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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, September 20, 2005

The Link Between Theonomy and Lawlessness: Why Anglo-Catholicism Is Attractive to Reconstructionists

At last I found an article that substantiates some of my suspicions from conversations with a pastor I knew who was involved in the theonomy movement. It seems that in their eagerness to join forces with other branches of the conservative church, theonomists are willing to compromise Reformed doctrine and the regulative principle of worship. Those compromises would include disregarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, sola scriptura, double predestination, etc. It would also include their tolerance or embracing of the veneration of icons and saints, prayers to Mary and the saints, and a host of other heretical practices of Anglo-Catholics.

Please read this article:

Antinomian Reconstructionists [http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/antinomr.htm]

I think this might be one explanation for the Reformed Episcopal Church's recent rejection of its historical roots in order to merge with a decidedly Anglo-Catholic denomination. A couple of REC's bishops are theonomists, including Ray Sutton. Also, it might be noted that the theonomic movement was initiated by Rousas John Rushdoony, once an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who later rejected Presbyterianism and Calvinism. He was not a member of any church for years and finally joined a small Episcopal church in a denomination composed of two parishes:


  • Rushdoony had ceased being a Calvinist by the late 1970's. He became a predestinarian Congregationalist without a local congregation (until he announced his own in 1991), a man who holds a Baptist view of church hierarchy: "Another aspect of jurisdiction is this: every church, small or great, is Christ's congregation, not man's. Its loyalty must be to God in Christ, and to His law-word, not to a denomination nor a sister church."(55) Late in his career, Rushdoony has begun to issue his Baptistic anathemas against all church hierarchies: "There is in this an implicit and sometimes unconscious heresy. Heresy is a strong word, but nothing less can describe the problem. This authoritarian attempt to control other churches is revelatory of a lack of faith in the triune God and an unseemly faith in the power of man. It assumes the virtual non-existence of the Holy Spirit."(56) Those who hold a hierarchical view of church government are members of a modern Sanhedrin, he says. "We must separate ourselves from modern Sanhedrins."(57)
  • This is a strange line of theological reasoning from someone who retained the title of minister of the gospel only through his ordination by a tiny Episcopalian denomination (total number of congregations in the denomination: two, both of them located hundreds of miles away from Rushdoony). During his years of ministry in this officially hierarchical denomination ("sanhedrin"?), he refused to attend any local church. He continued to avoid taking the Lord's Supper. He clearly abandoned Calvin's doctrine of the church. This is why Calvinists who started out with him in the early 1970's (or in my case, the early 1960's) have been excluded from his presence. Their view of the church is, in his eyes, anathema, and so are they. He will not tolerate opposition on this point.
  • [From: http://www.freebooks.com/docs/html/gnbd/appendix_b.htm]

I find this new information surprising in light of my conversations with Rev. Jim Reber, who is now a proponent of Anglo-Catholicism while at the same time claiming to be a hardcore theonomist. Reber has, like Rushdoony, abandoned Calvinism and rejects double predestination and justification by faith and faith alone as it is understood by Presbyterians and by calvinistic and reformed Anglicans.

Apparently, Rushdoony would not have agreed with Reber's triumphalistic views regarding Anglo-Catholicism and the church. This is but more evidence that the proposed merger between the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America is both misplaced and unwise.

Moreover, theonomists seem to be divisive to the church in more than one way. The above quote about Rushdoony's inconsistent commitments to the church come from a theonomist named Peter J. Leithart. Also, the article by Kevin Reed (see: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/antinomr.htm) shows clearly that theonomists are quite willing to compromise essentials of the Gospel in order to fight what they see as a moral degeneration of our nation and a degeneration of the love of man for his neighbor:

  • These biblical concepts were clearly understood during the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers sought to eradicate the false religion of Rome, and disseminate the pure gospel throughout the world. Yet, they also guarded against the insidious influences of the Anabaptists. It was a religious war on many fronts; and the Reformers saw the necessity of maintaining the purity of the gospel, in spite of concurrent struggles against Papists, Anabaptists, and blatant infidels.
  • But today, we have a new breed of Reformer. There are theonomists who seem bent on patronizing Papists and Charismatics (the modern Anabaptists), while pursuing an agenda of social and political reconstruction.
  • The question of common ground is bound to arise. For example, pro-life Protestants often find themselves together with Roman Catholics in opposition to abortion. So a dilemma is created. What principles should govern our dealings with Roman Catholics who share our opposition to abortion, homosexuality, etc.?
  • [From: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/antinomr.htm].

