, and it is only valid in the light of our first reason, but fishing, of course, is what we're about.

So, yes, we are Evangelicals first and foremost, but in England at any rate Anglican Evangelicals, and the Church of England is definitely worthy of our continued commitment.

Written by Jonathan Fletcher


--

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

No comments:

Support Reasonable Christian Ministries with your generous donation.