Reed goes on to say:

  • Will we seek to press the claims of the true gospel, or will we be content with a theological d├ętente, in order to forge an alliance for social and political aims? It is one thing to seek an audience in order to present the truth in its fulness; it is quite another to make a truce with errorists.
    Roman Catholicism has not changed. It is a wicked ecclesiastical system which substitutes idolatrous worship and human merit for the true gospel of Christ.
  • Similarly, many Charismatics assert a free-will gospel and subjective worship in the place of biblical truth. It is a false religion. The Reformers uniformly maintained that advocates of free-will hold to a soul-destroying error.
  • Is God honored when such crucial differences are minimized for the sake of a political agenda? Further, it will be a tragedy if the trustees of the true gospel remain mute concerning those who murder the soul (such as Papists), while exerting so much effort against those who kill the body (i.e., abortionists).

I think Kevin Reed has hit the nail on the head regarding the reasoning used by the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church and why they are willing to compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to join forces with Anglo-Catholicism, a decidedly semi-pelagian and Romish church which opposes the Protestant Reformation and the doctrines of the Thirty-Nine articles as they were understood by the English Reformers who died in their defense.

It is beyond question that the Reformed Episcopal Church is and has been under extreme influence by theonomists, including Bishop Ray Sutton. What is even more unfortunate is that Bishop James West in the Southeastern Diocese of the Reformed Episcopal Church seems to be unaware of the implications of theonomy on issues like slavery. The Southeastern Diocese is predominately black and the parishes there are predominately churches that were composed of former slaves in the post Civil War era. I think if the black presbyters in the Southeast Diocese had any inkling of what is going on they would be extremely upset, especially since the theology of most of those parishes is low church and highly influenced by other African American churches in the black community, especially the African Methodist Episcopal church.

We can only pray that the bishops in the REC will have a change of heart before this gross compromise with the truth of the Gospel is carried out by way of merger. May more voices of concern and dissent arise within the REC to challenge the concordat and the merger that is taking place.

In Christ,

Charlie Ray

A Prayer for Unity:

O God, the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Deliver thy Church, we beseech thee, from all prejudice and contention, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; That as there is but one body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling; one LORD, one Faith, one Baptism, and one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one mind, united in one holy bond of TRUTH and peace, of faith and love; through Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen

From: The Revised Offices of The Book of Common Prayer, 1996. The Reformed Episcopal Church, page A-48.

3 comments:

afp763389 said...

just passing...

many blessing...

... :)

Anonymous said...

Bishop Sutton… continues his repudiation of Reconstructionism. He has done nothing in over a decade to promote Reconstructionism, and the provost of the seminary even sent supporters and friends a circular in which Bishop Sutton’s repudiation of Reconstructionism was stated

Charlie said...

I would be more than happy to see your evidence for Bishop Sutton's change of heart. I was told by word of mouth, i.e., Rev. James Reber, that Bishop Sutton was a dyed in the wool theonomist. But then theonomists are quite willing to paint with a broad brush to make it seem that their position is popular.

Regardless of whether Bishop Sutton is a theonomist or reconstructionist, he is apparently in agreement with the concordat with the Anglican Province in America and the upcoming merger between the two. Also, I saw recently that there is an agreement of common cause with the Anglican Mission in America, which includes both charismatic and Anglo-Catholic parishes.

Those of us who are confessing Evangelicals and committed to the Protestant solas of the English and Continental Reformation are concerned that Anglicanism is becoming just another heretical and heterodox mainline organization, including many of the "continuing" Anglicans.

I would be interested to know who you are but I guess you aren't willing to reveal that.

In Christ,

Charlie

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